Despite forecasts that call for U.S. new-vehicle sales to fall short of 17 million in 2018, consumers will see a big array of new and freshly redesigned models coming to market this year.
This month’s Detroit auto show will confirm that crossovers in all segments remain the big industry play, even as some automakers prepare to unveil redesigned and freshened sedans.
But much of the focus in 2018 will be on one of the industry’s most profitable segments: pickups.
General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plan to roll out new takes on their full-size trucks this year, while Ford appears ready to resurrect its nameplate in the midsize pickup space.
Edmunds forecasts U.S. sales of 16.8 million in 2018 while Cox Automotive projects the market to come in at 16.7 million vehicles. Any dip in volume is certain to make the competition fiercer for new products.
Here’s a look at some of the fresh models on tap for 2018.
Considering that Chevrolet already started this year’s product buzz last month with its surprise unveiling of the 2019 Silverado, the year figures to be pickup-heavy.
The fourth-generation Silverado features a sleeker, more aggressive exterior and is expected to use a mix of steel, aluminum and other lightweight components.
The new Silverado and its sibling, the GMC Sierra, are expected to start production around the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year.
Ram also will have a redesign in 2018 with a retooled 1500 pickup, its first full redesign since 2009. The retooled Ram is set to debut at the Detroit show. FCA will begin selling the pickup in the first quarter of this year.
Not to be left out, Ford will offer the F-150 with a new engine option when a diesel variant goes on sale around midyear.
“From 2018 into a year from now is going to be the best time consumers have ever seen to buy a pickup,” said Dave Sullivan, an analyst at AutoPacific.
In addition to the redesigns, both GM and FCA plan on continuing to sell previous-generation versions of their highly profitable pickups alongside the redesigns in 2018.
Meanwhile, the midsize Ford Ranger, expected to debut at the Detroit show next week, is set to begin production in mid-2018 and will land as a 2019 model.
Design cues such as the grille and front end will likely be similar to its bigger siblings in the F-150 and Super Duty.
The year also will see the crossover segment continue to expand, from colorful bite-sized rides to the largest Subaru ever.
Much of last year’s auto show attention focused on crossovers, and consumers will begin seeing those models trickling into dealerships over the next few weeks.
Hyundai’s Kona, an all-new subcompact crossover, is set to arrive in dealerships in the first quarter of 2018.
On the smaller side, the all-new subcompact 2018 Hyundai Kona is set to arrive late in the first quarter.
Nissan is bringing yet another crossover to its U.S. lineup in the 2019 Kicks, which arrives in late spring. The Kicks’ combination of colorful styling and low pricing, starting at under $19,000, will allow retailers to pitch an entry-level crossover instead of a entry-level sedan.
Ford’s EcoSport is also set to arrive at dealerships in the spring.
“The hottest segment is the small and midsize crossover,” Sullivan said. “They are going to be extremely popular next year.”
The Eclipse Cross, Mitsubishi’s new crossover, will arrive in dealerships in the spring.
Moving up in size, Mitsubishi’s new Eclipse Cross arrives in the spring, giving the low-volume automaker a more direct answer to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
Subaru adds a brand-new model to its crossover-heavy lineup in the Ascent. The three-row crossover will arrive at retailers in early summer as the largest model in the automaker’s history, filling a void in the lineup for customers looking for a Subaru with more room.
“When you look at sales momentum, it doesn’t appear that we have hit peak crossover yet,” Sullivan said of new nameplates added for 2018.
Subaru’s Ascent, a three-row crossover, will be the largest model in Subaru history.
In the luxury realm, Jaguar will add the compact E-Pace in the first quarter, while BMW will have its first full year of the redesigned X3, which went on sale in November.
Infiniti’s redesigned QX50, also scheduled to reach dealerships in the first quarter, is the first production vehicle with a variable-compression engine. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo increases the vehicle’s fuel economy to a combined rating of 27 mpg for the front-wheel-drive configuration — 35 percent more than the outgoing model — while offering the power of a six-cylinder engine.
Infiniti executives predict it will quickly become one of the brand’s most popular nameplates.
Lexus stretched its best-seller, the RX, by 4.3 inches and gave it a third row to create the 2018 RX L . The three-row variant went on sale last month.
Acura plans to unveil a crossover in Detroit in the form of a redesigned RDX. The redesign will breathe new life into the compact.
It’s the first Acura model to be completely overhauled since designer Jon Ikeda took over as general manager of Honda Motor Co.’s luxury brand in 2015.
The 2018 Buick Regal is available in two styles: Sportback, shown, and TourX.
Both Toyota and Honda turned heads in a declining segment with redesigns of the Camry and Accord in 2017. This year will see Volkswagen making news in sedans after a rush of new crossovers there last year.
The Arteon, which replaces VW’s low-volume CC with a muscular design, goes on sale this year.
Volkswagen also will take the stage at the Detroit show next week to unwrap its next-generation Jetta. The redesigned compact will arrive at dealerships in the middle of the year.
Before 2017 ran out, Buick began deliveries of its latest Regal, which is now available in two body styles: Sportback and TourX.
Mercedes-Benz is finally bringing its entry-level A class to the U.S. in 2018, and it will be in sedan form when it goes on sale in the fall.
This year also brings an all-new model from Genesis in the G70. The compact sport sedan features new design cues to the Genesis brand and is set to arrive in the U.S. in the spring.
The redesigned Mercedes G class, which will be roomier and more luxurious, is set to debut ahead of the Detroit show.
Redesigned SUV icons
FCA ignited its own buzz late last year by revealing details about a long-looked-for next-generation Jeep Wrangler. The latest version of the iconic off-roader goes on sale this month.
The Mercedes-Benz G class, another SUV icon, has been redesigned and is set to debut ahead of the Detroit show.
It will be roomier and more luxurious when it goes on sale in the U.S. in late 2018.
The new year also marks the first full year of sales for the redesigned Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. Another well-established full-size SUV, the Infiniti QX80, was freshened for the 2018 model year and went on sale last month.
Nissan’s redesigned Leaf has a 150-mile battery range.
With vehicles becoming more fuel efficient, consumers will find more variety in 2018 for green rides. According to Edmunds, sales of hybrids and plug-in vehicles will rise to 4.4 percent of the new-vehicle market in 2018, up from about 3 percent in 2017.
The Nissan Leaf, redesigned for its second generation, goes on sale this month in all 50 states. Nissan has boosted the car’s battery range to 150 miles on a charge.
The Honda Accord hybrid also arrives at dealerships early this year. The automaker has revised the two-motor hybrid model, and it will use a 2.0-liter gasoline engine.
One of the earliest debuts of 2018 is Hyundai’s new hydrogen fuel cell crossover, which was slated to debut at CES this week in Las Vegas.
Jaguar is set to crash the EV party by late summer when it launches its all-new I-Pace. The battery-powered midsize crossover seats five and can go 220 miles on a charge.
Finally, although its production launch is taking longer than anticipated, Tesla says its less expensive Model 3 will ramp up throughout 2018.