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Hooniversal Opinion: 2018 North American International Auto Show

Ross Ballot January 18, 2018 Detroit Auto Show, Featured 25 Comments

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, you guessed it, it’s auto show season! Kicking off 2018 is one of the biggies: the North American International Auto Show. This week many automakers and journalists alike congregated in wintry Detroit to show off and inspect the manufacturers’ newest offerings, both updated and all-new alike.

And what a well-rounded show it was. From pickups to performance cars there was something for everybody, a widespread exhibition of new and revised vehicles showcased over the past few days. Noteworthy debuts were the slew of truck offerings a la F150 diesel, Silverado, and Ram, and Ranger; Ford’s Bullitt Mustang; Hyundai’s second-gen Veloster and performance-focused N variant; Mercedes’ G-Class and 53-series AMG models; and many, many more.

What made waves and tickled our fancies? Hit the jump for details on what vehicles were revealed at the NAIAS, as well as opinions on said vehicles from your respective Hoons.

There’s a lot to say about the gravity of this year’s NAIAS, and of the course, bar, and standard it will set for not just the rest of the year’s auto shows, but for the future of the automotive world alike. But for the sake of brevity let’s skip that nonsense and get right to it.

2019 Ford Bullitt Mustang

Hot on the tails of the refreshed 2018 S550 Mustang, Ford has unveiled the much-anticipated Bullitt Mustang to coincide with its namesake film’s 50th anniversary. Notable features include the signature Dark Highland green paint, now-traditional Bullitt edition debadging and gas cap, cue ball shifter, black wheels, and a slight horsepower bump bringing it to a very healthy still-naturally-aspirated 475 that can be heard through a specially-tuned exhaust. Recaro buckets are optional for the front as are the Mustang’s performance packages, and the whole car is decidedly different in the details than the normal ‘Stang on which it’s based (though it’s certainly in the camp of “you have to know what this is to understand the significance”). All in all, the new Bullitt is a noteworthy package that builds on the best (non-GT350/350R) Mustang yet and certainly sets itself aside as being special.

 

I’m in love. Never has a new car been so perfect in my eyes upon first impression. People don’t like hearing this, but Bullitt was a boring film…aside from the all-important chase. The Mustangs celebrating the movie have always been somewhat interesting (i.e., not boring), and this new one is as far from boring as it gets. It seems absolutely brilliant in every way, from the paint to the power to the interior and even just its presence (at least that of which I can sense over the internet). If I had unlimited funds, this would be the first car I buy. It might even be up there on my list of all-time favorites.

-Ross Ballot

 

I’m a long-time Mustang fanatic, and I always get jazzed about new variants of the Ford sporty coupe. Highland Green is such a beautiful and understated color for a car like this, and the package looks cohesive.

-Bradley Brownell

 

There is nothing really special about this Mustang. It’s got a few original bits on it and few new ones but nothing shocking. In fact, it’s quite subdued. And that’s what makes it great. I should make some kind of speak softly and carry a big stick analogy here but I can’t think of one. Good job, Ford!

-Kamil Kaluski

 

Bullitt still remains one of my top favorite car movies, so I’m instantly a fan of this car. That color makes me drool and I’m eagerly awaiting to hear that exhaust note on start-up.

-Robby DeGraff

 

Ford never did offer that Robocop Edition Taurus, and American Motors disappeared before they had a chance to release a Terminator edition Gremlin (a retrospective re-issue, of course), so the Bullitt Mustang will have to do. And very nice it is, although does the package also include a VW Beetle that shows up on every corner you take?

-Chris Haining

 

I have to say, I hate the new headlights on the Mustang so much that I can’t get excited for this lovely tribute to a very green car.

– Patrick Hoffstetter

 

I think the 2018 Mustangs look much better in person than they do in photos and I can’t wait to see Highland Green on this one in person. I love the throwback wheels and the overall simplicity of this particular model. Consider me a fan.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

The color is great. The shifter looks rad. Offering more power over a standard GT is a smart move. I’m all for this one.

-Jeff Glucker

Love it, I am a big fan of the new 2018 shape and look and the Bullitt just takes that to a new level with the styling. Also good to see the Bullitt return to the model range and what a way to launch the car with Steve McQueen’s granddaughter Molly forming a major part of the launch. Also it was very very cool that Ford used the original Bullitt at the end of the reveal and drove it onto stage. Well played Ford

-Joel Strickland

2019 Hyundai Veloster / Veloster N

While the original Veloster never really caught on the way Hyundai had hoped, the quirkiness of the asymmetrical hatch still shines as it stands alone as sole bearer of an extra door on one side. And, though the Turbo was quicker than the base Veloster, it still wasn’t quite up to snuff. For its second generation Hyundai has seriously upped the ante, bringing a much sharper and more chiseled Veloster and, crucially, a dedicated performance model with power figures to dance with the best of them. The Veloster N boasts 275 hp and 260 lb-ft and your choice of a 6-speed stick or a DCT, so it should be a true performer. And while the base and lower trims aren’t as rowdy, they’re still a vast improvement.

 

The Koreans are absolutely killing the game right now. I actually enjoyed the no-nonsense Hyundai Accent I drove late last year, and the Kia Stinger is a monster of a car for the money. The Veloster N sounds like an absolute riot, and will only continue to garner favor for the brand. -Bradley Brownell

 

I’m looking forward to driving this quite a bit. So long as it is sharper and lighter on its feet than was the first-gen, it promises to be a blast and a true value.

