Today, I’m giving you my top five choices of vehicles from the 2018 auto show that combine functionality, design and innovation. They’re all poised to roll down roads near you, sometime within the next year.
With these cars, we can predict the trends that will be running strong in the auto market this year.
1. Lincoln Aviator
The upcoming Lincoln Aviator is eye-catching to say the least. It’s a sleek, luxurious vehicle that combines a boxy profile with clean, smooth lines, making it look fresh even at a show flooded with SUV’s.
The more you look, the more details will pop out to you, like the grille with its fantastic use of negative space, or all the small touches that make the Aviator instantly recognizable as a Lincoln while still looking unique.
The interior is beautifully designed in a style reminiscent of mid-century modern with contemporary elegance.
It’s a slimmer, lighter vehicle than the Navigator but feels spacious on the inside. Horizontal lines across the dash make it seem even wider and more open.
The Aviator will have a twin-turbo engine – Lincoln has been careful not to release details – with a plug-in hybrid powertrain option, riding on a rear-drive platform.
The 2019 Aviator is billed to have all the luxuries we would hope for from a Lincoln. Phone-as-key entry, 30-way power front seats, a massive infotainment screen and other goodies are in the mix.
High-tech safety is a big focus these days for Lincoln, and the Aviator is no exception. It will have standard Lincoln Co-Pilot 360, a package that includes lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, rearview camera and automatic high beams.
Lincoln hasn’t yet given pricing or a release date. It’s expected out by the end of the year, and I’m hoping it will make it from auto show to showrooms without too much lost on the way.
2. Waymo Jaguar I-Pace
I was thrilled to see electric cars making a strong appearance at this year’s auto show.
The product of a partnership between Jaguar and Waymo, the company that grew out of Google’s self-driving car project, the I-Pace is promising to hit the 2018 trifecta of electric, self-driving and good looking.
It will be the first premium EV that’s fully self-driving. Other than that, it drives just like you would expect from a well-designed SUV. Quick from a stop, its air suspension and low resistance in the wheel give it a smooth, cushy ride.
And unlike most SUV’s, its electric motor makes it quiet as a mouse.
The I-Pace made its North American debut at the NY auto show. A fully autonomous vehicle, not to mention one powered by dual electric motors that give it an impressive 400 horsepower and a range of up to 240 miles per charging, would have seemed like a distant dream just a few years ago.
Today, it’s almost here in solid metal and plastic.
Part of the buzz is that it’s being offered to customers starting at $69,500, a full $10,000 cheaper than the most affordable Tesla Model X.
3. Toyota RAV4
Toyota’s new RAV4, the fifth generation of the brand’s best-selling model, was one of the most anticipated vehicles at the auto show, and it did not disappoint.
The engine is both more powerful and more efficient than before, replacing the six-speed with an eight-speed automatic. The gasoline models are promising to deliver a 15% increase in horsepower, and although the numbers aren’t out yet, Toyota officials promise best-in-class fuel economy.
The hybrid trim will take fuel economy to the next level.
The new RAV4’s rigid chassis will make it a more dynamic vehicle and its all-wheel-drive capability is improved by a lot. In fact, it’s the first Toyota to get Dynamic Torque Vectoring with Driveshaft Disconnect, an innovative system developed by chief engineer Yoshikazu Saeki.
Multi Terrain Select helps you choose the best drive settings for maximum traction in snow, mud, dirt or other conditions, while hill ascent and downhill assist control will help you navigate slopes with ease.
It’s shorter and wider than last year’s RAV4, with more leg room in the front seat.
Packed with safety tech, it has some cool features I haven’t seen before, such as a switch on the rearview mirror that displays a rear camera feed instead of the mirror if there’s too much stuff in the car to see out the back.
The first RAV4 kicked off the crossover trend that now dominates the US auto scene. It’s great to see this vehicle evolving and growing with the times.
4. Hyundai Kona Electric
The fact that I can include not one but two electric SUV’s on my list of hits is a very promising sign of the times.
The Hyundai Kona Electric, a plug-in small hatchback that will deliver the best distance per charging of any EV, is one of the most exciting and practical entries into a growing field of green cars.
It will come in two models: short-range (up to 182 miles per charging) and long-range (up to a whopping 292 miles).
The motor, power electronics and the structure of the energy cells are totally new. Everything had to be redesigned from Hyundai’s other electric car, the Ioniq, to allow for more power and faster charging.
Much more power, actually: the front wheels are driven by a 150-kilowatt motor, giving it 201 horsepower. (Compare this to 88 kw and 118 hp in the Ioniq.)
Plus, the Kona Electric has a better rear suspension than the gasoline model: independent rear suspension using trailing arms, instead of a torsion beam. This gives it more precision and better handling on the road.
The Kona Electric offers all the space and utility of an SUV, making it the perfect EV for today’s market.
5. Cadillac XT4
Cadillac finally has its own compact crossover!
Riding on its own compact SUV architecture, the XT4 will be the start of an expanding product range. CEO Johan de Nysschen promises a new Caddy every six months from now until 2021.
The XT4 is kicking off the series to a good start. It’s a neat and sporty entry to the crossover class, by far the most competitive segment in today’s market. Its 2.0-liter turbo-four delivers 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a nine-speed automatic.
Cleanly styled inside and out, it’s got plenty of legroom and it feels like luxury on the inside.
The XT4 is coming with all the functionality, premium cabin and high-tech gadgets a crossover needs to gain ground in today’s market. I think Cadillac has found a hit with this one.
Hot auto trends for 2018
At the NY auto show, a few current trends were clearer than ever.
- The crossover class continues to dominate. SUV’s were the theme of the show this year. I would think the market would be over-saturated by now, but all the top brands are vying to put out their own small SUV’s with innovations that will take the field in new and unexpected directions.
- Electric vehicles are racing to center stage. Considering the state of the environment, this is a very welcome development! Once enough EV’s are out there that can match the performance of gasoline models and are priced for average families to afford, we could see a revolution in the American car market.
- The standards for technology, especially advanced safety features, are getting higher and higher. At the same time, high-level life-saving features are being offered in more budget-friendly cars, such as the Nissan Altima.
It’s an exciting time to be driving, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these trends play out as the top models and concept cars from this show start hitting the road.