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Auto Sneak Preview—2017/2018: New Model Intros & Redesigns

2017 & 2018 Coupes, Sedans, Hatchbacks, SUVs, Hybrids & Electrics

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In the next year, we’ll see an expanding selection of SUVs, fun-to-drive small cars and hybrids arrive in U.S. dealerships.

Automakers are scrambling to introduce SUVs in segments from subcompacts to full-size luxury models.

Sporty cars, such as the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, deliver a bargain when compared with high-priced supercars, such as the 2017 Ford GT and the 2017 Audi R8 Spyder.

More-rigid body engineering and taut-handling suspensions will make compacts, such as the Honda Civic Hatchback, more fun to drive.
Hybrids are breaking ground, as the technology spreads into even four-wheel-drive SUVs.

Automakers are adding advanced driver-safety aids, such as adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning, to almost every new vehicle in the next 2 years.

Meanwhile, advance demand for the Tesla Model 3 signals that the public is ready for an affordable electric age.

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Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Acura hopes to capitalize on the success of its MDX SUV by introducing a hybrid version. The 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid combines a 3.0-liter V6 engine, a seven-speed automatic transmission, a lithium-ion battery and three electric motors to deliver 325 hp, which is 35 hp more than what the MDX has. The MDX Sport Hybrid’s all-wheel-drive powertrain is adapted from Acura’s 2016 NSX supercar. One of the MDX Sport Hybrid’s electric motors provides power to the front wheels; the other two electric motors power the rear wheels. As a result, we expect that the MDX Sport Hybrid will be more responsive and have better handling than does the MDX. Parent Honda Motor says the MDX Sport Hybrid will deliver 25 mpg in the city, compared with the MDX’s 18 mpg in the city. Aside from powertrain changes, the 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid includes standard driver-safety aids that the MDX lacks, including adaptive cruise control and road-departure mitigation.
Arrives in showrooms: Late 2016
Price: $45,000 (estimated)

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo waited for years to stage a comeback in the United States, and in our opinion, the 2017 Giulia is the first sign that the Fiat-owned brand is serious. (The overpriced 2015 4C sports car barely put Alfa Romeo on the radar.) The Giulia compact four-door sedan is aimed squarely at the long-standing, sport-sedan leader: the BMW 3 Series. Alfa Romeo pulls no punches on its top-of-the-line Quadrifoglio version, which packs a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine to deliver 505 hp, which is 65 hp more than what the 3 Series has. The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s horsepower is directed to the rear wheels by a six-speed manual transmission, which we expect will make this car fun to drive at a time when most manufacturers are moving toward less engaging automatic or dual-clutch (automated manual) transmissions. Fiat claims that the Giulia Quadrifoglio will produce a top speed of 191 mph and accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. That’s too much power for conventional shock absorbers to handle, so Alfa Romeo says the car’s fast-reacting adaptive suspension system keeps the tires on the road when the Giulia Quadrifoglio drives over bumps. After the Giulia Quadrifoglio hits the market, a $40,000 entry-level version that has a 2.0-liter, 276-hp four-cylinder engine will follow in mid-2017 along with an all-wheel-drive version that will find its way to showrooms later in 2017, Fiat says.
Arrives in showrooms: Early 2017
Price: $70,000 (estimated)

Audi Q5

The Q5 has demanded attention in the luxury compact SUV segment for years, and Audi hopes that its 2018 version keeps it that way. Audi says it maintained the Q5’s strong-but-smooth all-wheel-drive powertrains while making the new Q5 lighter and stiffer to improve fuel efficiency. The engine choices will include a 2.0-liter, 252-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 3.0-liter, 290-hp V6, either of which delivers more horsepower than do today’s Q5 engine options. The new Q5’s five-passenger cabin is expected to grow in size slightly, which should provide a bit more space for the occupants. The Q5’s interior received extensive upgrades that include the dazzling, easy-to-use 12.3-inch virtual-cockpit dashboard display that’s in front of the steering wheel that recently was introduced in the 2017 A4 and 2017 Q7, Audi says. The virtual cockpit has been well-received.
Arrives in showrooms: Spring 2017
Price: $42,000 (estimated)

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

We were so impressed by the 2016 Camaro’s performance that we named it a Best Buy among sporty cars. The 2017 Camaro ZL1 will propel this impressive Chevrolet almost into supercar territory in terms of power. Boasting 640 hp and 640 foot-pounds of torque, the Camaro ZL1 is only slightly less muscular than is the most powerful Chevrolet Corvette, which also has a 6.2-liter V8 engine. You can choose between a six-speed manual transmission, which we believe will make for an engaging and entertaining drive, or a 10-speed automatic transmission, which allows for faster, more-efficient shifting. The Camaro ZL1’s suspension includes dampers, which we believe will smooth the ride quality given that the standard 20-inch wheels and ultra-aggressive 30 series Goodyear tires that this model has typically ride harshly. Camaro ZL1 buyers who plan to explore the car’s full capabilities will be pleased to know that standard options include high-performance, race-quality Brembo front disc brakes and 11 heat exchangers to prevent an overheated powertrain.
Arrives in showrooms: Late 2016
Price: $60,000 (estimated)

Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

In the past few years, Ford, Mazda and Volkswagen sold more European-style hatchbacks in the United States than anyone expected. Chevrolet noticed and now will bring its Cruze Hatchback from Europe. The 2017 Cruze Hatchback shares the 2016 Cruze Sedan’s 1.4-liter, 153-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and choice of six-speed automatic or manual transmission. The 153 hp won’t blow anyone away, but we still believe that the manual transmission will make this car fun to drive. The hatchback’s higher roof line makes it unquestionably more practical for hauling cargo than is the sedan. The hatchback will provide up to 47.2 cubic feet of cargo space when the rear seats are folded flat. When the seats are up, the trunk will provide 22.7 cubic feet of space. (The sedan version has only 15 cubic feet of trunk space.)
Arrives in showrooms: Fall 2016
Price: $22,000 (estimated)

Honda Civic Hatchback
Honda is on a mission to restore the Civic’s status in the United States as a fast and fun-to-drive compact. We believe that the 2017 Civic Hatchback will be the company’s comeback weapon. Honda will bring a five-door body style to U.S. buyers for the first time since 2000, and the Civic Hatchback will debut the automaker’s combination of a 1.5-liter, 174-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission or a gearless continuously variable transmission (CVT). Only a CVT was provided in Europe previously. A Civic Type R Hatchback, which is expected to include a 2.0-liter, 300-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a more-advanced suspension, will arrive in 2017. The Type R Hatchback should put fast and furious back in the Civic vernacular. We have no word on whether a Type R Coupe or Type R Sedan will follow.
Arrives in showrooms: Late 2016
Price: $25,000 (estimated)

Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai lags far behind the Toyota Prius in the eco-car race, but we believe that the 2017 Ioniq will put Hyundai square in the fight with existing hybrid manufacturers. Hyundai will introduce three versions of the hatchback Ioniq. The lineup includes a plug-in hybrid, a standard hybrid and an electric vehicle (EV). The plug-in and standard hybrid models have a 1.6-liter, 104-hp four-cylinder engine and a 43-hp electric motor for a total system output of 147 hp. The Ioniq has a six-speed dual-clutch (automated manual) transmission, which is unusual for a hybrid. We believe that it will make the Ioniq more fun to drive than are most hybrids, which have a CVT. The plug-in hybrid will provide a battery-only range of up to 25 miles. That’s slightly better than the battery-only range of the Prius Prime. Finally, an all-electric Ioniq has a 120-hp electric motor that will deliver an estimated range of 110 miles, Hyundai says, which would be comparable with today’s best-selling EV: the Nissan Leaf.
Arrives in showrooms: Early 2017
Price: $28,000 (estimated)

Jeep Grand Wagoneer
Jeep has been absent from the upper end of the SUV market since the Grand Wagoneer was discontinued in 1993. That will change in 2017, when the 2018 Grand Wagoneer is expected to return. This time around, the Grand Wagoneer is a full-size SUV that’s based on the same platform as the next-generation Dodge Durango. The Grand Wagoneer has three rows of seats and an upscale cabin that includes the latest driver aids and safety features, Jeep says. The powertrain options will include a 3.2-liter, 270-hp V6 engine and a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine that delivers at least 370 hp, like in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. As for the Grand Wagoneer’s iconic wood side panels, however, we don’t believe that they’re coming back.
Arrives in showrooms: Late 2017
Price: $60,000 (estimated)

Kia Cadenza

Kia has to raise the Cadenza’s game for the 2017 model year to attract the attention of consumers who seek a large sedan, such as the Toyota Avalon. We believe that Kia is on to something. It paired the 2016 Cadenza’s 3.3-liter, 290-hp V6 engine with a lighter, stiffer chassis, an upgraded suspension and a new eight-speed automatic transmission. As a result, we believe that the 2017 Cadenza likely will be far more entertaining to drive than is its stodgy predecessor. The 2016 model’s bland design was dumped in favor of a more distinctive look that’s punctuated by aggressively styled headlights and LED taillights. Higher grade leather seating and a heads-up windshield display will be included standard for the first time. The 2017 Cadenza also keeps up with its rivals by including a slew of standard driver-safety features, including adaptive cruise control and blind-spot-, forward-collision- and lane-departure-warning systems.
Arrives in showrooms: Late 2016
Price: $34,000 (estimated)