-Ross Ballot

 

The problem with this wonderful engine is that it is in a Veloster. The original Veloster was interesting, it was different, edgy. But this new Veloster looks exactly the same as the old one. And because it’s looking dated it can no longer be different or edgy.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

While the current model is a tad outdated, the turbocharged Veloster is no doubt a fun car to drive, being a fan of hot hatches. I’m stoked to see how the aftermarket and tuner world grabs onto this new Veloster N.

-Robby DeGraff

 

If Veloster is to i30 what Scirocco is to Golf, the Veloster N is Hyundai’s Scirocco R, and I can’t see how that can be anything but a good thing. The i30 N makes all kind of life-affirming noises and is faster than a fast thing, and slamming those virtues into a slinkier shape makes all kinds of sense. The once-dreary Hyundai salad bowl sure has more cherry tomatoes in it now than once before.

-Chris Haining

 

This is going to be amazing. Using the letter next to M and almost the same colors is still a throwback to the Hyundai of old, but if this level of performance is going to be in the mix from now on, they might have a brave new world to conquer. Oh, and teaming up with Forza to debut the car in digital form for free is fantastic. That’s speaking to potential buyers in the most correct way possible.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

The old Veloster was always a sporty looking economy car. It’s styling made promises that other aspects of the car couldn’t deliver. This version, however, sounds like a serious GTI competitor on paper. It’s very intriguing.

-Jeff Glucker

 

Not really sure I see the point of the Veloster N, I think the I30N will be the bigger draw card. The I30N is coming to Australia where the Veloster may not, so at this stage I am more interested in the I30.

-Joel Strickland

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Seeing as it’s not just GM’s best-selling vehicle but also one of the best-selling in the country, an all-new Silverado is massive news. Along with an entirely new body and interior the all-new truck debuted with a diesel in the 1500-series model, weight savings, additional off-road models, and everything a truck or luxury buyer could want, since that’s what they’re sold as these days.

 

Trucks are too big, too expensive, and too luxury-focussed. I want a rubber-floor-mat, bench-seat, floor manual shifter, short bed, single-cab, 2wd burnout machine of a pick-’em-up truck. Bring back real trucks.

-Bradley Brownell

 

Let me start of by saying that Bradley is a moron and he shouldn’t be talking about trucks. Today’s full-size trucks are some of the best vehicles available. Because the market is so competitive, automakers do their best work on pickups. In my opinion the F-150 is a brand in itself and is significantly better than all other Ford offerings. Any new truck coming on the market will look good in pictures, although that may not be the Silverado’s strongest attribute, and have a proper spec sheet. The Silverado seems to have that but how good it really is at doing truck things will really show once it’s put to work.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

Eh, I’m not sold…the front end looks great and I applaud Chevy for keeping the traditional column shifter, but the interior still looks outdated cheap. Why on earth do we need a power rear tailgate?

-Robby DeGraff

 

I’m a moron, too, and I’m not really qualified to talk about full-size North American pickups, simply because the shadow cast by a Silverado could plunge the average English village into a localised ice-age. Looks cool, though, for those cowboys rootin’ and tootin’ enough to rock one. Yahoo.

-Chris Haining

 

Chevy needs to do a rethink with their entire Truck line. Ford has them on every front, and as a “lifestyle” vehicle, they’re third best even then.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

GM sure does like making their cars and trucks look like Transformers. With this one I’d expect Optimus Prime to be the guiding voice on its nav system.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

For the record, everything Brad wants in a truck is available. They still sell those models and they sell a shit ton of them in fleet trim. My favorite part about this new Chevy truck though is that they’re embracing aluminum… after making fun of Ford for extensive use of aluminum.

-Jeff Glucker

 

The most recent Silverado, while still thoroughly competent, was very much in need of an update. This delivers on that and, though I’m not entirely convinced the interior is as modern-looking as that of the Ram and F150 it competes against, should unquestionably be better than the generation it’s replacing. Trucks are all about how much tech and capability you can package into one vehicle, and Chevy is pulling strong here to fight its fight. I’m curious to see how next year’s comparison plays out.

All that said, I agree with Brad…trucks are way too expensive. My dad bought his 2007 2500HD (crew cab / 4×4 Z71 / short bed) for somewhere in the low $40k-range; today that’s easily a $60k+ truck. Profit margins on these things must be huge, just like the trucks themselves.

-Ross Ballot

 

2019 Ford Ranger

It’s about time. Ford is finally bringing its relatively small (i.e., midsize…er, still somewhat large) pickup back to America with an all-new Ranger in its first full-fledged comprehensive re-introduction since 1993. With a wide spread of available trims, styling to rival that of its Colorado and Tacoma direct competitors (the Frontier is so relatively antiquated it’s barely worth mentioning), and the promise of a Ranger Raptor on the horizon, the new truck is looking to be a serious competitor. Expect a choice of powertrain options and both cab and bed configurations, as well as a variety of off-road and towing tech to be present. Being that the F150 has gotten progressively more massive and exponentially more expensive, Ford has a possible hit on its hands here if it can channel its bigger brother’s hard-working nature while being a lot more practical for the everyday owner.

 

This is a step in the right direction, now build a compact truck like the Ranger used to be. -Bradley Brownell

 

Please note that Bradley just contradicted himself.

Why haven’t we had a Ranger here for so long? Because the old Ranger buyers started buying F-150s, which are much more profitable and have always sold in much higher numbers. This looks great and should easily outsell the GM twins which, frankly, are not that good.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

How is wanting a less expensive utilitarian truck a contradiction?

