The Top 10 Cars/Trends I'm Looking Forward to in 2019
2018 has been by all measures, a difficult year for both the automotive industry and society as a whole. Despite this, advances, improvements, and excitement have still managed to poke through the clouds of tariffs, the sedan-pocolypse, and whatever Elon Musk was smoking on the Joe Rogan Podcast.
So, (in no specific order) here's a list of the Top 10 Cars/Trends I'm looking forward to in 2019.
Mazda CX-5: New Engine
The Mazda CX-5 is currently my favorite crossover. It's one of very few I could see myself actually purchasing should I need the utility. It's one Achilles heel in my mind however has been that it wasn't equipped with an engine that still allowed you to have fun, and explore its' sportier side. For 2019, that changes, with the availability of a 2.5 liter turbo engine that pumps it up to 250hp/310tq, making it the most powerful mainstream compact SUV. I'm really excited to drive one with the new engine once they start hitting lots over the next few months.
The New Mazda 3
Keeping with the Mazda train, I'm really excited for the next Mazda 3 that was announced just a few weeks ago. It's easy to get excited about the latest supercar with a 7 figure asking price and a 0-60 time less than 3 seconds, but the reality is, most of us aren't going to come anywhere near those. Having real vehicles that are fun to drive and good looking are the real treat.
The Mazda 3 has always been at the top of the class dynamically, and I don't expect anything less to come from this new generation. Oddly though, from the photos/videos I've seen of it, the sedan seems to be a bit better looking that the hatch, which is an odd change up. I reserve final judgement until I get to see them in the flesh on that though. What makes this generation of Mazda 3 particularly exciting however, is that it's been developed with AWD in mind as well, for the first time. Other than the Subaru Impreza, AWD has been missing from this class, and I think it's a stroke of brilliance on Mazda's part. If we can convince them to drop the 2.5 turbo into the AWD model, I and many others would be ecstatic. Let's cross our fingers and hope someone at Mazda reads this.
The Next Supra
In what may possibly be the longest, most drawn out development process and worst kept automotive secret, next year we finally get the next Toyota Supra. I've talked for awhile about Toyota losing its' identity, and I think this may finally mark a return to form. If the Supra can take the mantle of being the flagship sports car, cars like the Camry no longer need to be over-styled and try to be sporty. I think this will allow Toyota to properly design its' lineup with each vehicle fulfilling a set purpose, and it will be stronger for it.
The new BMW 3 Series
The 3 Series is a juggernaut. Every sedan of a similar size with luxury or sporting intent is perpetually compared to it. It is the benchmark. The current generation, while beautiful, was criticized for not being exceptional enough dynamically compared to the rest of the class. Most of this was due to the switch to electric power steering, leading to comparisons against the previous generation. Really, in my opinion, only Porsche nailed the launch of electric power steering from the get go. This next 3 series is set to be a bit lighter, and handful more powerful, and promises to be more dynamically engaging to bring the faithful back. The 6 cylinder version is going to be almost as powerful as the current M3. I can't wait to see what the next M3 is going to be like, but this generation is shaping up to be rewarding to drive no matter what engine you choose.
The Ford Ranger/The return of the mid size pickup
Pickup trucks have become enormous. Driving them often feels like you're piloting a city block on wheels. I've talked previously about how the F-150 has grown over 2 feet in length over the last 20 years. Next year, we finally get a return of the midsize pickup with the return of the Ford Ranger. GM has launched it's midsize pickups earlier this year, but with the launch of the Ranger, buyers will start to have a choice in the midsize market, and competition will start to heat up.
The Jeep Gladiator
While we're on the subject of trucks, after years of enthusiast begging, the Jeep Gladiator is here. Pickup conversions for the Wrangler have been an aftermarket option for awhile now, but most people aren't willing to deal with that level of modification to their brand new vehicle. The Jeep Gladiator combines the recently updated Wrangler with a pickup bed from the factory. I'm actually curious to see how successful the Gladiator is, as it's a vehicle I can see going either way. If the people who were crying for this actually go out and buy it, it should be a runaway success, but it's quirky enough that a lot of the public may just move over to a traditional style pickup instead.
The New Kia Soul
I've always heralded a sort of secret love for the Kia Soul. It's combined the utility of a minivan without the image stigma. It's been styled to be interesting, but not ugly, and it's priced reasonably. Having the 1.6 turbo gives it an infusion of a bit of fun to keep you from lamenting driving a practical vehicle. The new 2020 version takes it up a notch, and I believe they've made this new Soul beautiful. The available turbo engine is a carryover, and an electric plug in version will be available in some areas.
The 2020 Porsche 911
Like the 3 series mentioned above, the 911 is a benchmark. A vehicle that is thoroughly scrutinized from every angle, and still continues to deliver the best combination of luxury and performance in the automotive industry. Automotive journalists often lament the 911 as being too "common", saying that every dentist drives one. Maybe that's true when you're based in New York or LA, but in most of the world, seeing a 911 in the wild is still a reason to smile.
The recently introduced 2020 model continues the refinement path of the 911, and the performance looks to be staggering. Launching initially as the 911 S (Generally the second step performance wise, above the base 911, and below the GTS and Turbo models) Porsche is quoting a 3.3 second 0-60 time with the PDK. That's faster than the Turbo model just 2 generations ago, and Porsche figures are typically conservative. I wouldn't be surprised to see that number drop to 3-3.1 as magazines start testing them.
That begs the question: What will the Turbo/Turbo S versions look like? The current 911 Turbo S is among the fastest accelerating cars on the planet, only behind things like the Tesla P100D, and a handful hypercars several times the price. And unlike a lot of those vehicles, the 911 can be launched repeatedly to the point where you will give up your lunch before the car will. The Turbo models will continue to push the boundaries, and for the first time, we will see a hybrid version of the 911. Whether it will apply to multiple models, or just be reserved for the Turbo S as a means to boost performance over the lower models remains to be seen, but the future of the supercar slayer is brighter than ever before.
The Genesis G70
The G70 may be the first vehicle that's truly equipped to take on the BMW 3 series. The Cadillac ATS was close, besting it dynamically, but the interior left a lot to desire, and Cadillac priced the ATS almost identically to the 3 series, not leveraging any type of advantage. The G70 comes almost fully loaded, and there are far fewer trims/options simply because they just give you the equipment. It's been praised for it's driving dynamics, it's interior is well put together and aesthetically pleasing, and it's less expensive than a 3 series. If Genesis can nail the dealer experience, and if they develop a full performance version to take on the BMW M3, BMW may have a reason to stay up late at night.
The Jaguar iPace
The iPace may be the breakaway hit of the coming year. Being the first real electric crossover to compete with the Tesla Model X, I think more people will opt for the iPace. While it doesn't have the stratospheric performance of the Model X, I think more people will identify with the fact that the iPace is gorgeous to look at, and a nice place to sit and drive. The iPace could potentially redefine what luxury is for the next few years.