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February 5th, 2019
2019 - Last North American International Auto Show - as we've known it.
Filled with sprawling displays of gleaming sheet metal and enough spotlights to illuminate the International Space Station, this was the final chilly, Detroit Auto Show in January. 2019 lacked the European media-hustle excitement, which left extra space for other exhibitors.
Next year the Grand Experiment begins, moving show dates to June and using the Cobo Center rooftop and multiple venues spread throughout downtown Detroit to showcase the best in cars, trucks, crossovers, SUVs, SAVs, mobility pods and platforms. 2020 will be interesting, to say the least.
We've done the General Motors story, this is the rest of the best.
Ford kicked off the show, bringing their all-new 2020 Explorer to an early debut at Ford Field. Hmm, plenty of space under the dome! At Cobo Center, there were the new Explorer, new Mustang GT500, infused with a supercharged V-8 making over 700 horsepower with a 0-60 time a tick over three seconds, and the latest Ford F-150 Raptor, all brightly colored for maximum exposure. Interestingly, even on limited-attendance media days the Ford layout felt cramped.
The 2020 Explorer will use EcoBoost turbo power, either a 2.3L base engine or more powerful 3.0L depending on your needs and your credit union's scorecard. It's a rear-wheel drive platform, with AWD available. To me there's not a substantial change anywhere except the front-end, which is more like Fusion or Focus, which is not a bad thing.
FCA's RAM division challenged its cross-town rivals with an all-new RAM Heavy Duty 2500 and RAM Heavy Duty 3500 which the brand says, "Out-powers, out-tows and out-hauls every other pickup available." Why? It's thanks to an update Cummins 6.7-liter high output turbo-diesel that breaks the 1,000 lb.-ft. torque barrier for standard pickups. If you want all of those torques, you'll have to order a two-wheel drive model equipped with proper equipment. Then your Ram will be rated to tow 35,100 pounds and deliver a 7,680-pound payload. Ram's media briefing was all about axles, transfer cases, suspension, brakes and transmissions, AKA gear-head heaven and real news.
GAC, will likely the first Chinese automaker to deliver cars to the USA, and have multiple dealerships (we discount supercars and tiny e-cars.) They brought a non-concept concept called ENTRANZE. It seats 3+2+2 in a pod-like configuration. Of course the vehicle is electric, and a version of this shape/size/configuration will be released by GAC later in 2019 for the Chinese market. GAC will soon open a North American headquarters in California. They also displayed a full lineup of sedans and small-and-larger crossovers; these guys are for real, even if we don’t find most of their current lineup visually appealing.
Ford and VW held a teleconference announcing a partnership to collaborate on a products and technologies. Likely, VW wants to take advantage of Ford's truck expertise while Ford could rapidly benefit from Volkswagen's advanced electric platforms and autonomous vehicle research. How this shakes out is yet unknown and details are conspicuously-but not unexpectedly-absent.
The handsome Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition, designed to remind us of Lincoln's heritage with center-opening doors and a luxury interior featuring Alcantara, was one of the best-looking vehicles on the floor. And the Continental delivers more than a sophisticated exterior, as under the hood you can option a hybrid version of the twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.0-liter V-6. By combining the EcoBoost with hybrid technology, it produces a respectable 450 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. Get into line with a bank draft, only 80 will be produced.
Arguably the most-anticipated introduction was Toyota's new Supra. The 2020 GR Supra is the first global model developed by Toyota GAZOO Racing, the international umbrella for Toyota's global motorsport program. Built on a chassis shared with BMW's Z4, Supra comes in two models, Base and Premium, with a third Launch Edition based on the Premium limited to 1,500 cars. Those get signatures from Akio Toyoda on carbon fiber for display in your office. However, the base model looks like the better bet. It has the same 300-hp. engine, grippy Alcantara seats (versus leather) and a low-low entry price of $50,920. Car-loving journalists agreed, it has better looks and more impact than Margot Robbie or Gal Gadot.
Lexus brought it's RC F Track Edition, which has been upgraded and with a refreshed body. Meant for performance enthusiasts, add a set of tires and extra brake pads and you, too, Can't Drive 55, or have a good weekend of racing. Also, the company displayed a "concept" LC Convertible, a very sexy and meant-for-sunshine-weekend-weather touring. It awaits a decision on soft top or folding hardtop; well, that's what we think.
For family buyers, Volkswagen introduced a new Passat, which could look a bit more like the Arteon concept, in our opinion. However, Passats are meant for driving, not display, so look for aggressive pricing and "German Engineering" adverts to follow. Also look for significantly upgraded features added to the brands already-good ride and handling. As their Atlas CUV has great lane keeping and VW's excellent telematics system, we expect Passat to be well received by couples and families.
Nothing says Auto Show like CONCEPT CARS. Real concepts, even if they somewhat foreshadow the styling of future product. No production-intent cut lines, no perfect rubber gaskets with part numbers. Real. For several years Nissan and Infiniti have provided winners, 2019 was no exception.
The Infiniti QX Inspiration is, of course an electrified vehicle that hints at Infiniti's upcoming EV architecture. There is, according to the company, intent to build, though likely with conventional doors to meet safety regulations. Like other EVs, there's a "skateboard" modular base with e-motors on each axle, which generates all-wheel drive. The QX Inspiration took three of EyesOn Design's awards— Best Concept Vehicle, Best Designed Interior and Best Use of Color, Graphics or Materials
Nissan brought the IM purely electric sedan with its odd 2+1+2 seating arrangement. Nissan says IM stands for "Intelligent Mobility". With power estimated at 483 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque, the battery pack extends range to 380 miles, eliminating any range anxiety. It’s low, has a fantastic paint job, and a video-only instrument/infotainment panel sweeping across the dashboard.