-Bradley Brownell

 

It won’t be cheap or small. But there might be a super-stripped model like you desire, purchased strictly by Orkin. No, wait, they switched to Tacomas. Good luck getting that account back, Ford.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

This is going to be huge for Ford. I have high hopes for the return of the Ranger.

-Robby DeGraff

 

I drove a UK market Ranger the other year, the Thai-built version that we get but you don’t, and which is still a bit on the big side for this side of the pond (which, incidentally, is exactly why it was so popular). I remember that its twin-turbo diesel had a power band like a two-stroke, and the steering was so vague it felt like somebody else was in charge. I think I got the appeal, though. Thing is – although the one you’re getting will be built in Michigan, it don’t half look like the Thai T6 version…

-Chris Haining

 

How do you fuck up the styling on a Ford Ranger? Hat’s off to the styling team at Ford for making the ugliest truck on the market. However, as a Texan, I know I’m going to be doomed to see a bunch of them.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

I’ve been a Ford pickup owner for, like, 6 months now which makes me qualified to say that this is gonna be a home run for Ford. People love buying trucks with more capabilities than they really need, but I think this is one of those trucks that can overcome that… as long as they keep the price down.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

The last Ranger looked awesome! That would be the one they didn’t sell here. This one looks fine. I’ll have to see it in person all butched up a bit. The one I really care about though is the Ranger Raptor.

-Jeff Glucker

 

This is a very good thing. Though it will likely never be, I want the small/midsize truck class to be as hyper-competitive as is the full-size segment. Reality is that most fullsize buyers never use even half of the capability that their trucks offer, so it’s only logical (though fullsize buyers regularly defy logic) that eventually buyers will realize this and start buying smaller trucks. And those smaller trucks are generally much more driveable, usable in everyday life, better off-road, easier to live with, and still offer 99% of the capability buyers need. I’m ready for the Ranger/Tacoma/Colorado/Canyon/Frontier to be the highly-desirable trucks, not their oversized siblings. Bring it on; the Ranger is a good way towards that.

-Ross Ballot

 

Americans are in for a treat. The Ranger is awesome is Aus and a bit of favourite of mine. Plus you’ll get the Mustang Ecoboost engine in your version.

-Joel Strickland

2019 Ford F150 Diesel

Along with Chevy, Ford used the NAIAS to introduce a diesel powertrain for its F150 model in response to Ram’s Ecodiesel that has been around for a few years now. As does the diesel in the comparable Ram and Chevy trucks, this should provide great fuel efficiency matched with great tow ratings but at a certain elevated buy-in price. Ford pickup buyers who want diesel power but don’t want to step up to the F250 are sure to eat this thing up.

 

I am confused as to why it took decades for the big three to figure out that half-tons and diesels go like peanut butter and jelly. Even Nissan beat them to the punch. I already love the F-150 and I loved the Range Rover Sport Td6 with a version of this diesel engine. I also like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Let’s hope the price is reasonable.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

How long until we see the first F-150 diesel roll coal?

-Greg Kachadurian

 

Do you want a baby Super Duty without paying Super Duty money? Here’s your next truck.

-Jeff Glucker

 

All in favor say “aye.” Ram’s light-duty diesel is a fantastic truck, and now that Chevy’s on board along with Ford it should make it even more competitive. Next step: diesel new Ranger, please.

-Ross Ballot

 

Acura 2019 RDX Prototype (or is it the Acura CX-5?)

At first glance this looks quite a lot like the Mazda CX-5 in the gorgeous shade of red they always show it, albeit with a different nose. Acura’s “prototype” showcases the future of the “performance-minded” next-gen RDX, equipped with more tech, interior space, and an A-Spec trim.

 

Interesting to see that it is its own platform. Interesting to see that a V6, supposedly a single-turbo, will be offered along with the excellent 2.0-liter turbo. I’m not in love with the interior – still too many buttons and not enough knobs. Except for that one big knob in the middle which no one will ever use. Hopefully that gets fixed in the production model.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

Well, it’s definitely a “prototype” because this thing looks ready for production. I’m liking the direction Acura’s going; hopefully they can un-bland the interiors a bit and then we’ll really be talking.

-Ross Ballot

 

Acura’s strange design language is starting to make a little bit more sense. This is the first good-looking crossover I think they’ve done in a long time.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

Love it, Honda Australia please bring this down under.

-Joel Strickland

BMW i8 Coupe

More power and more range are the main stories here, unless you consider the addition of “Coupe” to the i8’s name important. The futuristic BMW, now with 374 combined horsepower, can go about 34 miles on a charge and can sprint to sixty in 4.4 seconds. And, of course, it’s as sci-fi as always.

 

I’ve loved the i8 since it debuted. It’s a fresh and new way to look at how sports cars should work, and it looks like it’s from the damn future! I wish it wasn’t so stupidly expensive, and I’d probably rather have an NSX if I was going to spend that kind of money anyway, but it’s the best thing BMW has made since the E39-generation M5, so I’m not going to complain.

-Bradley Brownell

 

I did not understand who this car was intended for when I reviewed it. I still don’t know but I’m glad it’s here and with less roof, too!

-Kamil Kaluski

 

Every single time I see an i8 on the road I nearly wreck my own car because it’s so polarizing. Still amazes me how it just “screams” concept car yet you can buy one from the dealer. I think it’s the most futuristic-looking car on the road right now. But I have to agree with Kamil on who the i8 is intended for.

-Robby DeGraff

 

“I8 you so much right now. I8 you so much right now” sang Kelis, for reasons only she understands. I, personally, 8 a pizza a little while ago, before i8 an ice cream for dessert. Incidentally, BMW unveiled an upgraded version of its hybrid sports car at Detroit, and I love every fibre of its being. It’s like an unscary version of the future, today.

-Chris H

 

I still get boyishly excited when I see an i8 moving, because it looks like it shouldn’t be able to. It’s the crazy Hot Wheels concept car that BMW will sell you. I love it to death, and I think the addition of the roadster is going to open up a whole new range of buyers. Just wish it was a tad cheaper.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

Hey it’s like an NSX but less good!

-Jeff Glucker

 

Hey BMW: Bring us a baby i8 sports car to compete with the inevitable hybrid Boxster.

-Ross Ballot

 

BMW X2

“Fill every niche!” was chanted by BMW’s presenters as the all-new X2 made its way out on stage. Just kidding (but not really). The German company continues to do everything it can to “make a car for everybody” with its newest hatchback that’s going to be sold as a crossover.

 

This is dumb.

-Bradley Brownell

 

Brad’s right. The X6 was dumb. The X4 is dumb. This is is no different. That badge on the c-pillar though…that’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen them do thus far.

-Ross Ballot

 

Think of it what you will but it’s a BMW, it’s a small SUV, and the lease rates will be low enough to bring new customers to the showrooms. Hmm, which one would Jenn, the hairdresser from Fair Lawn, NJ, rather have, a Hyundai or a BMW? Hmm…

-Kamil Kaluski

 

Dumb, garbage, burn it with fire.

-Robby DeGraff

 

Yeah. Well. Fills a gap, doesn’t it. Absolutely stinks of cynical brand exploitation, though. It may well prove to be the best small crossover FWD / 4WD road-clogger yet devised, but being the finest example of the most evil, unnecessary category of car ever dreamt up really isn’t anything to be proud of.

-Chris Haining

 

For every i8, we need a dozen SUV’s or whatever they want to call them this week. As someone who had a weird affinity for the X1, maybe this thing will be cool. Probably not. Maybe M can fix that…

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

Cars like this are why I’m no longer considering replacing my BMW with another BMW.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

I hate modern BMW…

-Jeff Glucker

 

I don’t mind it, at least it looks different to the X1, X3, and X5 current shapes.

-Joel Strickland

2019 Kia Forte

Apparently last year’s refresh wasn’t enough, so the Forte is all-new for 2019. It’s a little bigger and a little more efficient, as it seems all cars are these days.

 

Nice move introducing some Stinger-esque styling. There’s no reason for Kia not to move a ton of these.

-Jeff Glucker

 

It’ll definitely be a “good car,” but it’s not standout-ish enough to warrant praise based on looks alone. Which is, in my opinion at least, what I think Kia needs to do next with its small cars. The Stinger is a shockingly good looking car, but this still reeks a bit of bland despite its new looks.

-Ross Ballot

 

Well played Kia, your current design style is working well.

-Joel Strickland

Nissan XMotion

Expect to see this design language going forward, as Nissan is using the XMotion SUV to showcase its future upcoming corporate grille and styling cues. Whether that’s a good or bad thing very much remains to be seen, but only time will tell.

 

I told you the new Xterra was coming. But before introducing it, Nissan must tease it. It’s protocol.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

Please for the love of God, build this thing, Nissan.

-Robby DeGraff

 

I went to the Tokyo Motor Show back in ‘07. Not a press trip, either – I paid out to haul myself there and back. And it was stuff like me that drew me there. I LOVE nutso Japanese concepts, and this is good stuff even if it’s pretty much concept-car by numbers. It’s got an internal wooden spine – because why not – and is intended for autonomy – because obligatory. Doesn’t make a huge amount of sense that it’s wrapped up in an SUV package (are we talking about autonomy off-road too now?) but I’m all for a bit of harmless, happy-go-lucky 3-dimensional doodling.

-Chris Haining

 

JUST GIVE US A NEW Z CAR ALREADY!

-Jeff Glucker

 

Yes, yes, Z car. They need to replace that like…yesterday. Or a year ago. Anyways, Nissan is definitely seeing SUV sales spike amidst low gas prices, and is looking to replace its dead-but-not-forgotten XTerra. The latest XTerras were good trucks and I always liked that thing, even going back to the first-gen. It’s just too bad that there’s a chance that this new X would be crossover-style in its unibody construction and what will probably be a FWD-biased AWD system.

-Ross Ballot

 

Looks good, but lets see what the production ends up looking like.

-Joel Strickland

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

After a long stint in its sixth generation, VeeDub has brought out the all-new seventh-gen version of its big-ish sedan. A digital cockpit is of note, as is the slightly larger yet extremely familiar shape of its body. Thankfully a manual is still available, but that’s about all that’s interesting here. Passerbys are unlikely to notice it’s new, and even casual enthusiasts will be hard-pressed to pick up on the new Jetta being of major difference than that which it replaces.

 

MQB is an excellent platform, and putting the Jetta on that architecture is bound to make it drive much better. If you like the current Golf, but want a traditional three-box layout, this is your move. I hope they bring the GLI back in short order, because it’ll probably be great.

-Bradley Brownell

 

Yawn. All new, you say? Yawn. Cool.

