2019 Honda Insight
Introduced in late 1999, the Honda Insight was the first production car to feature the company’s then-new Integrated Motor Assist system. It was also the first hybrid launched in North America, arriving in showrooms seven months before the Toyota Prius. Production ended in 2006, after only 17,020 units built, with plans to roll out a replacement in 2009. The second-gen model arrived on time, but this time as a five-door hatchback. The Insight was discontinued for the second time in 2014, mostly due to slow sales. Come 2018, and Honda revived the nameplate with a modern design and a new drivetrain. A pre-production prototype was unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, while the production model was launched at the New York Auto Show.
"The Honda Insight is anticipated to receive fuel economy ratings competitive with the best hybrids in the segment, with styling that will have universal appeal inside and out and best-in-class passenger volume," said Henio Arcangeli Jr., senior vice resident of American Honda. The redesigned Insight will join four other electrified Hondas, including the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, Electric, and Fuel Cell, and the Fit EV. Slotted between the Civic and the Accord, the new Insight is now described as a premium sedan, mostly because it has a more elegant exterior design and more modern appointments and convenience features inside the cabin. Let’s see what it has to offer and how it stands against the competition in the review below.
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2019 Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic
Merc has been making the CLS-Class since the early 2000’s, dropping the first-gen with a debut at the 2004 New York International Auto Show. Framed as a sleek sedan packing top-shelf luxury, a sporty exterior, and no shortage of power under the hood, Merc quickly ushered in the go-faster AMG iteration at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. The second-generation CLS arrived in 2011, with a hot-to-trot AMG 63 hot on its heels. Now, there’s a third-gen model on the table, with the latest CLS dropping at the 2017 Los Angeles Show. As is tradition, Mercedes brought along a new AMG iteration as well, introducing the new 53-Series model alongside two other high-powered luxury rides from the boffins at AMG, including the 53-Series AMG E-Class Coupe and the E-Class Cabriolet, all of which arrived in style at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. All told, the latest AMG CLS 53 4Matic comes packing with superlative Mercedes-Benz styling, the latest technology in the cabin, a high-performance attitude, and all the requisite power to back it.
The new four-door coupe also comes a supplementary electric system that adds a good deal of low-end torque on demand, a feature that makes the heavy-hitting luxury cruiser even more frisky when you dig into the skinny pedal. “With the new 53-series models we are extending our portfolio in a first step towards a hybridised future with a leading-edge combination of sporty design, performance and efficiency,” says Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management at Mercedes-AMG GmbH. Sounds good. But how good is it, really? Read on for all the details.
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2019 Mercedes-AMG E53 Cabriolet
Introduced in 2016, the latest-generation E-Class gained coupe and convertible versions in 2017. The latter arrived in the U.S. for the 2018 model year, but just one trim is offered over here, the range-topping E400. Unlike its sedan sibling, the Cabriolet model has yet to receive the AMG E63 treatment, but Mercedes used the model to launch a new vehicle lineup under the "AMG" badge. It’s called the E53 Cabriolet and was introduced at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show alongside the E53 Coupe and the CLS53.
Slotted under the bonkers AMG E63, the E53 is essentially a milder version of the brand’s hardcore model. It has a rather subdued exterior appearance that’s not as aggressive, but the interior gets plenty of exclusive details and extra features. The drivetrain is different too, as the 4.0-liter V-8 was replaced by a 3.0-liter inline-six unit. But the big news is that the E53 is the first hybrid AMG nameplate, sporting the company’s new EQ Boost system. Let’s find out more about that in the review below.
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2018 Nissan Xmotion Concept
Nissan didn’t have as big of a presence as other automakers at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. But that doesn’t matter. What it lacked in volume, Nissan made up for with the debut of the Xmotion, a concept SUV that’s meant to showcase what a future Nissan SUV could look like. The Xmotion generated a lot of reaction, though not all of them were of the positive nature.
