The last year in cars saw a small decline in overall sales and a few signs of trouble ahead, even as trucks, SUVs and crossovers dominate the landscape. So what do we possibly have to look forward to in 2018? Hope, or despair, await us all next week at the Detroit Auto Show.
Update Jan. 10, 7:30 a.m. pst: The 2019 Ram 1500 reveal has been confirmed by Ram for Jan. 15.
Update Jan. 10, 9:00 a.m. pst: The 2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt has been confirmed by Automotive News.
Update Jan. 12, 9:00 a.m. pst: The 2019 Veloster has been confirmed by Hyundai.
The annual Detroit show has traditionally been America’s biggest automotive trade show of the year, despite CES stealing some of its thunder now that the Vegas tech exhibition is chock full of “mobility solutions.”
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And even though we’ve been under a deluge of pseudo-car transportation buzzwords for years now, new cars for car fans (and truck fans) are still coming out too. Here’s what should be on your radar for the Detroit show this year, which kicks off for the media on Jan. 13, 2018.
Everyone else will be able to walk the floor from Jan. 20 to 28. If you’re going, check out this helpful guide on how to get there and how to park. Bring a coat. We don’t know if anyone’s mentioned this, but Detroit’s cold in January.
Below, you’ll find all the debuts we know are coming, the ones we think are coming, and a few wild cards. Let us know if you think we missed any.
Ford Ranger: Likely
Almost exactly one year ago, Ford told us a new Ranger was coming for 2019. We’ve heard lots of speculation about how similar it will be to the T6 Ranger found in other markets, but right now, we just don’t know.
The Ford Trucks PR chief said last year that the truck would be “all-new,” and that it would feature unique front-end styling and powertrains for the U.S. market. Does “all-new” just mean “all-new” to the U.S. market, or will we see significantly different bones than the T6?
We don’t know for sure yet, but rumor has it that we will know in the coming week or so. It’ll be exciting to see the Tacoma and the Colorado (and Frontier) get some more competition, especially in terms of off-road capability. Ford, please bring us the Ford Ranger Raptor.
2019 Ford Mustang GT500: Anticipated
Chevy has the 650 horsepower Camaro ZL1, Dodge has the 707 horsepower Challenger Hellcat and the 840 horsepower Demon. That leaves Ford as the only member of the Big Three that doesn’t offer a muscle car with over 600 horses. Granted, FoMoCo does have a 526 horsepower GT350, which is a track-day monster. But these are the horsepower wars, not the handling wars. And that means Ford needs to let more ponies out of the barn.
We’ve been seeing spy shots of dressed-up Mustangs and listening to exhausts of engineering mules for quite some time now. Hopefully we’ll get to figure out what was lurking beneath all that camo at the Detroit Auto Show next week.
2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt: Likely/Confirmed
We’re hoping we see at least one new version of the Ford Mustang at the Detroit Auto Show, whether it’s the GT500 or a Bullitt. We reported a shady looking Bullitt window sticker in October, and while that was a hard blow after getting our hopes up, the Bullitt edition Mustang could still show up one of these days—perhaps in Detroit.
Automotive News is sure this is happening, detailing that the vehicle will be sold as a 2018 model to line up with the 1968 movie’s 50th anniversary.
Carscoops reports that Mustang 6G forum discovered a Barrett Jackson auction page stating that Ford planned to auction of a “Special new Ford Mustang” on Jan. 19, with the web page using an image of an old Mustang outfitted just like Steve McQueen’s from the movie Bullitt.
The forum mentions that Ford has a history of auctioning off the first of a special model, so perhaps will indeed debut a Bullitt in Detroit? That’d be great because, even though the last Bullitt Mustang was really just a Mustang GT with a few engine and suspension mods, and a special paint job and special wheels, it looked fantastic, and will almost certainly go down as a future classic.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado: Confirmed
Chevrolet will finally provide more details on the new-for-2019 Silverado pickup truck, which made its debut at the Texas Motor Speedway last month. All we really know about this truck is that it looks a little sleeker than the current model.
Interestingly, Automotive News is reporting that GM will start building a bigger division between Chevy and GMC, meaning that the company will most likely reveal the new GMC Sierra another time.
Mid-Engine Corvette: Probably Not But Maybe
We’ve been hearing about mid-engine Chevrolet Corvettes for so long, it almost seems silly to write this. But we’ve been seeing a hell of a lot of big-assed GM sports car spy shots lately, so we know The General is up to something.
The automaker has teased and toyed with a mid-engine Corvette for decades now, and even deployed some in racing. Though the current C7 Corvette is an incredible performance machine, to become a true exotic-killer this is probably the Corvette’s next evolutionary step. So far we have leaked CAD images and documents that suggest a pair of twin-turbo V8 engines will be available. If early reports are true it could have as much as 850 horsepower in top trim.
Will a mid-engine corvette—the bigfoot of the auto industry—finally show its sheetmetal in Detroit next week? We think that’s unlikely, and that it’s more plausible that GM will reveal it at a special, standalone event this spring or summer.