I don’t know why but to me this is as exciting as a base model Corolla. It just doesn’t look like they’re trying hard. The best Jetta was the second gen and it’s been a design disappointment ever since. I just don’t know why.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

Looks excellent, but after trying to do the simplest of maintenance tasks on my friend’s 2016 Jetta…I would still never buy one.

-Robby DeGraff

 

It’s a shame we’ll never get a TDi Cup on this platform. Maybe we’ll get a sick GLi though, which is always cool.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

The TDi Cup is something I semi-frequently dream of. That, and the GTD. It really, truly does suck that the diesels are no more. Crying over dead powertrains is moot point though; VW’s got a new Jetta and it looks only marginally more exciting than the one it replaces. I wish they’d ditch the car altogether and start from scratch, and start smaller.

-Ross Ballot

 

This is a rare moment when the Jetta doesn’t look identical to the Passat. Enjoy it while it lasts.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

2018 Volkswgen Passat GT

Power to the people. Volkswagen rolls out a 300hp V6 Passat for those hunting for speed, at a price of around $30k.

 

Is this a real car?

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

More power does not necessarily a good car make. I’ve been less than thrilled by the current crop of VW sedan offerings and this only helps with that– maybe– two percent.

-Ross Ballot

 

Oh cool, another enthusiast special that nobody will buy.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

A GTI for boring people. I’ll have to drive it to see how right I am.

-Jeff Glucker

 

Lexus LF-1 Limitless

“Flagship crossover” is what the Japanese luxury automaker is aiming for here. With an evolution of the predator grille and an enlarged RX-ish shape, it’s certainly what one would envision a high-end Lexus crossover to be, one dedicated to street use rather than with some off-road intentions like the GX and LX. Think of it as Lexus doing an LC-like crossover.

 

Gotta say, I’m loving what Lexus is doing these days, especially with the LC, GS F and RC F, and now with this. Just look at the window switches! I’d never, ever buy one. But I do like the details.

-Ross Ballot

 

What sells best? SUVs. What do people associate with riches and luxury? Large sedans. Toyota figured out how to combine them. It’s a great idea, it looks interesting, but will the rich buy it?

-Kamil Kaluski

 

It’s the most Hannibal Lectar-looking car even Lexus has managed to cook up. How better to progress the aesthetic of the ‘Spindle’ grille than by making it look to be formed from actual human veins and ligaments. I see what they’re trying to do – they’ve challenged themselves to make something beautiful out of elements that are individually grotesque, from that sea-monster grille to the bacon-looking rear lights. It’s therefore rather unsettling that they’ve succeeded.

-Chris Haining

 

I’m going to pretend this is a futuristic space-going Japanese gunship. Sweet, now I’m interested!

-Jeff Glucker

 

2019 Toyota Avalon

People apparently still buy full-size front-drive sedans so Toyota has gone and introduced an all-new Avalon. It still has the 301 hp V6 and hybrid options but is now sold with more tech and luxury than ever before, and a grille that takes up almost the entirety of the front end.

 

(Shudders with disgust)

-Ross Ballot

 

Toyota used to have so much passion in their product. Hell, even their big sedan was cool when it was a Cressida (or a Lexus LS400). The large sedan market is drastically smaller than it used to be, but Toyota is still king of the game, so this still exists. Meh.

-Bradley Brownell

 

It’s an Avalon. It’s large, it’s comfortable, and it will last forever. It is what an Avalon always was, a lowered-priced debadged Lexus. It’s nicer inside, has much features, rides and drives better than anyone gives it credit for. Boring? Yes. If it was anything else it wouldn’t be an Avalon.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

I’ve always been for the Avalon. It’s reliable and sleepy comfy, in fact I’ve been trying to coax my parents into upgrading from their Camry into one for years. That interior on the 2019 model looks A+ and the front of the car…well, looks like you’re staring at a whale shark.

-Robby DeGraff

 

It looks like something fell off the front leaving just the backing behind. And what’s with that spare ‘styling’ line that starts near the top of the front wheelarch, then runs aft before drooping off towards nothing at all below the rear door handle? And there’s another random feature line above the sill. No two features of this car actually go together. It’s not clever, it’s not wilfully unconventional, it’s just stupid and contrary. Take it back and design it properly. Thank you.

-Chris Haining

 

If they can screw up the Avalon this bad, imagine what they can do to the new Supra.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept

Showcasing the brand’s variable compression motor, the Q Inspiration Concept exists not so much to show a window into the immediate future of Infiniti sedans but rather what tech the company boasts.

Are those front headrests for actual human beings?

-Ross Ballot

 

Sign me up.

-Robby DeGraff

 

There’s a lot to like about this. I love the sharp edge that forms in the rear door and looks like it’s about to slice through stretched skin. I love the intake/outtakes that surround the front wheels. However, I kind of hate the over-fussy lower front bumper, and don’t think that nose styling really belongs – it’s as if the designer had an idea a while ago and has this was a chance to use it. The curvaceous rear end doesn’t really fit with the sharp nose, either. Kinda looks like the Buick Wildcat concept of the ‘80s.

-WHO WROTE THIS PART?

Mercedes AMG 53

Though straight-sixes have very much disappeared as of late, Mercedes has brought the motor to the forefront with its new AMG 53 line of cars. Present in the CLS53 and E53, the AMG-ified inline-six is backed by a nine-speed auto and is supported by a mild 48-volt hybrid system, bumping it up to 429 hp and 384 lb-ft. It’s bound to be a peach of a motor destined for journalists’ praise.

