SUVs may rule the sales reports, but cars ain’t dead by a long shot. The first day at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit saw a dozen new vehicles, ranging from the revival of a beloved sport coupe to a major move upscale for Kia’s SUV lineup.
Shelby GT 500 Mustang, Explorer
Ford started the day with details about the hottest version of its new Explorer SUV and a fuel-saving hybrid.
The ST has standard sport-tuned all-wheel drive and a 400-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. The hybrid features lithium-ion batteries under the floor. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Ford also unveiled the 700-horsepower-plus Shelby GT 500 Mustang, the most powerful street legal Mustang ever.
Ram Heavy Duty
Ram built on its 1500 pickup’s victory as 2019 North American Truck of the Year with a big, capable HD model. An all-new 6.7L Cummins diesel produces 1,000 pound-feet of torque in the 2019 2500 and 3500 pickups. The 3500 can tow up to 35,100 pounds, probably enough to make it the class leader.
The 2500 and 3500 go on sale in the second quarter of this year and will offer the all the same convenience and luxury features that helped make the smaller 1500 truck of the year.
Volkswagen updates Passat
Volkswagen updated its U.S.-built Passat midsize sedan. The 2020 model gets a new grille and a 2.0L turbocharged engine with torque increased to 207 pound-feet. Standard 17-inch wheels and LED headlights and taillights should also stand out for customers.
VW also announced it’s investing $800 million in its Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant to build electric vehicles in the United States.
Toyota Supra roars back
Racing enthusiast and Toyota Corp. President Akio Toyota was beside himself with pleasure as he revealed the 2020 Supra coupe.
Developed with BMW, and using a BMW chassis and straight-six engine, the Supra nonetheless is immediately recognizable as a Toyota. It boasts 335 hp.
Nissan: Electric Maxima successor?
Sleek and new, but with identifiable Nissan features such as a V-shaped grille, the IMs concept sedan likely foreshadows the next generation of the automaker’s signature Maxima sedan. The IMs has front and rear electric motors for all-wheel drive and a total of 483 hp and 590 pound-feet of torque.
Nissan projects a range of 380 miles.
Don’t be surprised if Nissan builds a production EV sport sedan that looks like the IMs in the next three-four years.
Kia Telluride’s luxury
In a world of increasing rounded SUVs, the 2020 Kia Telluride stands out thanks to distinctive squared-off looks — right down to square taillights. The three-row SUV can seat up to eight and has a 291-hp V6.
The Telluride shares its underpinnings with the new Hyundai Palisade, but looks nothing like it.
In addition to exterior difference, the Telluride’s interior boasts high-end materials, including a suede-like headliner.
Infiniti’s future style arrives
The QX Inspiration takes full advantage of the new engineering that will underpin electric vehicles to turn a new page in Infiniti design. The roof allows light to filter in, while the interior features five spring-like colors and a marble-topped center console.
The steering wheel is small and retractable, because the QX is capable of fully autonomous operation. Batteries would be fitted under the floor, making room for an open cabin with center-opening doors.
Lexus shows LC convertible
Toyota’s Lexus luxury brand made no secret of the fact that it’s considering building a convertible version of its LC coupe. The LC concept seems destined for production and sale, even though the show car at Cobo Center doesn’t have a roof and Lexus says whether it’s a soft or hardtop convertible will be determined by customer preference.
Other than that, the concept’s luxurious interior is a dead ringer for the coupe.
Lexus also unveiled a performance version of its smaller RC coupe that accelerates to 60 mph in less than 4.0 seconds.
The North American International Auto Show opens to the public Jan. 19. The annual Charity Preview raising money for local groups is Friday evening. Tickets at: naias.com.
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Contact Mark Phelan: [email protected] or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan
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