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Detroit — The excitement of seeing the latest and greatest domestic and international automobiles and other vehicles brought out crowds Saturday to the annual North American International Auto Show.

Crowds packed Cobo Center to see shiny new vehicles and high-tech features they had to offer on the first public day of the popular event.

Eric Smith and his wife Jessica along with their daughter and young sons were all smiles as they wrapped up their tour of the show.

“We were down here when it opened,” said Smith of Detroit. “I’ve been coming since 1976. It’s a little different. For the most part it’s still inviting.”

Smith said there was no special exhibit because he likes it all. His wife said she uses the show to comparison shop for new vehicles and prepare herself before she hits a dealership to buy a new car or SUV. She said she is looking to buy a Chevy Traverse this year so it helped coming to the auto show to get more information on it.

“You get all the pamphlet and it takes out the middle man (of car buying),” said Jessica Smith.

Sons Jaylen, and Justin, 12, liked the high-tech fun for youngsters their age.

Ariel Coursen and her husband, Doug, headed to the Volkswagen exhibit. A new Volkswagen Jetta owner, Ariel slid into the seat of a new model greyish-silver Jetta to check out what the German automaker was offering this year.

Doug Coursen said he likes that the car show gives automakers the chance to “show what they do” and show off their more “personalized” automotive gadgets and other accoutrements for consumers.

People crowded around exhibits Ford’s vintage 1968 Bullitt Mustang featured in the movie with the late actor Steve McQueen and also simulators like Acura’s one for the NSX GT3.

Rajeev Upadhye and his daughter Nitya, 12, stood in line for the chance for her to try out the simulated test drive for the car.

Rajeev Upadhye said gave this year’s show a thumbs up “so far.”

“They have more cars than last year,” he said.

(313) 222-2027

If you go

What: The North American International Auto Show

When: Through Jan. 28

Where: Cobo Center in downtown Detroit


■9 a.m.- 10 p.m.Sunday to Jan. 27. No admittance after 9 p.m.

■Sunday, Jan. 28, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. No admittance after 6 p.m.


■Adults: $14 per person

■Seniors: $7 (65 and older)

■Children: $7 (7-12 years old; 6 and under free with a parent or guardian)

Every child in a school group must have a ticket to enter the show.

For more information visit for more information.

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Howes: Does the auto show matter anymore?


The 2018 North American International Auto Show has been holding media previews all week.

Tomorrow night is the black-tie Charity Preview, which raises millions for children’s charities. The doors open to the public on Saturday.


But the Detroit Auto Show may not be as important as it once was. That’s the conclusion drawn by Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes after this year’s lackluster press days and a shift to holding events outside of the auto show.

Howes joined Stateside today to reflect on this year’s Detroit Auto Show so far.

Listen above for the full conversation, or catch highlights below.

Ford’s Big Bet on Electric Vehicles

“Ford said they’re going to more than double what they spend on electrification from about $4.5 billion over a five year period to $11 billion. I think maybe the quote of the week so far is from Bill Ford Junior, the executive chairman, who said, “We’re going all in on electrification, we just hope customers follow us.”"

Lack of home team participation

“Detroit held an auto show and it’s hometown automakers didn’t show up. What I mean by that is during the first to two press days, you only had one traditional Detroit manufacturer, Fiat Chrysler, that held one press conference for it’s Ram brand on Monday, and another one for Jeep on Tuesday. No press conferences from General Motors or Ford on either of those press days.”

“As a result, you see a lot more targeting and really being able to use the power of the internet to focus on who their audiences are to make these kinds of decisions. No longer is the auto show all things to all people, including the media.”

Focus on Domestic Media

“I think generally more automakers are starting to employ offsite events that are not contiguous to the auto show. For example, they (Fiat Chrysler) launched their autonomous vehicle last week and made the news about that. Ford did the same thing with the Ranger, on Sunday afternoon. General Motors showed its Chevy Silverado a month ago in Texas. They did an event Saturday night, the only people doing an event Saturday night, before the press days.”

“We’re reaching the audience we want to reach. We don’t need to reach the European, the Asian media to sell a pickup truck. We need the Americans, Detroiters, and the regional people whose publications are read by our buyers. Their buyers of Chevy pickup trucks are not in Japan, South Korea or Germany.”

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2018 Detroit Auto Show Winners and Losers | News |

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CARS.COM — More than any show in recent memory, the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit has been about trucks. And not crossovers, those car-based SUVs that everybody is buying these days — actual pickup trucks and off-road SUVs. You’d think this was the State Fair of Texas given how many new trucks we saw this week.

Related: More 2018 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

But it wasn’t entirely cargo haulers, rock crawlers and towing vehicles. We saw plenty of new sedans, too, despite that category’s waning public interest. Hey, not everybody wants a truck — but after seeing some of our picks for winners and losers this year, you just might want one yourself. Here’s what we thought of the top 10 new models from the Detroit auto show.

2019 Acura RDX Prototype

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Aaron Bragman: Winner

I’m calling this a winner, as the interior finally feels like a proper luxury vehicle and not just a warmed-over Honda. But I’m also putting Acura on notice: Adopting a Lexus-style trackpad controller for the multimedia system is a massive step backward. It had better work far better than Lexus’ unit or these guys are doomed.

Fred Meier: Winner

The multizone touch control works! Who knew? I need to try it on the road, but it’s more refined than a trackpad — and not like the Lexus at all. And the RDX’s classy style, new turbo 2.0-liter engine and real luxury interior should give those Lexus two-row SUVs a run.

Brian Wong: Winner

Yes, a touchpad usually means automatic loss — but this controller isn’t the same as a touchpad on a laptop. There’s no cursor to follow around, which limits distraction, and the smarter menu design goes a long way. Added style and new technology makes it a win for me.