Kia Niro

Finding an unexploited market niche is difficult, but Kia designed its 2017 Niro to be the first impressively fuel-efficient hybrid that also has the versatility of an SUV. The 2017 Niro is a compact SUV that has a front-wheel-drive gasoline/electric powertrain that Kia claims will return a lofty 50 mpg. A 1.6-liter, 103-hp four-cylinder engine and a 43-hp electric motor feed power through a six-speed dual-clutch (automated manual) transmission. We’re happy to hear about the dual-clutch transmission, which we believe is more fun to drive than is a CVT. A plug-in hybrid Niro will launch later in the model’s life, probably in 2018 for the 2019 model year. The Niro has a raised seating position and a roomy five-passenger cabin, so you’ll receive the cabin space and storage space of a SUV while getting the fuel economy of a hybrid, Kia says.
Arrives in showrooms: Late 2016
Price: $30,000 (estimated)

Lexus LC500

Lexus has tried to shed its conservative image by making aggressive design cues and high-octane editions. We often found the results to be cartoonish. This svelte coupe changes that. Parent Toyota Motor says it designed the 2017 LC500 with lightweight materials, such as high-strength steel and carbon fiber, so the coupe would deliver excellent handling. The performance of the 5.0-liter, 467-hp V8 engine, which Toyota claims will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, certainly is stout, and a paddle-shift-operated 10-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. The four-seat cabin is swathed in leather and metal trim. The LC500 includes a generous array of standard driver-safety features, such as forward-collision- and lane-departure-warning systems, as it well should for the expected six-figure price. You can expect a hybrid version by the end of 2017 and an even higher performance F Sport edition to come early in 2018.
Arrives in showrooms: Mid-2017
Price: $100,000 (estimated)

Lincoln Navigator
The Navigator has been outdated for years, so we’re pleased that Lincoln finally redesigned its flagship SUV for the 2018 model year. The 2018 version includes a relatively fuel-efficient 3.5-liter, 400-hp twin-turbocharged V6 engine that should provide at least 3 mpg more of combined fuel economy than does the current Navigator, according to parent Ford Motor. Inside, the Navigator shifts from its current dual-cockpit design to an open, horizontal layout. Consumers will be able to choose from seven or eight passenger seats in three rows.
Arrives in showrooms: Early 2017
Price: $65,000 (estimated)

Maserati Levante

Maserati is late to the luxury SUV party, but we believe that the Levante will match up well against established models, such as the Porsche Cayenne. The Levante’s 3.0-liter V6 engine produces 345 hp, while a more-powerful S model delivers 424 hp. The Levante’s all-wheel-drive system pumps power to the rear wheels at all times and feeds the front wheels when it senses slippery conditions. Despite its luxurious character, the Levante is capable of venturing off-road if required, but we always have been dubious about exposing a vehicle of this cost to the risks that come with leaving the pavement. The five-passenger cabin includes leather and elegant wood trim. A plug-in hybrid version will join the ranks in late 2017.
Arrives in showrooms: Mid-2016
Price: $72,000

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

Mercedes-Benz typically restricts convertibles to the higher echelons of its model range. That will change in fall 2016 when Mercedes’ C-Class Cabriolet arrives. Although it’s hardly a soft top for the masses, the 2017 C-Class Cabriolet will make open-air motoring more affordable than does Mercedes’ pricey E-Class Cabriolet and SLK and SL roadsters. The C-Class Cabriolet will come in two versions: the C300, which has a 2.0-liter, 241-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine; and the AMG C43, which has a 3.0-liter, 362-hp twin-turbocharged V6 engine. However, the change could raise the price by $15,000–$20,000. All-wheel drive will be optional on the C300 and standard on the AMG C43. The convertible’s interior is decked out similarly to that of the C-Class sedan and coupe.
Arrives in showrooms: Fall 2016
Price: $50,000 (estimated)

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The 2017 plug-in hybrid Outlander PHEV is a five-passenger SUV that has all-wheel-drive capability. That’s an unusual combination, because most automakers typically don’t try to turn heavy four-wheel-drive SUVs into hybrids. The Outlander PHEV’s powertrain comprises a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and an electric motor on each axle, which Mitsubishi says will make the SUV’s all-wheel-drive handling extremely responsive. The Outlander PHEV is able to run in three modes: all-electric mode for about 25 miles; series hybrid mode, in which the engine runs as a generator for the battery and is more efficient for city driving; or a parallel hybrid mode, in which the engine and electric motors run simultaneously and is more efficient for driving at higher speeds.
Arrives in showrooms: Fall 2016
Price: $40,000 (estimated)