2019 Mercedes-AMG E53 Coupe
Introduced for the 2018 model year, the latest E-Class Coupe is currently the most advanced midsize two-door on the premium market. Its mission is significantly easier now that BMW is discontinuing the 6 Series, but Mercedes still deserves credit for the E-Class’ tremendous technology package, the luxurious interior, and the sporty looks. An AMG E63 variant is the only thing that the E-Class Coupe needed to be perfect, and it was expected to arrive sometime in 2018. But in a surprising turn of events, Mercedes-Benz launched a different AMG model. It’s called the E53 and uses a six-cylinder engine instead of the more traditional V-8.
Launched alongside similar versions of the E-Class Cabriolet and CLS, the AMG E53 Coupe bridges the gap between the range-topping non-AMG model and the AMG E63, the latter available in sedan form only as of January 2018. Specifically, it’s not as aggressive as the E63, but it comes with an array of extra standard features inside and out, as well as a slightly more aggressive exterior. The engine is also unique to this model and features a mild hybrid system, a first for an AMG. It’s not yet clear whether a full-blown AMG E63 version will follow, but until that happens, the E53 is the most powerful variant of the E-Class Coupe you can buy.
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2018 Lexus LF-1 Limitless
Back in 2014, Toyota got us excited with the FT-1 concept, an aggressive-looking sports car that many believed it previewed the next-generation Supra. The spy shots suggest that the production model won’t get that many styling cues from the radical concept, but the FT-1 remains the company’s greatest flagship car to date. Four years have passed, and Lexus is using a similar nameplate, now revised to LF-1, to showcase its own future flagship vehicle. But unlike its parent company, Lexus wants its range-topping luxury model to be a crossover. Meet the LF-1 Limitless, Lexus’ idea for a new genre of luxury vehicle: the flagship crossover.
Unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, the LF-1 Limitless preview a brand-new niche in the premium market. Or at least that’s what Lexus claims. Just like it established the luxury crossover segment with the RX 300 some two decades ago, the Japanese firm thinks it could invent a new class with the LF-1, the flagship crossover. Yes, it sounds a bit confusing, mainly because "flagship" is usually associated with the largest vehicle in a lineup, so the LF-1 would make more sense as a model placed above the LX, but hey, it’s the 21st century and rules have changed. Actually, the current automotive market no longer works by the book, so it’s not as awkward as it seems at first glance.
But it’s all PR talk so far, as Lexus hasn’t confirmed actual production plans for the LF-1. But this crossover looks gorgeous, and it’s packed with the company’s latest technology. Let’s have a closer look below.
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2019 Kia Forte
Introduced in 2008 as a brand-new nameplate, the Forte has already made a name for itself in the affordable compact car market. And while it might not be as popular as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, the Forte was Kia’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. in recent years and one of only 15 cars to earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2018. Not bad for an automobile that had nothing to brag about a decade ago. Almost six years old as of early 2018, the second-generation Forte is living its final months on the market, with a redesigned model introduced for the 2019 model year at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.
Redesigned from the ground up, the third-generation Forte follows in the footsteps of larger Kia models. Not only sportier on the outside, the new Forte comes with an upscale interior that moves it closer to the premium market. In addition to that, it’s the first Kia to borrow styling cues from the hot Stinger sedan. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been expecting Kia to add some "Sting" to its lineup ever since the four-door debuted in 2017. The new Forte arrives just in time for the redesigned Volkswagen Jetta, yet another affordable compact that wants to play in the premium league. But the Forte has other things to worry about too, like the popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. How does it stack against them? Let’s find out in the review below.
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2019 Hyundai Veloster
First introduced in 2011 at the Detroit Auto Show, the Hyundai Veloster initially hit the scene as a replacement for the Hyundai Tiburon, the FWD 2+2 coupe built between 1996 and 2008. By contrast, the Veloster changed it up with a funky hatchback profile and 2+1 door layout (one on the driver’s side, two on the passenger’s side). In a segment filled to the brim with hard-hitting, well-established competition, the Veloster is a bit of an upstart, shaking things up with a unique attitude that still manages to make fun-behind-the-wheel a top priority. Throughout its life cycle, we’ve seen a wide variety of custom takes on the Veloster, but now, Hyundai is offering up a whole new second generation. Once again making its debuts at the Detroit Auto Show, the latest 2019 model year brings with it a variety of models and trim levels, including the base model, and the mid-grade Turbo and R-Spec models. There’s even a go-faster N version if that happens to be more your speed (check out our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N). Just as it was before, the new Veloster once again aims at catching the eye of enthusiasts, with a focus on making the whole package more engaging, both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of the driving experience. The latest model year also comes with a good bit upgraded infotainment stuff as well.