Mike Hanley: Winner

The exterior styling copies a lot of Mazda design cues and I’m not sold on the new multimedia interface, but Acura’s trapezoidal grille works well here in a way it hasn’t on other Acura models.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

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2019 Chevrolet Silverado

AB: Winner

The Chevy wins on its exterior looks, which are polarizing in pictures but really work well in person. That interior, however, needs further upgrades — thank God Chevy fixed the steering-wheel placement, but now it’s time to spend a little money and actually include truly premium materials in the luxury models.

FM: Winner

This is one handsome truck. However, Aaron is right that at the prices of today’s luxury pickups, we should see more actual luxury inside. Still, it’s a straightforward, no-nonsense cabin. And access to the rear seat in the crew cab is much easier.

BW: Loser

I agree with both of my colleagues. At the prices for today’s luxury trucks, we should see more actual luxury inside, but you don’t get that with the Silverado (especially up against the 2019 Ram 1500 that also debuted in Detroit). I had trouble telling the difference between the updated cab and the older cab, and that’s a problem.

MH: Loser

I was looking forward to seeing the Silverado’s new exterior in person because the photos made it look quite interesting, but viewing it on the show floor was a letdown; the sheet metal’s creases and curves weren’t very evident, resulting in a slab-sided look. Like the others said, the interior’s not a lot different than that of the outgoing truck; the redesigned Ram just overshadowed it.

2019 Ford Ranger

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2019 Ford Ranger

AB: Winner

While I’m a little disappointed that Ford didn’t go further in updating the Ranger before bringing it to America (it’s largely the same model we’ve seen on sale globally since 2011), what Ford did bring is tasty, stylish and a welcome addition to the market.

FM: Winner

It’s late to the party for sure, but it’s also a proven commodity globally. And it’s a good-looking truck with a usable crew-cab rear seat and a state-of-the-art 10-speed transmission.

BW: Winner

Love that 10-speed in multiple applications (the F-150 and Mustang, for example), so I’m excited to see it here, as well. This mid-size pickup class feels like it’s gotten a bit stagnant during the past few years, so having Ford back to shake things up is welcome. If a Raptor version of the Ranger shows up, someone come get me because I may pass out.

MH: Loser

This Ranger might be new to the U.S., but it doesn’t look much different than the one overseas markets have had for years. At a show without other significant truck debuts, it might have had a better chance at standing out, but it got lost at this truck-centric event.

2019 Hyundai Veloster, Veloster N

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2019 Hyundai Veloster

AB: Winner

I’ve always liked the Veloster, and now Hyundai’s given me more reasons to like it. Styling has improved, powertrains have improved and handling should be better too. I just wish it had some headroom … any headroom, really.

FM: Winner

The Veloster is a favorite for me, too, and at 6 feet 2 inches, I found room for my head. And how refreshing that an automaker still is willing to make something different. The redone Veloster — the new go-fast N, in particular — is better-looking and still endearingly weird.

BW: Loser

I agree about the weird part, but not the endearing part. I found the previous Veloster to be one of the most over-promising and under-delivering vehicles around, even in its most aggressive trims. The addition of the N is promising — that engine should give the Veloster some sport cred, finally. But until I drive one and it puts a smile on my face, it’s gonna be a loser for me.

MH: Loser

It still has one door on the driver’s side and two on the passenger side, but this small hatchback’s styling looks surprisingly ordinary in person. The new high-performance N version is interesting, but its styling isn’t radically different. Like the Sonata and Elantra before it, the Veloster’s styling has been watered down.

2019 Jeep Cherokee

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AB: Winner

It looks so much better with its new nose job — it no longer looks like a predator SUV is consuming a screaming SUV beneath it (look at the old Cherokee’s face and you won’t be able to unsee it).

FM: Winner

More than a nose job, a whole face-lift (make me look like a Jeep!). But the clincher for me is the new, lighter 2.0-liter turbo producing about the same horsepower and more torque than the V-6.

BW: Winner

That 2.0-liter turbo might be a game changer. There aren’t many compact SUVs that are fun to drive, and that engine could make the Cherokee one of them. The fact that the engine will also be available on four of the Cherokee’s five trim levels means that the fun won’t be limited to the top of the lineup.

MH: Loser

It’s rare when a styling face-lift works well, and the freshened 2019 Cherokee isn’t the exception to the rule. Jeep’s attempt to bring the Cherokee back into the brand’s design fold has created a bland, boring look for the once-distinctive SUV. Bring back the predator!

2019 Kia Forte

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2019 Kia Forte

AB: Winner

I liked the new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta … until I saw the new Forte. It looks longer and lower than before, and the stylish, high-quality interior looks lifted straight out of a Mazda (that’s a good thing).

FM: Winner

It has Stinger-inspired looks and an interior that’s a tasty step up for Kia (if not quite to Mazda levels), plus a mileage boost to challenge the heads of the class. However, you pay a price for that Stinger style in a smaller car when it comes to getting in and out. Entrance and exit require some contorting for both the front and rear seats.

BW: Winner

The Forte has grown, not just literally, but it looks more mature. The old Forte was designed to be anonymous; this one stands out a bit more and the added dimensions pay dividends for backseat passengers especially. It’s also got a standard 8-inch touchscreen, quite a feature for a car in this class and price range.

MH: Winner

The Forte doesn’t have the same visual presence as the brand’s Stinger sports sedan, but it is stylish, and its comfortable interior has a premium feel.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

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2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

AB: Winner

The last G-Wagen was far more expensive than it looked like it ought to be. Not so with this new one — the improvements through and through have put this thing in solid Range Rover competition, creating a vehicle that’s now only 75 percent throwback instead of 90 percent.

