There’s a new Ford Mustang that could leave a Porsche 911 in its dust…a new pickup truck that will be the most powerful one on the road…and the SUV that started the SUV craze is taking a powerful leap forward. These three upcoming vehicles, along with a handful of other truly impressive new models, were on display at the recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit. They will reach showrooms by the end of 2019 as part of the 2020 model year or late entries in the 2019 model year.* Before you buy a new SUV, sporty car, crossover, pickup or sedan, read about these seven upcoming models—because they could be well worth waiting for…
Handsome three-row SUV value: The new Kia Telluride is a full-size, three-row SUV that offers distinctive styling reminiscent of high-end Land Rovers and a stylish, well-equipped interior—all without breaking the bank. Kias are very reliable cars these days. The Telluride will come with an impressive list of standard features including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection…adaptive cruise control capable of stopping and restarting the Telluride in traffic…and a microphone system that can transmit the driver’s voice through the car’s audio system so that he/she doesn’t need to shout to be heard by backseat passengers. Its 3.8-liter V6 will produce 291 horsepower (hp). That’s a lot of SUV considering that this American-made eight-seater is expected to have a starting price in the low $30,000s when it reaches showrooms in the first half of 2019.
The SUV that started it all gets an impressive redesign: The Ford Explorer wasn’t the first SUV—it’s debatable whether that would be the 1935 Chevy Suburban Carryall or late 1940s Willys Jeep or Land Rover. But the Explorer is the one that started the current SUV wave back in the 1990s, inspiring Americans’ continuing love affair with SUVs. Now a sixth-generation Explorer has been designed for 2020, and it is the best generation yet in two crucial ways. First, it’s tougher and more versatile than prior Explorers—its frame is sturdier, towing capacities greater, ground clearance increased and traction on snow, sand and off-road improved. Unlike with many SUVs, this isn’t a high station wagon pretending to be tough. The base 2.3-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine delivers 300 hp, while the optional 3.0-liter V6 offers 365 hp. (A hybrid version, expected by the end of 2019, will produce 318 hp and be able to travel more than 500 miles between fill-ups.) The new Explorer also is safer and more feature-laden than most SUVs in its price range. Standard features include a power liftgate, tri-zone climate control, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. Active noise-cancellation tech and acoustic glass help keep it quiet inside. It’s due this summer with a very reasonable starting price of $32,765 (not including destination charge, which is likely to add around $1,000).
New full-size pickup to beat: The all-new Dodge Ram Heavy Duty, officially a late entry in the 2019 model year, boasts best-in-class numbers in all the key truck stats. With the optional 6.7-liter turbodiesel engine, it can tow up to an astounding 35,100 pounds…and its bed has a payload of up to 7,680 pounds. (Towing and payload will vary depending on the version selected, and these top capacities require a “dualie” rear end with two wheels on each side of the rear axle.) The turbodiesel engine delivers 400 hp and a class-leading 1,000 pound-feet of torque—it’s the first standard-production pickup to hit the 1,000 mark. The base 6.4-liter, gas-powered V-8 produces a still impressive 410 hp and 429 pound-feet of torque, and the Ram Heavy Duty can shut down four of those eight cylinders to save fuel when they’re not needed. As big and tough as this truck is, its interior has a luxury feel and more than enough useful tech. There’s a camera positioned to check on the contents of the truck’s bed…an optional 12-inch center-console touchscreen is among the biggest available in any vehicle…and its adaptive cruise control and emergency braking system are capable of bringing the Heavy Duty to a stop even if it’s towing its full capacity. It’s expected to reach showrooms by midyear with a starting price in the neighborhood of $35,000.
Nissan turns over a new (electric) Leaf: The Nissan Leaf e+ four-door hatchback will reach showrooms this spring as a late addition to the 2019 model year. It’s the upgrade that Nissan’s Leaf very much needed in an increasingly competitive electric-car marketplace—and it is impressive. This new Leaf will have an estimated range of 226 miles, up 50% from earlier Leafs and nearly as much as the Chevy Bolt, the Leaf’s main competitor. It will have 214 hp, which is nearly twice that of the prior Leaf and 14 more than the Bolt, which left earlier Leafs in its electric dust. The Leaf e+ will come with modern safety tech standard, including Nissan’s ProPilot Assist semiautonomous driving system. The Leaf e+ is expected to have a sticker price similar to that of the Bolt—around $37,000—but unlike the Bolt (or any Tesla), Nissan’s electric cars still qualify for the full $7,500 electric vehicle federal tax credit, which effectively brings its starting price down to around $30,000.
Sporty coupe that resurrects a beloved sporty name: The Toyota Supra (shown on top) is coming back for the 2020 model year after two decades out of production. Toyota has been trying to shed its subdued image for a long time and prove that it can make fun cars that inspire passion. It can—and the Supra of the 1980s and ’90s did—but it’s still the millions of mundane Toyota sedans on the road that define Toyota to the public. The new two-seater Supra, which shares an engine and platform with the BMW Z4 roadster, should help change that. Its styling is very aggressive, and it has rear-wheel drive, which driving purists prefer. The six-cylinder, 3.0-liter engine produces 335 hp and can accelerate the car from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds—it’s the quickest Toyota ever. The Supra will be offered with an eight-speed automatic transmission (there’s no manual available), and paddle shifters (mounted on the steering wheel) will allow drivers to flick their wrists for quick gear changes. Like most of the cars on this list, the new Supra has not yet been made available for test drives, but it’s likely to combine great driving fun with Toyota’s famous reliability and modest cost of ownership. It’s expected to reach showrooms this summer with a starting price of $50,920.
Cadillac style in a three-row crossover: Cadillac XT6 fills the gap in Cadillac’s lineup above the two-row XT5 crossover and below the massive three-row Escalade SUV. Cadillac has been making wonderful sedans lately—the trouble is, people who used to buy sedans are buying SUVs and crossovers instead. The XT6 doesn’t break new ground compared with competitors such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Infiniti QX60, but it checks all the boxes if you’re a Cadillac fan who likes the higher driving position and greater interior space of a three-row crossover. The 3.6-liter V6 produces a healthy 310 hp…the cabin is appropriately upscale (a “Premium Luxury” version features exotic wood accents, while a “Sport” version has carbon fiber trim)…and there’s an abundance of standard tech features, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, park assist, lane keep assist and much more. This will be, quite literally, the Cadillac of midsize luxury three-row crossovers. Expect a starting price in the low-to-mid $60,000s when it reaches showrooms later this year.
Mustang that could take down a Porsche 911: The new Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will deliver a staggering 700-plus hp from its 5.2-liter aluminum supercharged V8. But Ford gave this muscular Mustang more than a big engine. It has the largest brakes of any domestic sports coupe, a strong-yet-light carbon-fiber drive shaft, aggressive Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, a chassis tuned for racing and an advanced dual-clutch automatic transmission that can change gears faster than just about anything on the road. This isn’t the powerful-but-simple Mustang of old—it’s an almost race car–like machine that’s designed to pass Porsche 911s on track day and embarrass anyone behind the wheel of most Corvettes. It’s not likely to be a very comfortable daily driver, but for those who prize speed and handling above all else, it may provide more of those for the money than any other car on the road. Expect a starting price in the low-to-mid $70,000s.
*Most of the 2020 model-year cars listed here are not yet available for test drives. At press time, fuel economy figures and, in many cases, prices had not yet been released.