Longer and wider than before, a redesigned edition of Mercedes’ posh and pricey “G-wagon” SUV assumes more refined styling, though it still retains its familiar boxy appearance. There’s a bigger improvement inside, where a roomier leather-clad cabin looks and feels far more luxurious, and incorporates a dual-display “Widescreen Cockpit” with selectable graphic styles. Optional Active Multicontour front seats are built with air chambers that fill or empty continuously depending on the driving dynamics to maximize comfort and support; they’re also climate controlled and can give a massage. The standard 4.0-liter V8 in the G550 produces 416 horsepower and channels it to all four wheels via a new nine-speed transmission. There’s also an AMG G63 higher-performance variant with a 4.0-liter 577 horsepower bi-turbo V8. The G-Class’ underpinnings are tuned to afford a smooth ride on pavement, yet maintain its usual off-road faculties, with a new G-Mode that adjusts the vehicle’s various systems for maximum control under otherwise challenging conditions.
Ram 1500. Already on the road as an early 2019 entry, a redesigned full-size Ram 1500 pickup truck is lighter, longer, and wider than before. It comes wrapped in fresh styling that sheds the old “big rig” look for a more upright and purposeful appearance, and with improved aerodynamics. Its base 3.6-liter V6 engine and available 5.7 Hemi V8 produce 305 and 395 horsepower, respectively, and include a new 48-volt “eTorque” mild-hybrid system for improved fuel economy (the V6 is rated at 25 mpg on the highway) with added torque for more energetic performance. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard with four-wheel-drive optional. Trailer-towing capacity is at a maximum 12,750 pounds when properly equipped, yet it rides well and handles easily, especially with the optional air suspension. The new Ram comes in a full range of cab configurations and bed lengths, and in trim levels that run from work-truck-basic to luxury-car opulent, and off-road ready, each with its own styling tweaks. A new Active Noise Cancellation system helps maintain in-cabin serenity, while an optional 900-watt Harmon Kardon audio array shatters it.
Land Rover Range Rover Coupe.
With planned production of only 999 units, and a sticker price starting at around $240,000, sightings of the ultra-luxurious Range Rover Coupe will be rare indeed. Hand-assembled in the U.K., it strikes a stunning two-door profile with unique side vent and grille designs, and exceeds even the manufacturer’s high standards for its interior materials and workmanship. At that, there’s ample opportunity for customization with access to more than 100 paint colors (plus unique ‘match to sample’ hues), various interior trim and finishes, duo-tone front and rear leather colors with a bespoke quilt pattern and contrast stitching, door-handle and tread-plate engraving, and semi-precious metal badging. Oh, and a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine sends a muscular 557 horsepower to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox; a lower ride height and other improvements add to its handling abilities, but with no adverse effect on the vehicle’s legendary off-road prowess.
Rolls Royce Cullinan.
Rolls-Royce joins the swelling super-premium SUV market for 2019 with the new Cullinan. Named after the largest diamond ever discovered, it looks just like you’d expect it would, with “suicide” rear-opening back doors and the brand’s “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament adorning an upright front grille. It’s all Rolls inside, which means it’s plenty plush, and can be further dressed up with bespoke touches. Buyers can choose from a rear bench with split-fold seatbacks (the first ever in a Rolls) or individual buckets separated by a console that houses a mobile bar with Rolls-Royce whiskey glasses and decanter, champagne flutes, and a small refrigerator. A glass partition separates the passenger cabin from the luggage compartment, and why not? A 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine sends 563 horsepower to all four wheels; the Cullinan is engineered for maximum off-road abilities without sacrificing the genuine Rolls-Royce “magic carpet ride” in the process.
Subaru Ascent. Subaru finally gets a larger three-row alternative to its popular Forester for 2019, and it appears to hit all the right buttons. The largest Subaru ever built, its exterior styling is attractive, though a bit understated, with a sufficiently roomy and nicely cast interior that features no fewer than 19 cup and bottle holders and eight USB charging points for family fun. A new 2.4-liter horizontally-opposed “boxer” engine generates 260-horsepower, with a gearless CVT automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive included. Buyers can choose between a center-row bench seat for eight-passenger capability, or a pair of captain’s chairs. Standard features include full smartphone compatibility with the Android Auto and Apple Car Play interfaces and an available in-cabin Wi-Fi connection. Subaru’s EyeSight suite of advanced safety systems comes standard, and includes a head-up display with reverse auto-braking available.