FM: Winner

Modernizing an icon is hugely risky in this price stratosphere, where buyers have lots of choices and the dollars to make them. The statement a G makes is as important as the off-road chops few will use, and Mercedes-Benz pulled it off: The G is at once the same and thoroughly improved.

BW: Winner

This, along with the Jeep Wrangler, should be the roadmap for updating icons going forward. The new G-Wagen has the same look and feel on the outside that people are going for, but a thoroughly modern interior with ultra-luxurious features and materials. Sitting in the driver’s seat of the G-Wagen, I felt like a king.

MH: Winner

Redesigning a vehicle like the G-Class is a fraught endeavor, but Mercedes managed to avoid the pitfalls by keeping the SUV’s squared-off styling while adding a luxurious, modern interior befitting the its stratospheric price.

2019 Ram 1500

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2019 RAM Rebel

AB: Winner

No, it’s not as boldly styled as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — but it’s still a fresh face, and that interior is an absolute home run for Ram. Combine that with hybrid-assist powertrains, the best multimedia system in the business and improved capabilities, and if feels like Ram did more homework than Chevy this year.

FM: Winner

I completely agree on the interior. There’s impressive attention to detail with a big payload of little improvements. The Ram moved to the head of the class in multimedia, but I was most impressed by application of advanced 48-volt mild-hybrid tech.

BW: Winner

Ram came to play this year in Detroit; the truck has been thoroughly overhauled. Powertrains are now more advanced, the screens are bigger and the materials are better. I was growing impatient waiting for the Ram 1500′s redesign, but it was worth the wait — and put up against the Chevy, the Silverado gets the horns.

MH: Winner

The redesigned Ram 1500 has given up much of the big-rig styling that’s defined the truck for years, but the sleek exterior is modern and the truck is still instantly recognizable as a Ram. The new interior impressed, too.

2019 Toyota Avalon

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AB: Loser

This one confuses me. In a dying segment (big sedans are not long for this world, thanks to the crossover craze) with solid if dwindling sales to older clientele, Toyota decides to revamp its Avalon for one last go — as a wildly styled, high-tech spaceship. Who exactly is the target market for this thing?

FM: Loser

It’s a really nice Camry inside, but so is the actual new Camry that’s not that much smaller. The styling is a mess (that grille!) and it’s a dinosaur in a dinosaur segment.

BW: Winner

We have railed against Toyota for not including third-party smartphone integration and connectivity in its cars, but finally the automaker caved with the Avalon: Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration are along for the ride. I actually like the grille, and though this is an interesting first application for a Toyota adaptive suspension, I’m curious to see how it pans out.

MH: Loser

Like Fred said, it’s not significantly roomier than a Camry, even in the backseat, and the design now seems extreme for the sake of being extreme.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

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2019 Volkswagen Jetta

AB: Loser

About the only thing that impressed me on the new Jetta was the wild orange pearlescent paint one of the display models was wearing. The interior still feels cheap (kill the vinyl seats already!), the stance is odd (I can fit my fist between the tire and the top of the wheel well) and the styling update is tepid at best.

FM: Winner

I can’t argue with most of that criticism, but compromises are the nature of mainstream compact sedans, and vinyl’s not a bad mix with kids. In its favor, the new Jetta no longer looks dumpy, the tech is up to date and for driving manners, I’ll take those keys before almost any other in the class.

BW: Winner

The updated Jetta makes it two winners for compact sedans at this show for me, along with the Forte. It boasts many of the same improvements: better styling, more passenger room and updated technology. But the Jetta has an advantage with its 1.4-liter turbo and an eight-speed automatic transmission versus the Forte’s continuously variable automatic transmission.

MH: Winner

I thought the cabin was nice, regaining a lot of the premium elements that were lost with the prior generation, and the redesigned Jetta builds on that with easy-to-use technology.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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2018 is the year of the truck at the Detroit Auto Show

Gas is cheap and people are working, so the Detroit Big Three figure it’s time to make hay while the sun shines — by pouring huge amounts of time and money into pickup truck development. 

The 2018 Detroit Auto Show was evidence of this, as we saw three huge new truck debuts, each more brimming with tech than the last. Let’s take a look at the most important truck debuts at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

2019 Ford Ranger

The Ranger is back in the US for the first time since 2011, and we think that the kids would refer to that as “lit AF.” We’d agree. The 2019 Ford Ranger is looking to kick sand in the Chevy Colorado’s face with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, possibly the unit from the Mustang if we’re lucky, because that would make the Ranger the most powerful model in its segment and open up a ton of hilarious tuning possibilities. A few of the internals have been tweaked for truck duty, but we’re optimistic.

The Ranger also benefits from some trickle-down Raptor technology in the form of its Terrain Management System, which will help keep drivers out of trouble once they leave the pavement. Other highlights include frame-mounted steel bumpers, an aluminum hood and tailgate, and standard automatic emergency braking and rearview camera.

We’re expecting the Ranger to sell like crazy, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one. Ford has remained quiet as to the possibility of getting a Raptor version of the Ranger, as it exists in other markets, but we’re crossing all our fingers and toes in hopes that it happens.


2019 Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet’s bread-and-butter pickup gets some pretty serious upgrades for 2019. The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is based on an entirely new architecture, which means that unlike the old version, you’re no longer stuck in a tech time-warp. You now get access to cool stuff like wireless charging and available push-button start, which weren’t available in the past, although I’m sure some folks will bemoan the lack of a proper key.

