It's the year of the pickup truck at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford unveil new trucks in a fast-growing and highly competitive U.S. auto market.
But there are plenty of other vehicles at the show, which is a bellwether of the industry and one of the most signifcant auto shows in the world. Mercedes, BMW, Jeep and Ford have new SUVs, while several Japanese automakers are showing off prototypes of future vehicles.
It's all happening in a U.S. auto market that's shrinking but still expected to remain at healthy levels. Last year sales fell 2 percent to 17.2 million, still near record highs. Analysts expect sales to be just under 17 million in 2018.
Here are some of the debuts from the show, which runs to the general public from Jan. 20-28. It also previews what's coming at the Chicago Auto Show, the nation's longest running and largest consumer show, which runs Feb. 10-19.
After an eight-year haitus, Ford's former best-selling midsize pickup truck returns to claim back share from Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado. The frame was reinforced with high-strength steel and steel bumpers were added in the front and rear to better resemble the F-150.
Under the hood is the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that powers the Ford Mustang sports car. It's mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford isn't yet releasing horsepower, fuel economy, payload or towing capacity. The Ranger will be offered in two-door or four-door configurations with a choice of a 5-foot or 6-foot bed.
The Silverado, which goes on sale this fall, is up to 450 pounds lighter than the current model. Parts that swing, including doors, the hood and the tailgate, are lighter aluminum, but the frame and stationary parts such as the bed, are steel.
The truck gets two new V-8 engines, 5.3-liters and 6.2-liters, that can shut off any number of cylinders to save gas but power them up when needed. There's also a new 3-liter six-cylinder diesel and a 10-speed automatic transmission available.
The new Silverado is just under 2 inches longer than the old one for more cargo and interior space. It gets bigger fenders, a larger grille and sinister-looking but smaller rectangular headlamps.
The 2019 Ram, due in showrooms before April 1, keeps the current beefy look, but it's 4 inches longer and slightly wider. The grille is larger, with a forward-leaning, aggressive slant. The hood was raised to evoke a big rig — and improve aerodynamics.
The new Ram also loses 225 pounds to compete with lightened rivals including the aluminum-clad F-150. The Ram frame is almost entirely lightweight, high-strength steel, and its tailgate and other bits are aluminum.
But perhaps the most significant change is a mild hybrid system, standard on most gasoline versions. The system replaces the alternator with a motor and a 48-volt battery pack, which can shut down the truck at stop lights to save fuel and boost acceleration. The system recaptures braking energy to charge the battery. FCA isn't releasing mileage but says it will be significantly better.
Ford is offering a diesel for the first time in the F-150 pickup truck, which has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 41 years.
The diesel will put out 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque. It can tow up to 11,400 pounds and has a 2,020-pound payload capacity.
Ford expects the F-150 to get 30 miles per gallon on the highway with the new 3.0-liter V6 diesel and a 10-speed transmission. That's 4 mpg better than the current most efficient gasoline-powered F-150.
Honda Motor Co.'s struggling Acura luxury brand hopes to revive sales with a new version of its best-selling RDX. Acura showed a prototype of the midsize SUV at the show, but it's close to the version that will go on sale in mid-2018. The 2019 RDX, which is the first to be designed in the U.S., is longer, lower and wider than the current model, with sharper lines outlined in chrome. A wide panoramic glass roof will come standard. Under the hood is a new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Acura says the RDX will have the most legroom and cargo space in its class. There's also a touchpad to control infotainment functions on the 10.2-inch dashboard screen. Acura didn't reveal pricing, fuel economy or other details.
FORD EDGE ST
Ford Motor Co. introduced a high-performance version of its midsize Edge SUV. The Edge ST has a 2.7-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine that puts out 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. That's paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive comes standard, and there's a specially tuned sport suspension.
The Edge ST also has special design cues, including a wide mesh grille, 21-inch wheels and "performance blue" paint. The regular Edge also gets an update, with a more efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 250 horsepower. New safety features include "evasive steering assist," which uses cameras and radar to detect slower-moving vehicles. Pricing on the Edge and Edge ST hasn't yet been released.
The compact crossover gets a major midcycle refresh for model year 2019, including a new 270-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that should combine with a weight reduction of 200 pounds to increase fuel economy. The same 3.2-liter V-6 engine and Tigershark four-cylinder will still be offered from when the nameplate returned for model year 2014. The cargo area is widened to fit golf clubs sideways instead of diagonally, and a larger grille adorns the revised fascia.
Volkswagen's redesigned Jetta is longer, wider and taller than previous models. VW also aims for a sportier look, with a large front grille, higher chrome quotient and LED lighting. The car has a new standard six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic transmission is optional on the base model. The Jetta's revamped interior includes a new storage console large enough to fit a standard iPad.
It goes on sale in the second quarter at a starting price of $18,545 — less than its predecessor.
Toyota has taken the wraps off its revamped Avalon, which features a longer, lower and wider exterior and a rear cabin that extends another 7 inches.
The automaker boasts of a "neater" steering wheel, with a smaller switch cluster, enlarged hand grips and cruise control now accessible on the right spoke.
The car has two new powertrains: a 3.5-liter V-6 and 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid system.
FORD MUSTANG BULLITT
Ford Motor Co. is making a special edition Mustang to commemorate the 50th anniversary of "Bullitt," whose unforgettable car chase scene helped turn the sports car into an icon.
The 2019 Mustang Bullitt — due out this summer — will have an upgraded 5.0-liter V-8 engine that puts out 475 horsepower. It has a top speed of 163 miles per hour (262 kilometers per hour) and a manual transmission with a white cue-ball shift knob. It's available in dark highland green, the color "Bullitt" made famous, as well as black.
Mercedes' boxy-looking G-Class SUV gets a face-lift, though its appearance hasn't changed much in almost four decades. The 2019 version gets numerous changes including 2 additional inches of length and 4.8 inches of width.
The G-Class gets a new independent front suspension as well as a nine-speed automatic transmission. It's still powered by a 4-liter V-8 with 416 horsepower. It also gets new LED headlamps.
BMW's sporty X2 small SUV will sit between the compact X1 and the bigger X3 in the automaker's lineup. It sits low and has a more muscular body than its siblings.
The 228-horsepower xDrive28i, which goes on sale in the U.S. in March, is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It's mated to an eight-speed transmission. The 192-horsepower sDrive28i goes on sale later this spring.