Top 10 Lease-Worthy Vehicles From The 2019 Detroit Auto ShowJanuary 25, 2019
The first Detroit Auto Show was organized and held in 1899. In 1907, the Detroit show became an annual event, and has been held every year since, with the exception of 1941 through 1953. Traditionally held during January, the Detroit Auto Show was originally conceived as a way to get consumers out to look at new cars in the dead of winter, when there was not much else to do. The Detroit show added an international focus in the late 1980s, and was renamed the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in 1989. Since then, it has become the largest and most influential automotive exhibition in the hemisphere – until recently. This year’s show is open to the public from January 19 through January 27, 2019.
There are several reasons why the NAIAS/Detroit Auto Show has lost its luster in recent years. Members of the international auto press do not enjoy their annual trip to snowy, icy, windy Detroit each January. The repositioning of the Los Angeles Auto Show to late November/early December has made that show more important. Los Angeles has become the manufacturers’ choice location for revealing new luxury and alternative energy models, due to the area’s preference for those types of vehicles. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held in early January, has become a preferred show for revealing new automotive technology developments. That does not leave much for the Detroit show that follows a week or so later.
Another recent development has to do with the high costs of exhibiting at major auto shows, and how much exposure a manufacturer can really get for a new model introduction at the show. It costs millions of dollars for a major manufacturer to rent the space, design and build displays, staff them, and so on. Each brief twenty-minute press conference and model introduction slot is followed by another and another, producing information overload and lots of stress.
This has produced a trend to private, off-premise events held at other locations. Sometimes these events are held in Detroit before the show starts, but they are also held throughout the year, whenever a given model is ready to be introduced. This provides manufacturers with the total attention of the invited journalists, for a long period of time, with no other distractions. Even better, these events cost much less than being at an auto show.
In view of all this, it is no wonder that many luxury manufacturers have skipped the 2019 NAIAS/Detroit Auto Show. The absentees include Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo.
The solution? The NAIAS/Detroit Auto Show management has decided that the 2019 show will be the last one that will be held in January. Starting in 2020, the NAIAS will be held in June. The organizers hope that moving the show to the middle of June will make for a much more pleasant experience, with the potential of added outdoor activities, test drive opportunities, and a tie-up with the Detroit Grand Prix race.
We will have to wait and see if the move to June helps the NAIAS/Detroit Auto Show in 2020. In the meantime, remember that Detroit remains the US auto industry’s “home court,” and is still the place where many new American cars are introduced. Let’s now look at the Top 10 Lease-Worthy Vehicles From The 2019 Detroit Auto Show:
Mustang Shelby GT500
The 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 is billed as “the most powerful street-legal Ford ever.” Need proof? How about a hand-built supercharged 5.2L V8 producing over 700 horsepower, zero to 60 mph in under four seconds, and a quarter-mile time of less than 11 seconds! Much more than a straight-line drag car, the Shelby GT500 has also been designed to handle road courses, with massive Brembo brakes, MagneRide suspension, lightweight 20” alloy wheels, advanced aerodynamic aids, sticky Michelin tires, and a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. An optional carbon fiber track package adds carbon fiber wheels, an adjustable carbon fiber rear wing, improved aerodynamics, and deletes the rear seat. Inside, there is a 12” full-color LCD instrument cluster and an 8” touchscreen infotainment system. Recaro racing seats and a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen custom-tuned premium audio system are optional. With the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500, Ford has staked its claim to the high-performance ponycar crown. This apex predator Mustang has more power than the track-dominating Camaro ZL1 1LE, and it will very likely also outperform the 717-horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat, in both acceleration and around curves. The 2020 Shelby GT500 arrives in the fall of 2019. Pricing has not been announced.
The 2020 Kia Telluride is Kia’s all-new entry in the mid-size three-row SUV segment. A close relative of the recently-released Hyundai Palisade, the squared-off 2020 Telluride will hold up to eight people. Larger than the current mid-size Kia Sorento, Telluride will compete against established rivals like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander. Kia stylists have gone for the big, bold, boxy look to separate the Telluride from the rest of the pack. Telluride cargo space with the second and third rows folded is 87 cu. ft. A 3.8L V6 engine with 291 horsepower is mated to an eight speed automatic across the board in the Telluride, with standard front-wheel drive or available active on-demand all-wheel drive. The 2020 Kia Telluride comes with the following standard features: 18” alloy wheels, tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, overhead and floor consoles, one-touch slide and fold second-row seat, air conditioning with rear controls, 8” touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, five USB charging ports, and smart key with push button start. Standard driver assistance technologies are forward collision warning and avoidance, rear blind-spot collision avoidance, lane departure warning, lane-following and lane-keeping assist, reverse parking warning, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, and smart cruise control with stop and go. Optional features on the Telluride include a 10-speaker Harmon Kardon surround sound premium audio system; navigation with a 10.25” touchscreen; powered Nappa leather seats with memory, heat, and ventilation; heated steering wheel; dual sunroof; heads-up display; surround-view monitor; and highway driving assist. The 2020 Kia Telluride will be available at Kia dealers by May of 2019. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.
