Here come the crossovers

By Jim Gorzelany CTW Features

 Now the best-selling rides on the road, a bounty of new crossover SUVs are coming to market as roomier and more practical alternatives to both small and midsize sedans Now the best-selling rides on the road, a bounty of new crossover SUVs are coming to market as roomier and more practical alternatives to both small and midsize sedans Car-based crossover SUVs are the hottest items in the auto business these days. Crossover sales were up by 14.3 percent over the first seven months of 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal, making it the largest vehicle segment in the industry.

Thus it should come as no surprise that automakers are debuting a fresh fleet of crossovers for the 2016 model year that literally come in all sizes and at all price points. Here’s a quick look at some of the hottest new models, many of which can already be found on dealers’ showrooms.

 Audi Q7. A redesigned midsize Audi Q7 crossover SUV combines aggressive-looking exterior styling and a handsome seven-passenger interior. It’s around 700 pounds lighter than before, which should make it livelier and more fuel-efficient. It comes powered by either a 3.0-liter gasoline engine or an updated diesel V6. An optional adaptive cruise control system can take over accelerating, braking and steering the vehicle at speeds under 40 mph on well-marked roads.

 Fiat 500X. The Italian automaker extends its modish model line with this subcompact four-door crossover SUV. It packs either a 1.4-liter 160-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, or a 2.4-liter 180- horsepower four and a nine-speed automatic. Motorists can switch between Auto, Sport and Traction- Plus driving modes, and enjoy amenities like keyless entry/start and heated front seats.

 Honda HR-V. Honda’s new subcompact crossover is both more stylish and roomier than the Honda Fit hatchback upon which it’s based, with a second row seat that folds flat into the floor. It packs a peppy and efficient 1.8-liter 141- horsepower four-cylinder engine, mated in most versions to a gearless CVT automatic transmission. Available features include a LaneWatch display that provides a video view of the passenger’s side of the road when the right-turn signal is engaged.

 Honda Pilot. This large crossover SUV sheds its previously boxy body style for 2016 in favor of a more dynamic-looking appearance. A new 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 engine generates 280 horsepower and comes mated to a standard six-speed or, in higher trim levels, a nine-speed automatic transmission. The available allwheel drive system not only distributes engine power between the front and rear axles but between the left and right rear wheels for maximum traction. Inside, a nicely styled cabin can seat up to eight riders.

 Lincoln MKX. Lincoln unveils a redesigned midsize MKX crossover this fall with a more attractive exterior and a richer looking interior that features a push-button gear selector. A 300- horsepower V6 comes standard, with a powerful new twin-turbocharged “EcoBoost” V6 optional. A revised rear suspension and other upgrades promise improved handling abilities. New features include a self-parking system that can automatically pull the car into either parallel or perpendicular spaces.

 Mercedes-Benz GLE. This is a renamed and redesigned version of the M-Class SUV that now includes a plug-in hybrid model and so-called four-door coupe versions with curvier rooflines. The coupe comes standard with a turbocharged V6, while the rest of the line further offers a non-turbo V6 gasoline engine, a four-cylinder turbodiesel version and a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8. A new dynamic handling control system maximizes the vehicle performance according to selectable driving modes.

 Mazda CX-3. Another brandnew subcompact crossover SUV, the CX-3 features a peppy 2.0-liter 148-horsepower four-cylinder engine, with a nicely finished interior. A full range of available gizmos includes a low-speed auto-braking function to prevent fender-benders in city traffic.

 Volvo XC90. Volvo gives its seven-passenger crossover SUV a major 2016 redesign that features attractive new exterior styling and a luxuriously crafted interior that sports second row reclining seats. Its turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder nets 316 horsepower; all-wheel-drive is standard. The revamped model offers an exhaustive list of safety features, including multiple auto-braking accidentavoidance systems.

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