The General tells us that the Silverado will initially get two V8 engine options — a 5.3-liter and a 6.2-liter, though power and torque figures have yet to be released. We do know that they will come with a hot new fuel management system that will allow the deactivation of between one and seven cylinders for fuel economy. There is a 3.0-liter inline-6 diesel option on the horizon, as well, which gets bolted to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

While the new Silverado’s face may be more than a little polarizing, the fact that Chevy managed to save 450 pounds from the truck is impressive. It’s done this by selectively replacing steel with aluminum, though the bed floor remains steel, as Chevrolet reps are quick to point out. Still, while dropping the weight of a silverback gorilla doesn’t make the Silverado the truck equivalent of a Lotus, that weight savings will pay big dividends in handling and fuel economy.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

2019 Ram 1500

The Ram full-size truck lineup has long been the choice of someone looking for a ton of creature comforts combined with the ability to haul a bed full of manure. That hasn’t changed. The 2019 Ram 1500‘s interior now sports a ton of extra room thanks to a wheelbase that’s 4 inches longer. The rear seats can now be had with heating and cooling, as well as eight degrees of recline.  

This time out, Ram is cranking the tech dial to 11 with an optional 12-inch, portrait-style touchscreen infotainment system that essentially works like two UConnect systems running at once. All our favorite UConnect features are there, including a configurable hot rail and excellent responsiveness. This design is a total game-changer in a truck, and we hope it causes the competition to raise their game.

Buyers can choose from two powertrain options initially — a 3.6-liter V6 or the venerable 5.7-liter Hemi V8, both of which feature an optional eTorque mild electric hybrid system that helps boost torque when it’s needed. The V6 is rated at 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet, while the Hemi makes 395 hp and 410 pound-feet. A diesel option will be available in 2019, too. For once, it won’t be the only oil-burner in the class, now that Chevrolet and Ford plan to offer light-duty diesels in the near future, too.

2019 Ram 1500

As you can see, trucks don’t look to be going back to their spartan, utilitarian roots anytime soon and we’re glad. It’s also fantastic to see the midsize truck segment heating up with Detroit giving Japan some real competition for the first time in a couple years. 

We can’t wait to drive all three of these refreshed testosterone magnets, and we’ll be sure to tell you all about them when we do.

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Detroit Auto Show May Be Celebrating an Era About to End

More worrisome is that the drops in retail sales have come even as manufacturers have resorted to heftier discounts, which eat into their profits. Sales incentives are now equal to more than 11 percent of the average vehicle’s sticker price. As recently as 2014, that figure was below 8 percent.

There are other troubling signs, too. Interest rates have started rising, which increases the cost of financing or leasing a new car. Younger buyers are showing less interest in owning cars than older generations. And the supply of low-mileage used cars is growing, giving shoppers attractive and lower-cost alternatives to new cars. Close to four million leased vehicles will be turned in and offered for sale as used models this year, up from 3.6 million in 2017.

“There’s a lot of headwinds out there,” said Mark Wakefield, global head of the automotive and industrial practice at Alix Partners, a consulting firm.

The auto industry has a long history of going from boom to bust — periods of rising sales and buoyant profits followed by inevitable sales slumps that leave idle plants and mounting losses. The last bust coincided with the 2008 financial crisis and nearly ruined Detroit. General Motors and Chrysler had to be saved by federally engineered bankruptcy proceedings.

Now analysts are wondering if harder times are arriving again.

Alix is forecasting a moderate drop in sales this year, followed by steeper declines in 2019 and 2020. In both of those years, Alix believes sales will fall short of 16 million cars and trucks.

This uncertainty comes as manufacturers are adding factories. BMW and Audi are finishing new plants in Mexico. Volvo’s new plant in South Carolina will start building luxury sedans this year. Toyota Motor is adding a new truck plant in Mexico and just announced it would build a car factory with Mazda Motor in Alabama. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is ramping up a plant in Michigan that had been idle for more than two years, after retooling it to make pickup trucks instead of cars. Fiat Chrysler has also just expanded Jeep plants in Ohio and Illinois.


Alan Batey, GM’s North American president, introduced the new Chevrolet Silverado at an event in Detroit on Saturday, before the show’s official start.

Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

The industry runs into trouble when automakers get stuck producing more vehicles than customers are willing to buy, said Ron Harbour, an auto manufacturing expert at Oliver Wyman, another consulting firm.


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He added that one part of the industry was already in considerable distress — the car business. With Americans flocking to roomy vehicles like S.U.V.s, sales of family sedans and compacts have plunged in the last few years. Family cars like the Toyota Camry used to make up 25 percent of all new-vehicle sales. Now they account for just 15 percent.

As a result, some manufacturers are seeing a split in their operations. While running truck factories almost around the clock, they have been idling workers, cutting shifts or slowing assembly lines at their car plants. Ford, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai all cut output at car plants by 10 percent to 22 percent last year, according to data compiled by Automotive News. G.M. cut production by about 33 percent at its Lordstown, Ohio, plant, which makes the slow-selling Chevrolet Cruze compact. In Oshawa, Ontario, G.M.’s large-sedan factory lowered production by almost half.

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“I wouldn’t be surprised to see a car plant close in the next few years,” if auto sales fall below 16 million vehicles a year as forecast, Mr. Harbour said. “Somebody’s going to have to bite the bullet.”

Dan Ammann, G.M.’s president, declined to give an outlook for the company’s car plants for 2018. “Our overall approach is to match production to demand,” he said. “So we’ll see where demand is and act accordingly.”

The last permanent shutdown of an auto plant in the United States occurred in 2016 when Mitsubishi Motors shuttered a factory in Normal. Ill. Before that, Ford closed a truck plant in St. Paul, Minn., in 2011.

Trouble could mount if any automakers resort to further incentives to gain market share and avoid production cuts, a strategy G.M., Ford and Chrysler employed in the 2000s. All ended up reporting huge losses.

In the past week, executives from Honda, Subaru and other companies have acknowledged they aim to gain market share even though the market is likely to shrink.

“The two things to watch are crazy incentives and overproduction,” Mr. Jackson, the AutoNation chief executive. “They’re ruinous.”

