For one last time we convene in the cold of winter for the North American International Auto Show. This is the last time Detroit will host our continent's national auto show in January. Starting in 2020, the show will be held in June in a move motivated by falling attendance by both consumers and automakers. Despite this, the 30th Anniversary show started with the announcement of North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year.

The Genesis G70 led off the ceremony beating out the Honda Insight and Volvo S60/V60. The G70 takes aim at European compact sport sedans like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class and Audi A4. Offering a 2.0L turbo engine (available with a manual transmission) and a twin-turbo V6 (automatic only), the entry-level Genesis offers surprising performance and luxury.

North American Utility of the Year saw a surprise winner in the form of the Hyundai Kona. Many saw the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE as the favorite or even the redesigned Acura RDX, but the compact Hyundai took home the prize. We tested the Kona and were impressed with the driving dynamics and styling. A Kona Electric with 258 miles of EV range is also on its way.

Finally, the ceremony ended with the RAM 1500 winning the award for North American Truck of the Year. Its competitors were the all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The RAM offers class-exclusive air suspension and a massive tablet style infotainment screen. 

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Perhaps the most anticipated reveal from an American carmaker is the 2020 Ford Shelby GT500. It joins the GT350 as the two Shelby models available on the 6th generation Mustang. An aluminum block, 5.2-liter supercharged V8 puts out over 700 horsepower and sends it to the rear wheels via 7-speed dual-clutch transmission ⏤ a segment first. No manual transmission will be available as Ford cites unmatchable shift speed from the GT supercar-inspired twin-clutch automatic unit.

Ford estimates a 0-60 time in the low-to-mid threes and a sub-eleven second quarter-mile time. Not only does Ford expect its “most powerful Mustang” to be dominant in a straight line, but standard active MagneRide, a revised suspension and electric power steering give it “the highest-ever lateral acceleration from a Mustang.” Extra grip comes from Ford Performance-specific Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. If that’s not enough, the GT500 can be equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s. Stopping power is provided by new 16.5” rotors and six-piston Brembo brakes. The increase in size adds up to a 20 percent increase in swept area over the GT350.

To get the most out of the GT500, Ford offers two handling packages. One offers adjustable strut top mounts and a spoiler with Gurney flap. The Carbon Fiber Track package adds 20” exposed carbon fiber wheels, which measure a half inch wider in the rear. The package also includes an adjustable carbon fiber GT4 track wing, splitter wickers with integrated dive plane and a rear seat delete.

2020 Ford Explorer ST

Last week, Ford showed off the redesigned Explorer with a switch to a rear-wheel drive platform from the traditional front-wheel drive setup. Here at the North American International Auto Show they’ve unveiled the Explorer ST and Explorer Hybrid.

The Explorer is now the second Ford SUV with ST badging following the Edge. The Explorer ST uses a uniquely tuned 3.0L EcoBoost with 400 horsepower and 415 lb.-ft of torque. That’s good enough for a top speed of 143 mph. A ten-speed automatic handles shifting duties.

Available upgrades include an ST Street Pack and an ST Track Pack, which both include 21” wheels and red painted brake calipers. Caliper paint aside, the Track Pack offers the beefier brakes. A Class III Trailer Tow Package with Cargo Management System and Active Park Assist 2.0 come standard.

Inside, ST models receive a heated flat-bottom steering wheels, sport bucket seats and a 12.3” infotainment screen.

2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid

The new Explorer Hybrid boasts more than 500 miles of expected range (RWD model) using 3.3L V6 hybrid powertrain. A 10-speed transmission is also part of the setup as well as a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack located under the second row seats. No official EPA fuel economy ratings have been released. 

2019 RAM Heavy Duty Trucks

The RAM brand rolled into Detroit’s COBO center with their latest heavy duty pickups. Styling falls in line with the light duty 1500 sporting a bold grille design and a weight-saving aluminum hood. In addition to the hood, parts of the body are upgraded to high-strength steel for weight savings.

