Maserati to Volkswagen at the Detroit auto show

Maserati to Volkswagen at the Detroit auto show

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Maserati

Maserati, riding improved sales from the first full year of sales of the Levante crossover in 2017, will freshen its entry-level Ghibli sedan in 2018.

However, it is unknown whether the new look for the Italian-made sedan will debut in the spring in Geneva or in the fall in Paris.

A second Maserati crossover, to be built alongside the Alfa Romeo Stel-vio in Italy, won’t be available until 2020. The as-yet-unnamed crossover, announced by CEO Sergio Marchionne in late October, will be smaller than the Levante.

Larry P. Vellequette

Mazda

Mazda will sit out the Detroit show this year, favoring the L.A. and New York shows instead. With that in mind, it’s likely the little Japanese automaker that could will use the N.Y. show to debut a redesigned Mazda3.

Despite a 22 percent sales decline in 2017, the 3 remains an integral player within Mazda’s lineup, ranking behind only the CX-5 in sales volume. The new 3 is expected to carry into production many of the styling cues from the ultrasleek Kai Concept that Mazda showed at the Tokyo Motor Show last fall. Mazda also will put the lightly refreshed Mazda6 sedan on sale in 2018, this time with an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

David Undercoffler

Mercedes-Benz G550 spy shot

Mercedes-Benz

The redesigned Mercedes-Benz G class will headline the luxury brand’s reveals at the Detroit auto show.

The 2019 G class — the introductory model for the U.S. is the G550 — will be roomier and more luxurious inside, but the iconic boxy shape that dates to the SUV’s 1979 birth will remain much the same. Gorden Wagener, head of design for Mercedes parent Daimler AG, says nearly all visible G-class parts, inside and out, are new.

Mercedes unveils the new G class on the heels of winning back-to-back luxury sales crowns in the U.S. It also kicks off a year that will include introductions of more redesigned and new vehicles than 2017, in which product debuts were largely limited to variants and midcycle freshenings.

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler told Automotive News that he expects 2018 to be similar to 2017. The brand’s luxury sales declined slightly last year, though it increased its sales advantage over BMW and Lexus.

“We have a couple of new cars coming,” Exler said. “It should be a good year.”

In addition to the G-class redesign, Mercedes in Detroit will introduce a midrange line for the AMG performance family. The Mercedes-AMG CLS53 will launch the 53 designation. All AMG 53 models will be powered by a higher-output version of Daimler’s new turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with a 48-volt electrical system. Expect horsepower in the 400s, Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers says. The base redesigned CLS also is going on sale this year.

AMG 53 variants of the E-class coupe and convertible also are expected to take the stage in Detroit.

Later in the year, Mercedes will show a production version of the new A-class sedan reaching U.S. dealerships in the fall. It will mark the first time Mercedes has included the small A class in its U.S. lineup. A new AMG GT four-door sport sedan is expected to go on sale by late 2018. Other updates due in 2018 include the freshened C-class sedan and the re-engineered S-class coupe and convertible.

Amy Wilson

Mini

Mini’s smallest entries will get updated looks in 2018.

The brand is expected to show freshened versions of its classic three-door and larger five-door Hardtops at the Detroit show. The Hardtops get light styling changes and improved technology, including powertrain boosts.

Sluggish demand for small cars hurt Mini in 2017, with the brand’s sales falling 9.5 percent. Still, Thomas Felbermair, vice president of Mini Region Americas, has high hopes for the brand in 2018.

“We want to sell more cars than in 2017. We want to grow,” Felbermair said. “And that’s possible because we will have a full year supply of the Countryman.”

Mini launched the redesigned Countryman, its largest vehicle, last spring. A plug-in hybrid version went on sale last summer, and it has proved popular, with some dealers selling out, Felbermair said. Mini has ordered more production of the plug-in hybrid Countryman for 2018.

Beyond the Hardtops, few product changes are expected from Mini this year. The brand will be preparing for 2019, when its long-awaited battery-electric vehicle debuts.