The 2020 Toyota Supra is an all-new two-seater sports coupe from Toyota. After being gone from our market for 21 years, the 2020 Supra is being produced in a joint venture with BMW, whose new Z4 roadster will be built on the same platform, and in the same Austrian factory. The new Supra retains its traditional front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, with a balanced 50/50 weight distribution front and rear. It is powered by a 3.0L inline six-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 335 horsepower, driving through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The Supra’s base trim level includes LED headlights, adaptive variable suspension, 19” forged alloy wheels with performance tires, large Brembo brakes, 6.5” infotainment display with rotary controller, dual-zone climate control, powered Alcantara-covered racing-inspired seats, and rain-sensing wipers. Standard driver assistance features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beam and road sign assist. The Premium trim level adds an 8.8” screen with Apple CarPlay integration, JBL premium audio system, navigation, and heated leather seats. Heads-up display, adaptive full speed cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and rear end collision warning are optional. The expressively-named exterior color palette includes Renaissance Red 2.0, Nitro Yellow, Downshift Blue, Absolute Zero White, Tungsten Silver, Turbulence Gray, Nocturnal Black, and Phantom Matte Gray. The initial 1,500 Supras will be Launch Edition models. These will start with the Premium trim in black, white, and red exterior colors, with red mirror caps, black wheels and a dash plaque added. The 2020 Toyota Supra will go on sale at US Toyota dealers in the summer of 2019. Supra pricing will start at $50,920. A lower-priced four-cylinder model will appear at a later date.
The 2020 Ford Explorer is the all-new sixth generation of Ford’s mid-size three-row SUV. Explorer holds the title as America’s best-selling SUV of all time, with more than seven million sold since its debut in 1990. The 2020 Explorer returns to its roots as a rear-wheel drive vehicle, with intelligent four-wheel drive optional. While its length is about the same as the preceding model, the new Explorer’s wheelbase is six inches longer, providing more passenger space in all three rows. The 2020 Explorer comes with a standard four-cylinder turbocharged engine putting out 300 horsepower. Several power upgrades are available, with a maximum of 400 horsepower available from the turbocharged V6 that comes in the ST performance model. A gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain can also be selected. All engines drive the wheels through a new ten-speed automatic transmission. Explorer’s towing capacity is up to 5,600 pounds. Cargo space with the second and third rows folded is 87.8 cu. ft. Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, power liftgate, 18” aluminum wheels, 8” digital touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, pre-collision warning, blind-spot warning, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and automatic headlights. Some Explorer upgrades are adaptive cruise control with speed limit recognition, twin-panel moonroof, perforated leather seats, wireless device charging, 12.3” digital instrument cluster, a 10.1” vertically-oriented infotainment split-screen, and a 14-speaker, 980-watt B&O premium audio system. The 2020 Ford Explorer will be available at your local Ford dealer in the summer of 2019. Explorer pricing will start at $33,860.
Lexus RC F Track Edition
The 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition is a new track-focused version of the refreshed 2020 RC F Coupe. The basic RC F has been upgraded for better performance with lighter-weight components, stiffer suspension elements, more rigid engine mounts, increased power output, a higher final drive ratio for faster acceleration off the line, electronic launch control, and Michelin performance tires designed specifically for it. Outside, the RC F has redesigned front end styling, featuring new LED headlights flanking a reshaped grille with a lower lip opening. New taillights and a redesigned rear bumper bring up the rear. Both versions are powered by a 5.0L V8 with an output of 472 horsepower, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The RC F Track Edition takes it to the next level by adding a unique carbon fiber front splitter, a fixed rear carbon fiber wing, Brembo carbon-ceramic brake rotors, 19” BBS forged alloy wheels, carbon fiber hood and roof panels, plus titanium muffler and tail pipes. A zero to 60mph time of under four seconds is claimed for the Track Edition. Inside, the RC F Track Edition features a standard red leather interior, with red Alcantara seat accents and red carbon fiber trim. The 2020 Lexus RC F and RC F Track Edition will go on sale at Lexus dealers in April of 2019. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Ram Heavy Duty Pickup
The all-new 2019 Ram Heavy Duty pickup truck comes close on the heels of the award-winning Ram 1500 light-duty pickup. The 2019 Ram Heavy Duty offers an impressive blend of capability, creature comforts, and technology, which today’s heavy-duty pickup buyers demand. The Ram Heavy Duty has a standard 6.4L Hemi V8 with 410 horsepower, driving either the rear wheels or all four through an eight-speed automatic. For additional power, there is the optional 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel, with a record-breaking 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque. A maximum payload of 7,680 pounds and a towing capacity of up to 35,100 pounds puts the Ram Heavy Duty at the top of the heap. Inside, the Ram Heavy Duty is quiet, thanks to its active noise cancellation, anti-vibration devices and acoustic glass. The new interior features premium materials, including an optional hand-wrapped leather instrument panel with real wood trim. A 12” reconfigurable touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Sirius XM is optional, as is a 17-speaker, 750-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system. Advanced driver assistance technologies, available on all trims of the Ram Heavy Duty, are adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. The 2019 Ram Heavy Duty will go on sale at your nearby Ram dealer in the second quarter of 2019. Ram Heavy Duty pricing will be announced prior to the on-sale date.
