With Nissan expected to enter the midsize-SUV fray in our market, we thought it would be nice to have a look at the lesser-known manufacturers of sport-utility vehicles out there. How many of the following eight SUVs have you honestly heard of? Now would be a good time to test your car knowledge.
1. Force Gurkha. Built in India and named after the famous Gurkhas—exceptionally brave and strong soldiers of Nepali nationality who have served with distinction in various armies around the globe—this vehicle has been around since 2008. While it is available in a civilian version, the Gurkha was originally marketed to the military and is designed to handle rough terrain, although with only 85 diesel horses under the hood, it will be more of a slow invasion than a blitzkrieg.
2. Borgward BX7. Ask an old German dude about the name Borgward and he will immediately remember the Isabella, a sexy-looking coupe that turned heads on the roads of Germany in the 1950s. Hamburg-born Carl Borgward had landed a real winner with that car and it would prove to be his most popular model ever. Unfortunately, it was also one of his last, as the company closed down in 1961. It would take 50 years until his grandson Christian Borgward managed to revive the marque with the help of Chinese investors. The first model from the relaunched Borgward brand is the BX7, which was developed with help from Chinese truck manufacturer Foton and is also being built at the latter’s Beijing plant. The vehicle comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter in-line-four engine producing 225hp, and has been on sale in China since July 2016.
3. Changan CS15. Chinese state-owned carmaker Changan Automobile churns out millions of vehicles a year, but we bet you’ve never seen one of its SUVs in the metal. The CS15 comes with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (105hp and 138Nm), four airbags and a sunroof. When the company isn’t building its own cars, it’s usually busy operating joint ventures with Mazda, Ford and Suzuki.
4. Opel Mokka X. Opel is a household name in Germany and many other countries, including the UK where the brand is known as Vauxhall. It’s a bit of a meat-and-potato brand renowned for building affordable cars for the working and middle classes. The Mokka X is a tiny SUV that has proven to be a big hit for the brand. Built in the company’s factories in South Korea and Spain, this model has also made it to China, where it is known as the Buick Encore. Engines range from a 108hp EcoFlex unit to a 153hp 1.4-liter turbo.
5. UAZ Hunter. This is exactly how you imagine a car from Russia to be: sturdy, outdated but perfectly capable of getting the job done. The Hunter is based on the UAZ-469, a military off-road vehicle that once did duty in Eastern Bloc countries. Think of the Hunter as being to the Hummer H1 what the UAZ-469 was to the Humvee. It is currently available with either a 2.7-liter gasoline engine or a 2.2-liter diesel motor, a five-speed manual transmission, and a four-wheel drivetrain. Oh, in case you were wondering, UAZ stands for Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, which is Russian for Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant.
6. Mobius II. Africa isn’t really a place you think about when it comes to car manufacture, but that didn’t stop British entrepreneur Joel Jackson from starting Mobius Motors in 2009. Basically, if the shape of a Range Rover is too round and the ride of a Defender is too soft for you, then the Mobius II might be to your liking. The robust 4×4 is designed for the rough roads of Kenya, and comes with a four-cylinder engine that delivers 131hp and 182Nm, a sealed solid rear axle, and a steel space frame mounted onto a longitudinal ladder chassis.
7. Luxgen U6. Chances are few people will have heard of Luxgen outside the company’s home market of Taiwan, but the U6 has actually been in production since 2013 and enjoys a reputation as being an affordable crossover SUV. The model is sold in two variants (GT and GT220) and comes with all sorts of goodies as standard equipment, including multiple augmented-reality camera modes that let you see your car from different angles while you drive. The U6 also looks quite tidy–more so if brand-conscious buyers can see past its provenance.
8. GMC Terrain. Our list wouldn’t be complete without at least one American sport-utility on it, and the Terrain fits the bill as one of the lesser-known SUVs from across the pond. Originally launched in 2010, the latest generation has just hit the streets and comes with an almost un-American choice of 1.5-, 1.6- and 2.0-liter engines and not a V8 in sight. The 2.0-liter block is the top-of-the-range version, and the 252hp it generates should be enough to haul passengers plus trailer to wherever they need to go in the Land of the Free.