The North American International Auto Show is set to make its last winter run. No, NAIAS isn’t going away. It’s just moving to June in 2020, a definite relief for those who’ve had to trudge down to the Detroit riverfront for the annual event since it went “international” 30 years ago.
The show is a fair bit downsized from its glory days when as many as 70 new products debuted during three packed days of press previews. That said, this year’s event still has some significant, headline-making vehicles set to make a first appearance.
And TheDetroitBureau.com has a list of the most important products set to show up in Detroit this year. Check out this preview of the upcoming week’s highlights:
Cadillac XT6: The Cadillac SUV will effectively replace the outgoing CT6 sedan as its flagship – though the Escalade retains that formal position. The XT6 will feature a bit more formal take on Caddy’s familiar Art & Science design language. It will also feature an array of new technologies, though not the semi-autonomous Super Cruise found on the CT6. (Though it could come later. Power will come from the same 310 horsepower V-6 found in the smaller Caddy XT5, with a 400 hp twin-turbo option reportedly under development.
Ford Explorer: The Explorer has been the world’s best-selling SUV since its 1991 debut, and Ford is determined to hit one out of the park with the all-new model debuting at NAIAS. Significantly, it migrates to a rear-drive platform – with AWD available – to give it a more dynamic and aggressive look. (That platform is shared with the also-new Lincoln Aviator unveiled in Los Angeles barely six weeks ago.) Expect to see a broader range of variants than ever, with rumor suggesting there may even be an electrified version in the works.
Ford Shelby GT500: Yes, there’ve been a few more powerful versions of the Mustang rolled out by specialty “tuners,” but none off the factory assembly line. Expect to see this brute force muscle car punch out a blistering 700 ponies, helping it come closer to matching the numbers of the Dodge Hellcat line. Look for a massive grille and huge rear wing to increase downforce, with an upgraded suspension and grippy tires to keep it glued to the road. What’s motivating this wheel burner? Word has it a new supercharged V-8 appropriately dubbed the Predator.
GAC Entranze:The brand name might not roll off the tongue very easily but, with American politics being what they are these days we expect the Chinese automaker won’t be opting to use its other brand name, Trumpchi, when it finally makes its way across the Pacific. We’ve gotten only some basic details on the Entranze but we can expect it to be heavy on the technology side, including both autonomous capabilities and an electric drivetrain. Curiously, it was designed in Los Angeles. Look for several other recent GAC models on display to hint at what it wants to bring to the U.S. market.
Hyundai Elantra GT N Line: The Korean carmaker has decided to challenge key competitors with its own line-up of performance models. Following the launch of a Veloster version we’ll now get an N Line version of the Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback. This version doesn’t get any boost to power but it still adds quicker steering, a stiffer suspension, more robust engine and transmission mounts and bigger brakes. Add plenty of cool appearance upgrades, including unique front and rear fascias, seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept: Nissan’s luxury brand has a history of teasing its future with striking concept vehicles and this year is no exception. Following last year’s hit Q Inspiration, the new Infiniti QX Inspiration opts for a crossover design that’s a visual standout. But what really matters is the all-electric drivetrain teasing the brand’s plan to electrify almost all models by 2021. While officially a concept vehicle, the QX Inspiration gives a good hint of where the brand will be going over the next several years, Infiniti planning to make plug-based models a major part of its line-up.
Kia Telluride: The smaller of the two Korean carmakers has been struggling – like its bigger sibling. Blame a lack of SUVs and CUVs in its line-up. But, like Hyundai, Kia is determined to resolve that problem and the Telluride will play a critical role. We saw a thinly disguised teaser version in New York last autumn. Now, NAIAS gives us a look at the production Kia Telluride. The seven-seater is larger than the current Sorrento, with a back row big enough for adults. And like most recent Kia additions, Telluride will be well equipped but “value” priced.
Lexus LC Convertible Concept: This striking show car manages to maintain the sleekly aggressive look of the Lexus LC coupe, with its long hood, steeply raked windshield, high deck lid – and the most aggressive version yet of the familiar Lexus “spindle grille.” Unlike the brand’s old SC convertible, the LC concept opts for a ragtop design that yields significantly better proportions. The most distinctive details with the roof down are the flying buttresses behind the drive headrest. Concept? Officially, but look for a production model to follow soon. It remains to be seen if that will include a hybrid version, like the coupe.
Lexus RC F Track: Get ready for the debut of one of the most powerful cars Toyota’s luxury brand has ever introduced. Though it is expected to be street-legal, the name tells the story about this limited-edition version of the Lexus RC coupe: it has been designed primarily for those who want to spend some on track, whether serious racers or those with access to private facilities like the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan.
Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition: Lincoln is going forward into the past with the Continental Coach Door Edition picking up on the rear-opening “suicide doors” that marked some of the most elegant luxury vehicles of the “Golden Age” of automobiles before World War II. Specially modified by Boston-based Cabot Coach Builders, the limited edition will feature more legroom, more luxury accoutrements – and a much more expensive sticker price of $100,000, or double that of a base version Continental.
Nissan EV Concept: The Japanese automaker has kept a tight lid on what it plans to bring to the Detroit Auto Show this year but everything suggests it will opt for a new battery-electric concept vehicle that is expected to give us a good hint of where it’s going in the near future. The concept’s debut comes barely a week after Nissan unveiled the first truly long-range version of the Leaf, the world’s first mass-market BEV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company has been slow to expand its electric line-up, but this concept says more is on the way.
Ram HD: 2018 was a big year for pickups and this year could be even bigger for big pickups. We’ll see new, heavy-duty trucks from GM and Fiat Chrysler will reveal its own bruiser, the Ram HD at NAIAS. A number of trucks have been spotted around town sans camo and feature a more brutish take on the design of the light-duty Ram 1500. Expect to hear some massive torque, tow and cargo numbers, especially with the optional Cummins diesel engine.
Subaru WRX STI S209: Think Subaru and you’re likely to think SUVs and CUVs, and for good reason considering the popularity of models like the Outback and Forester. But there’s another side to the Japanese carmaker and the WRX STI is one of the most popular choices for the “hot hatch” crowd. Past “S” models were earmarked solely for the Japanese domestic market. Based on the previous WRX STI S208, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the current, 310 horsepower hatchback got a boost to somewhere north of 325 hp.
Toyota Supra: Arguably the most anticipated debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show will carry a Toyota badge, the automaker finally bringing the Supra back to life after a 17-year absence. True, it launched a track version a year ago, but this one is ready for the street. Curiously, the new Supra is the product of any unusual collaboration between Toyota and BMW which will use its version to replace the aging Z4. Toyota’s sports coupe may feature unique drivetrain options but BMW’s roadster runs from 255 to 382 horsepower.
Volkswagen Passat: One reason the 2019 Detroit Auto Show has been downsized is the quite notable absence of brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The only German automaker at the 2019 NAIAS has a big preview in store, the 2020 VW Passat. Set to be assembled in Tennessee, it retains the underlying platform from the old sedan, and existing powertrains. But everything else is new, inside and out, including its design, infotainment technologies and lots of advanced driver assistance systems, such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.