One factor that could mitigate any difficulties in car manufacturing is the outsized profits that companies are earning on trucks, which now make up two-thirds of all new vehicles sold. “The high mix of trucks is going to keep profits at near-record levels, and that’s going to help them get through this downturn on the car side,” Mr. Jackson said.


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He also noted that G.M., Ford and Fiat Chrysler streamlined their operations over the past 10 years and were now better able to withstand shocks to their operations.

At the Detroit auto show, which opens to the media and industry visitors on Monday, the new models being presented reflect the industry’s focus on trucks. Three of the most anticipated new models are pickups: the Chevrolet Silverado, the Ram 1500 from Fiat Chrysler, and the Ford Ranger. Other vehicles to be unveiled include the Mercedes-Benz G-Class S.U.V., the Honda Insight hybrid, the Toyota Avalon and the Acura RDX.

This year’s event has less buzz than in recent years, perhaps because of the industry’s uncertain outlook. Several auto brands, including Audi, Cadillac, Chrysler and Lincoln, are not presenting any new vehicles, and Porsche, Jaguar and Land Rover aren’t even attending the show.

Correction: January 15, 2018

An earlier version of this article misstated the corporate title of Dan Ammann of General Motors. He is the president, no longer the chief financial officer.

Continue reading the main story

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Best of Detroit Auto Show 2018: Debuts, concepts and more

January is a very hectic month for the auto industry. Now that CES has grown to encompass its own miniature auto show, the back-to-back presence with the Detroit Auto Show means attention is usually split between the two. Well, Detroit came out swinging this year with a whole slew of concepts and production vehicles.

Whether you were after trucks, sedans or something with some sport in it, Detroit’s debuts had something for you. Heck, even the pie-in-the-sky concepts delivered something fierce in 2018. In case you missed anything, we’re here to recap the whole show, segment by segment.

2019 Acura RDX Prototype

Truck yeah!

The Year of the Dog? Nope — 2018 is apparently the Year of the Truck. Detroit was home to several massive truck debuts, both in terms of the vehicles’ sizes and their importance in the industry. Pickup trucks sell hundreds of thousands of units per year, so while you might not dig a pickup, the rest of the country sure as spit does.

2019 Ram 1500

The 2019 Ram 1500 arrived on a diet, weighing roughly 225 pounds less than it did before. Not only will that help its fuel economy, there’s a new 48-volt mild hybrid system available on both V6 and V8 models that can both improve fuel economy and deliver additional torque when necessary.

The V6 sports 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, while a Hemi V8 bumps output up to 395 and 410, respectively. With the latter engine, the new Ram 1500 can haul up to 12,750 pounds and carry about 2,300 pounds in the bed. There isn’t a diesel engine on offer quite yet, but one should arrive in 2019.

Aside from the visual changes outside, the interior packs a killer new feature. Buyers can option a 12-inch touchscreen infotainment display that’s oriented vertically, like the screen in Tesla’s Model S and Model X. It can run multiple applications simultaneously, and given how big truck dashboards are, it doesn’t manage to look obscenely large.

2019 Ram 1500

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

If you thought the Ram’s weight loss was sizable, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The 2019 Chevy Silverado dropped about 450 pounds in its new generation, thanks in part to some new aluminum body panels. The bed is still made of steel, though, because Chevy spent a long time mocking the aluminum-bodied Ford F-150 and it doesn’t want to appear hypocritical.

Both Ford and Chevrolet introduced new diesel engines for their light-duty pickups this year. The Chevy gets a 3.0-liter Duramax I6 that’s mated to a 10-speed automatic. More traditional V8s are available, both of which come with a new cylinder-deactivation system that can operate on a single cylinder. Sadly, Chevy’s been pretty mum on output and towing figures, so we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

2019 Ford Ranger

Toyota and Nissan have long held ground in the midsize pickup segment. Chevrolet eventually entered the game with its new Colorado. Now, a few years later, it’s Ford’s turn to dive in with a new Ranger.

The new 2019 Ford Ranger will be available in both SuperCab and SuperCrew configurations, with a wide variety of trims offering all sorts of aesthetic and functional upgrades. There’s only a single engine on offer for now — a 2.3-liter turbo I4 mated to a 10-speed automatic. The Ranger will pack the same four-mode terrain controller found on the Raptor.

Since trucks are lifestyle enhancers as much as they are work vehicles these days, there’s all sorts of creature comforts in the new Ranger. Sync 3 is standard in one of three screen sizes. It has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and standard automatic emergency braking.


2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

While you might not consider the Geländewagen to be a truck, it rides on a proper ladder frame, is seriously capable, and has roots in military applications. Sounds close enough to a truck to me.

Mercedes-Benz didn’t mess with success with the 2019 G-Class, focusing primarily on upgrades to its capability and interior comfort. A new front independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering will make it drive better on the road, while adjustments to the chassis have improved all the important parts of off-roading — approach and departure angles, fording depth, etc.

The interior is where most of Merc’s efforts were focused. There’s way more rear legroom than before, and while some traditional hallmarks like the passenger-side grab handle still exist, its tech offerings are no longer dated. Buyers can opt for a dual 12.3-inch widescreen setup and massaging seats. Not every G-Class will end up in the dirt, so those who only use it for stunting at the mall will still enjoy this new generation.

Sedans will not go gently into that good night

Buyers’ focus might be on trucks and crossovers, but sedans are still an integral part of the industry, and the 2018 Detroit Auto Show was home to some clever new four-door debuts.

Honda Insight Prototype

It’s neither a production debut nor a concept, but somewhere in the middle. The Insight Prototype is a nearly fully baked Insight, minus a few key bits, but it’s a firm preview of what to expect from Honda later this year.