Amy Wilson

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi’s product-starved lineup will finally get some attention in 2018 with the spring arrival of the Eclipse Cross. It plugs a hole between the Outlander Sport and Outlander in the brand’s crossover lineup. 

The Eclipse Cross is aimed at the likes of Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4, though its coupelike styling in the rear hatch cuts into its cargo-hauling ability.

The compact crossover is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a continuous variable transmission; front-wheel drive is standard while all-wheel drive is optional. 

— David Undercoffler

Nissan

Nissan will present a crossover concept in Detroit to show the brand’s technology direction for the segment. The automaker is mum on the concept, which will represent the third consecutive auto show debut for a crossover or concept.

At the Tokyo show in late October, Nissan unveiled the IMx crossover concept, hinting that the vehicle could show the way for an electric crossover companion to the Leaf. At the Los Angeles show in November, Nissan presented the subcompact Kicks crossover for the U.S.

Several new or freshened vehicles will come to market this year. The redesigned 2018 Leaf, with significantly longer battery range and advanced semiautonomous driving features, reaches showrooms in January.

In late spring, retailers will begin getting the Kicks.

The Kicks had been planned only for Mexico and South America, but will take advantage of the U.S. shift to crossovers in all segments. The nameplate is based on the entry-level V-platform Versa with a 1.6-liter gasoline engine. Contrary to some reports, the Kicks is not intended as a replacement for the higher-priced Juke, which fits the larger footprint of the compact Sentra architecture.

Later this year, Nissan will begin releasing a stream of restyled sedans: the Altima, Sentra and Versa.

Nissan signaled its next look for the Altima a year ago in Detroit when it showcased the Vmotion 2.0 concept, referring to it as a vision of what a family sedan might look like as vehicles adopt more autonomous technology.

The design featured a floating roof and a more prominent front end and V-motion grille.

Lindsay Chappell

2018 Porsche Cayenne

Porsche

Porsche is skipping the Detroit auto show for the second straight year.

The German brand has decided to devote its U.S. resources to shows in Los Angeles and New York, given that big chunks of its sales come from California and the East Coast. In late November, several Porsche variants made world debuts at the L.A. show.

With those variants and the redesigned Cayenne hitting the market this year, Porsche’s U.S. chief, Klaus Zellmer, is looking for more growth in 2018.

Despite declining U.S. industry sales, Porsche had another record year in 2017, posting 55,420 U.S. sales, a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year.

The product centerpiece for 2018 is the third-generation Cayenne coming at midyear. It moves to a new platform and gets lighter and faster. Porsche unveiled the redesigned Cayenne last summer. Two models, the Cayenne and Cayenne S, will be available at launch in the U.S. with the top-of-the-line Turbo coming in the fall.

Zellmer expects a boost in 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman sales when the GTS variants, shown in Los Angeles, arrive at dealerships early this year. He predicts strong 911 sales, too, with deliveries beginning this year for more of the nameplate’s GT variants.

Amy Wilson

2019 Ram 1500 spy shot

Ram

The last time Ram had this big of a debut planned for the Detroit auto show, there was a rowdy — and amorous — herd of Texas Longhorn steers involved.

That outlandish event was a decade and several name changes ago. This year’s debut of the redesigned 2019 Ram 1500 at the Detroit show will kick off what promises to be a big year for the FCA US pickup and commercial vehicle brand.

The Ram 1500, given the code-name DT, will feature a long list of interior and exterior upgrades in its first top-to-bottom overhaul since those longhorns trod the streets of downtown Detroit in January 2008. The redesigned half-ton pickup will boast a longer cab, allowing its rear-row seating to recline, as well as an upgraded infotainment system with an optional giant touchscreen and a fob-operated tailgate drop. An upgraded engine, coupled with a new 48-volt mild hybrid system, promises to boost overall fuel economy and improve noise, vibration and harshness characteristics.

