DETROIT — Detroit’s last winter auto show opened Saturday morning, before the spectacle moves to June in 2020.
Here’s a list of the best, most interesting and likely most popular vehicles to watch for at the 2019 North American International Auto Show, which remains open to the public from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Saturday, Jan. 26, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27 at Cobo Center in Detroit until . Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for seniors and children 7 to 12.
Ford Shelby GT 500, Explorer, Ranger
Ford’s elaborate stand is packed with new vehicles and features that include a theater and a driving demonstration.
All three new Fords are worth a look:
• The new Explorer uses an all-new architecture that delivers different proportion and promises enjoyable driving. For the first time, Ford will offer a hybrid and a 400-horsepower sporty ST version of its bread-and-butter family-carrying SUV.
• The Ranger pickup just went on sale, and should help drive a boom in interest in midsize trucks. It features technology borrowed from the bigger F-150, including a 10-speed automatic transmission and electronic aids for off-roading.
• Arriving later this year, the Mustang Shelby GT 500 promises more than 700 hp and a 0-60 time around 3.5 seconds. It’s the most powerful factory-built Mustang ever.
It’s not street legal, but this little ATV’s styling similarities to a Jeep drive Fiat Chrysler nuts. It’s not a coincidence. Indian conglomerate Mahindra got a license from Jeep-maker Willys in 1947, and has continued to build vehicles that resemble the original Jeep ever since. The Roxor has a steel frame and body and 2.5-liter diesel engine. It doesn’t offer an automatic transmission, air conditioning or other features American car buyers expect, but at a base price of $15,000, it gets lots of attention.
Ram HD pickup
Heavy duty pickups are workhorses — the Ram 3500 can tow up to 35,100 pounds — but there’s a lot of show horse in them, too. It’s not uncommon to see one of these giants towing a million dollars’ worth and equipped with luxurious interiors and the latest semi-autonomous driving aids like adaptive cruise. An all-new 6.7-liter Cummins diesel produces 1,000 pound-feet of torque in the 2019 2500 and 3500 pickups.
The only thing that could make Jeep hotter than its all-SUV lineup is adding a pickup, and that’s exactly what Fiat Chrysler did. The Gladiator’s upright profile, signature grille and lights will make it recognizable half a mile down the highway, something few pickups can claim. Other features include removable tops and doors for open-air driving and modern connectivity for smartphones.
Back by enthusiasts’ demand, the new Supra shares its architecture and drivetrain with the new BMW Z4 roadster. That should deliver unprecedented handling and performance to complement the car’s beautiful sculpted design. Canadian supplier Magna will build the Supra and Z4 at a plant that specializes in low-volume vehicles in Austria.
Nissan IMs concept
Designers use concept cars to explore the stylistic possibilities of vehicles that were developed for electric power and autonomous driving. The IMs concept is sleek and new, but recognizably a Nissan thanks to its V-shaped grille.
It’s widely believed to preview the next generation of Nissan’s Maxima sporty sedan, which may switch to electric power. The IMs has front and rear electric motors for all-wheel drive and a total of 483 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Nissan projects a range of 380 miles.
Arguably the biggest and most pleasant surprise at the auto show, Kia’s Telluride SUV oozes luxury, from the detailing of its distinctive, squared-off exterior to a suede-like headliner. The Stinger sport sedan was Kia’s first step upscale. The Telluride is second, and has the looks of a hit. The three-row SUV can seat up to eight and has a 291-hp V6.
In addition to its elaborate stand in the middle of the show floor, Kia has a Telluride driving demo at the back of the hall.
Expect lots more driving demos when the show adds outdoor events along the Riverfront in June 2020.
Infiniti QX Inspiration
The attractive QX Inspiration concept hints at the lounge-like interiors Infiniti foresees for cars with self-driving capability. Its small steering wheel could retract into the dashboard in autonomous mode, and the center-opening doors provide easy access. engineering that will underpin electric vehicles to turn a new page in Infiniti design.
The concept was the victim of the auto show’s most public snafu, when its electric system failed and it couldn’t roll onstage during its unveiling.
Don’t hold that against Infiniti’s production models; concept cars are held together with spit and baling wire. It’s amazing more of them don’t fall apart.
Lexus LC convertible
While some concept cars peer years into the future to divine the look and features of self-driving cars, the graceful LC convertible is more like a peek around the corner. Toyota’s luxury brand is very likely to build a convertible as a flagship and to boost the sex-appeal of a brand best known for bulletproof reliability. The LC could be just the ticket; it’s as pretty as any car the auto show circuit has seen in years.
Don’t ask whether it has a soft or hard top; the concept has neither. Toyota says it will listen to what customers ask for, if it builds the convertible.
The sleek family-carrying SUV gives a hint at the look of future Cadillacs, including a just announce electric performance sedan that will establish Caddy as General Motors’ lead brand for electric vehicles. The most obvious changes are the body’s rounded shape and slim horizontal head and tail lights that complement the brand’s signature vertical running lights and turn signals.
The XT6 has three rows of seats and updated controls designed to help Cadillac win customer satisfaction studies.
Conveniently located across the aisle from Cadillac’s stand, the Lincoln Aviator provides an opportunity to compare the progress Detroit’s luxury brands are making.
Lincoln is justifiably proud of its interior design, materials and features. Take a look through the display model’s open doors to see high-end leather, elaborate speaker grilles and 30-way adjustable front seats.
Lincoln will offer a plug-in hybrid Aviator. That’s why the display model appears to have two gas doors. The front is to charge batteries under the rear-seat floor. The rear is for gasoline.