The 2018 Detroit auto show opened a new front in the pickup truck wars, as each of America’s three major automakers revealed new models both large and small.
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Trucks and SUVs accounted for two-thirds of the 17.2 million new vehicles sold in the U.S. last year, and the lucrative truck segment accounted for a sizable share of industry profits. In a battle to win over customers, General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Fiat Chrysler’s (NYSE:FCAU) Ram introduced fresh full-size pickup trucks, while Ford (NYSE:F) unveiled its midsize Ranger that will return to market in 2019.
Automakers also brought next-generation SUVs, sedans and sports cars to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Here are some of the highlights:
1. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
GM’s Chevy Silverado, the second-best selling pickup truck in the U.S., gets a muscular look and a bevy of new features for 2019. While Ford’s F-150 switched to an all-aluminum body in 2014, the Silverado will go its own way. The new truck will have a hood, tailgate and doors made of aluminum to save weight. The rest of the truck will stick with high-strength steel. The combination will save 450 pounds over the current truck, even as the new model gains seven inches on its sides and one inch in length. The 2019 Silverado, which will be made in Indiana and goes on sale in the fall, will also offer a 10-speed transmission, power-operated tailgate, storage built into the rear seatbacks and a choice of gasoline or diesel engines.
2. Ram 1500
Ram turned to steel composites to help lighten the new 2019 Ram 1500, cutting 225 pounds. The truck will come in six different trims, and the limited edition Rebel version will return. An optional 12-inch touchscreen display is a first for the segment, and Ram will pack more high-tech safety features into the new truck. Executives touted the Ram's storage areas, including lockable compartments along the sides of the vehicle. The 2019 Ram 1500 will hit the market soon with a rollout expected to begin during the first quarter of this year.
3. Ford Ranger
Following the successful launch of midsize trucks from GM and Honda (NYSE:HMC), Ford is getting back in the competition with the 2019 Ranger. The truck will come with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Customers can choose from SuperCab and SuperCrew configurations, with no single cab offered. Other details were limited, though Ford believes the Ranger will have best-in-class payload. Sales are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2019.
4. Ford Mustang Bullitt
Ford revealed a special edition of the Mustang to replicate the car famously driven by Steve McQueen in the movie “Bullitt.” Due out in the summer, the 2019 Mustang Bullitt will come in black or dark highland green. Its 5-liter V8 engine generates 475 horsepower, and with a top speed of 163 miles per hour, the Bullitt is 8 mph faster than the Mustang GT. Ford also announced the pending launch of another new Mustang, the Shelby GT500, which will have at least 700 horsepower when it arrives next year.
5. Toyota Avalon
The 2019 Avalon, Toyota’s full-size sedan, sports new technology like a nine-inch display with available Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CarPlay. There’s a new 3.5-liter V6, or buyers can opt for the hybrid. The Avalon goes on sale later this spring.
6. Mercedes G-Class
The new version of the rugged Mercedes “G-Wagen” can wade through nearly 27 inches of water (more than the current model), thanks to an extra 9.5 inches of ground clearance. The 2019 G-Class also features an upgraded suspension, new driver-assist systems and a bi-turbo 4-liter V8 that packs 416 horsepower under the hood. The new SUV goes in sale later in 2019.
7. 2019 Jeep Cherokee
Jeep’s compact crossover received a new grille design for the 2019 model year, answering critics who thought the initial design strayed too far from the traditional Jeep look. The brand also announced that it will add a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to the Cherokee lineup.
8. Acura RDX prototype
This prototype SUV is likely very close to the eventual production version of the RDX, Acura’s second-most popular vehicle last year. The Honda luxury brand said the new RDX, a five-passenger crossover, will feature a bold new design and advanced technology such as Acura’s True Touchpad interface, an Android-based system.
9. 2019 Ford Edge ST
The 2019 Edge ST, which made its debut ahead of the Detroit auto show, is the first crossover to get the Ford Performance treatment. It gets a unique grille, upgraded suspension, performance-style seats and a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 that generates 335 horsepower. The Edge ST will go on sale this summer.
10. Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept
Lexus designed the LF-1 Limitless Concept to show off a potential flagship luxury crossover. The Toyota (NYSE:TM) brand is seemingly responding to the shift from cars to SUVs. Luxury brands have traditionally viewed full-size sedans as the most desirable vehicles in their portfolios.
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