Production of the 2019 DT Ram is in pilot phase at a retooled plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. Limited configurations of the current-generation DS Ram 1500 will be built at a plant in nearby Warren, Mich., for at least a year, CEO Sergio Marchionne told investors last year. The added production should allow FCA US and its dealers to aggressively incentivize the DS models to compete against low-cost offerings from other pickup makers while protecting the residual values of the redesigned — and likely higher priced — 2019 DT Ram 1500 as it rolls into dealerships in the early spring.

Later in the year, Ram plans to freshen its line of heavy-duty pickups, but it altered earlier plans to redesign its heavy haulers onto its new DT platform in favor of refreshing the current generation for another product cycle.

Larry P. Vellequette

Rolls-Royce

This is a crucial year for Rolls-Royce as it starts deliveries of the new Phantom ultraluxury sedan and introduces its first crossover or SUV.

The Phantom is to debut Jan. 13 at the Detroit auto show as part of The Gallery, an ultraluxury event at Cobo Center. The $450,000 car boasts a unique in-dash gallery space as its headline feature, but more significant is the new aluminum architecture it debuts for the brand.

The same architecture underpins the crossover or SUV, code-named Project Cullinan, which will be revealed first to potential customers at global closed-room events in the summer ahead of a public unveiling potentially in July or August. The BMW-owned brand has promised “effortless everywhere” performance for the vehicle, which slots below the Phantom in the Rolls hierarchy to give it a rival to the Bentley Bentayga when deliveries start in 2019.

Nick Gibbs

2019 Subaru Ascent

Subaru

In the wake of the unveiling of the Ascent three-row crossover in Los Angeles, the Detroit show will be relative quiet for Subaru. But things will heat up later in the year.

Ascent production begins in May at Subaru’s retooled Indiana plant, with the first models arriving at dealerships by summer.

Pricing has not been announced, but Subaru promises it will start in the low $30,000s.

The first two nameplates redesigned on the Subaru Global Platform, the Impreza and the Crosstrek, both saw strong sales in 2017 and figure to continue as key vehicles this year.

Following the Ascent, the next model to join the modular platform is the Forester, one of Subaru’s largest selling. Spy photos indicate that the next Forester will keep the same general shape and attributes that have been staples of the crossover’s design for years: a sloping windshield, large windows and a tall roofline. Additionally, it appears the next-gen crossover will get a more aggressive front end and sportier side profile, which would follow the lead of the Impreza, Crosstrek and Ascent. The redesigned Forester will debut in 2018.

The Subaru Global Platform, which allows for gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric drivetrains, will see its first plug-in hybrid variation debut in 2018, though it’s unclear which nameplate will get that distinction.

Also joining the lineup in 2018 are two limited-edition performance models, the WRX STI Type RA and BRZ tS. Both will have runs of 500 vehicles.

The new year also marks a milestone for Subaru of America as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The automaker will be offering 50th anniversary editions for each of its models.

Jack Walsworth

Tesla

Tesla Inc. will continue its no-show streak this year in Detroit, but that won’t stop it from making headlines in the new year.

The electric automaker surprised investors and customers with the unveiling of the second-generation Roadster in November while further delaying the ramp-up for Model 3 production. During its third-quarter earnings call, Tesla said it will have production of the mass-market sedan up to 5,000 vehicles a week in the first quarter of 2018, but if more delays come, it has a few concepts left it can introduce this year to keep the hype going.

The Model Y, which CEO Elon Musk said will share a platform with the Model 3, is a compact crossover expected to start production in late 2019 or 2020. Thus far, the automaker has only flashed a vague silhouette of the Model Y’s front, so more could come in 2018.

Musk said in April that a Tesla pickup would be coming in the next 18 to 24 months, however, he adjusted the timeline in December, when he tweeted that the pickup would immediately follow the Model Y.

However, the focus will remain on whether Tesla can deliver on its promise to bring its EVs to the masses by ramping up Model 3 production and delivering the $35,000 sedan to the 455,000 customers who have already put down deposits.

Katie Burke

2019 Toyota Avalon teaser shot

Toyota

Toyota will unveil the next generation of its cushy Avalon sedan in Detroit a year after the debut of the redesigned Camry sedan on which the larger car is based.

