NYC Show: Outback, Telluride, Wagoneer SUVs and EV-mania

Posted by Talbot Payne on April 15, 2022

New York — Automakers say the future is electric, but the present is gas (if you can find it here for under $4 a gallon).

In addition to a flock of new electric vehicles on the floor and on its 250,000 square-foot test track, this year’s New York International Auto Show is headlined by updates of some of the most popular internal-combustion SUVs in the business, including the Subaru Outback, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

The dashing utes are flagships of their respective brands and bring in big bucks to their manufacturers in a market where 99% of vehicles on the road are still powered by gas.

They are also in segments viewed as the least amenable to electrification — whether the adventure-focused Outback or the thirsty, family-focused Wagoneer. Popular with consumers, they are the focus of Washington efforts to bring down gas prices this week by waiving the ethanol mandate, even as federal agencies force adoption of the EVs that are the focus of the New York show.

For 2023, the Subaru Outback gets a new front look and added technology, among other upgrades.

Subaru rolled out significant upgrades to its iconic Outback SUV with a redesigned fascia, increased engine options and more tech. Starting at $28,320, the Outback has led the industry surge into outdoor-focused SUVs followed by entrants like the Ford Bronco Sport and Mazda CX-50. Subaru’s perennial bestseller along with the Forester, Outback now comes in six models: Base, Premium, Onyx, Wilderness, Limited and Touring.

Not content to let segment newcomers poach on their territory, the all-wheel-drive Outback gets a facelift — including, no surprise, a bigger grille — and new fender cladding on all trims but the Wilderness.

To keep up with the furious pace of electronics development, models receive wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability and an update to Subaru’s acclaimed EyeSight Driver Assist Technology that brings a suite of standard features like 4G WiFi, smartphone connectivity apps, adaptive cruise-control and limited autonomous driving capability. The top-shelf Touring model gets a new Wide-Angle Mono Camera for better safety detection of, for example, pedestrians and bicycles at an intersection.

The Outback's freshened models offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, WiFi and a suite of driver-assist features.

Add blind-spot detection with lane-change assist, and Eye Sight will automatically steer to help avoid collision at speeds up to 50 mph. The popular, blacked-trimmed Onyx Edition — once available only with the premium, 2.4-liter, turbo-4 engine — gains a normally-aspirated 2.5-liter 4-banger to better manage those $4-a-gallon fill-ups.

Subaru has struggled with regulations pushing electrics and the Outback is a test case as to why. With its long range, 9-inch ground clearance and rugged capability, it offers superior, 600-mile overlanding capability for Subaru’s core customers – while stickering for 10 grand below the brand’s forthcoming, similarly-sized, 300-mile-range Solterra EV.

The 2023 Kia Telluride is available in X-Pro trim that increases towing capacity to 5,500 pounds.

There are few SUVs hotter in the U.S. market than the Alabama-assembled Kia Telluride, which debuted in 2020 to rave reviews and customer hunger for its upscale looks and affordable price — cheaper than a comparable Ford Explorer by $8,000 in some cases and undercutting even perennial segment leader Toyota Highlander.

It quickly became the brand’s family halo, collecting an armful of industry awards, and attracting 75% new customers to the Korean brand. Tough act to follow.

The ’23 mid-cycle refresh treads lightly in upgrading the vehicle’s good looks. Even three-row utes aren’t immune from Americans’ thirst for the outdoors and the Telluride gains X-Line and X-Pro off-road trims — the latter featuring increased ride height and standard, low-profile all-terrain tires for where the asphalt ends.

Dual 12.3-inch screens and smartwatch compatibility are among the high-tech features offered in the refreshed Telluride.

The Kia gains significant interior upgrades to complement its best-in-class space and clever innovations like a first-to-third-row speaker system. The interior is now available with luxurious dual curved 12.3-inch display screens — more likely to be found in lux vehicles costing tens of thousands of dollars more. In addition to a blizzard of standard safety features, Telluride offers clever tricks like Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy smartwatch compatibility to remote-control interior climate, and stolen vehicle tracking-and-immobilization capability.

The Telluride’s 291-horse V-6 remains untouched, but its tow limit increases to 5,500 pounds with the X-Pro. Towing is a key reason automakers are nervous about going electric in large SUVs. Already inferior for long-range trips, EVs drink range when towing.

The 2023 Hyundai Palisade, aimed less at outdoors enthusiasts than sister Telluride, gains a less-polarizing face as part of a mid-cycle refresh.

Hyundai makes its sister Palisade on the same platform as the Telluride and shares many of the same upgrades. The more metropolitan-themed Hyundai, however, does not go the all-terrain-model route.

2023 Hyundai Palisade

In addition to the big screens inside, the Palisade gets a more modest fascia compared to its polarizing 2020 mug. Rear passengers will appreciate the second-row armrest angle adjuster, third-row seats and in-car WiFi.

“More than ever, Palisade is the ultimate family vehicle for daily use and memory-making road trips,” said Hyundai North America VP for mobility Olabisi Boyle, touting the SUV’s new tow mode for easier hauling.

Born to tow: The 2023 Grand Wagoneer L Series III can haul up to 10,000 pounds.

Towing is also a key ingredient of the Jeep Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L — stretch versions of the truck-based, three-row SUVs to compete against segment leader Cadillac Escalade.

Despite the introduction of major competitors like the Wagoneer twins and the Lincoln Navigator, Escalade has maintained its edge in the segment — accounting for 60% of sales in Q1. The Wagoneer L twins gain 12 inches in overall length and 7 inches of wheelbase. The increased proportions also mean the Wagoneer L delivers best-in-class passenger volume at more than 179 cubic feet.

Towing a best-in-class 10,000 pounds, don’t expect the Wagoneers to go electric anytime soon. But in a nod to the feds’ coming, 2026 fuel economy rules, the huge Stellantis utes are the first vehicles to get the automaker’s Hurricane V-6. The twin-turbo mill is slated to replace the Wagoneer’s hemi V-8s with more power and fewer CO2 emissions frowned on by regulators.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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