We gaze into our automotive crystal ball and see…

Ready or not, here it comes – 2017 is very nearly upon us, and as we denizens of this green and blue marble called Earth hurtle around the Sun for yet another revolution, it’s impossible not to think about what might lay ahead. Will I be happy? Will I be successful? Well, we don’t know about all that, but we do know there’s likely to be some very interesting developments in the car world next year. Not only are several major debuts slated to drop cover, but car tech is expected to continue its furious pace of development into new and uncharted territory. Then of course there’s the four-wheeled entertainment side of things, from racing drama to YouTube bombshells.

Thing is, predicting the future can be more an art than a science, so take the following forecasts with a pinch of salt. Some of these feel like a lock, others less so, but only time will tell what’ll happen for sure.

So with that, let’s make like Nostradamus and throw together a prophecy or two.

Continue reading to learn more about what to expect from the car world in 2017.

New Car Debuts – Sports And Performance Cars

Honda Civic Type R

2017 - 2020 Honda Civic Type R
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For Stateside tuners, the Honda Civic Type R has always been one of those highly coveted, lust-worthy forbidden fruits. Representing the very finest in FWD performance, for years copycat builders have pasted on red H badges and added aftermarket power mods in hopes of replicating the experience. Now, however, all that won’t be necessary, as the Civic Type R is slated to arrive on these shores in the very near future. Look for more than 300 horsepower, hyper-aggressive aero, and all the other trappings of a high-strung canyon carver.

Read the full review here.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
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Although the seventh-gen Corvette has been out for a few years now, customers looking to get behind the wheel of the top-of-the-line ZR1 model have been left out in the cold. Traditionally the model to get for those insatiable power lovers out there, it’s looking like the Bowtie will finally bring the new ZR1 out from hiding. Upgrades should include bigger, badder aero, plus a few tweaks to the cabin, but the big news is what’s lurking under the hood. We’re thinking about 700 horsepower from a twin-turbo V-8, which should be enough juice to propel this land shark to 60 mph in a mere 2.8 seconds.

Read the full review here.

BMW M5 xDrive

2018 BMW M5 Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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TopSpeed artist rendering from 2 years ago...not bad!

While Bimmer has yet to spill the beans, spy shots and leaks have revealed the Germans are busy behind the scenes with a new AWD version of its flagship performance sedan. Of course, RWD will come as standard, but for folks who want (or need) the extra grip of power to the front tires, a high-performance AWD system looks like it’ll be on the list of options. Styling will follow the normal M cues, as applied to the updated 5 Series, while a sportier interior will keep passengers comfortable, yet engaged in the action when necessary. Pricing is expected to crest six figures.

Read the full review here.

Mercedes-AMG S63

2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 Exterior Spyshots
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The S63 is due for a light facelift next year, and as such, Mercedes was recently caught testing the upgraded model out in public. Judging by our spy shots, it looks as though the exterior won’t change a whole lot, with just a few nips and tucks to the fascia and bumbers at both ends. Meanwhile, the interior will be outfitted with the latest safety and convenience tech, plus the usual gloss and high-end materials. However, we expect the outgoing 5.5-liter V-8 engine to get tossed in favor of a new twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, plus more peak power and standard AWD.

Read the full review here.


2018 BMW M4 Exterior Spyshots
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With four years of production now under its belt, the current M4 two-door sports coupe is ready for a refresh. As you might expect, nothing major is on the docket, but we are assuming small changes to the bumper design and lighting elements for the exterior. Inside, it’s more of the same, save for the addition of new trim and upholstery here and there. The engine should also carryover, with 425 horsepower pumped out from a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder.

Read the full review here.

Ford Mustang

2018 Ford Mustang Exterior Spyshots
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Ford ushered in a major overhaul for it’s iconic muscle car for the 2015 model year, adding a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine option, as well as a new independent rear suspension. While the moves certainly offered a fresh new take on the legendary pony car, it’s time for a mid-cycle update. Included will be new LED headlights, plus a restyled fascia. The cabin will get updated infotainment features, while the normal engine lineup should carryover as is, possibly with a few extra horses added along the way. However, the most interesting upgrade is an expected 10-speed automatic transmission.

