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Most anticipated vehicles of 2018 range from Stinger to Ranger to Wrangler

With auto show season in full swing, automakers are ratcheting up the excitement for new rides arriving in dealerships and driveways in 2018. Crossovers continue to dominate new model lineups, but high-horsepower performance cars and a broadening array of true utility vehicles pique our interest as much as the revitalized sedan segment.

Yes, the march toward autonomous vehicles is unimpeded, more automakers are getting into the car-sharing business, and mobility is the automotive buzzword for 2018. In the here and now, however, there are so many awesome rides to actually drive in 2018 and beyond. The corresponding record-high price tags, averaging over $36,000 according to Edmunds, are not as promising.

2018 Kia Stinger

Launched last January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and hitting dealer lots now, Kia’s first fastback performance sedan is our most anticipated vehicle to drive in 2018. Finalist for the North American Car of the Year, the Stinger takes the Korean brand into more luxurious, performance-minded territory meant to put a sting in BMW’s 5-Series. The 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 engine in RWD hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, according to Car and Driver. It looks good, sounds good and starting at under $40,000, it’s priced even better.

2018 Honda Accord

Another fastback sedan and another North American Car of the Year finalist, the redesigned midsize sedan is poised to take back the best-selling car crown from the Toyota Camry, and rightly so. Last month, Kelley Blue Book named the 10th-generation Accord the Best Buy of 2018 and journalists who have gotten behind the wheel of pre-production models rave about it. There is no V-6 engine and no coupe, but the turbocharged four cylinders used in the award-winning Civic sound potent enough in the longer, sleeker, sharper Accord. It’s on sale now.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

Redesigned for the first time in a decade, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler comes with three new fuel-efficient engines, including a mild hybrid and diesel, as well as sweeping modernization of connected and safety technology. Changes are subtle but efficient, including a weight loss of 200 pounds. Pricing will be announced closer to the spring delivery date.

2019 Chevy Silverado

The second best-selling vehicle in America provoked the truck wars in advance of its official debut at the Detroit auto show. What little is known is the Silverado will use a steel alloy bed — not the aluminum bed used by Ford in the best-selling F-150 and derided in ads by Chevy. Analysts are expecting Chevy to use lightweight aluminum in some areas of the Silverado as the only way to compete with F-150’s fuel economy, though Chevy isn’t promoting it. Visually, the grille gets bigger and bolder, and the headlights narrower. Ram also will throw its truck into battle with the redesigned 1500, the third best-selling vehicle in America also expected to debut in Detroit.

2019 Ford Ranger

While we’re on trucks, and since we love the Chevy Colorado, we’re eager to see what Ford does with the return of the midsize Ranger pickup truck, which hasn’t been offered in North America since 2011. Nothing has been released, but we expect it to come with fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines. Honestly, by highlighting the Ranger, we’re tempering our excitement for the Bronco SUV due for model year 2020. It will be more like a crossover than true off-road-ready powerhouse like its proud predecessor, we fear.

2019 Subaru Ascent

Subaru finally gets a proper three-row midsize SUV that promises to be larger and roomier than the third row wedged in the discontinued Tribeca. The largest Subaru ever, Ascent comes standard with AWD, three rows, and a new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer engine mated to a continuously variable transmission making 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, good enough to tow 5,000 pounds. There are nine potential seating configurations for those considering a defection from minivanland.

2019 Infiniti QX50

It’s not so much the midsize crossover that we’re eager to try as it is the variable compression ratio engine. The 2-liter turbo four-cylinder adjusts the piston stroke based on throttle input to maximize efficiency, helping it to achieve 35 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing V-6 engine. It has diesel-like specs, churning out 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque for a combined fuel economy of 26 mpg in all-wheel drive.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette

Chevy won’t confirm it, but after years of speculation, America’s supercar is finally going midengine. Leaked drawings suggest the C8 Vette will come with three engine offerings, including the current 6.2-liter V-8, and two twin-turbo V-8 engines, capable of 850 horsepower, it is believed. Expect confirmation of this beast after Jan. 13 in Detroit.

2019 Porsche Mission E

Also clouded in speculation more than specs, Porsche’s all-electric all-wheel drive four-seat sports sedan is expected to be announced this year and due in 2019, with a rumored range of 300 miles and top speed of 155 mph. That’s not enough to unseat Tesla from the all-electric throne, but horsepower will range between 402 and 670, according to CAR Magazine.

Tesla Model 3

Just kidding. We’re over the hype and just want to see it in full production so we can hitch the hype wagon to the Tesla pickup truck. The Tesla for the masses is in a production sieve trickling to the masses.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar’s first all-electric crossover is expected to have a 220-mile range and is being marketed as a performance SUV but details are scant. The test vehicles appear more hatchback than crossover, unlike the excellent F-Pace crossover.

2019 Toyota Supra

While the rumor has been confirmed to be reality, chances are we’ll have to wait until 2019 to know more, let alone get behind the wheel. Toyota is working with BMW on a rear-wheel drive platform believed to underpin the new Supra. Toyota has been testing a camouflaged sports coupe believed to be the Supra on the Nurburgring, Germany’s famous performance proving grounds.

Bring it on, 2018.

rduffer@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @dufferrobert

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