When it arrives at dealers, the Insight will act as the official replacement for the Civic Hybrid. Its 1.5-liter gas engine mates to Honda’s two-motor hybrid system, and the automaker is hoping for 50 mpg (or more) by EPA measurements. In terms of size, it just about rests between the Accord and Civic.

2019 Honda Insight Prototype

2019 Kia Forte

Kia‘s booth at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show was nearly entirely filled with Stinger sport sedans, which shows you where the company’s priorities lie currently. Some of that car’s good looks trickled down to the company’s newest sedan, the 2019 Forte.

In addition to its good looks, the Forte packs an eco-friendly punch with a 147-horsepower I4 mated to a new Kia-developed CVT. The automaker is hoping for about 35 mpg combined when it goes on sale later this year.

In terms of tech, there’s plenty to get excited about. An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard, as is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can option it out with the latest safety systems like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, and there’s even a 320-watt premium audio system on offer. Kia’s always good at offering near-insane levels of value in its affordable cars, and the Forte seems no different in that regard.

2019 Toyota Avalon

Every generation of Toyota Avalon to date has been a bit of a snoozefest, appealing to few segments other than pensioners and people who just don’t want a Camry. The 2019 Toyota Avalon hopes to fix that with some aggressive new looks and the latest tech.

Buyers will get to choose between a traditional 3.5-liter V6 and a hybrid system, both of which come mated to an eight-speed transmission. A 9.0-inch touchscreen is standard, in addition to a variety of cutting-edge tech like Amazon Alexa integration and a massive 10-inch head-up display. Heck, there’s even smartwatch integration if you’re into wearables.


2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The last VW Jetta didn’t really engage us, but it was smart, sensible transportation for the people. The new one looks to be largely the same, except it should be a fair bit better to drive, now that it lives on the same MQB platform as the VW Golf and Audi TT.

The 2019 Jetta borrows a bit of style from the Audi stable, too, with a steep character line on the trunk and some clever hood creases. Under the hood is the same 1.4-liter turbo I4 as the previous generation, because while some things might not work, others definitely do.

In its top trim, you’ll have plenty of screens to contend with. The gauge cluster can be optioned as a large, configurable display, and the infotainment screen can measure up to 8.0 inches. There’s also a new stereo tie-in with Beats Audio, replacing the Fender partnership of old.


Crossovers galore

You didn’t think I’d forgotten about the crossovers, did you? This is one of the hottest segments in the industry, with buyers flocking from smaller sedans for that extra ride height and cargo capacity. 2018 is going to be a good year for crossovers, as you’ll see below.

Acura RDX Prototype

The new Acura RDX will be a force to be reckoned with. Under the body, you’ll find the same 2.0-liter turbo I4 and 10-speed automatic from the also-excellent 2018 Honda Accord. It also looks the business, thanks to its liberal use of Acura‘s latest design language. RIP, Beak Grille.

The interior is also impressive. It borrows much of its layout from the NSX hybrid sports car, with a push-button transmission and a large mode dial front and center. The infotainment system is intriguing, in that it uses a clever type of touchpad that has a one-to-one relation with the screen above it. Need to access the top right tile on the screen? Just tap the top right of the touchpad — no need to drag a cursor or spin a dial to get there.

Ford Edge + Edge ST

The 2019 Ford Edge only received a midcycle refresh, but it’s a good ‘un. All Edge models get new front and rear fasciae, in addition to standard LED lighting and a new hood. Sync 3 is standard with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot with support for up to 10 devices. The base engine is a peppy 250-horsepower I4.

If that’s not enough for you, there’s the Edge ST. Toting a 2.7-liter, twin-turbocharged V6, the Edge ST puts out a delicious 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The traction control will let you hang the rear out a bit, massive brakes will bring it to a stop and you can outfit it with a set of Pirelli high-performance tires. I used to scoff at the idea of a performance crossover, but this sounds like the budget Audi SQ5 I’ve always wanted.


2019 Jeep Cherokee

Jeep turned the 2019 Cherokee into the Compass for its midcycle refresh. The unique headlight setup is gone, and in its place is a more traditional look that sort of neuters the crossover’s edge. A new 2.0-liter I4 is available with 270 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. There’s some more cargo capacity, but just about everything else is the same. They all can’t be exciting, folks.

A good show for enthusiasts, too

Enthusiasts represent a small yet vocal subset of the automotive industry. Most cars aimed at enthusiasts are high-dollar vehicles that very few can afford. Luckily, in Detroit, some more affordable fun stuff popped up for us to enjoy.

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Ford surprised the crowds in Detroit when it unveiled the Mustang Bullitt, developed to pay homage to Steve McQueen’s movie of the same name, which came out 50 years ago. The car features the same shade of green as the original “Bullitt” Mustang, and there are plenty of “Bullitt”-specific aesthetic touches like the wheels, the cue-ball shifter and the badge on the steering wheel. 

It’s not just an aesthetics package, though. Thanks to some pieces borrowed from the GT350, output on this V8 is up to 475 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. So, not only does it look the business, it’ll hustle like all get-out, too.


2019 Hyundai Veloster

The Veloster has always been a fun, funky hatch, and the latest generation is no exception. It still sports the weird third door on the passenger side, but its general shape has been tweaked to better align with other new Hyundais. I think it looks better, honestly. Like before, there are turbocharged and non-turbocharged variants available.

If you want to ramp up the fun, though, opt for the new Veloster N. This will be the first from Hyundai’s new performance brand in the US, and it seems pretty great on paper. The Veloster N sports a 275-horsepower, 2.0-liter I4 engine. Its six-speed manual can handle its own rev-matching, the exhaust pops and burps, and you can opt for massive 13.6-inch brake rotors. Hell, yes.

Mercedes AMG -53 lineup

Nobody really talked about this at the show, but I think it’s a big deal. Mercedes is slowly phasing out its current 3.0-liter V6 (found in the AMG -43 lineup) and replacing it with a 3.0-liter I6, which will live under the AMG -53 badge.

