With the 2018 BMW X2, the automaker reaches deeper down-market to appeal to younger buyers seeking greater style in a compact crossover SUV.
Home for two of the world’s largest automakers, Ford and General Motors, Detroit represents the historical heart of the American auto industry.
Today, from education and research to design and development, Detroit is among the global hubs deciding what the future of the automobile and personal mobility will be, and the state of Michigan remains home to more assembly plants than are located in any other state.
Naturally, then, the annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit is a big deal. And the 2018 Detroit Auto Show is expected to deliver plenty of new drool-worthy cars, trucks, and SUVs.
Listed below in alphabetical order by make, you’ll find a preview of what’s coming to the 2018 NAIAS, and we’ll keep this updated as news becomes available.
2019 Acura RDX
Currently, the Acura RDX is based on the previous-generation CR-V platform, and is equipped with a V6 engine and front-wheel drive. A fairly simple all-wheel-drive system is an option, and lacks the company’s torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) technology.
In Detroit, you can expect to see a return to turbocharged 4-cylinder power and SH-AWD as Acura seeks to reclaim its technologically driven performance identity. The RDX will also be the first Acura designed from the ground up to wear the company’s new Precision design language, inside and out.
2019 BMW i8 Coupe
BMW will show the updated i8 Coupe in Detroit, and if the i8 Roadster is any indication, you can expect a 30-percent improvement in electric driving range, faster charging options, a new iDrive infotainment system with upgraded BMW ConnectedDrive programs, updated wheels, and fresh paint colors.
2018 BMW X2
The people have spoken, and they want SUVs. Well, vehicles that look like SUVs and promise the added traction of all-wheel drive combined with the extra utility afforded by a hatchback body style.
BMW is listening to the people, adding the new X2 to its lineup of sports activity vehicles, which are also known as crossovers.
Based on the same front-drive platform as the BMW X1 but equipped with a more stylish appearance, the X2 is smaller yet more expensive. But I predict that it’s going to sell quite well, mainly because it looks good and provides the people what they want at what counts as a somewhat reasonable price.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado
General Motors fields the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, and has to allocate budget to market two different trucks. In 2017, lots of that marketing money went toward making the F-150’s aluminum cargo bed look as fragile as a sheet of tissue paper faced with a box-cutter.
Despite this, and a half-ton load of J.D. Power awards, GM is gettin’ its butt whupped by Ford in the pickup truck sales race.
And that’s why, after just half a decade since its last redesign, an all-new 2019 Chevy Silverado will be fully detailed after its surprise unveiling in Texas last month.
2019 Ford Ranger
Remember small pickup trucks like the Chevy LUV, Ford Courier, and Nissan Hardbody? Those are gone, replaced by midsize trucks that are just as long and nearly as wide as full-size half-ton pickups, but can’t tow or carry as much weight.
What’s the point, then? Affordability.
Ford abandoned this segment years ago, but has been plotting a return based on the continued success of the Toyota Tacoma as well as cross-town rivals in the form of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. And with Nissan ready to revamp its ancient Frontier, Ford is ready to jump back into the fray.
2019 Honda Insight
The first hybrid to go on sale in the U.S. was not the Toyota Prius. It was the Honda Insight, a teardrop-shaped 2-seater that could easily get more than 60 mpg.
The first Insight’s small size, coupled with its lack of passenger and cargo room, meant Honda would cede hybrid dominance to Toyota. So, naturally, when the time came to replace the original Insight, it tried to build a Prius clone, and failed miserably.
Now, a new Insight is on the way, no doubt providing improved performance and fuel economy compared to the last one Honda sold. It looks pretty terrific, too, proving that a dedicated hybrid vehicle need not look like a cast-off from a Star Wars film set.
2019 Hyundai Veloster
Hyundai is rumored to be introducing a redesigned Veloster sports coupe in Detroit, and spy photos show the car in production-ready form. We don’t have the spy photos. Instead, we have this lovely image of a 2016 Veloster, which we will replace with the new car if and when it rolls onto a stage.
Expect a familiar 2+2 layout and an update on the unique shooting brake roofline. Normally aspirated and turbocharged engine options are almost a given, and Hyundai has a decent manual gearbox that it could yank out of the Elantra GT’s parts bin for this cooler expression of affordable performance.
