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Great New Cars Worth Waiting For

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Within the next year, automakers will be unveiling some vastly improved versions of tremendously popular vehicles…plus some new twists on a sports sedan and a surprisingly glamorous station wagon. Many of these grabbed the spotlight at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The vehicles that debuted at the show will be in showrooms by the end of 2017 or early in 2018.* Here’s a look at six that I think are well worth waiting for…

More affordable European-style sports sedan. The Kia Stinger was the star of the show. Kia is best known for producing practical economy cars, but its first foray into the world of sporty performance sedans appears to be right on target. This rear-wheel-drive, midsize sedan’s interior is roomy and sophisticated. Exterior styling is ­aggressive and attractive. The base two-liter turbo, four-cylinder engine delivers a peppy 255 horsepower (hp)…and if that isn’t enough for you, an optional 3.3-liter, twin-turbo V6 delivers 365 hp. Despite the Stinger’s Korean roots, there’s every indication that it will handle like a German rear-wheel-drive sports sedan—Kia hired the former head of BMW’s “M” performance division to help develop the Stinger.

Pricing has not been announced, but the Stinger is expected to cost ­“thousands” less than comparably equipped compact BMW and Audi sedans when it reaches the market in late 2017 as part of the 2018 model year—manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) might start in the low $30,000s.

Greater fuel efficiency from an extremely popular pickup. The Ford F-150 is getting a major upgrade for the 2018 model year. That’s something of a surprise—the F-150 already was the most advanced pickup on the market following a 2015 redesign, and Ford’s “F-Series” pickups already were the best-selling vehicles in the US. Now the 2018’s new base engine will be a 3.3-liter V6 that Ford says will deliver the same 282 hp as the 3.5-liter engine it is replacing while consuming less fuel. Even more notable—and likely more fuel-efficient—will be an optional three-liter, turbo-diesel, six-cylinder, the first diesel ever for the F-150. A new 10-speed automatic transmission is expected to boost fuel efficiency as well. There’s no getting around the fact that an F-150 is going to guzzle its share of gas, but there could be a noticeable improvement from the 2017 base engine’s 24 miles per gallon on the highway.

Additional changes for the 2018 F-150 will include a stronger chassis…new front and rear exterior styling…new optional safety technology including adaptive cruise control…and an optional onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. The 2018 F-150 will reach showrooms by late 2017, though the turbo-diesel engine will not be available until mid-2018. Pricing has not been announced, but the 2017 F-150 starts at around $28,000.

A burst of flair for a famously plain sedan. The Toyota Camry has been restyled for 2018, and its new exterior is indeed an eye-catching change—this new Camry is arguably the first that could be called interesting to look at. For decades Toyota’s sales pitch was, essentially, “Our cars are well-made.” Virtually every new car is well-made these days, however, so Toyota knew it needed to offer more. The new ­Camry’s interior is nicer, with more comfortable front seats and an overall less “plasticky” feel. The car will include as standard equipment the “Toyota Safety Sense” system, a technology package that includes advanced safety features such as precollision warning with pedestrian detection…adaptive cruise control that can slow the vehicle when it encounters traffic…and lane-departure warning with steering assist to help keep you in your lane. The most important changes for some drivers will be beneath the Camry’s skin—the 2018 model is said to handle significantly more responsively than the dull-to-drive Camrys of years past.

The 2018 Camry should reach showrooms this summer. Pricing has not been announced but is likely to be close to that of the current Camry, which starts at around $24,000.

Luxury station wagon. The Volvo V90 (shown above) is a station wagon that will defy your image of station wagons. It offers elegance and performance rather than the compromises that characterized wagons of the past. And it offers a welcome alternative to all those hard-to-tell-apart crossovers that fill the roads nowadays. In fact, because Volvo is offering the 2018 V90 only as a special order, it is likely to be one of the ­rarest, most distinctive rides offered by a major carmaker.

Engine options will include a pair of turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinders—one that puts out 250 hp…the other 316. The car will be loaded with high-end materials and high-tech safety features, too. The V90 will be available starting this summer with a base MSRP of $55,300.

Powerful, tech-laden minivan. The Honda Odyssey is being redesigned for 2018—and the new version will offer everything minivan buyers want…plus some interesting new features that they probably never realized they wanted.

Minivans are loved by families and by older drivers because they offer loads of space and very easy access for people and cargo. The 2018 Odyssey will offer that and much more. Its base 3.5-liter V6 will deliver a surprisingly powerful 280 hp, up significantly from the 248 hp of the 2017. All sorts of new technology will be included standard, including an intercom to make it easier to talk with passengers in the back and an infrared camera so that the driver can keep tabs on kids and pets in the back even at night. All models except the LX base model will include the Honda Sensing suite of safety features standard. This includes adaptive cruise control…automated emergency braking…automatic assistance for staying in lanes…and rear cross-traffic alert to warn of approaching vehicles when backing up. The new Odyssey should be available later this spring, with a starting price near $30,000.

 

More powerful, more fun-to-drive premium luxury sedan. The full-size Lexus LS has been completely redesigned for 2018, and the results are impressive. Exterior styling will be more compelling than that of earlier models. A new twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V6 engine will be more powerful—415 hp, up from 386 for the earlier V8 (likely to be more fuel-efficient, too). And the famously quiet, comfortable, classy interior will be even posher than before. Sitting in the 2018 LS is like visiting a spa—you’re surrounded by beautiful wood, armrests that seem to float weightless next to door panels and ambient lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns. The front and rear seats can be heated and cooled and provide Shiatsu massage. Optional reclining rear seats can lean back…or raise up to assist with exiting the vehicle.The 2018 LS should arrive late in 2017. Pricing has not been announced, but the current LS starts at around $74,000.

*Official fuel economy data has not yet been released for any of the 2018 model-year vehicles in this article.

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Source: Karl Brauer, senior director for insights into automotive trends with Kelley Blue Book, which provides information about new and used cars. Brauer has more than 15 years of experience as an automotive journalist and was the first Web-based journalist to be named to the jury of the prestigious North American Car and Truck of the Year award. KBB.com Date: March 15, 2017 Publication: Bottom Line Personal