The all-new 2020 Cadillac XT6 mid-size three-row SUV has finally arrived. It was developed to fill the huge and longstanding gap in Cadillac’s SUV lineup. As such, it slots in between the mid-size two-row XT5 and the full-size three-row Escalade. The XT6 can seat either six or seven, depending on the seating configuration selected. XT6 cargo space with the second and third rows folded is 78.7 cu. ft. Taking front-end styling cues from Cadillac’s Escala show car, the look of the rest of XT6 is much more restrained, with an unremarkable side view that wraps up at the rear with Cadillac’s signature vertical taillights. The 2020 Cadillac XT6 is powered by a 3.6L V6 with 310 horsepower, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on the XT6’s Premium Luxury trim, with on-demand all-wheel drive an option, while the upscale Sport trim has standard all-wheel drive. The list of standard equipment on the 2020 XT6 includes 20” alloy wheels, an 8” touchscreen with a rotary controller, a hands-free power-opening liftgate, two USB ports in each row, and power releases for folding the second- and third-row seats. Standard driver assistance technologies on the 2020 XT6 are automated emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and front and rear parking sensors. Optional features include a 14-speaker Bose Premium audio system, semi-aniline leather seats with heating and ventilation, adaptive cruise control, night vision, wireless charging, surround vision camera, automatic parking assist, heads-up display, and reverse automatic braking. Unfortunately, Cadillac’s excellent Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system is not currently available. The 2020 Cadillac XT6 will be available for ordering sometime in the spring of 2019. Its on-sale date and pricing information will be announced closer to when XT6 production starts.
Subaru STI S209
The 2020 Subaru STI S209 is the first special-edition enhanced-performance “S” model to be produced for the USA. Until now, these “S” models were made only for the Japanese market. STI, or Subaru Tecnica International, is Subaru’s performance arm, dedicated to making more potent and capable versions of the existing top-performing WRX STI. The S209 builds upon the standard STI, adding a larger turbocharger, a high-capacity fuel system, an intercooler with a driver-controlled water sprayer, stronger rods and pistons, and a freer-flowing exhaust system. Power output of the 2.5L four-cylinder engine is increased to 341 horsepower, 31 more than the current STI. This engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, which directs the power to a full-time all-wheel drive system incorporating front and rear limited-slip differentials, driver-controlled center differential, active torque vectoring and multi-mode vehicle dynamics control. The body has been stiffened and the suspension tightened up for greatly-improved handling. Wider performance tires on 19” BBS forged alloy wheels are housed under special fender flares. A rear wing and carbon fiber roof panel complete the performance makeover. Inside, the S209 has an STI badge in the center of its Ultrasuede-wrapped steering wheel, silver trim on the Recaro seats, and special S209 badging throughout. There will be approximately 200 units of the STI S209 produced, with two exterior color choices available: Crystal White Pearl with gold wheels, and WR Blue Pearl with gray wheels. Pricing of the STI S209 will be announced nearer to the on-sale date of late 2019.
The 2020 Volkswagen Passat is a facelifted version of Volkswagen’s current mid-size four-door sedan. While it picks up some design cues from the recently-released all-new Jetta, the Passat is basically the old wine in a new bottle. The 2020 Passat rides on the same platform as its predecessor, with minimal mechanical changes. The standard and only engine remains a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, putting out 174 horsepower and driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Full-LED lighting, 17” alloy wheels, and an 8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are these driver assistance features: automated emergency braking, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Available features on the 2020 Passat include Nappa leather seats, Fender premium audio system, dual-zone climate control, larger wheels, keyless entry with push-button start, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and park assist. The 2020 Passat is Volkswagen’s half-hearted response to the reality of steadily-dropping car sales in the US market, which are the result of the huge growth in SUV sales. The 2020 Volkswagen Passat will arrive at U.S. Volkswagen dealers in the summer of 2019. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Lexus LC Convertible Concept
The Lexus LC Convertible Concept has been included with the nine production-ready vehicles listed above, for one simple reason – this is a production-ready car! It has been derived directly from the current production model of the range-topping Lexus LC Coupe. With the exception of the impractical 22” wheels (the Coupe wears 20-inchers), there is not a single element on this attractive two-seater that would look out of place in a Lexus showroom, or on the street. The LC Convertible Concept replaces the LC Coupe’s sloping roofline with an attractive flat rear deck, eliminating the tiny rear seats of the Coupe version. No information has been provided as to whether the convertible top would be fabric or metal. Mechanical specifications would likely be identical to the current LC Coupe, which is powered by a 5.0L V8 with 471 horsepower, driving the rear wheels through a ten-speed transmission with magnesium paddle shifters. It is unknown whether a hybrid version would be available. As the Lexus LC Convertible is still a concept, there is no information as to an on-sale date or what the pricing would be. For reference, the current starting MSRP of the 2019 Lexus LC Coupe is $92,300, so expect a price north of $100K.