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible

If uniqueness is important, then you should look no further than the 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible, which is the world’s only off-road-capable, soft-top compact luxury SUV. We were skeptical about this latest Land Rover model’s legitimacy, because it seems to emphasize fashion ahead of function. However, after a test-drive, we believe that the Range Rover Evoque Convertible makes the grade in off-road capability. The cabin has seating for four, but the folding top cuts into luggage room, so you should pack lightly. The performance is modest from the vehicle’s 2.0-liter, 240-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but that’s because it has to cope with the weight that went into strengthening the body structure. The Range Rover Evoque Convertible accelerates from zero to 60 mph in just under 8 seconds. In terms of a fashion statement, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible is unmatched—now that the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet has gone by the wayside.
Arrives in showrooms: Late summer 2016
Price: $50,475

Subaru Impreza

The 2017 Subaru Impreza is lighter, longer and lower than any previous Impreza, but it still looks quite similar to the outgoing Impreza—conservative. What’s better news is that the new chassis is 70 percent more rigid than is the previous version, which we expect will improve the car’s handling and ride comfort. We found that to be a bit difficult on previous models. Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system is standard on all models. The powertrain is the familiar 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but it delivers 4 hp (152 hp overall) more than does the old Impreza. A CVT is the only transmission option, but the Impreza at least has a paddle-operated, seven-speed pseudo-manual mode that adds some fun to the driving experience. Despite the Impreza’s modest price, the car provides a decent suite of safety systems, including adaptive cruise control and forward-collision- and lane-departure-warning systems.
Arrives in showrooms: Fall 2016
Price: $20,000 (estimated)

Tesla Model 3

Tesla fans went wild about the company’s announcement that deliveries of the Model 3 (Tesla doesn’t use model-year designations) would begin in late 2017, but Tesla delivery dates are notoriously fluid. Furthermore, based on the Model S experience, we believe that the Model 3’s price likely will be at least 10 percent higher than the announced price of $35,000 when it finally goes on sale. The Model 3’s basic specifications are promising: a 215-mile range and a zero-to-60-mph time of just under 6 seconds. Although the base Model 3 will have one electric motor, a more-expensive dual-motor all-wheel-drive version will be offered within a year of release, Tesla says. The five-seat interior that has been shown has only a 15-inch center display screen for navigation and entertainment options. However, a heads-up windshield display and a multifunction steering wheel that controls driving settings are in the pipeline.
Arrives in showrooms: Late 2017
Price: $35,000 (estimated)

Toyota C-HR

Toyota hopes that its funky-looking 2018 C-HR subcompact SUV will change its fuddy-duddy image and compete against the likes of Chevrolet’s Trax and Honda’s HR-V. We believe that the C-HR’s unusual design will resonate with a youthful audience in the same way that Kia’s Soul and Nissan’s Juke have. Despite its coupe-like profile, the C-HR has five doors and a versatile hatchback design. Toyota hasn’t confirmed the powertrains for the U.S. version and whether the 1.8-liter, four-cylinder hybrid model that’s available in Europe might be offered here. That model isn’t fun to drive, but we expect to see a model that has a more-engaging 1.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. We also expect a version that has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a CVT.
Arrives in showrooms: Spring 2017
Price: $25,000 (estimated)

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen doesn’t have a competitive compact SUV in the United States, and it won’t until the 2018 Tiguan arrives in summer 2017. Will the wait be worth it? The 2018 Tiguan has a longer wheelbase (about 4.2 inches longer) than do previous models and its first optional small third-row seating for kids. The big news is that the Tiguan has the fifth generation of Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, which includes Land Rover-derived driving modes to provide traction on varied surfaces. The powerplants are a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine. Overall, the next-generation Tiguan includes a bit more headroom and second-row legroom than its predecessor has. It also includes the latest safety and smart-entertainment options, such as a wide, easy-to-use Audi-like digital-cockpit display that’s in front of the steering wheel.
Arrives in showrooms: Late 2017
Price: $27,000 (estimated)

Volvo S90 Sedan

The impressive S60 and XC90 rescued the Chinese-owned automaker from the graveyard, and we believe that the 2017 S90 Sedan will reinforce Volvo’s comeback strategy. As Volvo’s flagship model, the S90 Sedan will be well-matched against key rivals from Audi and BMW in terms of horsepower. The T6 (base) version has a 2.0-liter, 316-hp supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The T8 hybrid model has the same engine and an electric motor that will provide a battery-only range of about 25 miles, Volvo says. All-wheel drive will be optional. Inside, the S90 has a 9.3-inch screen that controls many functions, while the rest of the interior has a minimalist Swedish vibe.  
Arrives in showrooms: Summer 2016
Price: $55,000 (estimated)

John McCormick has covered the automotive industry since 1982. He has written for Automotive Industries, Bloomberg Markets magazine, The Detroit News and Top Gear, among other publications in the United States and Europe.

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