SUV makers unveil new efficient features


The redesigned 2014 Nissan Rogue Crossover SUV ($23,350 base price) is still a compact, but it's been enlarged a bit and given a third row seat for more utility.

Nissan is moving the vehicle up in stature to better compete in that not too small, not too big arena of small sport utilities.

Four cylinders under the hood, along with the latest version of Nissan's continuously variable transmission combine for impressive EPA fuel economy numbers. Up 18 percent to 33 highway, says Nissan.

The small to medium-sized SUV segment is definitely hot right now. Mitsubishi has introduced an updated Outlander. The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander ($23,820 base price) also features a third row seat, and puts a bit of sport in the term "sport utility vehicle" with a smooth, powerful V6 engine as an option.

Going way up the price scale, the new 2014 Range Rover Sport ($63,495 base price) shows that the luxury brands are looking for improved fuel efficiency too.

A new aluminum structure means that this luxury SUV has shed 800 pounds in the redesign, and a new standard supercharged V6 replaces the former V8 for much improved fuel economy.

And, one new option is a small third row seat. The Range Rover Sport has become a lot more family-friendly, as well as a bit more earth-friendly.

One of the selling features of a lot of SUVs is a third row seat but keep this in mind: a lot of these third row seats are pretty small. You might have small children now, but you're probably going to own the vehicle for three to five years. Those small kids and their small friends aren't going to stay small for long.

If you need something with a true third row seat, General Motors has given its mid-size SUVs a makeover, including the 2014 GMC Acadia ($35,260 base price): lots of room for people and cargo, and a bit of extra glitz and luxury with the optional Denali trim package. Its GM siblings, the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave got a refresh this year as well.

There have been predictions for years that sport utility vehicles would fall out of favor and go away. But many buyers have gotten used to having cargo space and a high seating position.

With new features and increased efficiency, SUV's seem to be here to stay, keeping buyers happy while adapting to the times.

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