RAM was quick to mention that their 6.7L Cummins turbo diesel engine is the first heavy duty pickup truck to reach the 1000 lb.-ft torque mark. The impressive torque allows for best-in-class towing capacity of 35,100 pounds and a 7,680 pound payload rating. Base level 2500s use a gasoline 6.4L Hemi V8 with 410 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft of torque connected to a new 8-speed automatic transmission.

The interior sees a major step toward luxury with an available 12” infotainment screen, standard push button start and active noise cancellation. More convenience is found in the optional RAMBox feature, which now includes a 115-volt outlet with up to 400-watts of power. Underneath, a revised suspension looks to improve ride quality with Frequency Response Dampers on all four corners. Active-Level rear air suspension is also class-exclusive and available on 2500 and 3500 models.

We were also introduced to the 2019 RAM Power Wagon with a factory suspension lift, locking front and rear differentials, disconnecting sway bar and 12,000 lb. winch. A 360 degree camera aids in navigating rough terrain.

2020 Cadillac XT6

The Cadillac XT6 is the third SUV under the domestic luxury brand’s new naming scheme joining the XT5 and XT4. Larger than the other two, the XT6 has a power-folding third row seat and a base 3.6L V6 engine with 310-horsepower and 9-speed automatic transmission. Some standard safety features include Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning. Features like Hitch Guidance and HD Surround Vision can be optioned. Cadillac expects to take orders by this Spring.

2020 Toyota Supra

After an excruciating wait with numerous teases, we finally saw the production 2020 Toyota Supra in Detroit. This is the first Supra in the U.S. in 21 years and it looks to build on the legacy the Mark IV left behind.

Powered by a 3-liter turbocharged inline-six engine, the 5th generation Supra produces 335-horsepower and 365 lb.-ft of torque. This is delivered to the rear wheels via 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Launch control sends the Supra to 60 mph in an estimated 4.1 seconds with a top speed electronically limited at 155 mph. One of the two driving modes is “Sport Mode” which sharpens throttle response, adds steering weight and provides more aggressive active differential tuning. Amplified exhaust sounds also enhance the Sport Mode experience. Adaptive Variable Suspension is standard.

The aforementioned active rear differential uses an electric motor and multi-plate clutches to control torque distribution. Wheels are 19” all around with 255/35 rubber up front and 275/35 in the back. Brembo brakes do the stopping; four pistons up front with 13.7-inch rotors.

The 2020 Toyota Supra should go on sale this summer.

2020 Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen showed off the 2020 Passat midsize sedan with updated styling, but the same platform. The new Passat borrows styling cues from the recently redesigned Jetta compact sedan, which includes standard LED headlights and taillights. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard while 18- and 19-inchers are optional.

Inside there’s a new glass-covered touchscreen with MIB II Composition Media infotainment. Top-of-the-line Passats feature the Fender Premium Audio system we currently enjoy in our Long Term Atlas.

A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine still powers the Passat with 174-horsepower. A new torque converter and updated software increase torque to 207 lb.-ft. The front-wheel drive Passat is expected to hit dealers this summer.

2020 Kia Telluride

Kia rolled into COBO Center with the all-new Telluride 8-passenger SUV. Coming from Kia’s California design studio, the Telluride is the biggest-ever vehicle for Kia and packs a 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 with available active on-demand all-wheel drive.

The midsize SUV is underpinned by a four-wheel independent suspension, which is auto-leveling in the rear. Four driving modes include: Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart with AWD models offering Snow and AWD Lock settings. Additionally, the Telluride is rated for standard towing up to 5,000 lbs.

The Telluride will be assembled at Kia’s West Point, Georgia manufacturing plant and is expected to go on sale with limited availability this Spring.

Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept

Foreshadowing its first fully-electric vehicle, Infiniti unveiled the QX Inspiration Concept. The all-electric SUV comes with all-wheel drive and “previews a product portfolio which will offer high performance, ultra-low emissions, and total range confidence.”

For now, there’s no available timeline of a production model.

2019 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line

Fresh off a North American Utility of the Year award for the Kona, Hyundai revved things up even further with the world debut of the Veloster N race car as well as a new “N Line” trim for the 2019 Elantra GT.