Debuting on the E-Class and CLS-Class, the new I6 sports 429 horsepower, a marked improvement over the V6′s power output. You also get a gnarly set of quad, round tailpipes and some proper AMG interior trimmings. Plus, it’s a globally recognized truth that inline-six engines sound way better than V6s do.

2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS53

Finally, the concepts

Oh, you thought that was it? Think again! In addition to all that lovely production sheet metal, automakers rolled out some pretty gnarly concepts.

Lexus LF-1 Limitless

Lexus is no longer the sleep aid it used to be. Its design borders on properly daring these days, and that’s very evident in the LF-1 Limitless concept.

Designed to embody the idea of a flagship SUV, the Limitless concept sports some wild sheet metal on the outside, whether it’s a crazy amount of hood creases or the strange split spoiler out back. The interior isn’t much different, with a “four-dimensional” navigation system, liberal uses of fancy materials and one very cool dashboard screen.

Infiniti Q Inspiration

In my opinion, Infiniti’s new Q Inspiration concept is the prettiest car at the show. Meant to preview a new generation of Infiniti sedans, this concept is curvaceous and bright, with a rear end that tapers off toward a single taillight.

Inside, there are four individual seats surrounded by leather and matte wood. Of course, it’s unlikely that 90 percent of this concept will actually make it to production, but here’s to hoping.


Nissan Xmotion

If there’s one concept that looks ready to beat you up, it’s Nissan’s Xmotion. Pronounced “cross motion,” this concept points to the future of Nissan’s small crossovers like the Rogue and Murano.

The future is apparently thick with beefcake. The Xmotion has some very bulky fenders and tires. Its lights are up high, giving it some visual capability. And then there’s the interior, which is basically art. The wooden center console was put together using traditional Japanese wood joinery techniques, and a set of screens on the dashboard spans the entire width of the interior. I wouldn’t want to imagine the cost of that center console if it were available in production.


In case pictures are more your speed, check out our mega-gallery of every Detroit debut.

Also, if you want individual breakdowns on these vehicles and more, check out our Detroit Auto Show page.

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Toyota Avalon

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GM picks Mich. plant to build new Silverado diesel engine

UPDATED: 1/16/18 7:14 pm ET – adds job details

DETROIT — The new 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine coming in the redesigned 2019 Chevrolet Silverado will be manufactured in a General Motors engine plant in Flint, Mich.

Production of the engine — designed at the General Motors diesel center of excellence in Turin — will start late this year or early next year. 

GM Vice President of Global Propulsion Systems Dan Nicholson would not divulge technical details of the new fuel-efficient engine, but he confirmed that the Flint engine plant would be the production site.

In December 2015, GM announced a $263 million investment in Flint for a new engine plant, but didn’t say which engine would be made there. It’s the new inline six-cylinder diesel, GM confirmed Tuesday. GM expects to retain about 400 jobs once the new engine production line is up and running. The diesel engine will replace a V-6 that went out of production.

Over the weekend, at the press debut of the new pickup, GM product chief Mark Reuss said Flint would play a “very important” role in the “long-term viability” of the pickup. He declined to offer any specifics.

“You’re going to see some announcements around Flint,” he said after unveiling the Silverado on Saturday in Detroit.

Flint Assembly produces regular and crew cab heavy-duty models of the Silverado and GMC Sierra.



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Autonomous cars loom, but the Detroit auto show goes on

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit opened to the press this week with one big question hanging in the air: How will autonomous vehicles change the industry?

The answer is still unclear. In the meantime, automakers continue to put out new vehicles of all shapes and sizes, including small cars, SUVs and the all-mighty pickup truck, which dominated the show.

All will be on display when the show opens to the public Saturday, with a charity preview on Friday night.

Here are five things we learned from the preview this week:


Pickups are the most popular vehicles in the U.S., and trucks unveiled at the show make clear that will continue for a long time.

General Motors spent heavily to update its top-selling Chevrolet Silverado pickup, cutting up to 450 pounds of weight by using more aluminum and lighter high-strength steel. The truck also gets two new V8 engines that can run on one to eight cylinders depending on how much power is needed.

Fiat Chrysler’s Ram also got big updates, losing more than 200 pounds and giving it a gas-electric hybrid engine option. Both the Silverado and Ram were given more athletic stances and meaner looks. Ford added a diesel engine to its F-150 and rolled out the midsize Ranger.

Automakers turn big profits on large pickups. Sales rose nearly 6 percent last year to almost 2.4 million, even though total U.S. auto sales dropped 2 percent. Ford’s F-Series is the country’s top-selling vehicle, followed by the Silverado and Ram.


U.S. auto sales are likely to fall to around 16.7 million in 2018 from 17.2 million last year, says Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst with the car buying site

But that would still make it one of the 10 best sales years in history, so the market remains strong.

U.S. income tax code changes this year may stimulate new auto sales, but any increase likely will be offset by rising interest rates and the abundant supply of late-model used cars that pull buyers from new vehicles, Toyota Motor Corp.’s top North American executive says.

North American CEO Jim Lentz expects a sales boost of 200,000 vehicles as tax cuts put more money in people’s pockets. But the increase could be negated as rising rates keep some people on the sidelines, and some buyers opt for a lower-cost but nice off-lease used car.

Tax cuts could boost pickup truck sales because businesses can write off the expenses immediately under the new code, Lentz said.

But he expects luxury new-car sales to be flat this year even though tax rates were reduced for higher-income earners. Any decrease could be wiped out by caps on deductions for mortgage interest and local and state taxes in big luxury-car states such as New York and California, Lentz said.


Many auto executives interviewed at the auto show say they’re afraid the U.S. might pull out of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, but they can’t prepare for it because they don’t know what, if anything will replace it.