But will the Veloster’s sophomore effort be enough to topple equally enticing offerings from the likes of Mazda, Honda, or Ford? Read on for the details.
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2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
For the first time since its introduction 40 years ago, Mercedes has given the G-Class a complete makeover. But unlike other “makeovers” that plaster a new body onto an existing chassis, Mercedes went in the opposite direction.
The all-new 2019 G-Class retains its iconic looks while receiving a new, longer frame; independent front suspension; and an interior befitting the Mercedes S-Class sedan. And yet despite its modernization, the G stays true to its off-road roots. It comes with a full-time 4WD system, three locking differentials, skid plates, and proper ground clearance. Among the updates is a new G-Mode that further improves the SUV’s go-anywhere capability with electronic aids.
But let’s be honest – 99 percent of G-Class owners will never trek over anything more challenging than wet grass or a snowy road. That’s why Mercedes injected high levels of luxury into the new model. The wheelbase is two inches longer and 4.7 inches wider for a more planted on-road feel and more interior room. The G will undoubtedly be a smash hit around the world, even with its starting price of €107,040 in Germany – roughly $130,900 U.S. dollars.
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2019 Hyundai Veloster N
Introduced in 2011, the Hyundai Veloster replaced the Tiburon (known as the Coupe in other markets) in the United States. Essentially a hybrid between a hatchback and a coupe, the Veloster is available in a three-door configuration only and uses small-displacement four-cylinder engines exclusively. Offered in base and Turbo trim, the Veloster gained an N version with its second-generation redesign. The higher-performance variant crafted by the still-new N division will be the first beefed-up Hyundai to cross the pond to the U.S.
Previewed by a series of concept cars with mid-engined configurations, the high-performance Veloster debuted alongside the standard hatchback at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. Both boast sportier styling, new technology, and improved engines, but the N model also sports a number of aggressive aerodynamic updates, exclusive features inside the cabin, and turbocharged engine powerful enough to give the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST a run for their money.
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2019 Toyota Avalon
First introduced in 1994, the Toyota Avalon is the Japanese brand’s full-size sedan offering, seeing sales in North America, Puerto Rico, and the Middle East. Since its debut at the Chicago Auto Show back in the ’90s, a total of four generations have come and gone, and now, there’s a brand-new fifth-gen heading for the dealer lots. First making the scene at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, the 2019 Avalon is framed as “attainable premium,” or “mid-premium,” and Toyota hopes it’ll entice customers with an upscale, comfortable four-door package that won’t break the bank. Truth be told, the sedan bodystyle (especially full-size sedans) can be a hard sell these days, as consumers usually fulfill their seating-for-five requirements with some kind of high-riding SUV or crossover. Despite this, Toyota is confident the 2019 Avalon will be an exception to the rule thanks to its extensive list of upgrades, which include a variety of luxurious touches and technology enhancements that almost lend it a feeling of “Germaness” on the surface. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll find the Avalon stays true to its Japanese roots, with unique charactersitics throughout, as well as a hybrid option for those looking for extra dollars saved at the pump.
The new Avalon will go on sale later this spring, but until then, read on for the details.
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2019 Ford Ranger
Well, it’s back. The Ford Ranger mid-size pickup has returned to the U.S. and in glorious fashion. The pickup made its debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit right beside the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado. While it’s not the F-150, the 2019 Ranger will put Ford back in the mid-size pickup fight against the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier, and most importantly, the venerable Toyota Tacoma.
The addition of the Ranger positions Ford as having the widest-spread pickup lineup in the world. Entries include the new Ranger, the half-ton F-150, the heavy-duty Super Duty lineup, and the commercial medium-duty segment with the F-650 and F-750 cab chassis.
Of course, the Ranger will have its work cut out; the Toyota Tacoma has long been the leader in mid-size trucks and the General Motors twins aren’t too far behind. Let’s see how the 2019 Ranger stacks up.
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