Can you believe we’re almost walking into year 2021? It seems like not that long ago this would be a very distant future. With time going so fast, we thought we’d help you prepare by putting together a list of the top 10 best 7-seat SUVs coming to Australia in 2021.
Before we get stuck into it we need to warn you that some models haven’t been officially locked in for Australia at the time of publish. However, using our industry knowledge and with some calculated speculation, we have tried to give you as accurate timing and details as possible. We’ve mentioned any official details, where available. You can click the car titles on each to see our latest news on the respective models as well.
Hyundai Palisade – confirmed for Q4 2020
Technically it is scheduled to arrive in Australia during the fourth quarter of this year. However, we suspect by the time advertising takes place and stock rolls into dealerships, the first main deliveries will probably occur during the start of next year. Hyundai has already confirmed plenty about this all-new model for Australia. It will enter the showroom as a larger alternative to the upcoming Santa Fe, although it is expected to sit in the same market segment; officially (classed by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries), the ‘Large below $70K SUV’ class.
Both petrol and diesel options will be available, including a 3.5-litre V6 petrol producing around 217kW and 355Nm, as well as a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder developing around 148kW and 440Nm. The V6 will be front-wheel drive while the diesel is hooked up to all-wheel drive.
Some of the highlights include 16 cup/bottle holders, seven USB ports, and Hyundai’s latest 10.25-inch touch-screen media interface with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s also a full-size spare mounted under the boot, externally, as well as a boot measuring 510L/1297L/2447L, depending on the configuration of the three rows of seats.
New Kia Sorento – confirmed for Q4 2020
This is going to be a big one. It has been confirmed to arrive in the fourth quarter, but like the Palisade we suspect most deliveries will start to roll in early in 2021. The current third-generation Sorento has been on the market now in essentially the same form since 2015. Yet, like many of its rivals, buyers are not turned away by its age. During 2019 Kia Australia sold 3777 examples of the Sorento. For the all-new model the company has applied a much sharper design language and incorporated some fresh details, with new-look LED headlights and interesting vertical-stack taillights, with nicely bolstered wheel arches all giving it a distinct theme for the popular segment.
Perhaps the biggest and most attractive change is to the interior. Kia has really stepped up its game in terms of providing a premium atmosphere. A greater sense of space is brought on by a horizontal dash theme with chunky climate vents giving it a robust SUV character. Atop the dash is a crisp 10.25-inch touch-screen media screen which blends across almost seamlessly with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (at least on the upper variants). Kia Australia is yet to provide the full local specs and prices, but a turbo-diesel with 148kW/440Nm and AWD, and a 3.5-litre V6 with around 217kW and FWD will continue to make up the range.
New Bentley Bentayga – first deliveries confirmed for first quarter 2021
Yes, we can’t exclude the high rollers of the market. The new Bentley Bentayga will arrive in Australia during the first quarter of next year. And, like the pre-facelifted model, affluent buyers will be able to opt for four-, five-, or seven-seat cabin configurations – a seven-seat SUV for all the elite and glamorous families out there.
For the new model Bentley has applied some styling changes, including fitting oval taillights like what’s seen on the latest Continental GT, with more sophisticated sculpting for the front bumper bar. A modernised dash has been implemented inside, along with a fresh 10.9-inch high-res touch-screen. Of course buyers will be able to customise the upholstery in any number of elaborate and lavishing ways.
Progress is made majestically by either a 405kW/770Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 or a grander 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12, which will arrive for the Bentayga Speed a bit later down the track. The V8 can do the 0-100km/h dash in a claimed 4.5 seconds, and offers a top speed of 290km/h.
Alpina XB7 – first deliveries confirmed for early 2021
If it’s speed you want from your next seven-seat SUV, the Alpina XB7 is one of the fastest production SUVs in the world. In fact, it’s probably the equal-fastest seven-seat SUV with the Bentayga, with the same 290km/h top speed. Although, the Bentley, if specified with seven seats and in upcoming Bentayga Speed W12 form, might be able to topple it. Even so the XB7 is a beast of a thing. It features a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that belts out 457kW and 800Nm. Acceleration takes a claimed 4.2 seconds, which will surely be the quickest time for a production seven-seat SUV.
Alpina has applied its usual super-refined philosophy to the BMW X7-based model, fitting exclusive seats and upholstery options, traditional green and blue stitching for the bespoke Alpina steering wheel, and even provided special graphics for the digital instrument cluster. Seat heating is available for all three rows, with two USB ports for each row, five-zone climate control, and BMW’s latest 12.3-inch multimedia screen at the front. Prices start from AU$264,900 (excluding on-roads).
Updated Toyota LandCruiser Prado – likely first half of 2021
This will probably go on to become the most popular large SUV on the market. Actually, the Prado already is (in Australia). For the 2021 model Toyota is set to apply some pretty big changes. More advanced safety tech such as pedestrian and cyclist detection are on the way, along with an updated semi-digital instrument cluster with road sign recognition. Chassis and suspension revisions are set to improve on-road refinement while also maintaining favourable off-road dynamics. But the biggest change will be found under the bonnet.
A decent upgrade to the current 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder will boost power and torque to a much-needed 150kW and 500Nm (up from 130kW/450Nm). This engine upgrade was first announced for the 2021 HiLux. The upgrade is expected to help improve not just performance and acceleration, but also smoothness off-road, and economy on the highway. A six-speed automatic is likely to be the sole transmission across the board, with no more manual. (Current model pictured below.)