Rolling out a full-size flagship sedan amid sliding car sales may seem like a bland way to start the new year, but Toyota long ago planned to move all of its unibody vehicles to its Toyota New Global Architecture, and now it’s the Avalon’s turn.

A teaser photo showing some sculpted bodywork suggests the Avalon will take its cue from the Camry, which walked a careful line by showing a bolder personality without scaring off its loyal customers.

The Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES are all built at Toyota’s sprawling Kentucky factory, and getting all three onto the TNGA platform should improve efficiency at the plant while delivering better cars. Lexus hasn’t yet announced a timeline for the ES to make the move.

For its big introductions, Toyota has alternated between cars and crossovers for a couple of years, and its RAV4, which overtook the brand’s sales crown from the Camry last year, is up next. Before the redesigned Camry, Toyota launched a crossover, the subcompact C-HR, on the TNGA platform.

Toyota’s U.S. executives said that despite falling sedan sales, they’re not running away from their car lineup. The compact Corolla will get a TNGA update soon, likely to be followed by the Highlander crossover.

Toyota could have some wild cards in the mix in 2018. Enthusiasts hope to see the production version of the sports car that everyone is assuming will be called the Supra, The sports car project, part of a joint development venture with BMW, is expected to bring serious performance cred to the brand after a long hiatus.

At the other end of the Toyota spectrum, the Prius V wagon looks like it will take a more crossoverlike shape for the next generation, judging by spy shots.

Laurence Iliff

2019 Volkswagen Jetta teaser shot

Volkswagen

For Volkswagen, 2018 is the Year of the Sedan.

The German automaker plans the global debut of its redesigned 2019 Jetta at the Detroit auto show this month.

The Jetta — redesigned onto Volkswagen’s global MQB platform — will continue with the brand’s 150-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four engine. But it now will be mated to either an eight-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox.

It is expected to appear in U.S. showrooms by midyear.

By using the flexible MQB platform for U.S. vehicles — from the Golf hatchback to the three-row Atlas crossover — VW is able to democratize development costs, making it possible to put luxury-level safety equipment into commoditylike segments such as compact sedans.

That means the 2019 Jetta will get standard post-collision braking, with optional blindspot monitoring, rear-parking assist and adaptive cruise control, among other tech goodies.

Joining the redesigned Jetta in VW’s U.S. dealerships this year will be the Arteon, which replaced the CC as the brand’s flagship sedan in Europe last year. The Arteon, which also is built on the MQB platform, debuted at the 2017 Geneva auto show.

The Arteon will be equipped with one of three powertrains: a 1.5-liter turbocharged Evo inline-four mated to a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic producing 148 hp with front-wheel drive; a 2.0-liter inline-four mated to the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic producing 188 hp with fwd; or a top-trim 2.0-liter inline-four all-wheel-drive version producing 276 hp.

Larry P. Vellequette

Volvo

Volvo Cars will not be introducing any new vehicles at the Detroit auto show, but the carmaker is slated to have a string of product announcements that will keep it busy all year.

Following the launch of the XC40 compact crossover in September, Volvo will likely unveil the rest of the 40 series family — the V40 wagon and S40 sedan — this year. 

They will be built on the compact modular architecture platform shar-ed with Chinese owner Geely and sibling brand Lynk & CO, and will use Volvo’s family of three- and four-cylinder engines and hybrid and electric powertrains.

The Chinese-owned Swedish automaker’s first U.S. plant, outside of Charleston, S.C., will open in mid-2018. 

The redesigned S60 sedan will be the first vehicle produced there. The S60 will be built on the scalable product architecture platform, shared with the 90 series vehicles and XC60 midsize SUV.

Volvo began its driver-assist pilot program in Gothenberg, Sweden, in December, and is expected to expand the test and add more technological capabilities to its ADAS suite this year. 

The automaker rolled out its vehicle subscription service, Care by Volvo, at AutomobilityLA in November, and may extend the program to vehicles introduced this year.

— Katie Burke

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