 

Put this drivetrain in an AMG GT Hybrid and beat Porsche to the proper hybrid sports car punch. -Bradley Brownell

 

What Brad said! Also, put it in the SLK or whatever it is they’re calling the smallest roadster these days.

-Ross Ballot

 

Boring. Pass.

-Robby DeGraff

 

I’m delighted by the very thought of a straight-six renaissance, but I really hate this need to AMG ALL THE THINGS. You know how seemingly every current song you hear on the radio uses that same cod-latin plinky-plonk instrument and you can’t get away from it? It’s kind of like that.

-Chris Haining

 

This is the most interesting thing that MB has done in a while. While not a “Real” AMG, using the brand for stuff like this makes them a ton of cash that goes to fun stuff like the AMG GT, and the Project One. I love an inline six, and I can only hope that the AMG version has a loud mode. -Patrick Hoffstetter

 

Now this could be very cool. Mercedes is spreading the AMG name around a bit too much as of late, but I’m down with some updated I6 engine goodness.

-Jeff Glucker

 

Jeff, you need this engine in the Wombat. Ditch the Hemi and wait 3 years then pull an engine from a wrecked car. It won’t cause any further headaches at all, I promise. But it would certainly be a badass engine for that application.

-Ross Ballot

 

2019 Ram 1500

Much like the Silverado for Chevy (and GM), an all-new Ram is of massive importance for FCA. The new 1500-series pickup does look much like its predecessor but with a more rounded body and distinguished slew of grille offerings to complement its comprehensive update. From the hybrid Pentastar (similar to that in the JL Wrangler) and available hybrid V8 to its massive available 12-inch screen, Ram is working hard to make a case for its truck. Paired with a new off-road package, air suspension, and so on, it’s got a good slew of credentials up its sleeve.

 

Of the big three, the RAM gets the least love and I don’t know why. For the purposes of most truck buyers, meaning hauling a bed or air to and from office, it’s excellent. A friend of mine just got the new of the current/last generation and I am truly jealous.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

I’m with Kamil on this too, every single RAM truck I’ve ever driven has impressed me on all-fronts. This new one looks gorgeous and I love how there’s this magical mild-hybrid system called “eTorque” for improved fuel efficiency. I’m also thrilled the massive, colossal, testosterone screaming “RAM” exploded across the rear tailgate is gone.

-Robby DeGraff

 

Macho bullshit for people who can’t grow up and buy a Ford. Everyone I know who has ever owned a Ram since it became its own brand has hated it long term. Maybe this one will be good to drive at least.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

Oh good, they kept the handlebar mustache grille on the Ram Rebel. I was worried.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

It looks good (in some trims) and has things to differentiate itself from the Ford and Chevy. Hopefully this buys Ram and in turn FCA some more market share, which they can use to improve build quality and reliability. Now, how about a smaller truck. A new Dakota perhaps?

-Ross Ballot

 

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

It’s one of the longest-running nameplates of all time and now it’s all-New for 2019. It’s more lighter, more spacious, and more efficient— proof that even a stalwart of 20th century engineering needs modern touches to stay competitive.

 

I always loved the old G. Then I drove the AMG G63. The disappointment was real. The good folks at MB must have read my review because the new vehicle addresses all of my issues with it, most of which had to do with the interior and handling. The exterior is perfect, because it’s basically unchanged while being all-new. I hope they sell it here with a diesel, but they won’t. I hope they bring the 2-door version and/or the cabrio – they might!

-Kamil Kaluski

 

I don’t know what to think. The outgoing G was so outrageously, hopelessly flawed it should really have been discontinued a decade ago. Yet it was also those flaws that made it what it was. It was a terrible car with so much character it became irresistible. And now there’s a real risk that Mercedes has made it good. Great. It’s now a period-style residence, rather than an authentic, genuine old hovel that’s been kept standing against all odds. It’s like a ‘vintage writing desk’ from Pottery Barn. It has all the sincerity and passion of a Thomas Kinkade painting.

-Chris Haining.

 

The best G Wagon at the autoshow was the one encased in a ton of resin. I can’t wait for more Instagram stars to throw a bad wrap on one and then never take it off-road.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

My favorite thing about the Gelandewagen (yes I had to look up how to spell that) is the exhaust note. I like that they’ve changed just about everything else in some way, but I sure as hell hope they haven’t changed how muscle-car the G sounds.

-Ross Ballot

 

Ford Mach 1 “Electric SUV”

After a very brief tease– during which some of us thought (and hoped) the Mach 1 would be an electric Mustang– Ford has announced it will be building an electric performance SUV for the 2020 model year. No details or photos have been released, but the ‘Stang’s old Mach 1 logo has been reincarnated for this dilution of a once-great moniker.

 

Did I say the BMW X2 was dumb? This is WAY dumber.

– Bradley Brownell

 

They should have called it the Model T. And everytime you turn it on it just says “Fuck Tesla” across the dash.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

This is massively disappointing. An electric Mach 1 Mustang would be *awesome* and could change the sports car market. And while we don’t know exactly what shape the Mach 1 will take…it’s looking disappointing already.

-Ross Ballot

 

First the Edge ST then this….please Ford, you’re embarrassing yourself. That’s a slap in the face to the Mustang, well, a sucker-punch out of nowhere.

-Robby DeGraff

 

The Mach 1 name belongs on a Mustang and nothing else. Period.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

This is straight-up fucking sacrilege.

-Jeff Glucker

 

The fact that we’re all so unanimously disappointed by this shows just how sad it is to see the Mach 1 nameplate going to waste on anything that isn’t a Mustang. Hey Ford, if you’re listening, undo this immediately. Cancel the plans. Build an electric or hybrid Mustang and call that the Mach 1 instead.

-Ross Ballot

 

Agree with Greg, The Mach 1 Should be on a Mustang not an SUV. I can’t get excited yet as it probably won’t come to Australia much like the Edge ST, which I would have laid down a deposit for tomorrow if it was.

-Joel Strickland  

Image courtesy of

Subaru Viziv Performance STI Concept

Once again Subaru has brought out a “prototype” STI so as to “preview the future.” The concept is very Civic Type-R looking, albeit with the traditional modern Subie styling elements. But, as we all know, don’t expect the next production to look like this; it’s simply a demonstration in automotive art rather than a definite vision into the future.

 

Neat, I guess…

– Bradley Brownell

 

Couldn’t care less. They’ve teased us before and will do so again. This has no bearing on future STIs, and therefore doesn’t matter one bit.

-Ross Ballot

 

OMG YES

-Robby DeGraff

 

Subaru concepts always annoy me because they’re so well done and never produced.

-Jeff Glucker

 

^Unless it’s an SUV.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

Hopefully the next STI looks something like this.

-Joel Strickland

Bentley Bentayga V8

It’s the 12-cylinder Bentayga with four less cylinders.

 

Pointless vehicle, and pass.

-Robby DeGraff

 

It’s very likely a better car, subjectively, than the W12. And I’m kind of proud that people should want to buy a car from this proud British (and a bit German) name. Still, it’s a bit of a shame that we live in a society where cars like this are coveted. Irrelevant off-road capabilities aside, It does nothing that a Flying Spur can’t but, looks a whole lot more ostentatious while doing it.

-Chris Haining

 

I’d rather be seen driving a Mitsubishi Outlander than this fugliness. I don’t care how many cylinders is has.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

That’s utter bullshit Kamil… we both know the Outlander is garage. Also, the Bentley V8 sounds good and hauls ass. I have no problem with this one.

-Jeff Glucker

 

My dad texted me the other day that he saw a new Bentley SUV out on the road, and followed it up by saying that it looked cheap. I don’t necessarily disagree. I also think it’s hideous, and the V8 version is as well.

-Ross Ballot

 

 

2019 Jeep Cherokee

With a new turbocharged engine shared with the Wrangler and much less polarizing front lighting treatment, the revised KL Cherokee is certain to improve on the current model’s already successful (at least in terms of sales) formula.

 

Huge improvement with the new look. The turbo engine sounds good but I want to drive it to confirm its greatness. Too bad they didn’t have enough in the budget to spruce up the interior – it feels cheap and dated.

-Kamil Kaluski

 

The interior definitely isn’t great but it’s more than passable for most buyers who are already willing to put up with the sacrifices of buying a Jeep vehicle. The KL’s revised front end certainly looks good, although I’m starting to wonder if they should differentiate it– or the Compass– a bit next time around so as to not be too closely confused with the Grand Cherokee.

-Ross Ballot

 

The only problem I ever really had with the last one was the war crimes committed during its exterior design process. They finally fixed it so I don’t hate it anymore.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

I am very interested to really check out this Jeep model, hopefully I can get some seat time when they land in Australia, as it may well be my next car.

-Joel Strickland

Bonus Teaser: Upcoming Ford Mustang GT500

With a confirmed 700+ horsepower, 5th-gen ZL1-esque hood, and massive, track-purposed rear wing, Ford’s new big-dog Mustang already promises to be a bruiser, one that will put even the hilariously overpowered current-gen ZL1 and Dodge’s Hellcats on notice. No real details have been revealed– just one simple teaser– but things look promising for those who can’t get enough of the high-power rear-drive American sports/pony cars.

 

It shows a lot that 700+ is just… a normal thing now. My first reaction to a Mustang with this much power shouldn’t be a shrug. Power is so plentiful that it’s become boring to hear about. Mundane. I’m still GT350 all day when it comes to the Mustang. One thing I do hope they keep with the car from the teaser is the 2015 headlights.

-Patrick Hoffstetter

 

My body is ready.

-Greg Kachadurian

 

I love everything about the Horsepower Wars, though I still look forward to the Lightness Wars.

-Jeff Glucker

 

Meh, huge power numbers are no longer interesting to me. Same thing happened with the recent ZR1. I want more GT350, less GT500. Give us an Ecoboost Mustang ST, with the GT350’s suspension and accutrements but with the 3.5L twin-turbo motor. That is what I want to see…not power that can only be used on a track.

-Ross Ballot

 

We time. Looking forward to seeing what Ford has created, shame it won’t come to Australia. Looking forward to seeing the first Dodge v Ford comparo.

-Joel Strickland  

 

And that wraps it up for the 2018 North American International Auto Show. This was a good, strong showing this year, with many vehicles that will have substantial influence on the markets and segments they’re sold in. Thanks for sticking with us through our comments on this year’s long list of newcomers, and stay tuned as we’ll inevitably do the same for the next show, and the show after that…

  • Zentropy

    Ford needs the Ranger in its lineup, but what I’d rather see is a new Courier. A small, four-banger, manual-shift utility runabout with pricing in the Fiesta/Focus range would be awesome.