Fourth-generation Toyota Kluger – confirmed for first half of 2021
Sitting in as the second most popular large SUV in the non-premium segment, the Kluger will soon undergo its first major model change since the current third-generation shape launched in 2013. Toyota Australia has confirmed plenty about the new fourth-generation model, and the design has been revealed. Clearly, the design is going more towards a crossover as opposed to the somewhat sharp and aggressive SUV theme going on at the moment. There’s also a brand new interior that adopts Toyota’s latest dash design philosophy, with a large hexagonal-like protruding section for the 8.0- or 12.3-inch touch-screen (depending on grade). Boot space grows from 195L with all three rows up to 456L, and an impressive 1150L with the third row folded down (up from 529L).
The fourth-generation Kluger switches to the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) which should provide more enjoyable driving dynamics, as well as improvements in safety and efficiency. Toyota Australia has confirmed it will be offering a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine as well as a 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid. This will be the first hybrid Kluger for our market. Local specs haven’t been confirmed as yet but overseas these mills produce 218kW and 179kW, respectively.
2021 Isuzu MU-X – some time in 2021
With the all-new 2021 Isuzu D-Max ute just around the corner, there is plenty of reason to look forward to a similarly-updated MU-X. It, as you probably know, shares the same platform and powertrain as the D-Max. The exciting news is the 2021 MU-X is set to receive the enhanced 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine. Australian specs for the D-Max will be confirmed to the public on August 13 (sales officially starting on September 1), however, overseas the updated engine produces 140kW and 450Nm. That’s up from 130kW/430Nm now.
Various changes have also be applied to the chassis and suspension to improve refinement and comfort for the D-Max, and most of these changes are expected for the new MU-X. Although, the MU-X does feature a coil-sprung rear end compared with the more heavy-duty live axle arrangement with leaf springs on the D-Max.
Passengers will be pleased there is a new 9.0-inch touch-screen on the way which will replace the quite basic yet user-friendly current system. It finally includes some modern apps, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. A similar design facelift from the 2021 D-Max is likely to be applied to the MU-X body, albeit in wagon form. (Current model pictured below.)
WL Jeep Grand Cherokee – likely second half of 2021
Jeep will launch the all-new Grand Cherokee some time next year. FCA’s design boss, Ralph Gilles, said on video earlier this year that the new model would arrive this year. However, it seems the debut is being pushed back. The coronavirus pandemic caused some FCA factories to pause, and it’s understood this caused delays for preparations and new tooling for the new Grand Cherokee. That’s as far as we understand it anyway. This will be a major model change though and it is anticipated to bring in various advancements, so it might be worth the wait.
For starters there is talk of it switching to Alfa Romeo’s Giorgio platform, which currently provides the foundations for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Giulia. It’ll be stretched and tweaked to suit the Grand Cherokee, but mainly it will be a lot more advanced than the current platform which can trace its roots back to around 10 years ago, under the old DaimlerChrysler partnership. Some photos of a purported product overview document show a luxurious interior with a large, flush touch-screen embedded into a seamlessly flowing dash fascia. Most importantly, the new model’s cabin is anticipated to introduce a seven-seat option.
2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series – likely second half of 2021
Yep, the trusty LandCruiser 200 Series will soon be superseded by an all-new 300 Series. Details are still quite thin at this stage but there has been plenty of rumours and reports floating about that could give us some indication on what to expect. Firstly, the chassis is set to switch to a variation of the TGNA layout. Independent suspension will continue for the front but it’s believed Toyota engineers will some how work in a live axle arrangement for the rear, even with the TNGA platform.
On-road dynamics are expected to improve in any case, while off-road performance is said to be at the same if not higher level than the current 200 Series. This is obviously not something Toyota will want to stuff around with. Customers have relied on the LandCruiser’s heavy-duty underpinnings and off-road abilities for decades. However, pressures to improve efficiency across the board will likely mean there could be a reduction in old-fashion heavy-duty characteristics, and instead some newer tech might come in to help. Safety is also expected to be drastically improved over the current model, with things like pedestrian and cyclist detection, road sign recognition, and lane departure management systems all very likely.
As for the engine? Well, there has been whispers that Toyota could implant its recently-updated 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder into the massive engine bay. With 150kW and 500Nm, it might suffice, at least for some markets and for lower grade trim levels. From there though the 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel could be replaced with a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid, producing around 260kW. There’s also been rumours of the 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol from the LS 500 (310kW/600Nm) coming in, and even word of a brand new V6 turbo-diesel being in the works. As usual, Toyota has been keeping its cards very close to its chest. There was a rumour that suggested a debut could take place in August, but we suspect coronavirus may see that postponed, if the rumour was true in the first place. (Current model pictured below.)
2021 Nisan Pathfinder – likely second half of 2021
It’s a bit of a quiet achiever this one. But the Pathfinder remains a reasonably popular seven-seat SUV in Australia. During 2019, Nissan Australia sold 2712 examples. That doesn’t really compare to the Prado, which racked up 18,355 sales, but it’s not bad for an underdog. Nissan is said to be developing an all-new version, which could help to reignite some interest and sales.
Nissan recently gave a major overhaul to its Patrol, Juke and X-Trail, and we should probably turn to those for some inspiration on what the new Pathfinder could look like. It is set to continue on as a crossover rather than a rugged SUV, with a family-friendly cabin likely to finally introduce an updated touch-screen system that incorporates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
We’ve also heard Nissan could be looking to get rid of the somewhat troublesome Jatco CVT auto and instead implant a nine-speed auto, potentially sourced from ZF. The 2.5-litre hybrid and 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine options are expected to carry over with very little change. In saying that, some reports are suggesting Nissan might also introduce the clever 2.0-litre variable-compression turbo (VC-T) engine from the Infiniti QX50. It produces 185kW. Nissan is yet to officially cement anything in. (Current model pictured.)