By on March 21, 2019

Once upon a time, the vehicles populating high school and college student parking lots were a rangy mish-mash of beat-up hatchbacks, faded hand-me-down family sedans, the odd minivan (daughters beware!) and the obligatory Mustang or Camaro. Soon, it’ll be a sea of crossovers. Maybe it already is — your author, understandably, doesn’t make a habit of cruising by such locales at low speed in the interest of checking out rides.

As vehicular variety decreases, the need to stand apart from the crowd hasn’t. Maybe that explains this week’s Chevrolet Blazer SS thought experiment. Sure, a hotter two-row crossover, especially in Blazer form, might not turn your crank, but that doesn’t mean there’s no audience for such a vehicle.

Is this segment in need of more muscle?

Gone are the days in which a low-priced coupe or sedan could play host to a myriad of ever-larger powerplants, sending tooth-rattling power aft to the rear wheels through beefed-up trannys and differentials borrowed from the OEM’s parts bin. Beancounters took over. Then the public started demanding an alternative to coupes and sedans.

Ford’s Edge ST seeks to upset the idea that mainstream crossovers can’t be the object of desire for the go-fast crowd. Okay, maybe just for members with family obligations. Its 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, retuned suspension, and bigger brakes seeks to entice the buyer who wants everything in one package. It isn’t crazy that some feel the need for a GM rival.

While Fiat Chrysler is more than happy to sell you a Dodge Durango or Jeep Grand Cherokee with monster V8 power, today we’re focusing on front-biased, high-riding unibodies.

Is there, um, utility in fielding a hot crossover? And, if you feel there is, which crossover on the market today would you like to see turned into a legitimate fire-breather?

[Image: General Motors]

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37 Comments on “QOTD: Wishing for Something Hotter?...”


  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    I’m guessing 95% of people would prefer to have heated leather seats and blind-spot monitoring to a turbo V6.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Definitely in need of more muscle. There really isnt that many “hot” entrants into the everyman’s crossover field. In the past we could count on a few souped up versions of family sedans, but now with sedans disappearing fast, stick shifts all but gone, I thing there is a real market for someone to due to a volume crossover with decent handling chops. Sort of what Ford did to the Focus with the ST and RS. A crossover version of a GTI if you will.

    I dont really count the Edge ST personally, I havent driven one for a while but I recall it as rather portly, heavy and sloppy. Maybe the ST version dials that heft down quite a bit, but something that feels lighter on its feet, like a Equinox, RAV4. I guess Blazer fits that mold.

    I feel that as more and more crossovers hit the market, we are bound to get a much better variety, some models even reminiscent of the sedans and wagons they are replacing. Crossovers that are lower to the ground, lower roof heights, etc, etc. So maybe Volvo with its Cross Country wagons, Subaru with the Outback (including the Outback version of the Legacy Sedan, Raised version of the S60), the Accord Crosstour, Acura ZDX and all the like were on to something.

    Splitting the difference between segments. That is not such a bad place to be. A step back for performance and economy perhaps, but also perhaps a step forward for convenience and comfort.

    I think there are still good things to come for car lovers.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I’d prefer the Edges ST not wear ST badges (I own a real ST model), but it is a solid package. I am looking at one for my wife to replace our gutless Santa Fe 2.4 that I purchased because “It’ll at least be reliable”. Then I got the “We are going to modify your knock sensor so it will let you know when your reliable 2.4’s bottom end is about to blow” recall notice.

      We like her Father’s Pilot, but don’t need a third row, so the passport was a natural option. 2 dealers so far have sent me the “Special Internet Price” I asked for. Apparently the special price is full MSRP.

      The Hyundai still has a ton of warranty left, but I moved up on a mountain and that little 2.4 struggles and sounds like my memory of a GM Quad 4.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        More than a few reviewers have said of the Edge ST. That’s nice. Please don’t put ST badges on it.

        Their argument seems to be that the ST is hot enough in the engine department just the suspension feel like more of the same old Edge.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I’ve driven the Edge ST and there is nothing sloppy feeling about it.

    But I gotta tow with the next new vehicle, so eagerly awaiting the new Explorer ST.

    RWD-based chassis architecture FTW!!!

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      To be clear, I havent driven the Edge ST. My observation is based on driving a standard Edge a few year ago. It is adequate transportation, but heavy feeling and did not enjoy.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I have been awaiting the new explorer too. Then I screwed up today and drove an Alfa Stelvio. That will be my wife’s next car weather she knows it yet or not lol.

