8 Reasons It’s Great to Be a Car Enthusiast in 2018
There was plenty to tell about the future of performance in U.S. vehicles by seeing what was on show at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at the Cobo Center in Detroit. The drool-worthy carbon fiber-bodied 2018 NSX, the modernized Ford Mustang BULLITT and the ever-impressive Dodge Demon all make us giddy with gearhead excitement for what's in store—not to mention the trucks. The much-anticipated 2019 Ford Ranger, the 2018 RAM 1500 and the amenity-packed Chevrolet Silverado Z71 Trailboss have some appealing tricks up their sleeves. Fiat Chrysler gave some of the best news, following up on the Jeep JL launch earlier this fall, including promising plans to release an all-new Jeep pickup and thoughts of reviving the Wagoneer line. All of those vehicles and more can be seen in Driving Line's main gallery.
Several new arrivals particularly caught our eye, we've compiled these eight... that we think are hints that 2018 will be a great year. Yes, please!
1. Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
Toyota continues to set the bar high with the 4Runner TRD Pro. It offers the toughness and versatility that overland enthusiasts need to rule the terrain. The rugged, purpose-built exterior is complete with a 1/4-inch-thick TRD-stamped aluminum skid plate, which is set off by the bold front grille and black bezel headlights. Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrain tires surround the matte-black 17-inch TRD alloy wheels for maximum everyday performance both off-road and on pavement. Bilstein shocks put a long-lasting damper on abuse. For unbeatable traction control, the TRD Pro offers full-time 4WD with A-TRAC and an electronic locking Torsen limited-slip differential. The only thing missing is the overland survival equipment. We recently took the 4 Runner TRD Pro to Baja, read about it here.
2. Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon
Fiat Chrysler showed up with the refined Jeep Wrangler JL Rubicon—which preserves the honor of being a successor to the legendary CJs, but with improvements accomplished by using the latest technology. The new-gen JL has a better turning radius and a stronger crawl ratio than the previous generation. The turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine is more efficient and has about the same output as the V6, but with advanced torque delivery, which is an important capability for off-road enthusiasts who strive to overcome the next challenging obstacle. An eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission transfers power to the wheels.
Interior upgrades include a handy wheel angle indicator in the instrument cluster, more modern upholstery and added technology for vehicle monitoring and safety. The company also proclaimed that the public has an upcoming diesel engine and hybrid-electric powertrain options to look forward to.
3. 2018 Ford Expedition XLT Baja-Forged Adventurer
Expedition and overlanding was a trending theme at this year’s NAIAS. Ford’s contribution was the brawny, trail-grappling version of the full-size Expedition built by LGE-CTS Motorsports. The roof rack, being equipped with an ARB USA Simpson III tent, annex and complimentary KC LED HiLites, immediately caught our eyes and sent us into a woodland camping daydream.
The one-off XLT Baja-Forged Adventurer was built to be an off-road experience vehicle that an entire family can enjoy. The custom leather interior comfortably seats seven passengers. A Console Vault safe locks up your personal items, and an ARB fridge and freezer combo chills food and beverages.
The Adventurer’s superior handling starts with its ICON Vehicle Dynamics suspension system, Hellwig stabilizers and 2-inch coil-over shocks. A Sparta Evolution big brake system was installed to handle steep hill descents. LGE-CTS Motorsports Baja Forged bumpers and custom fender flares offer protection and add to its rugged good looks. The 35-inch Mud-Terrains grip Method Racing wheels complete the package.
4. BMW i8 Electric Roadster
The BMW i8 promises sports car performance with the efficiency of a compact car. This year was the long-awaited first release of the roadster, which features an electric roof that opens and closes silently in seconds at the touch of a button, even when traveling up to 30 mph.
The biggest upgrade to the powertrain is the new 11.6-kWh battery pack, which powers a 105 kW electric motor to engage the front wheels. BMW states this change also increases the electric range to 33 miles, more than doubling it's original 15-mile range. The electric motor’s output also rose from 129 to 141hp. In the rear, a turbocharged BMW TwinPower three-cylinder petrol engine powers the rear wheels, in turn completing the AWD system and offering a combined 369hp. The new BMW i8 Roadster accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. That’s 0.2 seconds slower than the i8 Coupe, which races from 0 to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds. A small sacrifice for style.
5. 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
Take it all in: The sharp, expertly angled edges of the Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE give this design a modern muscular physique. Its determined grin is large enough to swallow in more air (and kill more bugs) than the standard ZL1. Mounted to the rear is GM’s first genuine carbon fiber wing, which was perfected in a Formula 1 wind tunnel. The splitter and dive planes compliment the look with an aerodynamic purpose.
The 1LE went on a strict diet and dropped 60 lbs from the standard ZL1 curb weight, but Chevrolet didn’t sacrifice power. Instead, the manufacturer selected a supercharged 650hp 6.2L V-8 that pounds out 650 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match and a racing-derived adjustable suspension supports the power and enhances handling. Yes, we took a moment to sit in the driver’s seat and make menacing engine sounds.
6. Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Mercedes is crawling deeper into the off-road world with the refined G-Class model, a utility luxury SUV that combines a vintage look with trail-dominating technologies. It’s rugged enough to conquer hardcore trails yet luxurious enough for the Pebble Beach Concours d‘Elegance.
The "G-Wagen" may see more parking lots and valet drivers than river crossings and rockscapes, but it's designed to do everything you wouldn’t expect a Mercedes to do. For one, ground clearance was increased by 9.5 inches to better navigate rocky trails. Three sequentially lockable differentials (center, rear and front) balance the torque and traction via three easy-to-use buttons on the dash. LED headlights help illuminate the path ahead, and advanced driver-assist systems make the most inexperienced novice look like a pro. The combined state-of-the-art technologies incorporated into this Benz are so refined that Mercedes just might pave the way to self-driving off-road vehicles.
7. 2018 Cadillac CTS-V Glacier Metallic Edition
Cadillac created the CTS-V Glacier Edition in celebration of its 115-year history. These majestic super sedans are limited to 115, which were produced in 2017 for the 2018 model year. The paint took on a matte pearl white appearance under the Detroit Cobo Center’s spotlights, but Cadillac described the color as “smoky light gray.” Blazing red Brembo brake calipers peeking out from under four 19-inch polish-finished alloy wheels compliment the anniversary color.
The Cadillac CTS-V super sedan is powered by a supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine that was SAE certified at 640hp and 630 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic sport transmission transfers the power to the rear wheels. Cadillac’s highly advanced Traction Management system was perfected through two years of engineering with Cadillac Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. It adds five track-driving modes and launch control to ensure the most powerful Cadillac ever sold always plants its power with grace. Forget what we would do for a Klondike Bar. We want to sit in the black Recaro sport seat and take this CTS-V for a whip around some curvy roads.
8. Honda Civic Type-R
Competing in a vast crowd of hot hatches doesn’t pose a challenge for Honda, but the manufacturer’s rivals must race to keep up with the masterminds behind the sinister NSX. The Type R is an intoxicating mix of power and performance. A turbo 2.0L inline-four pushes 306hp to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. Honda incorporated its Dual Axis suspension system to eliminate all possible torque steer normally associated with high-powered front-drive vehicles.
What Honda lacks in the satisfying deep rumbling exhaust notes that only come from V8 muscle cars, the Type-R makes up for with its favorable economical gas mileage-to-performance ratio, not to mention the thrilling turbo whoosh followed by darting up to its 7000 rpm redline with gusto. It’s a phenomenal factory track car that also performs well as a comfortable street car for daily driving.