For the past several years, the Detroit Auto Show has battled against CES for the attention of the media and exhibitors. Detroit conceded; 2019 will be the last edition of the event held in January. The 2020 Detroit Auto Show will take place in June. Moving it places it far from CES on the calendar, and it will let organizers move part of it outdoors.
2019 will be the quietest edition of the Detroit Auto Show in recent memory. The list of car companies who will not attend this year’s event is longer than usual, which reflects the industry’s warning interest in the traditional auto show model. That doesn’t mean it should be overlooked, though. Sexy sports cars we’ve waited over a decade for, new variants of some of the country’s best-selling models, and futuristic concept cars will bask under the spotlights in the Cobo Center.
Digital Trends will be live in the nation’s Motor City starting on January 13 to bring you the latest. Here are the cars we’re looking forward to seeing.
2020 Cadillac XT6
The XT6 will take Cadillac into one of the hottest segments of the market. Though Cadillac is keeping details under wraps until the model’s official unveiling, recent spy shots show a three-row crossover positioned between the XT5 and the body-on-frame Escalade. It will share some of its mechanical and chassis components with the Chevrolet Traverse, but everything customers see and touch will be Cadillac-specific, including the exterior design and the interior. Front-wheel drive and a 310-horsepower V6 engine will come standard, according to Car & Driver, and all-wheel drive will be offered at an extra cost.
Pricing will start in the vicinity of $50,000. When it lands in showrooms in 2019, the 2020 Cadillac XT6 will compete against the Infiniti QX60, the Acura MDX, and the Audi Q7, among other three-row luxury crossovers.
2020 Ford Explorer
The family-friendly, cop-approved Ford Explorer returns with a bolder design, a new rear-wheel drive platform that makes it better to drive on- and off-road, and additional variants developed to lure customers away from the competition. At launch, the line-up will include turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines. Ford will expand the catalog with a fuel-sipping hybrid model and a performance-oriented, range-topping variant badged ST a little bit later in the Explorer’s production cycle. Inside, upmarket variants come with a 10.1-inch, portrait-style touchscreen that displays Ford’s familiar Sync 3 infotainment system.
The 2020 Ford Explorer will reach showrooms in the summer of 2019. Pricing will be available closer to its on-sale date.
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Ford has largely stood on the sidelines as Chevrolet and Dodge wage a full-fledged horsepower war to dominate the muscle car segment. Now it’s finally ready to jump in the battle with one of its most iconic nameplates as a weapon. The Mustang Shelby GT500 will break cover in Detroit with over 700 horsepower. It hasn’t been unveiled yet, but a leaked image posted on Instagram shows a mean-looking evolution of the 2019 Mustang with huge air intakes up front, a heritage-laced cobra emblem attached to the grille, a sizable wing on the trunk lid, and wheels that appear to be made out of carbon fiber.
It’s too early to tell precisely what lurks between the flared fenders. Ford previously hinted at a supercharged V8 engine rated at more than 700 hp; an earlier, unverified report pegs its output at 720. We know it will be the most powerful street-legal Ford production car ever made, topping even the last-generation GT500 and the mighty, 647-hp GT supercar. We can’t wait to see — and hear — it.
Infiniti QX Inspiration concept
Infiniti will preview the direction it will take in the coming years with a concept car called QX Inspiration. It’s an electric crossover with a bold front-end design, and a much more angular greenhouse than any of the company’s current models. We expect a tech-filled cabin, though we’ll have to wait until the Detroit show opens its doors to peek inside. The QX Inspiration may not reach production as-is, but certain elements of it will influence future models. Infiniti has notably pledged to electrify its entire lineup by 2021.
2020 Kia Telluride
Kia gave us a glimpse of the Telluride, its eight-seater SUV, during New York Fashion Week in 2018. Closely related to the Hyundai Palisade under the sheet metal, the Telluride will stand out as the South Korean firm’s biggest SUV when it goes on sale later in 2019. We know it will use a V6 engine, but full specifications won’t be released until the opening day of the Detroit Auto Show. It’s aimed at families, so it will come with enough USB ports and cupholders to keep its passengers connected, charged up, and refreshed during a long road trip.
Lexus LC Convertible concept
Lexus will give show-goers in Detroit a taste of spring with the LC Convertible concept. Like its name implies, it’s a topless version of the LC, the Toyota-owned brand’s flagship coupe. The concept is all about visual drama. Lexus hasn’t announced powertrain specifications, and it won’t confirm production plans just yet. “A production version of this concept would be exhilarating in many different ways,” Tadao Mori, the car’s chief designer, said in a statement. We hope that means it’s coming in the not-too-distant future.
2020 Ram HD
The 2019 Ram 1500 (pictured above) unveiled during last year’s Detroit auto show surprised us. It represented a significant leap forward over its predecessor in terms of design, technology, and powertrain hardware. We expect many of these improvements will appear on the bigger, brawnier 2500 HD and 3500 HD models scheduled to greet the public in Detroit. Both trucks will be available with the 1500’s tablet-like, 12-inch touchscreen, and the fuel-saving eTorque system could appear on the palette of available powertrains.
2019 Subaru WRX STI S209
Subaru has released many limited-edition variants of the WRX STI in recent years, but it has never brought them to the United States. The S209 making its global debut in Detroit will break with tradition when it arrives in American showrooms later in 2019. Subaru hasn’t released technical specifications yet, so we don’t know if the S209 will keep the standard WRX STI’s turbocharged, 2.5-liter flat-four engine or use a version of the 2.0-liter turbo four that powers the model in Japan. Either way, expect a comprehensive list of brake and suspension upgrades to complement to extra power.
2020 Toyota Supra
Toyota confirmed the Supra will launch with a straight-six engine borrowed from the BMW parts bin. The turbocharged, 3.0-liter unit is expected to make about 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque in its most basic state of tune. Rear-wheel drive will be the only configuration offered, though transmission options remain unconfirmed. The first examples will reach showrooms in the first half of 2019. Expect pricing to start in the vicinity of $45,000.
2020 Volkswagen Passat
Volkswagen still believes in the shrinking sedan segment. The Wolfsburg-based company will introduce the redesigned 2020 Passat in Detroit. It isn’t a brand-new model — it’s still based on the platform that has underpinned the current model since 2011 — but Volkswagen noted that every body panel with the exception of the roof is new. We drove an early prototype at the company’s proving grounds in Arizona and concluded it’s an improvement over the 2019 Passat but not a groundbreaking update. Volkswagen played it safe.
While we haven’t seen the interior yet, we’re not expecting a drastic departure from today’s Passat. The clean, straight line that emphasize the cabin’s sense of width will likely remain. Kai Oltmanns, the product marketing manager for the Passat, told Digital Trends the sedan will come with an 8-inch touchscreen that will display the latest version of Volkswagen’s infotainment system. Made in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the 2020 Volkswagen Passat will compete against the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry when it arrives in showrooms.
Who is missing?
In 2018, Mercedes-Benz introduced the first brand-new G-Class in decades at the Detroit Auto Show. In 2019, the brand is sitting out the event. It instead traveled to CES to unveil the second-generation CLA (pictured above), a model that’s considerably more tech-savvy than its predecessor. Rivals Audi and BMW announced plans to skip the event, too. Mini won’t have a booth in Detroit, neither will Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover.
Finally, credible rumors claimed Chevrolet would unveil the eighth-generation Corvette at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. It’s a long-awaited model that will shift to a mid-engined layout for the first time in the nameplate’s decades-long history. Chevrolet allegedly had to postpone the next Corvette’s introduction until the summer of 2019 due to a major electrical issue uncovered during the final phase of testing.