- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Yes, there will be a few cars, but SUVs will capture most of the headlines at this year’s New York International Auto Show.

Automakers will be shoring up gaps in their SUV lineups and revamping models that already are popular in the hottest-selling part of the U.S. market.

Leading the way is Toyota with an all-new RAV4 compact SUV, which last year was the most popular vehicle in the U.S. that isn’t a truck. There are also new SUVs coming from Subaru, Volkswagen, Acura, Cadillac and Lincoln.

There won’t be many cars. Nissan will show a redesigned Altima midsize sedan, while Toyota will roll out a new Corolla hatchback. Kia will unveil a new K900 big luxury sedan, among others. Volkswagen put a toe into the Detroit-dominated a pickup truck market with concept built on extended Atlas SUV underpinnings.

But SUVs, which hit a record 43 percent of U.S. sales last year at just over 7.3 million, according to Kelley Blue Book, will steal the show. Here are some wheels to watch:

ACURA RDX

Honda’s luxury brand telegraphed the new entry in the red-hot luxury midsize SUV market with a concept vehicle unveiled in January. Now it’s displaying the production version in New York. The revamped RDX gets a new chassis for better ride and handling. The distance between the wheels is 2.6 inches longer for more cargo and passenger space. Its old V6 engine is replaced by a 272-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor, mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Acura promises quicker acceleration. All versions get standard safety features including collision mitigation automatic braking. The 2019 RDX is due in dealers by the middle of this year. Price and gas mileage weren’t released.

TOYOTA RAV4

Toyota sold almost 408,000 RAV4 compact SUVs last year, making it the new American family car and the top-selling vehicle in the nation aside from Detroit’s popular big pickups. In an effort to stay on top, Toyota is revamping the RAV for the 2019 model year. The fifth-generation comes on all-new underpinnings that the company says will give it better handling and a smoother ride. It’s also slightly wider and a little lower. New looks are more chiseled and athletic, and the distance between the wheels grows by 1.2 inches for more passenger and cargo space. It comes standard with Toyota’s safety system that includes automatic emergency braking. It’s powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed transmission, or a 2.5-liter gas-electric hybrid system with a continuously variable transmission. Horsepower, gas mileage and price weren’t released. The new RAV hits showrooms in the fall.

SUBARU FORESTER

An all-new 2019 Forester compact SUV will go head-to-head with Toyota’s top-selling RAV4. The fifth-generation also gets a new chassis for better ride, handling and crash protection. It’s powered by a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with fuel-saving technology that shuts it off at stop lights. That’s up from 170 horses in the current version. Subaru estimates it will get 33 miles per gallon on the highway. It also has a continuously variable transmission that keeps the engine revving at efficient speeds. The distance between the wheels grows by 1.2 inches to give the Forester more rear-seat legroom. Headroom, hip and shoulder room also grow. All versions get standard safety features including automatic pre-collision braking. The new version hits showrooms later this year. The price wasn’t announced.

CADILLAC XT4

The compact SUV is now the largest part of the U.S. market, and Cadillac hasn’t had a product to offer - until now. The General Motors luxury brand rolled out the new XT4 SUV at a pre-show event in New York Tuesday night. It’s built on underpinnings specifically designed for the Cadillac brand and comes with sculpted looks and an interior that Cadillac says is luxurious and spacious. The company says it will have segment-leading back-seat legroom. It’s powered by a 237 horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission that will get an estimated 30 miles per gallon on the highway. The XT4 is available in the fall and starts at $35,790 including shipping.

VOLKSWAGEN ATLAS CROSS SPORT CONCEPT

Volkswagen broadens its growing SUV lineup with a five-seat version of the three-row Atlas. The company calls the Atlas Cross Sport a concept, but it’s almost ready to be built at the automaker’s U.S. factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The new version is 7.5 inches shorter than the seven-seat Atlas. The concept is powered by a 355-horsepower plug-in hybrid system with a V6 gasoline engine and a battery that can take it 26 miles on electric power. The hybrid concept can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, VW says. There’s also a “mild hybrid” with 310-horsepower from a V6 and a smaller hybrid battery. The SUV is due in showrooms sometime next year. Mileage and price were not announced.

LINCOLN AVIATOR

Ford’s luxury brand finally gets an Explorer-like midsize SUV with three rows of seats to compete in the hot luxury SUV market. The company was to unveil the Aviator Wednesday. Few details were given, except that it will have a twin-turbo engine of undisclosed size as well as a plug-in hybrid option. Ford says it will have tapered lines and a roomy interior. It also gets standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking and can be opened and started with a smart phone. The Aviator goes on sale sometime next year. The price wasn’t disclosed.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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