DETROIT — SUVs and a big pickup truck will get top billing at Detroit’s auto show this year, but there are some surprise sports cars and electric vehicles on the agenda.
The most popular vehicle of the bunch is the Ford Explorer, revealed ahead of the show last Wednesday night at Ford Field, the home of the National Football League’s Detroit Lions.
Cadillac is launching its XT6, a smaller-than-a-truck, three-row family vechicle, while Toyota brings back the high-performance Supra. The sports car developed a cult following when it was on the market from 1978 to 2002. Nissan and its Infiniti luxury brand plan to show two concept electric vehicles as well.
This year’s North American International Auto Show will take place in January for the final time. In 2020, it switches to June to escape the cold weather and show off more products outside, including autonomous vehicles.
Here are the big unveils coming up for the show, which opens to the public from Jan. 19-27:
TOYOTA SUPRA GR
Toyota — normally associated with bland but reliable people haulers — wants to create some excitement for its brand by reviving the Supra GR sports car. If it lives up to its looks, the move might just work. Toyota unveiled the low-slung two-seater Monday, and it’s reminiscent of the car that developed a cult following when it was on the market from 1978 to 2002. The rear-drive 2020 Supra is powered by a 335-horsepower 3-liter twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine mated to what Toyota calls a fast-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Toyota expects the Supra to have a zero-to-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. The Supra will be in U.S. showrooms this summer. It will start at $49,990. Gas mileage wasn’t released.
The marketing folks at General Motors’ Cadillac brand are hoping the new XT6 big SUV will carve out a niche in the crowded market for utilities with three rows of seats but aren’t so huge they’re considered trucks. The six- to seven-passenger XT6 has a chiseled Caddy look and unique premium luxury materials to set it apart, but it’s going against well-appointed luxury versions of the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, as well as entries from BMW, Audi and other automakers. It goes on sale in the summer as a 2020 model in the U.S.
Ford’s aging Explorer SUV is getting a major revamp as it faces growing competition in the market for family haulers with three rows of seats. The company unveiled the new version last week at Ford Field, and will display it again at the auto show. The Explorer, last reworked for the 2011 model year, gets a top-to-bottom update that includes a switch from front- to rear-wheel-drive, as well as updated engines and transmissions and some nice standard safety features. The SUV’s appearance doesn’t change much, but the roof line does slope more from front to back. The base price will rise $400 from the current $32,365 excluding shipping. The Chicago-built Explorer goes on sale in the summer.
The fastest Mustang gets faster. The 2020 fastback Shelby GT500 gets a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine with a whopping 700 horsepower. The most powerful street-legal Ford ever built can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in around 3.5 seconds, with a quarter-mile time below 11 seconds, according to the company. Ford said it transferred aerodynamic and chassis technology from the Ford GT and Mustang GT4 racing cars to improve the cornering. The GT500 arrives in showrooms in the fall. Price and gas mileage weren’t announced.
Rather than exiting the sinking U.S. midsize sedan business like two of its Detroit competitors, Volkswagen is staying in by updating the Passat for 2020. But it’s not spending huge dollars developing a new chassis or replacing engines and transmissions. VW did give the car new sheet metal (except for the roof) to make it look sportier and tweaked the existing 174-horsepower 2-Liter turbocharged engine. Passat U.S. sales were down 32 percent last year but could get a boost because Fiat Chrysler got out of the midsize car market and Ford will exit soon. The new Passat arrives in dealerships in mid- to late-summer. Pricing wasn’t announced.
The heavy-duty Ram pickup that’s designed to do serious work isn’t just for serious work. Yes, the new version for 2019 to be unveiled in Detroit comes with an optional 400-horsepower, 6.7-liter six-cylinder Cummins diesel with 1,000 foot pounds of torque that can tow more than 35,000 pounds and carry 7,680 pounds in its bed. But it also gets a smoother ride, softer interior finishes, and can come with real wood and leather and an optional 12-inch touch screen and 17-speaker Harman-Kardon sound system. The truck comes standard with a 410 horsepower, 6.4-liter V8. Price wasn’t announced. The heavy duty, built in Mexico, goes on sale in April.
LEXUS RC F
For those who want to race at the track on weekends and drive to work on Monday, there’s the 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition. The bulked-up track version of the freshened RC F performance coupe gets better aerodynamics due a fixed rear wing and lower front spoiler, both made of carbon fiber. The new versions will get to showrooms around April. Price and gas mileage weren’t announced.