Every January, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit brings automotive journalists from all over the world to the Motor City for big new automotive reveals and the latest concepts. For the American auto manufacturers, Detroit is one of the biggest, if not still the largest, show to release their brand-new products for the North American market. This year marked a historic year for new trucks, but also unravelled some automotive folklore as well. Detroit welcomed new pickup trucks from every Big 3 manufacturer as well as a new Mercedes G-Wagen, first all-new since 1979 and also a new Mustang to mark the 50th anniversary of Bullitt. With this reveal, Ford also revealed the missing Bullitt hero car from the movie. The larger focus this year was on production vehicles rather than concepts, but still play just as important a part of the industry.
This year, FCA used NAIAS to reveal two new products, one release being very large and monumental. The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 was revealed with an all-new sleek design, new trims, and all new technology as well. A very large seller, this new Ram will prove to gain some more market share with a great design and features such as a new 12” infotainment screen and a 19 speaker Harman-Kardon system in the higher-end models. FCA also revealed the mid-cycle refresh of the Cherokee, for 2019. This new Cherokee gets rid of the controversial dual lighting on the previous Cherokee and replaces it with a more handsome look in line with the new Compass and larger Grand Cherokee. A new 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder putting out 270hp was also revealed for the Cherokee and new JL Wrangler. General Motors usually has a larger presence at the show, but this year focused on celebrating the 100th anniversary of Chevy Trucks and revealed the all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado. The next generation Sierra is also soon to follow in the upcoming month or so, but the new Silverado revealed a striking new design that is more functional and more stylish. The new truck uses mixed materials such as high-tensile steel and aluminum in the hood, doors and tailgate. Every bit of the truck is all new, including a new 3.0L Duramax I-6 diesel engine for the 2019 Silverado 1500 and the Sierra 1500. With the use of high-tensile steel, the bed gained more width and depth to haul even more cargo.
Ford marked the return of the Bullitt Mustang to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film and the most famous car chase. They released the special edition 2019 Bullitt with more power, unique exterior treatment in Highland Green or Shadow Black, with the signature Torque Thrust wheels and badgeless grille. Ford made history with this reveal however, showing the new car alongside the long-lost hero car from the movie, Steve McQueen’s 1968 Mustang GT from the film. The car had not been seen for about 40 years but rumours surrounded the cars condition and location. One family has owned it since 1974 and the car has remained in original condition, save for the air cleaner. Ford also presented a Heritage Ford GT, marking the anniversary of Dan Gurney’s LeMans win and that original car’s livery. Dan Gurney signed the GT and the opening day of the auto show, passed away peacefully at the age of 86. A sticker was added later in the day in memory of the well-known American race driver. Historic cars were not the only reveal, Ford also released the new Ford Ranger for the North American market. This truck had been sold overseas and Asia and Down Under, but was on hiatus here while the Tacoma and GMC Canyon gained market share in the mid-size truck market. The ST lineup also grew, adding the Ford Edge to the performance vehicle lineup, showing how important crossovers have become today.
Other big reveals from the import manufacturers included vehicles from Volkswagen, Hyundai/Kia, Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Volkswagen released the all-new 2019 VW Jetta based on the new world platform that underpins the new Golf. The car grew in size and provides plenty more options and new engine choices. VW also released a performance variant of the Passat, a VR6-powered Passat GT that has a sporty GTI look to it. Hyundai/Kia released the updated and new Veloster, as well as the new Veloster N performance model with 275hp. This marks the first N performance model in North America, while Europe already has the i30 variant. Kia showed off their new Forte sedan, a sleek compact that takes styling cues and characteristics from the hyped Stinger GT sports sedan. The look is far sportier than previous, while maintaining the same functionality and economy of the previous model. Mercedes released a new AMG engine line-up, but more importantly, the all-new G-Wagen which has never been fully revamped since its release in 1979. BMW presented the new funky X2 crossover while Toyota launched the new restyled Avalon. The new Avalon has gone from boring to stylish and sleek while still maintaining the upscale features and design.
Detroit had a few concept releases this year from some Japanese manufacturers. Acura presented a prototype of the new RDX which is mostly production ready while Lexus debuted the LF-1 concept which is a flagship SUV concept that shows where the brand is headed next. Nissan and Infiniti skipped showing off brand-new production reveals to show off new design directions through concepts. Nissan showed off a rugged 3-row SUV concept, possibly hinted at the next-gen Pathfinder or Armada, while Infiniti showed off a sculptural sports sedan that would act as a new flagship for the brand. While the auto manufacturers release all this new product, awards are also given for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year as well. This year, the all-new 2018 Honda Accord won the North American Car of the Year, 2018 Volvo XC60 won the Utility of the Year and the 2018 Lincoln Navigator won the Truck of the Year. All brand-new launches, these vehicles were tested up against a panel of judges and selected.
This show only marks the beginning of the auto show season, with many more new reveals to come at Chicago, New York, LA and next month, our local Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto as well. Expect these great new production launches to be at the Toronto show, but don’t get your hopes up for the original Bullitt or Dan Gurney tribute to make an appearance. This year will be a big year for new products, especially if you are in the market for a new pickup truck.
Written by David Murphy