But hey, we’re hoping it’ll show up anyway. We won’t say no to the clicks.
2019 Ram Pickup: Confirmed (Updated)
A redesigned Ram truck has been spotted testing, and Automotive News has reported that the next iteration of the FCA’s half-ton pickup will be unveiled at the Detroit show. On Jan. 10, Ram dropped the first of what will probably be a series of teaser hype videos which confirmed that a new 2019 model year Ram 1500 would be bowing on Jan. 15. A blog post from a Ram dealership includes a spy shot of the rotary shifter and what looks like a revised Uconnect screen.
Spy shots we have seen indicate that the next Ram will look like, well, the current Ford Ranger of all things. At least, the hexagonal grille bezel seems similar. Whether or not Ram will announce any upgrades to its EcoDiesel trim now that it has a competitor in the F-150 Power Stroke remains to be seen. Ram’s communications chief did throw some shade at Ford’s half-tone diesel option on Twitter and Facebook, so you can interpret that however you want.
Ram’s engineers have long been aware of Ford’s intention to put a diesel engine in an F-150, but it’s unlikely that they knew exactly what the Blue Oval truck’s specs would be before the release that came out late Sunday night.
2019 Mercedes G-Class: Confirmed
When you’ve been selling a vehicle with similar looks and essentially the same simple, body-on-frame platform for about 40 years, clearly something is working. So it’s not surprising that Mercedes hasn’t changed the formula too drastically for 2019—well, at least in the looks department—because based on the official photos shown earlier this month, the G still looks very chunky and angular, and definitely conjures up images of the mighty original Geläendewagen.
Though it may look like that military and farmland workhorse, the new G-Class gets a new interior and an independent front suspension, both of which we’re eager to see in person.
How nice is the new G compared to the already swanky outgoing model, and do those control arms in the independent suspension setup look beefy enough to tackle the rough stuff?
2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS53: Possible
The Mercedes CLS450 debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show last month with a 362-horsepower turbocharged inline six and a 48-volt integrated starter generator system, which can provide 21 HP and 184 lb-ft of extra boost for short durations.
It’s the return of the inline six, and we’re all thrilled. But what we’ll be even more thrilled about is an even more powerful version of that 3.0-liter inline six. That’s what Car And Driver thinks will debut at the Detroit Auto Show next week. The publication said in an article in November that it expects the CLS53 to make 430 horsepower thanks to an “enhanced version of the new inline-six hybrid powertrain.” That sounds awesome.
2019 BMW i8, X2 and X7 iPerformance Concept: Confirmed
BMW is bringing an updated version of its i8 Coupe electric sports car and the i8 Roadster First Edition convertible. They pretty much look the same as they always have, with some subtle tweaks and a new pointless “COUPE” badge behind the side windows of the slicktop. The revised i8 will run a three-cylinder gas engine paired with electric motors for a total claimed output of 374 horsepower.
Sharing the stage, looking much less lean, will be the new X2 crossover SUV. Although it looks pretty low in pictures, more like a high-riding hatchback than a small SUV. Again with the rear-pillar badge. Why, BMW?
Speaking of SUVs, the X7 iPerformance Concept will be on display as well. Look at it, if you dare.
Third Gen Acura RDX Prototype: Confirmed
Acura will show off a prototype of the third-generation RDX crossover. The original RDX was novel, because it was one of the first Hondas to use a turbocharger in years. We don’t know much about the new version yet, but Acura is proudly proclaiming that the vehicle was designed and developed in America.
Apparently it will ride on an “Acura-exclusive platform” in case you were worried about it being a rebadged Honda. We would guess it will look a lot like the Acura Precision concept, with a higher roofline and no trunk.
Third Gen Honda Insight Prototype: Confirmed
Honda has a prototype of the next Insight hybrid it will be displaying, as a “precursor” to the 2019 Insight. You can expect the concept car to be an aesthetically exaggerated version of what Honda will trot out as a final product, but the company has promised the car will “will be powered by Honda’s two-motor hybrid system” to take its efficiency game to a new level.
GAC Motor Sedan And Concept: Confirmed
Chinese automaker GAC Motor will be showing off its existing lineup plus a brand-new sedan and a concept car. GAC prides itself on being the only Chinese automaker at the NAIAS. You’re still hard-pressed to find a GAC on U.S. roads, but apparently this year’s show will feature “an update to [GAC’s] strategy... as the company moves towards officially entering the market in 2019.”
GAC’s press release was also loaded with words like “new energy” and “networking” so we can probably expect a complex presentation from this company.
Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept: Confirmed
Infiniti will trot out something being called the Q Inspiration Concept which the company describes as “the first manifestation of Infiniti’s new form language.” That means it’s no car in particular, but every car at the same time, as some of the curves and lines on this will supposedly trickle down into Infiniti’s lineup in the next few model years.
Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept: Confirmed
Lexus is ambitiously pitching its LF-1 Limitless concept as “the next genre in luxury crossover vehicles” which you can probably take to simply mean “another crossover vehicle.”
That said, looking closely at the teaser image suggests this might be a two-door. How else could the gauge cluster be within view from this rear-quarter perspective? SUV coupes are coming back, baby!
2019 Jeep Cherokee: Confirmed
The Jeep Cherokee KL has been around since 2014, and by now, it’s in desperate need of a refresh. Really, it has needed an update ever since it launched with its alien-like front end and its awkward concave rear hatch.
Jeep already showed off the new looks in December, and while the interior looks largely the same, the outside is a huge improvement. Now the question is: will there be any powertrain updates to the current 2.4-liter inline-four and the 3.2-liter V6 options?
2019 Volkswagen Jetta: Confirmed
One of the questions we have for the 2018 Detroit Auto Show is: will Volkswagen make the Jetta nice again?
This latest generation Jetta ditched the multilink rear suspension on all but the GLI models, littered the interior with god-awful hard plastics, and really just lost its way from the small, somewhat luxurious, decent-handling sedan we all came to love in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Will a nice Jetta based on solid MQB platform await us in the Cobo Center next week? We hope so. One thing we do know is that the car should look something like that sketch shown above, which Volkswagen released last month.
2019 Toyota Avalon: Confirmed
The Toyota Avalon isn’t the Jalop-est of cars out there; it’s a front-drive, automatic, big sedan that really doesn’t look like much. But that’s kind of what the Avalon is all about; it’s there to offer lots of space, unassuming looks that just blend in with the environment like a chameleon, providing decent fuel economy and power. It’s not really meant for fun, though if you throw it around a track, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
The Avalon is a big sedan without any bullshit attached. And while we don’t know much about the new 2019 model, Toyota did tease the new headlight last month, attaching a title “Style and Dynamism, Actualized.” Which... wow. Are we at Peak Buzzword yet? More importantly: Will this be a sportier Avalon? Probably no. But that’s OK.
2019 Hyundai Veloster: Confirmed
The Veloster is a quirky three-door hatchback that has always looked sportier than it really was, especially before the turbo model debuted in 2013. Still, in a sea of boringness, the Veloster is quirky and fun.
Even if it doesn’t become a Focus ST or VW GTI fighter in the new generation, a revision has been confirmed to launch at the Detroit Auto Show. As long as Hyundai keeps the Veloster weird, we’ll be happy. And based on some spy shots we showed last month, at least aesthetically, thing are looking promising in the “weird” department. Thank the car gods.
2019 Nissan Altima: Possible
Last Detroit Auto Show, Nissan showed us its V-Motion 2.0 Concept, essentially a design study meant to show us all the direction Nissan is headed with its styling, much like the Infiniti Q mentioned above. The concept, with its aggressive front, glass roof, and sharp body lines, actually looked pretty decent.
The all-new 2019 Altima, which Car and Driver wrote in November might debut at Detroit this year, may very well take inspiration from that V-Motion concept for its interior and exterior styling. That’d be good, because the current Altima just feels dated, and its design could use a little adrenaline injection.
Whether the powertrains will get any adrenaline, we don’t know. Car and Driver hypothesized that the new vehicle could get more efficient versions of the current 2.5-liter I4 and 3.5-liter V6, but a small 1.6-liter turbo-four could also be in the cards—as could all-wheel drive and a longer wheelbase for more interior room.
But that’s all just conjecture. Hopefully next week, the world will feast its eyes on something more exciting than the current Altima. That sounds totally doable.
Mercedes-AMG GT Four-Door Coupe: Possible
We keep seeing spy shots of a mysterious, low-slung Mercedes four-door coupe. Between those, and the pretty AMG GT four-door concept that the brand rolled out at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, it’s fairly safe to say Stuttgart will be rolling out a Panamera competitor in the near future.
Carscoops thinks the all-wheel drive four-door could debut in Geneva in March with the same 603-horsepower 4.0-liter biturbo V8 and nine-speed automatic found in other 63 AMG products. But who knows, maybe Mercedes will debut it before Switzerland and surprise us in the Motor City?
2019 Mini Cooper Hardtop and Convertible: Confirmed
Yes, small cars aren’t doing too hot right now, but the fun ones are still fighting the good fight. And Mini is expected to roll out updated versions of its bread and butter Hardtop and Convertible in Detroit.
The cars are expected to get a facelift and “better technology,” though we’re not clear on what that means quite yet. If we had to guess, we’d say that means the rollout of the dual-clutch gearbox that went on sale in non-U.S. markets last year. (Update: No DCT for America, officially. Sad.)
Jalopnik’s crew will be assembling in Detroit this Saturday (you can meet up with us and go racing) and covering as much of the action as we can over the course of the week. Stay tuned and get hype.
We need something to get excited about now that we’re entering the long, cold and less-fun section of winter.