In ongoing negotiations with Mexico and Canada, the Trump administration is seeking to ensure that more vehicles are made in America, among other changes. But Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American CEO, says ending the agreement would likely raise costs. That, in turn, would raise vehicle prices and cut demand, forcing manufacturing layoffs. It also would make the U.S. less competitive than the world’s other manufacturing centers, he said. Ending the agreement also could force some suppliers to stop making parts.

Charlie Chesbrough, the chief economist for Cox Automotive, said it’s hard to imagine there will be much change in production, because automakers need a long lead time to act and they know the next president could reverse Trump’s actions. But some automakers are already taking pre-emptive steps to show the administration they’re willing to boost U.S. production. Fiat Chrysler said ahead of the auto show that it will move heavy duty truck production from Mexico to Michigan in 2020.


Automakers are hedging their bets when it comes to autonomous vehicles and whether they will someday cut into or even end personal car ownership.

In interviews through the week, executives said they’re preparing for a time when people hire self-driving ride services to get around instead of spending on personal vehicles.

But they don’t know just when that will take place, so they also must continue to spend millions to develop conventional vehicles as well.

“These proclamations that we hear about the advent of electrification and artificial intelligence … are all things that, at best, are conjecture,” said Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Although some companies plan to deploy driverless cars to carry passengers in coming months, Marchionne says it will take years for the vehicles to be in widespread use.

Mark Reuss, General Motors’ head of product development says he wishes he knew exactly when and where the switch would take place. But for now, GM and other companies have to be in both places.

“We can go either way and that agility is priceless,” said Reuss.


Despite the new wheels on the show floor, one of the biggest hits is a 50-year-old Mustang GT fastback in need of a paint job. It was one of the original cars used in the 1968 film “Bullitt,” which put the Mustang on the map with a famous chase scene.

Ford Motor Co. rolled it out to help celebrate a special “Bullitt” edition Mustang, which goes on sale this summer. The faded green car got a huge cheer when it rumbled onto the stage.

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Detroit Auto Show: The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 is ready to roll


2019 Ram 1500 revealed

Sales of the Ram 1500 are on a roll and the company hopes to keep the momentum going with an all new truck that’s bigger and better in every way.

The Ram 1500 is on a roll.

Sales of the full-size pickup have grown so much in recent years that it now has the second-place Chevrolet Silverado in its sights. That target is on the move, however, with an updated Silverado on the way this year.

Good thing for Ram it has a new truck too.

The 2019 Ram 1500 features very different styling and the latest technology.


Ram is debuting an all-new 1500 at the Detroit Auto Show that has the kind of next-generation features that could push it to the next level. The truck is lighter, sleeker and more technologically advanced than ever.

The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is available with a new eTorque mild hybrid system.


It starts behind the grille – which is still pretty bold, but looks less like a semi truck’s this time around — where a hybrid system is being offered with V6 and V8 engines. It’s a mild hybrid, which means that the trucks can’t run on battery power alone, but the electric motors add boost of torque off the line, enable a fuel-saving stop-start feature and improve overall efficiency.


Taller bedsides reduce aerodynamic drag.


Branded eTorque, the system is standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission on the entry level 3.6-liter V6 that’s rated at 305 hp and 269 lb-ft, and an option on the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which has 395 hp and 410 lb-ft and delivers a maximum tow rating of 12,750 pounds. That’s over a ton more than the outgoing Ram 1500’s and just shy of the F-150’s top 13,200-pound rating. Official fuel economy for the eTorque powertrains has not yet been determined, while the conventional V8 is rated at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.

The redesigned 1500 will initially be available in Quad Cab and Crew Cab configurations in a full lineup of trim levels, while the last-generation truck soldiers on for a year to supply two-door and other models during the transition, in an effort to better supply expected demand.

A new rear bench slides and reclines.


The 1500 sticks with a steel body – except for the aluminum tailgate – but uses lighter high-strength steel for its frame,  plus some aluminum and composite chassis components that together reduce weight by over 200 pounds. Coil springs all four corners are matched with frequency response dampers that soak up small bumps but keep the body level in curves, while Ram’s unique air suspension system remains an option and can raise and lower the truck to increase ground clearance, ease entry and reduce aerodynamic drag.

The 1500 can be equipped with a 12-inch display and on-demand SiriusXM 360L.


The cabin is larger than before and Ram claims it has the most storage space of any full-size pickup. Some of that can be found under a reclining rear bench seat that floats over a flat floor that has a pop-out bin to secure small items. Up front, the center console has spaces for phones, tablets and large laptops and can be equipped with a wireless charging pad. Trucks with an old-school front bench, which is still available, now have a three point seatbelt integrated into the center seat for added safety. Out back, the 1500’s signature RamBox waterproof bed side storage system is still an option, but now with better lighting and a 115-volt outlet inside.

The 1500′s signature RamBox storage compartments remain an option.


The 1500’s dashboard has no shortage of knobs and switches, but there is also a wide array of digital displays found across the trim levels and options packages that includes a 12-inch screen I the center console equipped with the latest version of Ram’s UConnect infotainment system. You can configure the layout of the desktop, just like a tablet, and it has built-in WiFi and the new SiriusXM with 360L that delivers on-demand programming along with traditional satellite radio.

The Rebel is the most off-road capable Ram 1500.


Active safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking and a self-steering parking system. A 360-degree bird’s eye view camera system is also available to help out if you prefer to park yourself.

Pricing for the new Ram 1500 was not announced, but it will be offered in six trim levels, including the Rebel with its one-inch suspension lift, off-road suspension, skid plates, and locking rear differential that was designed to roll over anything that gets in its way.


Gary Gastelu is’s Automotive Editor. Follow him on Twitter @garygastelu

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