20 January 2004

Vauxhall is planning a brace of off-roaders for launch in 2006. The smaller 4x4 is based on the American Saturn Vue/Chevrolet Equinox and replaces the defunct Isuzu-based Frontera, while the other will be developed from the next Chevrolet Trailblazer (pictured), thrusting it into the Toyota Land Cruiser class.

The smaller model will have styling unique to the Vauxhall/Opel versions, although expect a hint of the chunky-looking Chevrolet Equinox. It will be one of the biggest entrants in a class that includes the Land Rover Freelander, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail. Power units could include the 184bhp 3.0-litre and 188bhp 3.4 V6, and 146bhp 2.2 four-cylinder Ecotec engines. A diesel will be essential for Europe; the Fiat 2.4-litre JTD may be employed.

The Vue and Equinox are biased towards on-road performance and the Vauxhall would be similar, its suspension consisting of MacPherson struts up front and a four-link independent system at the rear. The full-size off-roader will use the GMT360 platform, which will yield a new Trailblazer next year as well as the Saab 9-7X SUV. It could mean that Vauxhall sells three US-based models – if the VX Lightning sports car gets approval.

Engine choice is unclear – expect V6s and possibly V8s, too – but a diesel option will also have to be developed for this car.

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