New trends with family SUVs: Bolder looks and better suited for off-road terrain

The formula is a familiar one: all-terrain tires and larger wheels support a revised suspension with a bit of a lift.

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ByDave Kunz via KABC logo
Sunday, August 7, 2022 1:58AM
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Family SUVs are following a new trend of looking cooler and being able to drive on rougher terrain. Ford and Nissan are coming out with newer models of the SUV that may encourage families to get away from civilization a bit.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Among pickup trucks, the Ford F-150 Raptor has achieved a bit of a must-have status through three generations. A factory high-performance desert-racing truck available right out of the showroom.

But since a pickup isn't the most practical choice for family life, Ford decided to put a bit of Raptor vibe into its full size Expedition SUV with the new Timberline model.

It's not quite as robust as the F-150 Raptor, but has extra capability for rough terrain.

A revised suspension provides better off-road stability and more ground clearance, and there are more aggressive all-terrain tires for traction, plus skid plates underneath borrowed from the Raptor pickup. Under the hood, it's a high-output version of Ford's twin-turbo V6 making 440 horsepower.

Visual cues are part of the package, with orange accents both outside and inside. The new Expedition Timberline carries a base price of just under $70,000.

Need something smaller? Just last year, Nissan revised its family-friendly Pathfinder, and are now launching the new Rock Creek edition.

As the name suggests, it's better suited to handle both rocks and creeks, as well as other terrain.

The formula is a familiar one: all-terrain tires and larger wheels support a revised suspension with a bit of a lift for more ground clearance. A standard tube frame roof rack can carry up to 220 pounds, and the standard trailer hitch allows you to tow up to 6,000 pounds. Just the thing to get the family off the pavement, and back to nature.

Nissan hasn't announced the price for the 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek yet, but a 2022 Pathfinder with all-wheel drive starts at around $40,000 for the mid-grade SV model.

Ford is further capitalizing on the halo of the Raptor name. This year, the already hot-selling Bronco gets a new version, the Bronco Raptor. More of pretty much everything, including width, ground clearance, and power. With a 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6 engine producing 400 horsepower, it's the most powerful Bronco Ford has ever built.

It's also the most expensive, starting at just over $70,000. There are a few options available, so some will stick in in the $75,000 to $80,000 range. Ford will probably sell every one of them it can build

Do most people need these specialty SUVs? Probably not. But they sure look cool, even just sitting in a parking lot. And who knows, they might inspire owners to actually get out and get away from civilization for a bit.