Twenty-eighteen kicked off with the Detroit motor show this week with a few goodies to keep you looking forward to the rest of the year ahead. The real fancy stuff will be seen only in March, at the annual Geneva motor show, but the Motor City at least had something to show for it, like a bunch of trucks, naturally, but also a few neat performance cars. Although a performance car is not exactly what we’re getting started with…
Toyota has just unveiled their new flagship saloon. The new Avalon will be arriving in dealerships later this year having had its world debut in Detroit. Designed and built in the US, the fifth-generation Avalon still houses a 3.5-litre V6 engine, but otherwise it’s pretty much all-new (and bigger), developed on the same platform shared with the Lexus RX crossover, and featuring all the driver assistance tech and connectivity kit you’d want such as a 1,200-watt 14-speaker sound system, 9.0in screen, and much improved sound insulation.
The Koreans’ Veloster hatchback always stood out a bit, and not only for its lacklustre driving feel and trashy engines. It was an asymmetrical, two-plus-one door design with two doors on one side and one door on the other, which made it cool with the in-crowd or something because hashtag conformity… Well this time in its second-generation, the Veloster not only gains multi-link suspension but also the option of a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine developing 201 horsepower and further featuring a double-clutch transmission with torque vectoring, as well as a new quick-ratio steering system.
Ford Mustang Bullitt
Lieutenant Frank Bullitt had one job to do in the 1968 Hollywood hit and he botched it (instead of guarding a guy in a hospital he let him get shot by hitmen…), but nobody cared. All eyes were, and still are, on the legendary car chase involving Bullitt’s iconic green Mustang and the baddies’ black Dodge Charger. A car icon was born, and Ford’s been milking the association since. For 2018, the Blue Oval has revealed the new special edition Ford Mustang Bullitt which is due out later this summer seeing up 480 horsepower and nearly 570Nm of torque just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film. Best bits? Well, the colour of course, and the cue ball shifter…
Have no fear, after four decades Mercedes-Benz has finally revealed the second-generation G-Class and at first glance you wouldn’t think twice. “The new G is still a G, only better,” said Merc’s R&D boss Ola Källenius, but then again he would… However he does have a point, because although the biggest technical update is a new transmission and independent suspension repacking live axles, the car also gains a huge amount of interior room (up to 150mm extra legroom in the rear for example), 100-per cent locking diffs, and up to 270mm of ground clearance. So you know, see you in the fast lane, G.
You may also like: NAIAS 2018 preview: Curtain-raiser
After Ford shook up the pick-up truck segment with its latest-generation aluminium-intensive F-150, the competition felt inclined to catch up. Chrysler’s Ram brand did just that, dropping over 100kg from the overall weight figure of the new Ram 1500 compared to the outgoing model, while increasing maximum payload capacity to over 1,040kg and boasting the largest front brakes in the segment with discs measuring 378mm across. Naturally, a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 remains, but customers will also have the option of a 3.6-litre V6 with mild-hybrid tech enabling a stop-start function and brake energy regeneration.
Lexus LF-1 Limitless
Created in the Japanese company’s California design facility, the new Lexus LF-1 Limitless had its world premiere in Detroit showing off a possible future Lexus flagship, and yes, it’s a crossover. The company says that by about 2025 every Lexus will come with the option of some sort of powertrain electrification, and the LF-1 concept itself is said to be suited for either fuel cell, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, petrol, or even all-electric propulsion.
The pick-up market is on the up, you know (if you need proof, have a look at the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the first premium offering in the growing pick-up market), and Ford is finally resurrecting the light pick-up truck in America with the launch of the new 2019 Ranger featuring a class-exclusive 10-speed transmission mated to a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Not to feel left out with Chrysler getting all the attention over at the Ram stand, crosstown rival Chevrolet brought along a new 2019 Silverado truck promising the most functional utility bed in the segment offering the most cargo volume compared to the competition. Although it’s grown bigger than before, the new Silverado is actually up to 200kg lighter than the outgoing model thanks to aluminium panels that Chevy originally scoffed at when it was Ford doing the same thing…
You may also like: 2018 cars: New year’s revolution
The Jetta has always been sort of a more boring Golf (proof in point is that Volkswagen never offered a Jetta GTI) but now the Americans have decided to turn around the car’s staid image with a new 2019 Jetta GT, which as the name says is almost the full-blown thing… With a 3.6-litre VR6 engine (that’s the one that’s really a very narrow-angle V6 with one cylinder head making it look like a straight six) and a bunch of R-Line trim. Built in the company’s Tennessee plant, the car is developed for the US market so it’s unlikely we’ll see it elsewhere…
The 2019 Kia Forte also had its world premiere in Detroit, showing off the Korean brand’s latest compact saloon model now heading into its third-generation guise and adopting a sort of fastback saloon look that’s more than a little bit influenced by Kia’s rear-wheel drive Stinger. There are lots of creases, LEDs, and horizontal character lines in an attempt to visually lower and lengthen the car into a more swept-back cabin design. And it’s pretty much worked - this is not a bad looking thing at all…