It is also likely to remain on the Accent platform, which probably means it will be saddled with a torsion beam rear axle suspension. Meh.
Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept
I like the Infiniti Q70. It’s old-school, lacking the refinement and technology of modern luxury sport sedans. At the same time, the Q70 provides the last remaining lifeline to what Infinitis used to be. It feels alive in a driver’s hands, and is enjoyable to drive.
In Detroit, Infiniti will show a new concept sedan that points toward a Q70 successor, which is, frankly, overdue. Called the Q Inspiration Concept, the vehicle will also introduce new styling themes for Infiniti.
Based on the early-release image from Infiniti, the Q Inspiration’s recipe appears to be equal parts Kia Stinger and Porsche Panamera, with a Buick LaCrosse shoulder line tossed in for good measure. The result is undeniably appealing, but not terribly original.
2019 Jeep Cherokee
Polarizing designs are great for niche vehicles because love-it or leave-it styling can inspire small contingents of rabid fans to evangelize a brand. On a mainstream vehicle expected to sell in significant quantities, it’s not usually a good idea.
Thus, Jeep has restyled the Cherokee for 2019, better aligning its appearance with the new Compass and the larger Grand Cherokee.
Is this smart? Probably, but speaking for myself I’ll say that I really liked the looks of the Cherokee Trailhawk, which had reworked lower front styling and other detail changes that leveraged the unusual styling in a particularly effective way.
Lexus LF1 Limitless Concept
If you want an expensive Lexus SUV, your only choices are the GX and LX, and both of them are genuine trucks that have been dipped into vats of leather, wood, and sound deadening material in order to make them luxurious.
With its new concept vehicle, the LF1 Limitless, Lexus explores what a flagship crossover SUV might look like. Based on the aerial view of the vehicle’s left rear quarter, it looks pretty good.
2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS53
Is AMG going hybrid? Yep. And the rumor is that Mercedes will introduce the new 53 series of performance cars in Detroit, showcasing an electrified, turbocharged 6-cylinder engine generating more than 400 horsepower in a hot-rodded version of the company’s new CLS-Class.
2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Finally, after decades on the road, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is redesigned for 2019. So far, the company has only released photos of the interior, which reflects a significant upgrade in terms of technology. Also, it’s evident from the boxy roof pillars that the new G-wagen is likely going to look instantly familiar on the outside.
What’s under the hood is anyone’s guess, but this SUV is certain to be more fuel efficient than before. To this end, it will likely offer a mild hybrid powertrain. You can also bet on fantastic off-roading capability. Not that any buyers actually need it.
2019 Ram 1500
A decade ago, Dodge introduced a new Ram pickup on the streets of Detroit, complete with cowboys and cattle. Remarkably, 10 years on, the Ram remains a sales star, regularly threatening the newer Chevrolet Silverado thanks to its loyal fans, good looks, unique features, and a seemingly endless parade of special-edition versions designed to drum up new interest in an old truck.
Now, the current Ram’s long-awaited successor arrives. Expect a stiffer, stronger, safer, and more efficient truck designed to go head-to-head with the Ford F-150 and new designs from General Motors.
2019 Toyota Avalon
Believe it or not, the new 2018 Toyota Camry is a little smaller than the car it replaces. That leaves space for the Avalon full-size car to continue, and Toyota plans to introduce it at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.
Based on the teaser image, the new Avalon appears to be cut from the same styling cloth as the Camry, with bold design layered over what is undoubtedly a stretched version of the company’s new global vehicle architecture.
Expect a V6 engine as standard and repackaged hybrid drivetrain as an option. You can also bet on roomy rear seat accommodations and a larger trunk than is offered by the midsize Camry.
The approach is curious. Whereas the redesigned 2018 Honda Accord supplies full-size interior room at a midsize price, Toyota instead elects to design, build, and market two different cars.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The last time the Volkswagen Jetta was redesigned, the calendar read 2010, and the car was a stripped-down shell of its former Germanic self. Over time, VW realized the errors of its ways, and the Jetta steadily improved to become one of the better choices in the compact car segment.
Now, the company is redesigning the Jetta. Based on sketches that Volkswagen has released, the car sheds its boxy design for a sleeker appearance and a more upscale, mature look. Upgrades in terms of interior materials and technology are also expected. Let’s hope the car also benefits from an infusion of driving dynamism direct from the old country.