  • avatar
    Robotdawn

    The problem is not enough people will pay the money for the performance models. Or at least not and make the automaker the same money as any other crossover.
    What I’d like is a stripper model with the power but without a the bells and whistles. I suspect the problem being there is everyone would start out with “as long as it has” and the next words would be different for each person.
    AC, cruise control are must haves. Beyond that….

  • avatar
    Raevoxx

    Well, except now they ARE making hotted up versions of CUVs and SUVs, and it looks like they are making even more. Maybe there just aren’t “hot” versions of the crossovers one is looking for?

    Hell, even the CX-5 finally got a turbo. Granted, my complaint there is that it (and other crossovers) are relegating hot engines to top $$$ trims.

    But I mean, even Hyundai has the 2.0T Santa Fe, and until recently had the 1.6T Tucson. Which is almost moot because some time back they confirmed a Tucson N. Which will be using the new 2.5T I4 Hyundai has been developing.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think a “sporty” version of most CUVs would be stupid, but offering more power (A LOT more in the subcompact and compact classes) almost across the board would be welcome.

    For example, the Edge should offer the 2.7T on non-ST trims. The RAV4 should offer a V6, 2.0T Renegade/Compass, 1.5T HRV, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      Agree with this completely. Nobody is asking for a stiffer suspension or a body kit on their CUV. But just a simple power boost or larger engine option would be welcome for pretty much every model.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Jeep makes some powerful SUV/crossovers

  • avatar
    jatz

    CAFE will continue to inexorably lower CUV roof heights to where this question is moot.

    Nothing will be taller than a tri-5 Chevy so of course young male buyers will want them hottened up, just like they did 60 years ago.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So I’m house hunting and the desire for the best “Swiss Army Knife” of a vehicle is kicking in. I was bound and determined NOT to get a CUV/SUV or a truck.

    Now I’m thinking ”I don’t need a truck for those half-a-dozen times a year I run to Home Depot, but if I had a CUV that could tow 3500-5000 lbs, and a small trailer…”

    I’m with Ajla… everything needs more power! But not a stiff suspension.

    The Highlander, Pilot, Palisade et al have turned into the default family vehicles of our generation, they now need their big block equivalent engines.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    As noted above, your local FCA dealer has you covered as usual.

    Friends of ours have a R/T Durango and love it. I have seen a 392 on a couple of occasions as well.

    Jeep of course can also turn your crank so to speak with a TrackHawk. Incidentally, last week I was in two Jeep dealers who had a TrackHawk on the showroom floor with 11k off MSRP. I am kind a thinking that **if** I were in the market for a SUV with serious HP, I would take the Jeep over the Cayenne.

    But to answer the question, I think a SS version of the Blazer would be great. I mean, why not? GM has aluminum 5.3’s lying around and they fit into just about anything. I don’t see a reason to acquiesce power and fun to FCA.

  • avatar
    TimK

    Springsteen’s “Born to Run” was released in 1975. That zeitgeist is long gone, and it ain’t coming back. Today we have the tuner crowd and their buzzy little death traps.

    Now you’ll have to excuse me while I crank up the stereo…

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      If by “today” you mean 2003, then yes.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Lol…yeah my buzzy little Fiesta ST will outrun pretty much anything from that era and not fold up when you hit something. The king of the hill cars from my highschool days were the fox body 5.0’s and TPI Third gen Camaros. It’ll run with them all day. 4th gen? Not so much but it won’t get embarrassed either and the interior doesn’t melt in 2 years. And it turns.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I don’t see the appeal. Of course I’d like a cute ute with power more than one without but the Platinum turbo editions to get the hot motor cost just as much as moving out of the cute ute class entirely. Mazda 5 turbo money will get you a Grand Cherokee. Edge ST money is a Tahoe. Are you kidding?

    I’m clearly the outlier here, other people are lining up to buy heated cupholder edition crapboxes even without hot motors, but I’m not about to join them.

    • 0 avatar
      Rocket

      Or viewed from a different perspective, a Tahoe is Edge ST money. Unless it’s going to be used as a towing vehicle/work truck or taken off road, I don’t understand why anybody would buy a massive, unrefined Tahoe over an Edge ST.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        Edge over a Tahoe? I have friends with both, and the Tahoe wins, hands down, “unrefined” or not. Even the friends who own the Edge like the Tahoe better, but they are diehard Ford people (for reasons I’ll never understand), so they wouldn’t ever buy a Tahoe/Yukon. I personally would take the Tahoe for being RWD alone, let alone the comfort and utility factors.