Starting with the latter, the N Line designation signifies a focus on performance. The 2019 Elantra GT N Line replaces the Elantra GT Sport and according to Hyundai, “signals more N Line models to come…” Specific features include 18-inch N Line wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires ⏤ only available with the manual transmission. N Line badging and a unique rear fascia further separates the model from other Elantras. On sale now, the 1.6-liter turbocharged I4 Elantra GT N Line starts at $23,300 with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission adding $1,100.

Hyundai Veloster N TCR Race Car


Turning to the Veloster N TCR race car, Hyundai will enter it in the 2019 International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) MICHELIN Pilot Challenge. The Veloster will compete against the Honda Civic Type R TCR, Volkswagen GTI TCR, and Audi RS3 LMS TCR.

Michael Lewis and Mark Wilkins will pilot the first of two 350-horsepower Veloster N TCRs while the other will be driven by the youngsters, Mason Filippi and Harry Gottsacker. The IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge Season begins on January 25 at Daytona.

Nissan IMs Concept

Nissan decided to launch the extended range Leaf e+ at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and used the Detroit stage to uncover its IMs Concept. The all-electric sports sedan concept offers all-wheel drive and unique 2+1+2 seating. Adaptive air suspension aids driving dynamics while a pair of electric motors generate 483-horsepower and 590 lb.-ft of torque using a 115-kWh battery pack. Estimated range is 380 miles. The IMs concept also has Autonomous Drive mode which uses exterior lights to notify pedestrians and other drivers of its self-driving status.

The interior adapts to the driving mode by delivering a driver-centric cockpit when in manual driving mode and changing to a more comfortable setting when in autonomous drive mode. Nissan’s concept also debuted “Premier Seat” which is an “oversized center seat that appears out of the three-across rear seat after the slim outboard positions are folded.”

Finally, Nissan announced that it will launch 7 electric vehicles in addition to the Leaf e+ by 2022.

2019 Subaru WRX STI S209

Subaru is offering yet another limited edition WRX STI; this time it’s the S209, which represents the first “S-line” sold in America.

The same turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer engine powers the S209, but it’s tuned to offer an estimated 341-horsepower ⏤ 31 more than the Type RA we just tested. Forged 19x9-inch BBS alloy wheels are fitted with 265/35 tires and are pressed to the ground by a tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers, dedicated coil springs and stronger pillow-type bushings. Aerodynamics are improved through the addition of front, rear and side under spoilers, front bumper canards and a carbon-fiber rear wing.

Roughly 200 STI S209s will be sold exclusively in the U.S. starting in late 2019.  

2020 Lexus RC F/RC F Track Edition

Lexus came to the Motor city with the updated RC F and all-new RC F Track Edition. For the 2020 model year, the luxury sports coupe boasts revised styling, improved performance and a limited production Track Edition.

In addition to the new styling, the RC F replaces its solid rear half shafts with new hollow units. More weight is saved by converting the toe control brackets and upper suspension support brackets to aluminum. Horsepower from the naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 is up five and totals 472. Torque is also up to 395 lb.-ft.

The RC F Track Edition takes things further with a unique front splitter made from carbon fiber to reduce weight and increase downforce. A fixed carbon fiber rear wing manages to reduce drag while adding 58 pounds of downforce. The Track Edition is also an estimated 176 pounds lighter than the previous RC F.

Stopping power is enhanced with standard Brembo carbon ceramic brakes. Those brakes sit behind 19-inch BBS forged alloy wheels styled after those found on the GT3 race car.

Putting out the same 472-horsepower as the standard RC F, the reduced weight and new electronic launch control system allow for a Lexus-claimed sub four-second 0-60 time.

Production starts on the RC F in the second quarter of 2019 with pricing being announced closer to the on-sale date.

Lexus LC Convertible Concept

We also saw the Lexus LC Convertible Concept with its striking grille and windswept profile. Lexus made a point to mention that the convertible is more than just a grand tourer and added, “the 22-inch wheels and wide stance are all reminders of this car’s performance potential.”


GAC, the first Chinese brand to be represented at the North American International Auto show, debuted the ENTRANZE Concept vehicle. Defined as a “hyper-modern family vehicle,” the ENTRANZE Concept offers some of the latest intelligence systems and autonomous capabilities.