Read the full review here.

Lexus LC F

2020 Lexus LC F Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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If you like high-end Japanese exotics, then Lexus may very well have something new in 2017 just for you. It’s called the LC F, and it’s basically a pumped-up version of the highly desirable LC 500 Coupe. While no official word has been given as to whether or not this thing is indeed coming down the pipe, we’re thinking it’s a good idea, especially with some crisp exterior styling, high-tech interior, and a thumping-good 5.0-liter V-8 powerplant. We’re also thinking output levels will hover around 600 horsepower at the rear wheels. Yes please.

Read the full review here.

Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

2018 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
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Chevy just ushered in the sixth-generation Camaro this year, bringing with it a variety of models of varying performance levels. Now, it’s expected the Bow Tie will bring back the classic Z/28 nameplate, with a possible reveal sometime next year. If that does indeed turn out to be the case, expect a host of track-ready upgrades, such as new downforce makers in front and back, Recaro racing buckets, and possibly the same all-atmosphere LT1 V-8 from the Corvette Grand Sport. Did someone say Nurburgring lap time?

Read the full review here.

Subaru WRX STI

2018 Subaru WRX STI Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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The WRX STI is still hugely, ridiculously popular these days, but the competition isn’t slowing down. Viable alternatives like the Ford Focus RS are popping up all the time to challenge the Six Star’s poster child, and that means it’s in serious need of a next-gen model. Luckily, Subaru just introduced the fifth-generation Impreza earlier this year, and as such a next-gen STI could be in the works. Look for styling cues to come from the Impreza 5-Door Concept and Impreza Sedan Concept, plus increased exterior dimensions. New infotainment stuff will be inside. But the big question mark will be what’s lurking under the hood scoop. Some folks are predicting a hybrid, but it remains to be seen if Subaru has what it takes to step into the realm of performance electrification.

Read the full review here.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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When the sheets were first pulled on the 911 GT2 RS back in 2011, you could practically see the waves that were created. Framed as a more hardcore and ludicrously fast variant of Stuttgart’s most famous sports car, the GT2 RS is slated to make its triumphant return for the 2018 model year. Based on the refreshed 991.2 generation, the new track bruiser will get upgraded aero similar to the 911 Turbo, a factory-installed roll cage for the interior, and close to 700 horsepower from a rear-mounted twin-turbo 3.8-liter flat-six engine.

Read the full review here.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

2016 Jeep SRT Hellcat Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Some folks are enamored with the idea of a large-and-in-charge SUV stuffed to the gills with output, and nowadays, we’ve reached a point where horsepower is so cheap and so accessible, ideas like that, once considered ludicrous, are now actually within reach. Enter the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, a high-performance SUV packing the same supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 as the Charger Hellcat and Challenger Hellcat. While the off-road chops of such a vehicle are questionable at best, this thing should still offer plenty of silliness at the drag strip. Sweet Jeep, bruh!

Read the full review here.

New Car Debuts – Luxury Cars

Audi S8

2018 Audi S8 Exterior Spyshots
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The S8 has been around since the ‘90s, seeing its most recent generational changeover in 2012. That means its time for a new one, and odds are that’s exactly what Audi is bringing for the 2018 model year. Test mules were spotted out on the road this past September, sporting what appears to be a revised front fascia, a new grille, and updated LED lighting. The interior will most likely pull from the new A5 and S5, while behind the Four Ring badge will be a 2.9-liter powerplant producing around 480 horsepower, while higher in the range will be options for up to 600 horsepower.

Read the full review here.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
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When it comes to big, bold, powerful luxury vehicles, the S-Class is one of the best. And rightfully so, considering this flagship usually carries the best that Mercedes can muster as far as technology and amenities go. But rival products from BMW and Cadillac are nipping at the S-Class’ heels, so 2017 will likely bring an updated model. Tweaks include mild changes to aesthetics, both for the exterior and interior, while autonomous features like adaptive cruise control will add some futuristic glitz. Powertrain options won’t change a whole lot, but should get small increases to power and fuel economy.

Read the full review here.

