The 9 Coolest Cars from the 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show is in the books, and it’s treated us to a range of tantalizing rides across the entirety of the automotive spectrum — from two-seater sports cars to track-ready SUVs, luxurious people movers and unstoppable workhorses. Here are the ones to watch in 2019 and beyond.


2020 Toyota Supra

It’s safe to say there’s a fair bit of controversy across enthusiast spheres about whether or not the new Toyota Supra deserves to be called a Toyota Supra. That’s mostly because the coupe’s 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline six, running gear and even electrics were developed by BMW, and shared with the German automaker’s new Z4 convertible.

So yes, there’s a fair argument to be made that Toyota didn’t have its fingerprints all over the new Supra. But when the end result looks good this and ticks so many of the right boxes for a proper front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car, I’m left wondering whether any of that heritage stuff really matters. The Supra is back, damn it — the rest is history.


2019 Subaru WRX STI S209

Subaru’s battle-tested rally car for the road has long been the go-to for drivers who want maximum thrills for the lowest price, without compromising practicality. Regrettably, however, most of us in the West have historically been spared from the ultimate expression of the WRX STI — the “S” series, which typically offers increased power and sporty exterior accoutrements.

That all changes for 2019, when the WRX STI S209 goes on sale. This version adds roughly 30 horsepower to the STI’s existing 2.5-liter, turbocharged flat-four, good for a total of 341 horsepower. The result is the most powerful Subaru ever built. To reign it all in, the S209 has been fitted with new limited-slip differentials, a revised torque vectoring system and a rear wing seemingly lifted off Subaru’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring race car. If you want one, you better get your order in ASAP, though — only 200 examples of the S209 will be brought Stateside.


2020 Ford Explorer ST

While it doesn’t quite meet the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk’s level of lunacy, the Ford Explorer ST looks to be a formidable hot rod of an SUV. Under the hood is a 3.0-liter, 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 capable of hauling the Explorer’s 4,700 pounds to a top speed just over 140 mph. Meanwhile, a specially-tuned suspension and optional upgraded brakes help Ford’s family hauler stay sure-footed when things get twisty.

The sporty feel extends inside, thanks to a bevy of leather-wrapped surfaces, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and lots of ST branding to remind you you’re sitting in a product crafted by Ford’s performance division. The automaker is adamant it’ll be the quickest SUV under $60,000 when it hits showrooms later this year.


Nissan IMs Concept

It’ll be a good while until we have the opportunity to drive — or be chauffeured around — in the autonomous and electric Nissan IMs. However, the high-riding luxury hatchback straddles the line between sedan and crossover in a way we wish more cars would, while offering a window into the next generation of Nissan’s design language.

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On the inside, the IMs is all business, with a futuristic minimalism that exudes sophistication, and a breakthrough user interface Nissan calles Invisible-to-Visible. It relies on augmented reality to enhance or ease the driving experience. In a demonstration at CES, Nissan showed how the technology could be used to provide performance driving tips. That’s something you’d definitely want behind the wheel of the IMs, considering it develops a combined 483 horsepower from a pair of electric motors.


2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

A 5.2-liter supercharged V8 beats underneath the long, bulging hood of the new Shelby GT500. With more than 700 horsepower (Ford is playing strangely coy with regard to exact figures), this is the most powerful Mustang ever to roll off of Dearborn’s assembly lines.

It’s also one of the most intimidating. The GT500’s gaping maw is designed to force feed as much air into the drivetrain as possible, presumably so that it doesn’t combust under the cataclysmal power on display here. A Tremec-sourced dual-clutch gearbox is tasked with sending all that torque to the rear wheels, which should help the GT500 deliver those sub-11-second quarter-mile times Ford is promising. We have a sneaking suspicion they’ll make good on that claim, too.


Cadillac EV Concept

Cadillac’s first electric car will be an SUV, and GM introduced a few concept renderings of it ahead of the festivities in Detroit. It will be based on a modular platform that will ultimately be utilized across a range of electric vehicles and varied body styles. And that, we’re afraid, sums up pretty much all we know about this mysterious crossover.

Aside from the image you see here, practically no other details have been relayed about the concept Caddy. However, it’s already clear there is a lot riding on it. GM is adamant that the American luxury brand will lead its electric offerings, and this SUV will mark the first step. We like the purposeful, aggressive stance of the render, though we ultimately wonder how much of what we’re seeing now will translate to production. Only time will tell.


2019 Ram Heavy Duty

You can do a lot of things with 1,000 pound-feet of torque — like tow a small planet, for example. And that’s exactly the pulling power the latest Ram Heavy Duty delivers, if you spring for its top-of-the-line 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel power plant.

With that kind of torque, this Ram is rated to tow up to 35,000 pounds, which is about half what big rigs can haul around. As a result, Chrysler had to bolster the frame with loads of high-strength steel, and beef up braking components to be able to stop the most immense of convoys. That leaves Ram at the top of the food chain among heavy duty trucks at the moment — though, given the constant one-upsmanship between the big three American automakers, we don’t expect it to hold onto that title forever.


Lexus LC Convertible Concept

Lexus’ latest “concept” slices the roof off its LC luxury sports coupe, but come on — there’s nothing conceptual about it. This LC Convertible is clearly production ready, and that’s great news, because it looks fantastic.

Although we don’t know for sure, chances are strong that this LC is powered by the same 471-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 inside the LC500 coupe you can buy today. The convertible even inherits the hardtop’s elegant asymmetrical cabin design and pointless excuses for rear seats. After the woeful SC430 of yesteryear, Lexus deserves a drop top to be proud of — and the LC seems born for the role.


Hyundai Veloster N TCR Race Car

After repeated attempts to convince the public it was serious about performance cars (without actually delivering more than one serious performance car), Hyundai is at long last rolling out its sporty N sub-brand in the U.S. with the plucky little Veloster. By all indications, the Veloster N appears to be an excellent foray into the hot hatch class dominated by the likes of Volkswagen’s GTI and the Ford Focus ST.

But for those that need a bit more excitement in their lives, may we suggest the Veloster N TCR Race Car? Sure, it costs $150,000 (and that’s before you factor in the cost of, you know, actually racing the thing). Yet, the Veloster’s bulging fenders and massive rear wing, coupled with its 350-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four banger almost make it seem like a bargain. You’ll be able to witness Hyundai’s touring car make its competition debut on Jan. 24 ahead of the 24 Hours of Daytona, as part of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series.


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