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2018 Detroit Auto Show preview: Check the trucks, SUVs and tech

On the heels of CES, the North American International Auto Show looks to distance itself with big debuts, including a new Ford Ranger, Chevy Silverado and Honda Insight.


Press days for the 2018 North American International Auto Show, better known as the Detroit Auto Show, have kicked off this weekend. Enthusiasts and new-car shoppers are in for a treat -- there's a lot of important new vehicles being shown in the Motor City. Following industry sales trends, the show in Cobo Center will double-down on new pickup trucks and SUVs, but there's plenty of new passenger car debuts and gobs of fresh tech to go round.

As an official partner of NAIAS, Roadshow will be out in force to bring you all the highlights -- and the misses. In fact, we're going to be checking out (and participating in) the show's AutoMobili-D future-of-transportation events and livestreaming the show's press conferences throughout the week. Bookmark this page, and beginning on Monday, Jan. 15, you'll be treated to a live, front-row seat. Plus, you'll get to sit in with us as our staff conducts dozens of interviews with the auto industry's movers and shakers, from C-suite executives to leading engineers who are working to define the future of the automobile. 

For right now, though, find a comfortable chair, and dig in to our definitive preview of the Detroit Auto Show's new cars, trucks and SUVs. 

The Detroit show isn't just about new models, it's about the future of transportation.

North American International Auto Show

Truckin' Crazy

This year's NAIAS will be packed with make-or-break high-volume models that are the lifeblood of many automakers, including a bevy of new pickups. Chevrolet will show off its 2019 Silverado, Ford is expected to show off its long-awaited Ranger successor and talk up a diesel powertrain for its F-150, and Ram will muscle into Detroit's Cobo Hall with a new 1500 full-size truck.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

General Motors actually gave members of the Bowtie faithful and select members of the media a brief taste of its new Silverado last month at a special Chevy Truck centennial event, so we know that the Silverado will receive all-new sheetmetal and a scowling appearance. We also know that Chevy will launch a new off-road-minded model, the Trailboss. The latter includes off-road-specific Z71 bits including Rancho shocks, skid plates and a 2-inch suspension lift. 

We should know more about what powers Chevy's range of new full-size trucks and what sort of new safety and convenience tech soon, but for now, here's everything there is to know.

2019 Ford F-150 Power Stroke

It might not be an all-new F-150, but that's alright, because the Blue Oval's defining vehicle was already the freshest full-size truck in the business. For 2019, Ford is adding a new 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine option that promises 250 horsepower and, more importantly, a bountiful 440 pound-feet of torque. 

Backed by a new 10-speed automatic, the company's engineers are gunning for 30 miles per gallon on the freeway. 

You can read more about the F-150's new engine here.

The F-150 Power Stroke will fight Ram's EcoDiesel 1500 for light-duty diesel supremacy.


2019 Ford Ranger

One year ago, at the 2017 installment of the Detroit Auto Show, Ford revealed plans to bring back its legendary Ranger pickup. Ford has largely been quiet since then, but that changed on Sunday. The company revealed the first details and photos of the new model ahead of its media reveal Sunday night. Don't expect a new compact truck like the last Ranger, today's market specifies that midsize is the way to go. 

While the truck is clearly a version of Ford's overseas Ranger, it's been extensively modified to meet US customer standards. That means: more options, more safety features, more tech and better finishes. 

Thus far, all we know is that a 2.3-liter four-cylinder modified for truck duty will be available, and it will be backed by a 10-speed automatic gearbox. More powertrain choices are expected at launch.

On the cabin tech side of the equation, that means you can expect things like Sync 3 infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot for up to ten devices, and a premium B&O Play audio system option.

You can read all there is to know about the new 2019 Ford Ranger here, and check out our preview video. After that, while you wait for the truck to appear in showrooms, why not refresh your memory with our new generation-by-generation deep dive?

2019 Ram 1500

FCA has yet to telegraph what its all-new full-size truck will look like, but if we were the bettin' kind, we'd wager that the new 1500 will hold on to its barrel-chested hood and trademark drop-shoulder front fenders, albeit with a more aerodynamic and modern face. 

We're expecting a comprehensive overhaul of the truck's feature set, too, including updated infotainment and new suspension and advanced safety features. Most interestingly, perhaps, rumors of a substantial diet and a mild-hybrid model refuse to go away. 

We should know more by Monday.

Ram hasn't released photos of the new 1500, so this is a 2018 Hydro Sport. Made you look.


Crossover SUVs for you and for me

If open-bed trucks aren't your jam, but you still need to carry lots of kit and kin, you're probably an SUV buyer -- or more specifically, a crossover shopper. Detroit will have plenty for you to gawk at, too.

2019 Acura RDX

Acura has already disclosed plans to reveal a new version of its popular RDX midsize luxury crossover. With this segment flourishing, it's very likely that the RDX will become Acura's biggest-selling model in short order, so expect Honda's luxury arm to ladle on the features. 

Based on the teaser image below, we can expect a fairly dramatic new look, and with Honda's recent embrace of downsized turbocharged engines and high-ratio-count gearboxes, we'd expect an all-new powertrain, too. The vehicle displayed will technically be a prototype, but we know that's just Acuraspeak for "99 percent production ready."

Acura's RDX Prototype figures to be 99% of what's expected in dealers later year.


2019 Ford Edge

The Blue Oval is going to be busy at this year's show. Not only is it expected to reveal an all-new Ranger and a key new engine choice for the F-150, they've already revealed a substantially updated new Edge CUV, including fresh styling and a sporty new ST model with 330 horsepower. 

