posted on January 15th, 2019

Big debuts at Motown this year

Detroit is a cold place in January, but that hasn’t stopped the world’s automakers from launching some serious hotness at the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The Motown show historically serves as a place for highly-anticipated vehicle reveals, and this year’s event is no different. Let’s check some out of the cars we’re most excited about that just made their debut at Cobo Hall.

Toyota Supra

Image: Toyota

IT’S BACK! After years of concepts, teasers, and leaks, Toyota’s legendary Supra sports car finally returns. While the Supra hasn’t been sold since 2002, the car was immortalized by its role in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, and Toyota knew they had to revive it. Controversially, the car is literally a BMW Z4: the Supra shares its platform with the well-known German roadster. Their dimensions are identical, the turbocharged inline 6 engine is the same, and much of the Toyota’s interior is straight from the BMW parts bin — it’s even built in Austria! Still, Toyota gave the Supra a totally unique body that’s complex, curvaceous, and delightfully weird. Regardless of naysayers’ opinions, it’s bound to drive terrifically and deliver great bang for the buck. We can’t wait to see it on the road.

Ford Mustang GT500

2020 Ford Shelby GT500 (Image: Ford)

We’re deep in the midst of a horsepower war, and Ford has fired off its latest salvo with the Shelby GT500. While the nameplate is nothing new, this GT500 is by far the most powerful, accelerative, and advanced Mustang ever. It looks slightly terrifying, with a gaping maw, bulging fenders, quad five-inch exhaust tips, and ground-hugging bodykit to slice through the air. Under the lightweight fiberglass hood lies a supercharged 5.2 liter V8, which Ford says produces over 700 horsepower. Aiding its pursuit of track day dominance is an optional carbon fiber pack which adds carbon wheels wearing sticky rubber, more aggressive aero borrowed from Mustang GT4 race cars, and removed rear seats to save weight. With this setup the GT500 somehow produces more downforce even than Ford’s own GT supercar. Your move, Dodge Demon and Camaro ZL1.

Ford Explorer

2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid (Image: Ford)

While the Ford Explorer has never been a car to get super excited about, there’s a chance that the newest generation, just revealed in Detroit, will be the most fun version yet. Though the exterior design isn’t a major departure from its predecessor, it rides on an all-new rear wheel drive platform that could make it a hoot to drive. Plus, the new Explorer will be available in sport-oriented ST trim, featuring a punchy 400 horsepower (!!) twin-turbo V6, big brakes and wheels, and quad exhaust for good measure. More everyday trims, including an efficient hybrid version, will be available too. Regardless of specific options, the Explorer will feature ample seating, big cargo capacity, and a host of technology for driver and passengers to make it a strong contender in the highly competitive crossover space.

Ram Heavy Duty and Power Wagon

2019 Ram Power Wagon (Image: Ram)

1,000 pound-feet: that’s the main thing you need to know about the new Ram Heavy Duty. This immense figure is the torque output of the truck’s 6.7 liter Cummins diesel engine, which lets it tow up to 35,100 pounds. That means there’s hardly a fifth wheel camper, horse or race car trailer, or piece of construction equipment this beast won’t be able to pull. For those more interested in getting off the beaten path, the Ram Power Wagon will likely appeal. Beefed-up suspension and a 14,000 pound winch give it off-road credibility, and brash, in-your-face styling that is sure to turn heads. The Power Wagon seems like a solid choice for those who like the looks of the Ford Raptor but need greater towing capability, on or off paved surfaces.

Cadillac EV Crossover Concept

Cadillac EV SUV concept (Image: Cnet)

Despite Cadillac’s clout with models like the Escalade and CTS-V, the brand has been somewhat lost in recent years. They don’t seem to know what they’re aiming for, with models split between older and younger demographics, all while being too little, too late against competitors. But now, General Motors has designated Cadillac to serve as their leading electric vehicle brand to take on Tesla and other EV-focused manufacturers, with a concept on display at NAIAS 2019 that shows they’re (hopefully) getting back on course. The yet-unnamed crossover’s sharply creased body is unmistakably Cadillac, and wears a reinterpretation of the brand’s crest logo, perhaps meant to evoke the electric circuitboards under its skin. While no concrete details are available on the car, we think a jolt of electric power could revitalize Cadillac for the future.

Alex has been a car fanatic for as long as he can remember. At 6'10," he might be the tallest auto writer in the world, and whether it's engine timing, exotic car design, or race strategy, there is no automotive topic beyond Alex's interest.