Most Exciting New Cars of 2018 — And Beyond

© BMW USA, © Kia Motors America, © General Motors, © American Honda MotorsNew Cars of 2018
To a car person, not many things can eclipse the excitement of a new model year. For those less motorvated, a crop of new cars can still inspire thoughts of a new ride. And no automotive marketing exec would ever say it, but most folks understand it: The majority of new model year releases have either no changes or barely enough to justify terms such as “refresh” or “new” (as opposed to “all new”). Despite this, every year vehicles premiere that genuinely merit attention. Which ones? Some are industry sales leaders; some represent a new direction for a manufacturer, carrying the promise of future growth; and some are just plain cool. Here we reveal the new rides to look for as 2018 looms larger on the horizon.

© BMW USA2018 BMW M5
The 2018 BMW M5 is more than the 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque generated by its 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8. What makes the new M5 special is how it applies that power. The new M xDrive all-wheel-drive system (an M5 first, with a pure rear-wheel-drive mode available) works off a rear-wheel bias, sending power up front as needed. Peak torque is available at 1800 rpm, with the curve staying flat until 5700 rpm — at which point you’re into peak horsepower. Feel the joys of pulling from the line and all the midrange push you can handle sometime early in 2018.

© Kia Motors America2018 Kia Stinger
Kia’s Stinger concept had a grand debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show as a fiery orange/yellow 2+2 sports coupe, immediately generating dreams of affordable power and performance. The reveal of the production model being a GT-inspired sports sedan disappointed the 2-door set, but that news was tempered by word of the Stinger’s available 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 engine and rear-wheel drive (with all-wheel drive as an option). A competitive sports sedan at Kia pricing should draw some attention; we’ll find out soon enough if American drivers are ready to buy in.

© General Motors2018 Buick Regal
Has the world gone so topsy-turvy that we’re a little giddy for the arrival of a new Buick again? Apparently so. Beyond its sharp new exterior, the 2018 Regal is a bold attempt to revive the great American sedan. Above the standard Sportback trim will be a Regal GS with a naturally-aspirated 3.6-liter V6 engine and all-wheel drive. The 2018 Regal TourX hails the return of the American wagon; that alone is enough to get some of us excited to see it on the road.

© Ferrari North America2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast
The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta leaves large, fast shoes to fill, but Maranello seems to have developed a worthy successor. The 6.5-liter V12 in the new 812 Superfast generates a massive 789 horsepower and 530 lb-ft of torque, squeaks a zero-to-60 mph run in just under 3 seconds, and maxes out at 211 mph. Sitting on an inflection point for Ferrari, the 812 houses what might be Ferrari’s final naturally-aspirated V12 road-going engine, as well as its first electric power steering system in a road car. Years from now it may become a reference point for the supercar producer.

© Perry Stern2018 Jeep Wrangler (no photo available)
Every new generation of Wrangler sets off impassioned debate among Jeep enthusiasts, so we’ll have that to look forward to in 2018 with the new JL series (not to be confused with the current-gen Wrangler, which will continue production partially into 2018 and sold under the name “Wrangler JK”). Key outrage factors will include turbocharged 4-cylinder gas and V6 diesel engines along with the traditional 3.6-liter V6; a power soft-top; and — of course — the long-rumored pickup variant.

© Tesla Motors2018 Tesla Model 3
Perhaps the most important release of 2018 will be that of the long-awaited Tesla Model 3. Following the success of the high-end Model S, the Model 3 aims to break through as the first mass-production electric vehicle for the masses. With Tesla’s gigantic Gigafactory and plans to ramp production up to around half a million cars, the Model 3 could be make-or-break for Tesla, and will be looked upon as a bellwether for EVs within the wider industry — regardless of how it performs.

© Porsche Cars North America2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
The 2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo has a variety of powertrain options: the base 330-horsepower turbocharged V6, which will have an E-Hybrid option rated at 456 horsepower; a 440-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 4S variant; and the top of the line 550-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. These are important details for sure, but what you really need to know about the Panamera Sport Turismo is this: If you have the coin, 2018 is the year you can buy yourself a very fast Porsche wagon.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2019 Subaru Ascent (concept pictured)
Scheduled for release in 2018 as a 2019 model, the Ascent represents Subaru’s attempt to stake a claim in the 3-seat SUV market as the automaker continues to grow in the United States. Built on the new Subaru Global Platform that underpins the new Impreza and Crosstrek, the Ascent is Subaru’s second crack at a 7-seat people carrier after the Tribeca. The Ascent will also feature a new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine that will find its way into future Subaru vehicles.

© Audi AG2018 Audi SQ7 TDI
The 2018 Audi SQ7 TDI quietly uses some interesting technology to stand out in an increasingly crowded performance SUV segment. Diesel is back on the table, and that’s not even the best part: The twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 diesel engine features a production vehicle first — an electric-powered compressor, which kicks in from takeoff and under acceleration from lower rpm. The aim is to apply the 435 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque without any associated turbo lag.