Subaru, home of family cars and the wonderful Subaru WRX and WRX STI boy-racers, brought to the USA, for the first time, the STI S209, a full-on racecar wrapped into an STI body. Subaru Technica International is Subaru's race shop and skunk works. Everything is hand-built or hand-assembled, including the 200 S209's that will be sent to the USA. While 341 horsepower from the boxer engine might sound small, competitors around the world have been looking at the taillights in multiple racing venues.
Kia brought its new Telluride three-row crossover to Detroit, putting it on display and on an interior hill-climb track, the first at NAIAS. Appearance is sportier than the soon-to-come Hyundai Palisade, and Kia's theme echoed that with an active lifestyle display complete with ski racks and kayaks.
Hyundai showed an enhancement to their N Line of performance vehicles. Available to you and me Really Soon, the Elantra GT N Line combines sportier trim elements with refinements to the chassis and powertrain. Think "BMW M that I can afford." Their first N Line racecar, the Veloster N TCR, will compete in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race, beginning with the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
The 2018 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show is now underway and our own team is on the scene. Josh and Zane have started to build an image database and are taking close notes on what they are finding interesting and amazing. Our attention remains on the GM-focused products at the show, and there is a ton of good stuff coming in our reporting this week. Still, we can't help but wonder if anything will top the outrageous 1,000 hp HEMI crate engine Mopar dropped on day one.
Dubbed the Hellephant, the 426 supercharged engine develops 950 lb-ft of torque. The Hellcrate kit includes a powertrain control module (PCM), power distribution center, engine wiring harness, chassis harness, accelerator pedal, ground jumper, oxygen sensors, charge air temperature sensors, fuel pump control module and cam bus interface device. Optional will be Mopar's Front End Accessory Drive (FEAD) Kit, which includes an alternator, power-steering pump, belts, pulleys and more.
To show off the Hellephant in a vehicle Dodge opted to create a '68 "Super Charger." “The 1968 Dodge Charger is one of the hottest classic cars, which is why we decided to use it as a starting point for the ‘Super Charger’ Concept. It’s an amazing vehicle and a great showcase for our ‘Hellephant’ engine," said Steve Beahm, Head of Parts & Service (Mopar) and Passenger Car Brands, FCA - North America. The custom widebody Charger uses a stock T-6060 manual six-speed Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat transmission to put the power down.
Pricing will be announced in Q1.
Executive Editor / Publisher, GM-Trucks.com
Earlier today, Fiat-Chrysler introduced their new 2019 RAM 1500 Pickup. We have more on the all new RAM here, but one thing caught our eye and we wanted to talk about it right away. The 2019 RAM's optional 12-inch Uconnect infotainment system.
We were all happy that Chevrolet upgraded the interface of the MyLink System for the 2019 Silverado. That said, the brand didn't upgrade the screen or make it any larger than the last generation. To be fair, 8-inches is right in line with the market as it sits today. Ford certainly didn't offer anything larger, so Chevy apparently didn't see the need to go bigger or better with MyLink for the next generation Silverado. That might not have been a great idea.
The new (and highly optional) UConnect seems like it was plucked straight from a Tesla. In comparison, 2019 MyLink looks like it was pulled from a Step 2 Playset Manual. Take a look for yourself.
2019 RAM 12-inch UConnect vs 2019 Silverado MyLink
2019 RAM Uconnect 12 inch vs 8.4 inch
2019 RAM Uconnect 12 inch Interface
Of course, we've yet to actually use this new 12-inch system but we've been impressed with RAM's smaller 8.4-inch screen and interface for some time. What do you think? Does the 2019 Silverado have enough with an 8-inch MyLink System or does the 2019 RAM blow it away?
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
Ram launched its new 1500 today at the Detroit Auto show. Highlights of the launch include a new eTorque mild hybrid system that increases payload by 22% and towing capability by 20% due to its significant torque increases at low RPM.
The New Ram also has a class-leading infotainment setup that takes FCA’s already popular UConnect system to a place no other truck seems to be in terms of size. The new Ram also has revised air suspension options, more high strength steel in its frame and other key areas which brings down weight, and is longer, wider and more aerodynamic than the outgoing model.
Does the new Ram sound to you in some ways like the new Silverado? If so, watch the launch video and it will sound even more similar since its launch host also has a foreign accent, just like the two hosts of the Silverado launch event! Rule Britannia!
“The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 delivers a no-compromise approach to the full-size truck segment with strength, durability, technology and efficiency,” said Mike Manley, Head of Ram Brand. “The Ram 1500 offers truck buyers leading-edge innovation with 225 pounds of weight reduction, 12,750 pounds of towing capability, a stunning Uconnect 12-inch touchscreen display and active systems that improve fuel efficiency and assist drivers. The Ram 1500 stands out as the benchmark in a very competitive segment.”
The new Ram has many other interesting tidbits added. Ram says there are now 100 safety features to bore you. One plus of the new mild hybrid system is that when the truck shuts off (yup, stop-start), the new system is what powers the re-start. The parking brake is now electronic. There is a new 4X4 off-road package with cool stuff.
Both Ford and GM are bragging that their new diesel engines now to Ram’s. However, Ram made sure to point out that its 1500 has a new diesel engine coming in 2019 that will “Regain all of its titles.” It sounds like 2019 is the year of the diesel.
The new Ram has many very specific improvements we will explore in the coming week with focus stories and comparison and contrast stories showing where Silverado stands among the new lineup of trucks for 2019.
Check out our focus on the UConnect infotainment system here.
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