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SUVs for 2011


The 2.7-litre, twin-turbo V6 Ford/PSA engine - previously deployed in models as diverse as the Jaguar XF and Citroen's C5 - brings to this hitherto thirsty, petrol-only range the low-end torque and economy that makes diesel the power source of choice for buyers of bigger SUVs.

Emissions will be cut by as much as 25 per cent compared with the Territory's venerable naturally aspirated in-line petrol six, while output should be in the vicinity of 150kW and 440Nm: just what the two-tonne Strayan SUV needs.

New SUVs are thick on the ground in 2011, but the fairest of them all is the Range Rover Evoque, which brings designer desirability and - at little more than $50K - relative affordability to the segment.  Range Rover's first foray into the domain of the Q5s and X3s of this world will bring Land Rover's luxury badge within reach of people who don't necessarily use them to form convoys outside private schools.

It's the smallest, lightest Rangie ever, and the leanest version emits about 130g of CO2 per kilometre.  Most of all, Gerry McGovern's sublime, compact design - especially in coupe format - will change the way you look at SUVs. Roll on September.

On a softer note, compact SUVs - prestige ones, in particular - have been the growth segment of the past few years.  This year brings an especially intriguing contrast: two Volkswagen Group models, both with Tiguan underpinnings and most likely highly similar drivetrains, one built in Spain, the other in the Czech Republic.

The former is Audi's Q3, the latter Skoda's Yeti. The Audi will carry a premium price tag; the Skoda won't. Compare and contrast.  In tougher terrain, the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee lobs later this month with its newly acquired monocoque chassis, reportedly tarted-up interior and a trio of V engines; a new 209kW 3.6-litre petrol V6; a 5.7-litre Hemi petrol V8; and a three-litre CRDi turbo-diesel six. The Cherokee's Patriot and Wrangler stablemates have also been updated.

Just as ballsy (more so, even) is Nissan's Pathfinder Ti 550, the most powerful version to date, with its stump-pullin' three-litre turbo-diesel V6.

If the sun is temporarily eclipsed in June, it's probably due to the vastness of the latest Volkswagen Touareg with its new range of six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines and a platform shared with the exxier likes of Audi's Q7 and the Porsche Cayenne.

There can be few left in this global village who haven't been exposed to pre-launch publicity for the Toyota FJ Cruiser.  This four-year-old, retro-designed device finally gets here in March, lugged along by the four-litre V6 petrol engine from the 150 Series Prado. Claimed outputs are 200kW and 380Nm.  If you must have one, that blue seems the least ostentatious colour.