© Toyota Motor Sales USA2018 Lexus LS
This new flagship LS sedan makes an immediate impact with its more distinctive and aggressive exterior lines, which set the tone for everything else about the car. A new twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 designed specifically for the 2018 LS replaces the outgoing model’s V8, but produces more horsepower (415 versus 386), while a 10-speed automatic transmission aims to keep shifts smooth and precise. The interior seeks to balance the demands of luxury with an approach that emphasizes function over flash. Touches such as ambient lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns bring a sense of serenity to luxury.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2018 BMW Z4 / Toyota Supra (concept pictured)
Model year 2018 will mark 20 years since the last time a Supra was on the U.S. market, and will also be the year of an all-new BMW Z4, since the two cars share the same platform. What we know right now is this: The Z4 will be a roadster; the Supra will be a coupe. Both are to be built in Austria and will reportedly share BMW engines. The Z4 is slated to offer three engines: 180- and 240-horsepower turbocharged inline four cylinders, and a 320-horsepower turbocharged inline six cylinder. A manual transmission will be optional for the Z4, with no word yet on the Supra.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2018 Ferrari Portofino
Replacing the California as the “entry level” Ferrari, the Portofino retains the general architecture: a retractable hardtop GT with a V8 out in front of the driver. For the Portofino, that engine is a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter making 591 horsepower — 38 more than the California. The 60-mph mark is reached in 3.5 seconds in the Portofino, a second slower than the California. The new car is also lighter, stiffer and supposedly has a smoother Comfort mode than the California. The message is clear: Ferrari believes in a relatively inexpensive model, and is putting the work into making sure it’s worthy of its badge.

© American Honda Motors2018 Honda Accord
Fully redesigned inside and out, the 2018 Honda Accord is geared up to come out of its corner swinging against its longtime sales rival, the Toyota Camry. The new Accord, with its sportback rear and sweeping, slightly arcing beltline, raises immediate comparisons to Audi and Mercedes-Benz models, promising to take the midsize sedan upscale in terms of design, efficiency and technological advancement, but not in price. Powertrains will include 1.5- and 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, along with a new generation of Honda’s 2-motor hybrid system.

© Hyundai Motor America2018 Genesis G70
Since its split from the main Hyundai line into its own luxury brand, Genesis is taking aim at a new target — the venerable BMW M3. The Genesis G70 shares a platform with the Kia Stinger GT, and is intended to compete with the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, along with BMW’s 3 Series. Nothing more has been confirmed regarding the G70’s powertrain or pricing (although we should know more by the end of September after its official reveal), but expect both to be comparable if not quite as high as its Teutonic rivals.

© Lamborghini2018 Lamborghini Urus (concept pictured)
An entirely new type of bull will be hitting the streets in 2018: Lamborghini’s first SUV, the Urus. The 2018 Urus features Lamborghini’s first turbocharged engine — an in-house developed V8 that will turn out approximately 650 horsepower, leading to expectations of it easily taking the World’s Fastest SUV crown away from the Bentley Bentayga. Once the Urus makes its debut, prepare yourselves for a hybrid version — another Lamborghini first — to appear not long after.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2018 Jaguar I-PACE
Jaguar’s I-PACE is playing a blatant bit of catch-up for a manufacturer with no hybrid or electric cars in its lineup, but its good looks leave us willing to forgive. Built around the same architecture as the F-PACE, the I-PACE will seat five and use an internally-developed lithium-ion battery pack good for the equivalent of 400 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. All electric, seats five, zero to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds, and it’ll have its own spec FIA racing series (really) — there’s a lot more to like about the I-PACE than its looks, or so it seems.

© General Motors2019 Chevrolet Corvette (C8) (no photo available)
Time to dust off your “IT’S HAPPENING!” memes, because, well, it looks like for the C8 iteration Chevrolet is finally going mid-engine with the Corvette. Only rumors and inferences about powertrains and other details exist, but we may only have to wait until January’s Detroit Auto Show to learn more. All we have at the moment are some spy shots and nomenclature: The same way “Stingray” was attached to the C7, the C8 Corvette seems to have “Zora” (as in Corvette creator Zora Arkus-Duntov) as its nickname, with reports claiming General Motors has trademarked “Manta Ray” and “E-Ray” for performance and performance hybrid models, respectively.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2018 BMW 8 Series (concept pictured)
It’s been a long time coming, but BMW’s high-end coupe is back. The all-new 8 Series is slated to debut in 2018 and appears to carry much of the spirit of the original, with a long hood and design elements that depart radically from other models in the current BMW line. Save for one, that is: There are some elements of the i8 to be found in the 8 Series. Combined with touches seemingly drawn from modern GT cars, the result is a handsomely rendered contemporary “sports luxury car,” as BMW describes it. Powertrain options and specs should be public early in 2018 ahead of the release of the new 8 Series.


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