    Nissan styling makes me want to take a baseball bat to the sheetmetal. Their cars are heinous these days, and their concepts even uglier.

    [Also, the new G-Wagen may be lighter, but not “more lighter”.]

    • Vairship

  • I really like this format, it’s like a podcast for your eyes!

  • Sjalabais

    Can we please talk about the drugs Japanese designers have access to? I wonder if they are tax-deductable.

  • Citric

    You know what? I think Jeep ruined the Cherokee. It’s not that the old one was perfect, necessarily – the concave rear hatch never really worked – but it had its own distinct personality and you couldn’t really mistake it for anything else. It was a unique looking vehicle, especially in Trailhawk form, and the aggressive styling stood out. I could understand why people hated it – mostly because the XJ Cherokee was arguably perfect and this didn’t even pretend to be similar – but I thought it was a relatively good looking crossover.

    The new one takes away all of that personality, uniqueness and aggression and replaces it with nothing, it’s just incredibly bland. It looks like an off-brand Nissan Rogue.

    • robbydegraff

      agreed, sir!

    • Zentropy

      I honestly skipped over that part of the article, because at first glance, I didn’t see much difference. Now that I look at it more closely and check other pictures on the internet, I still don’t see much difference. Other than what look like headlights are now actual headlights (versus the 2018’s indicators), what’s the big difference?

      • Ross Ballot

        A new engine and revised bodywork are all there is to it

      • Citric

        That’s the big change really, and it made it way worse because the new headlights are just bland. Weird is better than bland any day. The other change was moving the license plate from the bumper to the hatch, which improves balance a bit – the dead space in the middle of the hatch made it look overly tall.

  • Alff

    The Ultimate Marketing Machine

  • Alff

  • Two days on the floor here is my take

  • P161911

    Jeff and Bradley, Jeff is almost right. Except there hasn’t been a 1/2 ton truck available with a manual in the US for several years now, especially a GM. The last GM 1/2 ton with a manual was in 2007.

  • Smaglik

    The 2019 Jeep Cherokee looks like my dog’s face when his head is out the window at 50 mph.

  • neight428

    I thought Ford was going to at least drip some Bronco stuff out there, but they have been silent as far as I have noticed. The Ranger is enough for now, I guess.

    • Ross Ballot

      Hopefully at the 2019 NAIAS for 2020 model year release

  • Maymar

    Sort of looking forward to the Ranger, even if I’m not in the market for a truck (and also, it’ll still be too big for me). It’s also weird that the Ram is the most subdued truck on the market (shades of 10-year old Sierra). That Silverado is about 17 kinds of ugly, and hopefully the GMC equivalent is better.

    I want to be excited about the Veloster N, but it just doesn’t have the looks to justify the minor compromise in practicality, and also it’s a Hyundai. Although, if an Elantra N ended up here for the right price, I might be willing to eat my words.

    I’m sure the Jetta will be a perfectly fine car, although why’d they borrow basically the entire tail end from a last-gen Sonata? Also, the Passat GT is basically just a stripe of red paint on a car that already exists, but it’s a pretty nice car that already exists, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see it depreciate much more heavily than a GTI. Maybe a GTI for people who need to haul around oversized car seats.

    I’m excited for Benz to have a straight-six again, but I hope they’re being conservative with their claims, because 0-60 in the 4.4 they’re claiming is on par with the less robust Kia Stinger.

    I can’t get that bothered by the whole Mach 1 thing until I see the actual car. Nothing automotive that lasted into the Malaise Era is that sacrilegious. That said, Project Edison seems in poor taste. I’m just waiting for Ford to murder an elephant with a Tesla Supercharger to set up a fake claim that it’s dangerous.

  • caltemus

    It’s a shame we won’t be seeing the single cab flat-bed version of the ranger. It’s been a sad era for small truck fans

    • Ross Ballot

      Single cab, no…but we will get the extended cab. Which is definitely better than only the crew cab.

      You can always remove the bed and add a flatbed from the aftermarket

      • caltemus

        There hasn’t been a good small work truck in this country since the single cab ranger left. This new version is going to have a very high bed height, and good luck finding a base model extended cab at any dealerships, if they even offer one. With no wagons and no small trucks, the transit connect is the only vehicle I can think of with a small footprint and large cargo capacity.

        • outback_ute

          Currently the Ranger in Australia is available in 24 different trim/cab variants, and only 2 of them are not 4×4 height. When the current generation was launched there were more, including a 2.5L petrol engine version, but I suppose the market has spoken. Now just the 2.2 and 3.2L TD engines are sold.

          • caltemus

            I want one of those so bad

            • outback_ute

              Buy a Tacoma or Frontier and put a flat bed (or service body) on it. I drove a 2007 Toyota Hilux recently, I think it had around 170k miles on it and apart from obvious wear and tear (including what seemed to be some driveline noise) it was still running great. Definitely closer to the end but it would have been carrying a lot of weight constantly, 1500-2000 lb.

  • Fun fact: If you look at the actual dimensions of a 2011 Ranger 4×4, and a current T6 Ranger (which our 2019 will be pretty closely related to), the T6 is barely bigger.

    Now, the T6 almost certainly has a higher beltline and probably a higher bed floor, but it’s not actually much bigger, it just looks it.

  • Rudy™

    Thanks for the show roundup. Now I won’t have to take my life into my hands going down there myself. ;o)

    Nice job on the RDX, Acura. Way above my pay grade, but maybe in several years I can grab one from the used car lot…

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