The Best New Cars at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show

If you see anything, see these.

This was the year automakers went big in Detroit—and were told to “adapt or die.” 

After trying to convince the world they can beat Silicon Valley to electric cars and autonomous driving, they are crowing once again about what they do best: trucks. Each of the hometown companies (Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV) pulled the cover off a new pickup, while multiple luxury brands (BMW, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz among them) rolled out brand-new SUVs. “You can call 2018 the death of the car,” said one industry consultant.

Yet there was a star that had nothing to do with big-rigs: Ford’s 2019 Bullitt Mustang. The special-built car celebrates Steve McQueen’s famous film of the same name and the 1968 Mustang GT fastback he drove into history 50 years ago. 

Below, here’s our close-up of that iconic car, and the best of those big trucks at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

2019 Ram 1500 Laramie

2019 Ram 1500 Laramie

The Fiat Chrysler 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie pickup truck is a true workhorse that now offers some creature comforts, too, such as a 12-inch touchscreen, the most powerful audio system available in a pickup (19 speakers!), and blind-spot monitors that adjust for hauling a trailer. Engineers increased its efficiency as well by swapping in more advanced, high-strength steel; the rig weighs 225 fewer pounds than the previous model, though it’s longer and wider. Pricing has yet to be announced, but Fiat is hoping the redesigned Ram 1500 and a refreshed Jeep lineup could reverse the company’s 16-month negative U.S. sales trend.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Nissan Xmotion Concept

Nissan Xmotion Concept

Along with a slew of mid-size SUVs from mass manufacturers, Nissan Motor Co. showed the Xmotion, a crossover concept vehicle that could one day serve as a replacement for the Rogue, Nissan's best-seller in the United States.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

Fiat Chrysler's 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel pickup truck is essentially a more powerful, performance-geared version of the regular Ram—and, more important, Ram's answer to the Ford F-150 Raptor. It has a 6.2-liter Hemi V8 engine and eight-speed automatic all-wheel drive. Expect pricing around $60,000 when it is announced later this year.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept

Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept

Infiniti previewed its next decade of design direction with the Q concept car, showcasing a spacious interior aided by doors that open outward. Performance is purely theoretical at this point, but the Japanese carmaker says the powertrain combines a turbocharged gasoline engine with the efficiency of a diesel or a hybrid. We took this auto as a sign that Infiniti plans to compete against large luxury sedans and town cars from the likes of Porsche AG, Mercedes, BMW, and Audi AG—if it ever goes to production.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Futurecasting

Futurecasting

The grille of the Infiniti Q Inspiration concept vehicle, which offers a glimpse of what Nissan's luxury marque hopes to do with its premium sedans in coming decades.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Ford built the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt as a tribute car in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Steve McQueen's cult classic film, Bullitt. According to the Detroit automaker, the hot rod has a 5.0-liter V8 engine that gets "at least" 475 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. It comes in two colors, either a Dark Highland Green or a Shadow Black. Other features include subtle, chrome accents around the grille and front windows, classic “torque thrust-style” 19-inch aluminum wheels, a white cue ball shift knob, and a black front grille. In a fitting tribute to the famed actor-driver, it only comes in manual.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept

Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept

The Lexus LF-1 Limitless crossover is designed to run via a fuel cell, as a plug-in hybrid, on gasoline, or as an all-electric car. The concept SUV also has something Lexus is calling “four-dimensional navigation,” with the fourth dimension being time. This means the vehicle is able to act as a personal assistant that will anticipate frequent drive destinations and comfort preferences behind the wheel, as well as schedule travel plans and manage meeting logistics on the road. The slick, sporty look continues the trend among automakers to introduce low, crossover cars that combine functionality with sexier styling. Often these vehicles are called "sport coupes" or "sport activity coupes," even though they have more than two doors.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Mercedes G-Wagen

Mercedes G-Wagen

Dieter Zetsche, chief executive officer of Daimler AG, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and former governor of California (right), drink a shot of schnapps to celebrate the debut of the new Mercedes G-Class vehicle, the first major re-do since 1979. Mercedes unveiled the new G-Wagen (short for "Geländewagen") amid pyrotechnics and smoke in an old Detroit theater on Sunday night. It seems Merc's attitude was "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Sure, it's longer (by 2.1 inches/53 millimeters) and wider (by 4.8 inches/121mm) than its predecessors, but it otherwise looks mostly the same: all sharp, utilitarian angles. Under the hood will be a 4.0L turbocharged V8 G550. Pricing will be unveiled when it goes on sale later this year.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

BMW X2

BMW X2

BMW showed its first-ever X2 SUV, a low-slung rig that fills the gap in BMW's X family of cars, from the X1 to the full-sized X7 concept. The X2 comes with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It has an eight-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. BMW says it can hit 60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds; top speed is 130mph. Pricing will be released later this year.

 

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Enverge Electric Concept

Enverge Electric Concept

In addition to the big automakers in Detroit this year, several lesser-heard names participated. Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group showed its Enverge electric concept vehicle. The futuristic car has gull-wing doors, a floating digital dash-screen, and headlights that slide out and detach to serve as flood lights. What's more, it has a predicted range of 370 miles on a single charge. Those numbers are hypothetical at the moment, but Guangzhou is a carmaker to watch; it's using the Enverge to test the waters before entering the U.S. market.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Bullitt Briefing

Bullitt Briefing

Jim Hackett, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Co. (center), speaks to members of the media at an event. The appearance of the Ford Bullitt Mustangs (both the old one and the original) were a highlight of this year's auto show.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Lamborghini Urus SUV

Lamborghini Urus SUV

At an off-site party at Detroit's Museum of Contemporary Art, Lamborghini staged the North American debut of its Urus SUV. (We previously saw it at a launch event in Italy.) Lamborghini executives claim this is the fastest SUV in the world, and it does boast impressive numbers: The twin-turbocharged, 650-horsepower V8 engine will go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds and 0 to 140 miles per hour in 12.8 seconds. Top speed is 189 mph. Lamborghini says it' will make 4,000 at top production levels, which doubles the company's total output of cars; so far, demand is very high. Look for Urus to compete directly against the top SUVs from Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and even Bentley Motors Ltd.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Inside the Urus

Inside the Urus

The drive mode controls of a Lamborghini Urus SUV, which contains six main drive modes, plus an "Ego" mode that allows for myriad combinations of steering, braking, suspension, and drive control, based on the driver's preferences and personal style.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Sergio Marchionne

Sergio Marchionne

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—and one of the longest-serving CEOs in the automotive industry—issued a stern warning to automakers at Detroit: "Adapt or die." Marchionne said carmakers have less than a decade to reinvent themselves as electrification, self-driving software, and ride-sharing alter consumer behavior.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Vintage Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Vintage Mercedes-Benz G-Class

A 1979 Daimler AG Mercedes-Benz G-Class vehicle sits in a block of amber outside the convention center in Detroit. Mercedes showed this version of its famous G Class SUV in concurrence with the debut of the new one.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

2019 Ford Motor Ranger

2019 Ford Motor Ranger

The 2019 Ranger fills a big hole in the Ford Motor lineup; it hasn't made a mid-size pickup in the U.S. since 2011. It is more aggressive and more compact than the famous F-150 and critically, much smaller. Specifics are thin and the company didn't release measurements yet, but Ford says it will have a 2.3-liter, twin-scroll, turbocharged, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine with a forged steel crankshaft and a new, 10-speed automatic transmission. It will also be Michigan made.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg