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A New Year always brings renewed hope and new things to anticipate, no matter how horrendous the outgoing year was.  Car buffs look forward to the all-new vehicles that will or may be launched, and enjoy the guessing game that comes with anticipation.

            Listed below are three all-new vehicles that are sure to be launched in 2021, starting with one whose forthcoming arrival has already been confirmed by the brand’s president.  “All-new” means a totally new nameplate or a totally redesigned- from- the- ground- up existing model. 

2021 ISUZU mu-X. The second generation of Isuzu’s midsize, 7-seat, body-on-frame sport utility vehicle is new from the ground up: new body, new chassis, new engine, completely redesigned interior and exterior.

            “Revealed” in Thailand last October 29 at the Bangkok Motor Show, the 2021 mu-X is based on the third generation Isuzu D-Max pickup.  It is long overdue, since the mu-X made its debut way back in 2013, or eight years ago.

            The 2021 mu-X is powered by the same 3.0-liter turbo diesel 4-cyl. engine fitted to the 2021 D-Max, paired with either a 6-speed automatic transmission (A/T) or 6-speed manual tranny (M/T) in 2WD or 4WD models. Also new is a rear differential lock.

             The 3.0L powerplant produces 190 PS and 450 Nm max torque in the high-end variants, while lower-spec models retain the 1.9-liter RZ4E diesel engine capable of 150 PS and 350 Nm peak torque. 

            The 2021 mu-X looks more modern with a new wider, bolder grille, sleek bi-LED headlights and LED taillights on high-end models.  Ground clearance is measured at 235 mm and wheels are 20-inch. In high-spec variants, the tailgate is power adjustable.

            The safety package is similar to the new D-Max’s: blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, ABS, parking sensors and camera, Advanced Driver Assistance System, Terrain Command Shift-on-Fly, six airbags (a center airbag between the front seats), ISOFIX child seat anchors.

            Inside, an electric parking brake, 9-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital speed display in the instrument cluster, dual zone aircon, rear air vents, premium audio system, extra USB ports front and rear, household power socket, auto-dimming rear view mirror.

            Isuzu Philippines Corporation president Hajime Koso has confirmed that the new mu-X will be launched here in the first quarter of 2021.

2021 NISSAN KICKS. The first generation of the 5-seat, front-wheel-drive Nissan Kicks subcompact crossover began with the 2018 model year, followed by its global debut in May 2020.

            Billed as the successor or replacement of the funky Nissan Juke, in other markets the Kicks is equipped with either a 1.3-liter DOHC turbocharged petrol engine producing 154 HP and 254 Nm max torque, or a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter 4-cyl. petrol engine capable of 106 PS and 142 Nm peak torque.

            The transmission is either a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) or 5-speed M/T.

            Since the Kicks in Thailand has Nissan’s e-Power hybrid powertrain delivering 129 HP and 260 Nm max torque, it is likely that the same configuration will be brought here.

            The ASEAN NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) confirmed the rumor that the Kicks is slated for release here when they listed it for the Philippine market.

            The 2020 Kicks earned a 5-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating with its Electronic Stability Control, ABS, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning and two front airbags as standard with optional side and curtain airbags.  However, the Kicks does not have the Nissan Intelligent Mobility package that is standard equipment in the midsize Nissan Terra SUV.

            Aside from improved safety features compared to the Juke, the Kicks has a bigger front grille, LED projector headlamps, 8-inch infotainment system, automatic aircon, 4-camera 360 Degree Parking Assist, a big back seat and 400 liters of trunk space.

            The U.S. News & World Report, which has been independently testing new cars since 2007, says that the Kicks provides good fuel economy, a low starting price, a composed ride, plus abundant cargo space for its class.  Despite its slow acceleration and lackluster stopping power, the Kicks is stylish, efficient, practical, and boasts plenty of personality.

2022 HYUNDAI TUCSON. The completely redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson 5-seat, front wheel drive compact crossover was scheduled to debut in North America last November 9 and will go on sale toward mid-2021. In November this year, it went on sale in South Korea, its country of origin, as a 2021 model. Educated guess-estimates would forecast its launch in the PH in the last quarter of 2021.

             Longer, wider and taller than the current Tucson, the 4th iteration of Hyundai’s best-selling model takes a bold new direction with its “Sensuous Sportiness” design language based on the Vision T styling concept that was unveiled at the 2019 Los Angeles Motor Show.

            Sporting a big grille, strong shoulders, squared wheel arches and sharp creases on the body, the all-new Tucson looks chunkier, more muscular, more combative and more daring than ever before.

            The integration of the DRLs (Daytime Running Lights) into the grille gives the crossover a futuristic, cascading appearance for when the lights are turned off, they blend into the grille. The headlights are located in the front bumper while the new taillights, echoing the DRLs’ design, are connected by a slim strip of LED lights running across the tailgate.

            Three powertrain options are offered: petrol, hybrid, plug-in hybrid. The internal combustion variant has a 2.5-liter, 4-cyl. petrol engine delivering 187 HP and 241 Nm max torque, paired to an 8-speed A/T.

            The upscale cabin features a center stack that is unusual because of the absence of hard buttons, plus a frameless instrument panel and a transmission selector cluster instead of a gear shifter.

            The new Tucson’s safety features consist of blind spot camera, lane keeping assist, lane centering assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree parking camera system, automated remote parking.

            An N-Line variant is available in other markets, powered by the same engine as the Sonata N-Line, a turbocharged 2.5 liter inline-4 packing 290 HP and 310 lb-ft of torque.

WISH LIST. Two SUVs on our wish list may never make it to the Philippine market for these reasons: 1) The 2021 Telluride, Kia’s full-size, 8-seater SUV rated as best-in-class by Car and Driver, is manufactured in West Point, Georgia, USA and would be too costly to import and market locally; 2) the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer, fitted with a new turbocharger to minimize turbo lag in its robust 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine, is manufactured in Brazil, making it too expensive to import CBU to Manila.  General Motors announced last February that it will stop selling Chevrolet vehicles in Thailand and shut down its manufacturing plant in Rayong province by year’s end 2020.

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