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NAIAS Round-Up: Vehicle Unveilings Important to the Aftermarket

By Clint Simone

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) marks the beginning of the 2018 auto-show circuit. The event represents the first major opportunity of the year for automakers to pull the covers off future models for international media and the larger automotive community to see. Making headlines this year are truck unveilings from RAM and Chevrolet in the half-ton category, along with Ford bringing the midsize Ranger back to the U.S. market for the first time since 2011. Not to be overlooked by the wave of new truck technology, other manufacturers flooded the newswire with new additions to the hot hatch segment, as well as performance SUVs and sedans. The following is a compilation of the new cars, trucks and SUVs most relevant to SEMA membership.

’19 RAM 1500

RAM 1500

All-new for 2019, the RAM 1500 represents a major push forward for the truck brand. Now assembled using a mix of lightweight aluminum and steel, the new model sheds 225 lbs. over the outgoing one. Powering the new 1500 are multiple engine options, including a Pentastar V6 and a 5.7L HEMI V8. The biggest powertrain news comes in the form of a mild-hybrid system available on both engines, marking the first widespread use of this technology in the midsize pickup segment. The system uses a 48-volt battery pack that lives beneath the cab, providing an additional 90 lb.-ft. of torque in the case of the V6 and 130 lb.-ft. in the HEMI. Towing capacity is also increased to a maximum of 12,750 lbs.

Inside, the 1500 is completely redesigned with a massive 12-in. touchscreen system, which is a first in any truck. The 1500 comes available with ADAS technology, such as 360-degree surround view cameras, as well as adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.

’19 Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet Silverado

After making a surprise first appearance in Texas several weeks ago, the ’19 Silverado made its official debut this week at NAIAS. Boasting a sleek new design, the Silverado now offers the highest cargo volume of any truck in the segment, along with what Chevy calls the most functional bed of any fullsize truck. Silverado will now come with eight total different models and six engine options, including the all-new Duramax inline-six cylinder. Chevy claims to have done some major work in the weight category as well, dropping 450 lbs. from the previous model, while maintaining a wheelbase that is 3.9 in. longer than before. Other notable features include a power-operated tailgate and a stretched cab, enhancing interior space. GM alluded to further safety feature announcements for the ’19 Silverado in the coming months.

’19 Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger

What was once a Toyota-dominated segment in recent years, the midsize truck category is again filling up with viable competitors in the Chevrolet Colorado, and now the new Ford Ranger. The Ranger is back again in the U.S. market, offering truck buyers an alternative to the F-150. All-new for 2019, the Ranger brings to the table a 2.3 EcoBoost engine, mated to 10-speed transmission. Available options, including skid plates, off-road-tuned suspension and terrain management control systems, indicate the Ranger’s potential for off-road driving. In addition to the tech-savvy 10-speed, Ford is also including a wide range of available safety options—some even coming standard—such as automatic emergency braking. Lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning and a blind-spot monitoring system are available as options. Ranger production will begin late 2018 in Michigan.

’19 Hyundai Veloster N

Hyundai Veloster/Veloster N

When the Hyundai Veloster first hit the market in 2011, the aftermarket embraced its quirky three-door design and lively four-cylinder engine options as a suitable platform for modification. Now entering its second generation, Hyundai is aiming to make the Veloster a no-nonsense competitor in the growing hot hatch segment. Three Veloster models will be introduced in 2019, including the Veloster Turbo and a first-ever Veloster N. The base car is good for 147 hp from its naturally-aspirated 2.0L engine, while the Turbo offers a healthy 201 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque available with either a manual or automatic transmission.

The most significant announcement is the new Veloster N, Hyundai’s first N model to hit the U.S. market. N signifies the maximum performance potential for the Hyundai lineup, and in the case of the Veloster N, the car features 275 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The hatch is packed with performance technology to accommodate the power, including multiple drive modes and an electronically controlled suspension. Performance brakes and exterior touches also come as part of the package.

’19 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Ford Mustang Bullitt

Here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic movie “Bullitt,” the new Mustang Bullit pays homage to the original movie car with some special features. The Bullitt is, in many ways, a special-edition of the Mustang GT, using the same 5.0L Coyote motor, good for 475 hp. However, with the Bullitt edition, only a six-speed manual is available. The Bullitt also comes with only two color choices: black or the movie-specific Dark Highland Green. Other highlights include black exhaust tips, RECARO leather seats and 19-in. aluminum wheels, with Brembo brakes. The Bullitt is a limited-edition model, here for the ’19 model year.

’19 Toyota Avalon

Toyota Avalon

Now entering its fifth generation, the Toyota Avalon has been a longtime staple for those needing a comfortable, reliable sedan. For 2019, Toyota has injected much of the same sporty formula into the Avalon as they did the recent Camry redesign. Available for the first time ever on the Avalon platform are several unexpected features. A new adaptive suspension setup is available—likely taken directly from the Avalon’s Lexus family members—along with a sport exhaust with active sound symposer. The standard Avalon will be powered by a 3.5L V6, although power figures have not yet been released. A four-cylinder hybrid setup will also be available, which Toyota calls the most fuel-efficient Avalon ever. The Avalon’s interior also received a major refresh, now coming standard with Toyota’s Entune 3.0 system, WiFi hotspot, wireless phone charging and Apple CarPlay. The ’19 Avalon goes on sale in late spring.