Detroit Auto Show: Watch out for Kia Telluride, Cadillac XT6; Ferrari, McLaren to skip event
Several other brands including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche will also be absent from the show.
The North American International Auto Show in Detroit will be noticeably light on exciting debuts this year as automakers chase customers elsewhere. While Ford, GM, and Toyota will show new vehicles, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and Jaguar Land Rover, along with such higher-end brands as Ferrari, McLaren, and Lamborghini, are skipping it altogether.
“Manufacturers are trying to do launches away from the trade shows so they can control the narrative and the coverage,” says Matt DeLorenzo, the senior managing editor for Kelley Blue Book. “The more futuristic and best stuff will be done at venues like CES or Pebble Beach or the Festival of Speed.”
The lack of competition on the show floor leaves plenty of room for the debuts that are there to shine during the last year the Detroit show will be held in winter. Starting in 2020, it’ll be held in June.
Crowds will likely flock to the Toyota display, where executives will pull the cover off the company’s new Supra, a car petrolheads have been clamoring for since the last model left Japanese assembly lines in 2002. It won’t be autonomous, electric, or worth a damn on a suburban shopping trip. It probably won’t even have all-wheel drive.
But the Supra will be a sports car with a capital S: a coupe with 50-50 weight distribution, a straight-six cylinder engine, an integrated spoiler, and more than 300 horsepower. It’s a risky machine to introduce in today’s market, but Toyota hedged its exposure by splitting the production bill with BMW. The drive will likely be similar to BMW’s Z4. The design, not so much.
Not to be outdone, Ford will debut the new Shelby GT 500, featuring a supercharged V8 the company says will make it the most powerful production car ever. Expect the new engine to produce roughly 700 horsepower; a manual version is not expected.
Want a proxy on whether driving still matters? Look at the crowds around these stands when the public shows up.
“Certainly there are still vehicles that prioritize fun driving,” says Stephanie Brinley, the principal automotive analyst for the analysis firm IHS Markit. “I don’t think that’s really going away. Driving is still relevant. But it’s also true that customers have shifted, and they prefer utility vehicles.”
Indeed, everyone else, it seems, is going big.
Kia will reveal the Telluride, an all-new rig that will sit atop the brand’s SUV food-chain (three rows of seats, charging ports everywhere one looks). The concept version displayed at the same show in 2016 was a hit. Resplendent in a rich, bronzy green, it found a design sweet spot between boxy and round, on which many SUV manufacturers have only recently been landing. (See: BMW, Volvo).
Ford is also rolling up in its new Explorer, an SUV that’s fast closing in on its 30th birthday. The company couldn't wait to talk about this rig's new tech and terrain chops, and it shared all the details (including photos) this week.
Ram rebooted its everyman pickup a year ago; along with that comes the heavy duty version now on view. The brand’s playbook in the truck wars of late has been simple: lots of towing power under the hood and lots of amenities in the cockpit. Now that the weekend warrior market is starting to wane, the heavy truck segment is more critical than ever. Buyers are mostly commercial outfits and high-end tradesmen looking for a big write-off at tax-time. If Fiat-Chrysler rolls out a competitive machine, it will be towing a tidy pile of profit.
From the luxury side, Cadillac will show the XT6 SUV, a three-row crossover. A first for Cadillac, it’s expected to be bigger than the compact XT4 but smaller than the gargantuan Escalade.
Infiniti will show an electric crossover concept, one of the few electrified vehicles to show its face this year in the Motor City.
“The show—and most shows—reflect the here and now, and the here and now is trucks, to be quite frank,” Delorenzo said. “Show organizers are going to try to put on their best face for all of this, but the main story here is trucks.”
There may be a few surprises, if luck holds: a new Ford Bronco and a new Chevrolet Corvette C8. Reportedly based on the 2019 Ford Ranger truck, the 2020 Bronco would be a modern take on the lines of the original that were popular in the 1970s and ’80s. The C8 would debut a new engine placement set in the middle of the car rather than in front, the common configuration for supercars such as Ferrari and McLaren. Ford has denied the Bronco will be there, and Chevy has declined to comment at all. They may not be ready in time for the event.
But with so few other things happening in Detroit, this could be the perfect place to swoop in and steal the show.