The unofficial theme at this year’s North American International Auto Show is “kickass.” There wasn’t a ton of news we didn’t see coming (looking at you, Toyota Supra), but if you take inventory of all the big launches and unveilings you’ll see it was nothing but sports cars and overlanders.
In recent years, the landscape looked pretty bleak: brand after brand announced nothing but crossovers and mall-crawlers. If the 2019 Detroit auto show is any indication of the next year or two, it seems manufacturers are just as sick of monotonous committee-built cars as we are. If it’s a new SUV, you can be sure it’ll have an adventurous spirit; if it’s a sedan or coupe, count on it having a ridiculous available horsepower count or calling its second home the race track. 2019 is going to be a good year for cars and trucks. This is the very best of the 2019 North American International Auto Show.
Cadillac was the subtle surprise of NAIAS this year. GM’s luxury brand unleashed its first sub-Escalade three-row SUV, which is not necessarily impressive. But Caddy also made an addition to the rare breed that is the American super sedan with the CT6-V, which comes with a 4.2-liter V8 good for 550 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque.
An all-new Explorer, including an ‘ST’ trim level, and GT500 is cool and all… but the crowd was really hoping to get a glimpse of the 2020 Bronco. Still, the prospect of a 700 horsepower-plus Mustang is pretty soothing.
The long-awaited Jeep Gladiator was unveiled late last year, but seeing it in the metal, with a pair of KTM enduros in the back, is wickedly exiting. Jeep knows it has a fantastic adventure vehicle on its hands and it’s nice to see them showing that off so aggressively.
Kia continues to surprise the industry, year after year. What was once a company known for copy-catting German luxury is now a brand with a genuine reputation for “disrupting” the status quo with notable departures like the Stinger GT. But now the Korean manufacturer is bringing to market what looks like a fairly capable and boldly-styled three-row SUV.
Lexus is playing it smart and building on two wildly successful model lines. Even though the LC 500 Convertible is just a “concept” it’s fairly wise to say Lexus will bring it to market. And why not? The coupe was in many ways a huge success for the brand. The RC F track-focused model also made a debut, marking another first for the luxury brand and also putting the BMW M4 on notice.
The Lincoln Aviator is nothing new, but Ford’s luxury brand is on a runaway success train right now that alone deserves an honorable mention.
Granted, it feels like the current generation Subaru WRX is older than all of us, but it’s exciting to see the brand finally acknowledging its fan base in the US. Last year we go the first Type-RA model and now we’re getting the first S-model: the S206. This is the very best of what Subaru has to offer. Hopefully, this indicates the WRX is now completely wrung out and a new generation is around the corner.
Toyota was easily the star of the show this year. The Supra has been the worst kept secret of the last five years, but that didn’t stop the official reveal from drawing a standing-room-only crowd. Everyone may have grown tired of all the leaked images and teasers, but as soon as the cover was pulled of the 2020 Toyota Supra, the excitement in the room was palpable. And let’s not forget about the new, spicy TRD versions of Toyota’s Camry and Avalon sedans.
Another quiet succes at NAIAS this year. Not to say the all-new Passat isn’t a big deal – quite the contrary. The understated sedan looks more mature than ever, drawing inspiration from the Aerteon and its upper-class Audi brethren.
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