New Car Debuts – Compact Cars

Toyota Camry

2018 Toyota Camry Exterior Spyshots
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If you’re looking for a dependable, efficient, affordable mid-size sedan, the Toyota Camry should definitely be near the top of your list. Toyota is prepping a new generation for its ridiculously popular four-door, and the changes planned look pretty extensive. Underneath the exterior’s fresh styling will be a new platform and a lighter curb weight, while the updated interior space will get plugged in with new infotainment, not to mention more space for passengers in back. Under the hood is expected more efficiency thanks to a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, plus a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter for the entry-level model.

Read the full review here.

New Car Debuts – Trucks And SUVs

Ford Expedition

2018 Ford Expedition Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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With the recent overhaul of the infinitely popular F-150, the Blue Oval is following up with revisions to its full-size SUV, the Expedition. Outside, we think there’ll be styling that more closely resembles that of Ford’s truck lineup, plus more premium features like LED lighting. The interior should also get a similar appointment as the F-150, plus the traditional three-row seating for up to eight passengers. Engine options should include the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost as the 2017 F-150, plus a new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Read the full review here.

Jeep Wrangler Pickup

2020 Jeep Gladiator Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Jeep has been doing its own thing for a while now, churning out more or less the same vehicle decade after decade. But considering the popularity of pickups, it’s surprising Jeep hasn’t done one yet. And hey, now is a good a time as any – if Jaguar and Bentley are out there making SUVs, Jeep can certainly make a pickup. Confirmed earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, we think we’ll get a glimpse at the new Wrangler pickup sometime this year, most likely bearing all the same equipment as the regular model, but with the addition of more utility in the rear.

Read the full review here.

Volkswagen Touareg

2018 Volkswagen Touareg Exterior Spyshots
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Expected to reach its third generation for the 2018 model year, the Volkswagen Touareg is slated to get a significant overhaul. Underpinnings will include Volkswagen’s latest MLB platform, which should lighten the SUV’s curb weight, while at the same time up the interior space. Outside, the dimensions should remain more or less the same, while the cabin will gain a large touchscreen front and center. Powerplant options will include both gas and diesel variants, but it’s not likely VW will be bringing an oil burner stateside. You know, for obvious reasons.

Read the full review here.

Mercedes-Maybach GLS

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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The Maybach brand is back, and so far, it’s doing quite well for itself. Current models bearing the Maybach badge include the S600 sedan, and more recently, the S650 cabriolet, both models that seem to drip with prestige, luxury, and amenities. But it’s looking like Mercedes isn’t going to limit the success of the double M badge to just a handful of body styles – no doubt, an SUV is in the works as well. We’re guessing the next model to get the Maybach treatment will be Merc’s full-size GLS. Look for larger exterior dimensions, extra trim, an ultra-spacious interior, and a 4.7-liter V-8 powerplant. Cross your fingers a V-12 is also in the cards.

Read the full review here.


Sorting Out The Problems (And Solutions) Of Autonomous

Obviously, autonomous automobiles will continue to ramp up their presence, both in the news and out on the street. The race to our inevitable robocar future is on, and all the major automakers (and several minor makes as well) are in the hunt. Who will come out on top remains to be seen, but in the interim, you can be sure we’ll be hearing about all the biggest breakthroughs, not to mention a host of bold statements issued as a means to claim the position of “leader” in autonomous technology (Tesla, for example, says it’s gonna take a car from Los Angeles to New York without any human driver input).

But as you might imagine, other companies will join the fray as well. Ride hailing services like Uber are already getting in on the autonomous race, while tech companies like Google and Apple are furiously working on the software to make the tech tick. There’s even the possibility these Silicon Valley behemoths are dabbling in car design and production.

More concretely, expect lots and lots of testing, including behind closed doors, PR stunts at major auto shows, and out in public with real world data gathering.

On the consumer side of things, it’s unlikely we’ll see any major developments roll out for broad use. A fully autonomous car ready for mass consumption is still quite a ways off, and you could consider the next few years as a weird grey area or transitional period. However, there will still be lots of tech trickling down to less expensive models.

There should also be plenty of primers along the way, not to mention a good deal of controversy while we’re at it. Over the summer, Tesla got into some hot water over a fatal accident in Florida wherein a Tesla Model S running in Autopilot mode collided with a semi truck.