It's the first ST-branded Ford SUV, so hopefully it's more engaging to drive than the similarly powerful but polished-to-dullness Fusion Sport

Read all about the new Ford Edge ST here.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

We'd say that the Three-Pointed Star's legendary Geländewagen is overdue for a redesign, but really, its old-school nature is central to the G-Class's popularity. Expect the next-generation G-Class to look very similar to today's Jurassic throwback on the outside, but it should be a thoroughly modern high-end SUV on the inside and underneath. 

If Mercedes is smart -- and we know it is -- it won't risk softening up their off-road icon too much just to chase sales of less committed consumers. Like everything from Harley-Davidson and like Jeep's Wrangler , the G-Class' charm is as much about what it isn't, as what it is.

Cars can still be the stars

Remember when sedans and normal passenger cars ruled the roost? The Detroit Auto Show does, and it's got you covered.

2019 Honda Insight

Yep, Honda is trotting out a new Insight again, only this time, the hybrid compact is going to take the form of an upscale-ish four-door sedan. That's right, the hatchback is dead. 

The new model (a prototype is shown here) promises to deliver a laudable 50+ mpg on the EPA combined cycle and class-leading cabin room, all wrapped up in a sleek new mini-Accord shape. 

Read all about Honda's next Toyota Prius rival here.

2019 Kia Forte

Have new-car ambitions, but saddled with a tight budget? Kia's next Forte might be your meal ticket. 

Judging by these highly stylized teaser images released Friday, Kia's next compact sedan will inherit striking good looks from its Stinger big brother.

No word yet on any hardware changes underneath that tidy-looking sheetmetal, but Kia has delivered surprising refinement and strong helping of easy-to-use tech lately, so there's good reason for optimism.

The back has a little more Sportage than Stinger, but it's still handsome.


2019 Hyundai Veloster

Hyundai's enigmatic Veloster hatchback will return for its second generation, and based on the glitzy video below, there's no reason to expect anything other than another funky funster. 

We've always been kind of taken by the unconventional, asymmetrical Veloster, from its weird-but-functional single-side back door to its surprisingly strong infotainment for such an affordable model. 

The Veloster was discontinued at the end of the 2017 model year, but it's apparently only taking a one-year nap. We'll be looking for a compact hatch with even sharper handling, advanced driver-assist systems, and hopefully, better ride compliance.

2019 Toyota Avalon

What have we here? Toyota will field a new Avalon full-size sedan at the Detroit show, and from the looks of this teaser, the Japanese automaker is keener than ever to lose the model's reputation as an AARP staple. 

The next Avalon is expected to ride on the new Toyota Global Architecture Platform, the same chassis tool kit that underpins the brand's much-improved new Camry, which itself has adopted a much sportier look. 

Sales of full-size sedans have been on a precipitous decline for some time now, but judging by the presence of this new model, the Avalon will steadfastly look to outlast its rivals.

The headlight looks sharp, but that appears to be a whole lot of grille.


2019 Volkswagen Jetta

In full disclosure, it's been a good long while since the Volkswagen Jetta flicked our Bic (almost as long as it's been since you thought about that ad campaign). 

That said, our man Antuan Goodwin has already been for an early drive of the Jetta in a disguised version of the next-generation sedan, and we're newly optimistic. 

Besides, this slew of renderings make the new compact four-door look awfully Audi-esque, and that's no bad thing.

There may be nothing unexpected here, but VW's often conservative designs tend to age well.


Conceptually speaking

You're a forward-thinking person, that's why you read Roadshow. You care about the future of motoring, and are interested in what's next. Us, too. That's why we're arguably as interested in the Detroit show's concept car contingent as anything else. We're expecting a fairly limited pool of talent, but what's been hinted at by automakers so far looks very compelling.

Here's what we're most excited about.

Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept

Dull name, yes. But just look at those curves! Nissan's premium division could use a hit right around now, and even if it's just destined for life on the auto show circuit, this teaser image suggests the Q Inspiration Concept could be just that. With its strikingly rakish rear end, it's not immediately clear if this show car is a sedan or an Audi A7-like liftback, but it does seem to be 100 percent grand tourer.

So far, we hear that if nothing else, the Q Inspiration signals a new design direction for the brand, and we're guessing there's probably a brace of self-driving hardware and an electrified (if not all-electric) powertrain underneath its clean flanks. 

Infiniti could use a flagship CUV more than a car, but when it looks like this, are we to quibble?


Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept

Lexus' RX crossover has been an industry staple and a cash cow for so long, it's amazing that the brand hasn't reached upmarket with an even-more-expensive crossover SUV already. That may be about to change, because this teaser for Lexus' LF-1 Limitless Concept sure looks like just such a vehicle, and in its (admittedly limited) verbiage about the concept in the image below, the company used the word "flagship."

Hybrid? Electric? Self driving? We don't know yet.

In fact, we don't really have any concrete details about the LF-1 Limitless, and that's what makes it so exciting to think about. That said, based on this teaser, we wouldn't necessarily assume that "flagship" means their Detroit star will have three rows. After all, a new, more capacious version of the existing RX was just announced at last month's Los Angeles Auto Show.

Does that backlit blue emblem suggest hybrid or electric power?


The raft of new vehicles above are just some of the vehicles we're expecting to see -- there's a lot to be excited about at this year's Detroit Auto Show. 

Be sure to check back beginning this weekend, as we bring you all the latest reveals and analysis.