After much teasing, Acura’s MDX Prototype, the company’s flagship, was finally revealed last week. While it’s called a Prototype, this is essentially what we’ll see in production early next year, and it looks like a good one. The sharper body with narrow headlights, wider rear shoulders, and new Chicane taillights gives the MDX a much more interesting shape than the model it will replace. Inside, it has higher levels of craftsmanship and new details like that curvilinear seat quilting and the open pore wood trim (and a 25-speaker stereo) that should make it a nicer place to be. A longer wheelbase improves seating space in all three rows, Acura says. New tech includes a 12.3-inch digital cockpit display and an updated True Touchpad Interface infotainment system. A 3.5L V6 will be the standard engine, but the Type S will get a 3.0L turbo V6 with 355 hp when it arrives later next year.
Hyundai has significantly redesigned the Santa Fe for 2021, and while it looks like just a facelift, this is more than just a skin-deep change. It starts with that massively wide new grille that turns the old nose into a full-width mesh wonder, but look at the shell and there is more high-strength steel to improve rigidity and lower weight. It also changes things up to allow a new hybrid driveline, featuring a 1.6L turbo four and electric motor for a combined 225 hp. There are also two new gas-only engines, a naturally aspirated 2.5L with 191 hp and a turbo 2.5L four-cylinder with 277 hp.
While the interior has been updated to look more like the Palisade (that’s a good thing), and gets larger screens for both the standard and optional versions, it’s the active safety features where Hyundai has really gone all in. Forward collision avoidance with pedestrian, cyclist and left turn detection, blind spot and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, lane keeping and following, Smart Park, and a more others than there is room to list, all standard equipment. The gas versions will arrive at dealers by the end of the year, hybrids get here in Q1 2021, and a plug-in hybrid model will arrive sometime later in 2021.
Fiat Chrysler and Unifor, the union that represents the majority of FCA’s Canadian workforce reached a tentative contract agreement last week that would see new electric or electrified vehicles for the Windsor Assembly Plant and up to 2,000 more jobs there. The tentative agreement has yet to be ratified, but the new agreement, which would cover up to 9,000 employees, includes an investment of up to $1.5 billion, said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. It would see a new second platform come to Windsor in 2023, which could see electric vehicles in car, truck, or crossover form and bring back the plant’s third shift. Brampton Assembly will get new derivatives of the Dodge Charger and Challenger and extend the life of the Chrysler 300, while Etobicoke Casting will get more work building components for the Jeep Wrangler, FCA’s nine-speed automatics, and possibly other products.
The much-anticipated Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid had fuel economy numbers revealed by Natural Resources Canada. While it can’t quite beat out the half-ton segment diesels, the numbers look impressive compared with any gas trucks. With more power (430 hp) and torque (570 lb-ft) than anything short of a Raptor or TRX, it manages an estimated 9.8 L/100 km city, 9.7 highway, and 9.8 combined. The next-closest (with 4×4, for an apples to apples comparison) competitor is the Ram 1500 3.6L V6 with eTorque that manages 11.0 combined.
Toyota’s RAV4, the best-selling not a pickup in the country, doesn’t see much in the way of changes for 2021, but the price stays nearly the same as well. Just $160 more than the 2020 model, and starting from $28,250. The already-priced RAV4 Prime PHEV is the biggest addition for the new model year, and there are now 13 different varieties of RAV4 to pick from ranging from that base LE FWD to the RAV4 Prime XSE Technology at $56,990.