  • avatar
    stereorobb

    when i was in high school circa 1998-2002, the standard fare of high school parking lot cars were mostly 1970s and 80s era v8, rwd sedans, box chevy caprice was a crowd favorite. everyone seemed to have one. either that or the first generation acura legends or integras, honda civics and accords. the cool kids had old wore out bimmer 318s and mercedes 300Es. only SUVs most people had were K5 blazers.

    20 years from now, im not sure what we will see in high school parking lots as “future hoopties” considering everything is going to turbocharged 4 bangers and are being crammed to the teeth with computers, i doubt most cars from 2019 will still be hanging on in 2039.

  • avatar
    stereorobb

    on top of that the demographic has really shifted. cars are more like appliances these days and most folks are more concerned about bluetooth, backup cameras, and fuel economy. our high school kids driving clapped out cars from the 2010s, in the 2030s havent been born yet. will their folks mindset on cars rub off on them? what i DO see lasting are cars with NA engines, that can really take a beating and years of neglect. i think well see plenty of beat up chrysler 300s, dodge chargers, and old Lexus LS460s with ripped leather seats.

  • avatar
    Terry

    avatar
    Raevoxx
    March 21st, 2019 at 10:07 am
    “Hell, even the CX-5 finally got a turbo. Granted, my complaint there is that it (and other crossovers) are relegating hot engines to top $$$ trims.”

    I have had said vehicle, the ’19 Mazda CX-5 Signature for one and a half months now.
    It isnt a “Hot SUV” in the Mach1 Mustang or 383 Roadrunner idiom.
    It does have a splendid interior, slightly larger front brakes, remarkable steering and handling…and with 310 lb-ft torque @ 2000 rpm it goes like stink. Effortless acceleration, just not of the ’60s tire smoking kind, what with AWD-the only way you get the turbo.(The trim below the Signature, the Grand Touring Reserve also uses the same powertrain). It’s also no high-rpm screamer either with that 6200-rpm redline. With the instant torque, no need to wring its neck for maximum acceleration. Speed-limited to 130 mph via engine control unit. Indicted 29.5 mpg so far if I keep my foot out of it.
    I test-drove the Edge, really liked it. The standard 2.0T engine was acceptable, not too much more. It was considerably more expensive than my CX. The Edge ST would have had more interior and cargo space than my CX, acceleration would have been good…but with the CX-5 I only have one turbocharger and one cylinder head to worry about.
    With a stronger engine and better interior the ’19 RAV4 would have been my next choice. I wouldnt even consider anything with a CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      Rocket

      Serious question: does the AWD CX5 Turbo offer the same torque steer I experienced in the AWD CX9? I’m looking forward to sampling the CX7, or whatever they decide to call the new mid-sizer, but that torque steer was a major turnoff for me.

      • 0 avatar
        Terry

        If my CX-5 has torque steer, I sure dont notice it…and I’ve hammered it pretty hard. The CX-9 weighs close to 500 lb more than the CX-5, so it’s possible that instead of feeding torque inputs into the steering, the CX-5 JUST GOES.

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    I literally just bought a 17 focus ST. I don’t begrudge Ford for using the name on other models simply because they are ceasing north American sales of the 2 previous models to which the moniker applied.

    As long as said ST models are a true performance step up from the standard versions.

    A manual transmission would be nice, but I know I’m living in the past and the computers can shift faster than my slow inferior human motor function (pun intended).

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      “A manual transmission would be nice, but I know I’m living in the past and the computers can shift faster than my slow inferior human motor function (pun intended).”

      And that is the problem in a nutshell with the ST badge on this vehicle. Literally every ST that has come before it in the US has not only offered a manual, they were all manual only affairs. They weren’t simply “step up” cars…they were cars built for car people.

      But as there are no more of those models forthcoming, I suppose it doesn’t matter what they slap the badge on.

      I would have loved a Mustang “ST”. Slap the best suspension underneath and the 3.0 ecoboost under the hood. Of course as a Mustang such a package should wear SVO badges but ST works better today. But the Edge ST is a solid package for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I own the “lesser” ST model (Fiesta) BTW. I love it too. I drove a new one in Europe (2019) and loved it as much and would have happily leased it in 2 years, then another, and so on. As it is who the heck knows now.

      • 0 avatar
        TheDutchGun

        I went from a paid for 2015 5.0L F150 with 130,000 km on it and several minor quibbles/repairs to address to a 2017 focus ST with 20,000 km on. Zero regrets and am loving the manual transmission again. I will shed a tear when the final nail is put in the clutch pedal’s coffin.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Of course there are already hot crossovers, albeit at a higher price point. A friend of mine just bought a BMW X3 M40i, which has the 3.0 L6 turbo with 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, and does 0-60 mph in 4.6 secs. Hot enough?

    It does list for $56K though.

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