Meanwhile, regulators will continue to struggle to keep pace with technology development, leading some companies to take matters into their own hands.

But some of the biggest issues I see around autonomous for 2017 are the moral and legal ramifications associated with the introduction of self-driving cars, both of which are huge issues that seem to have fallen by the wayside.

More (And Better) Connected Technology

While major developments in self-driving are still a ways off, connected car technology will most likely see a big boost in the next year. Beyond the obvious app support, web searches, and remote operation (remote start, remote climate control, etc.) already in place, vehicle-to-x technology has a whole lot more to offer consumers. For example, V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) tech could help improve traffic flow and make for safer streets, something that Audi is already exploring. V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) tech is another technology with similar potential, with interconnected cars communicating amongst themselves for less congestion and more safety (for example, a car could warn others behind it about an accident or poor driving conditions ahead). And as electric vehicles gain momentum, V2G (vehicle-to-grid) tech will help support recharge times and the pressures of extra electricity draw.

More EVs and Hybrids

It seems like everyone these days is jumping on the ‘ole electric bandwagon, and even if gas prices stay low and emissions standards are relaxed a bit, automakers will most likely continue to add hybrids and EVs to their lineups, especially when it comes to international markets. Whether or not consumers will actually buy these vehicles remains to be seen, but as far I see it, there’s really no going back at this point.

More Hydrogen

Along with the proliferation of hybrids and EVs will be renewed interest in hydrogen power, most likely with new models riding the coat tails of trailblazers like the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity. Along with production vehicles and concepts should come extra investment into hydrogen infrastructure, a major sticking point in more widespread adoption, as well as endorsements in global racing series. We’re thinking a hydrogen entry in the Le Mans Garage 56 class should fit the bill.

3D Printing

While the full potential of 3D printing is still a ways off, the tech should see a decent bump as we move into 2017. Small makes like Local Motors will continue to champion additive manufacturing as the way forward, and as consumers get clued into the possibilities of making your own car parts at home, larger makes will feel the pressure to adapt.

The Sharing Economy

Cars are very, very, very expensive. Consumers these days are taking riskier and riskier loans to get behind the wheel of a new ride, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The next year could provide some insight into future ownership models that provide a cheaper, but equally convenient alternative. And as autonomous technology takes root, these new models will become increasingly more important and flexible.

Are You Not Entertained?

Gymkhana Ten

You gotta love the Gymkhana series. Sure, it’s a shameless plug to get you to buy clothing, energy drinks, and a new Ford, but who cares? Watch one, and you’ll be so busy picking your jaw up off the ground, it’ll hardly even matter. Of course, it’s no easy task to one up yourself year after year with increasingly outrageous four-wheeled stunts, but somehow, Ken Block and the Hoonigan crew find a way.

The latest concept, scheduled to drop in 2017, pits Mr. Slideypants against America’s Mountain, a.k.a. Pikes Peak, in a drift-heavy smoke fest that’s sure to entertain.

Sounds like a helluva challenge. Luckily, Block will have the upgraded Hoonicorn V2 at his disposal, with 1,400 turbocharged horsepower at all four corners to get the job done.

EVs At Pikes Peak

Speaking of Pikes Peak, the Colorado mountaintop has become ground zero for the battle of internal combustion against electric power. Back in 2015, Rhys Millen wheeled the Drive eO to outright victory, becoming the first all-electric pilot to take the win in the highly competitive annual hill climb event. This year, Millen very nearly repeated the feat, but fell short to the indomitable Romain Dumas in a gas-fed Norma M20 RD Limited.

But the EVs put on a strong showing nontheless, with multiple entries in other categories laying down hugely impressive times. Look for the battle to flare up once again this June.

Ford At The 24 Hours Of Le Mans

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of its victory over Ferrari, Ford returned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year with a new GT racer and something to prove. Incredibly, the Blue Oval managed to once again trump the Prancing Horse, taking the podium with a first- and third-place finish, plus a fourth- and ninth-place finish further back in the field.

Which begs the question – what will happen in 2017?


Whew! We definitely covered a lot there. But there’s a strong possibility we missed something… so what are your predictions for 2017? Do you agree with our take, or did we miss the mark? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Jonathan Lopez
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