NAIAS2018 – Everything You Need To Know

With 2018 comes another trip to the North American International Autoshow. With that, we submitted our press passes, loaded up Mike’s rental Tesla Model S P85, and made the “four hour” drive south of Toronto. That experience – road tripping a four-year-old Tesla with 120,000+kms on the clock in the frigid Canadian cold, will come later (we still have yet to survive the trip home). In the meantime, while it’s still remotely relevant, here are some of the big announcements that were made today (spoiler alert: if you’re into all-out performance cars, most of this news can probably be skipped).  


Benz added a new “53” naming convention to their CLS and E-Class line-ups, making the CLS53 and the E53. Both cars use a 3.0l turbocharged six-cylinder, combined with an “electric auxiliary compressor, EQ Boost starter-alternator and 48-volt electrical system”. Whatever it means, the result is a “momentary boost” to 568lb-ft and 450hp. Essentially the auxiliary compressor spools up faster than the turbo, filling in any lag you’d expect low in the powerband; the result is a 0-60 time for the CLS53 of 4.4 seconds.   

Oh, and the G-Class (G-Wagon) has switched from a live-front axle to a fully independent double wishbone suspension, which makes sense, because the G-Wagon has become a mall-crawler for the rich.   


There’s a new BMW i8 Roadster, a new BMW 8-Series Coupe and a BMW X2. BMW was light on details regarding the 8-Series Coupe merely mentioning that “it’s coming”, and the X2 is a 3600lbs crossover powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine pumping out 228hp. If you ever find yourself drag racing in your mom’s grocery getter, it’ll do 0-60 in 6.3 seconds.  


We largely attended the VW press preview, because the company’s undergoing change following Diesel-gate, and we were reminded that company-wide change happens very slowly. VW unveiled a trim package for the Passat GT with consists of an exhaust, revised suspension and aesthetic touches, along with an entirely new VW Jetta.  Wider than the old model, the new VW is built on the new MQB platform, it’s powered by the out-going 1.4l TSI engine, and it costs about $18,000. It’s a Jetta.  


Acura reassured us of their ‘commitment to precision and crafted performance’, by revealing a new Acura RDX. It’s large, comes loaded with tech, it’s powered by a 2.0l turbocharged engine, and I quote, has ‘NSX inspired front air intakes’. If I hear an Acura executive utter the words ‘NSX inspired’ when referring to something as mundane as fake-plastic-vents one more time, I’m throwing my camera at the stage.   

Oh, and the ‘Type S’ naming convention is coming back in ‘in the next few years’; presumably just in time to retire their current ‘A Spec’ naming convention.  


Toyota unveiled an all new Avalon. It seats five people comfortably, has Apple Car play, lane departure warnings, radar-guided cruise control, and get this; active noise control, an intake sound generator, and engine sound enhancement. That’s right, the Toyota Avalon now has a ‘Sport Mode’ and engine sound enhancement. We’re living in strange times. Powertrain options can be expected to be identical to the current Camry.   


Hyundai is finally putting its new “N” performance division to work, dropping the new 275hp 2019 Hyundai Veloster N. All that juice is generated by a 2.0l turbo-four-cylinder and is sent to the front tires through a limited slip differential and a six-speed manual transmission. Naturally, there’s also more track-focused suspension dampening and chassis stiffening to help it achieve its goal of punching the Ford Focus ST in the face.  


Moments before NAIAS2018 started, Ford dropped the 2019 Mustang Bullitt on our heads. That means Highland Green paint, Bullitt badging on the trunk lid and steering wheel, a white shift knob, stickier rubber and Bullitt-style wheels, along with everything in the Mustang’s Performance Pack 1 and an additional 15 horsepower, for a total of 475hp and OHHHHHH MYYYYYY GODDDD I WANT IT.   

Oh, and there’s the new Ford Ranger. Which is like an F150. But smaller.   


There’s a new Kia Forte. Changes include replacing the outgoing six-speed automatic transmission with a CVT. It looks different, it’s probably stiffer than the old model, and comes with more tech. Who really cares.   


There’s a completely redesigned Nissan Leaf, and given the low bar set by the outgoing model, the 2019 is a significant improvement. For one, it looks a like a car, rather than some strange EV thing sent down from another planet. It also boasts 150 miles of range, a 43-mile improvement over the outgoing model.  

Depending on when you’re reading this, our Monday, 9PM EST livestream could still be a thing, so make sure you check that out for riveting footage of us being drunken fools.