Detroit Free Press
Published 1:27 PM EDT Sep 14, 2019
Automakers around the world are holding their breath as they prepare new vehicles for debuts over the next 12 months. Between now and next September, a handful of cars, SUVs and at least one pickup will have an outsize impact on their manufacturers and the safety, value and features available to customers.
They include new versions of the Ford F-150 pickup; a revival of the SUV that created Land Rover’s aura of legendary capability; the follow-up to an unexpected Buick hit; an electric Mercedes SUV, and even a midsize sedan that promises dramatic new looks and features.
As the fall new-model season begins to heat up, here’s a look at some of the most interesting and important vehicles debuting between now and fall 2020.
Buick Encore GX
The first Encore helped launch the subcompact luxury SUV revolution when it debuted in 2012. The Encore is still among the smallest luxury SUVs on the market, so hopes are high for the larger GX when sales begin early in 2021.
Features will include pedestrian detection, automatic front braking, lane keeping alert and assist and video rearview camera. The smaller Encore will remain in Buick’s lineup, possibly to be replaced by a new model in a year or two.
Cadillac CT5 and CT4 sedans
The CT5 and CT4 Sport sedans replace Cadillac’s CTS and ATS models. It’s tough for a sedan to generate much excitement this year, but Cadillac believes the body style still matters for luxury brands.
The CT5 debuts later this year. It’s 1.7 inches shorter than the CTS, and is expected to cost less. The CT4 is larger than the ATS and is expected to go on sale in the first half of 2020.
The vehicle that matters most to Cadillac, its signature Escalade large SUV, probably won’t go on sale until the fourth quarter of 2020, putting it just outside this column’s timeframe.
Chevrolet Corvette, Tahoe and Suburban
Few vehicles have ever generated more interest than the 2020 Corvette, the most radical engineering change in ‘Vette history. In addition to moving the engine from under the hood to behind the passenger compartment — a layout that should enable even more powerful cars than the outgoing Corvette — the midengined model boasts a base price under $60,000, and zero-60 mph times under 4 seconds. Expect loads of new electronic safety and connectivity features in addition to blistering performance.
The Tahoe and Suburban large SUVs debuting later in 2020 are GM’s biggest moneymakers, and staple vehicles for businesses and families across the country. New electronic features should raise the bar for big SUVs.
Ford Escape, F-150, electric SUV
The 2020 Ford Escape compact SUV going on sale this fall has sleek looks and marks the return to the long-lamented Escape hybrid, the vehicle that created the hybrid SUV early in this century. A plug-in model — battery range TBD — goes on sale next year.
Ford’s most important model, the F-150 pickup, also will add a hybrid model in 2020. Expect other innovations from Ford, where keeping the F-150 America’s best-selling truck is as fundamental to the company’s image as the color of its blue oval badge.
Ford’s eagerly awaited sporty electric SUV — possibly called Mach E? — will probably go on sale late next year.
Genesis GV80 and G80
Hyundai’s fast-growing Genesis luxury brand will get its first probable hit vehicle when the GV80 sporty SUV goes on sale around June 2020. The GV80 is expected to look a lot like the concept vehicle of the same name that debuted at the New York auto show this fall. Expect a long hood, falling roofline and bold grille.
A new version of the G80 sport sedan that uses the same platform as the GV80 is expected to go on sale in April. The G80’s styling reportedly leans on the Essentia concept car. The public should get its first look at the G80 production model at the Los Angeles auto show this November.
More: Every car should be a little like the 2020 Toyota Corolla hybrid
More: Ford to unveil new Puma SUV at Frankfurt auto show that probably won’t be sold in US
Hyundai hopes the 2020 Sonata midsize sedan’s looks and features can get some attention from SUV-mad buyers. In addition to a new nose,Hyundai somewhat bafflingly calls its “digital pulse cascading grille,” the Sonata’s interior has a 10.25-inch touch screen and an instrument panel Hyundai says was inspired by the shape of a stealth fighter’s wings.
The Sonata also is Hyundai’s first vehicle with Bose audio. Sales begin this fall.
Land Rover Defender 110
The all-new Land Rover Defender 110 SUV tries to recall the simple and rugged SUV that created the brand’s reputation for off-road capability. The new Defender is a bit rounder than the original, but should stand out from citified models like the Velar and Evoque.
Features for serious off-roading include a low range of gears and locking rear and center differentials. The interior will offer five conventional seats and a pair of small jump seats and 10-inch touch screen. Power will come from a 300-horsepower 2.0L turbo or 400-hp 3.0L mild hybrid.
Prices will start at $49,900. Sales begin next spring. A short-wheelbase model called the Defender 90 will follow later in 2020.
Like the Jeep Wrangler, a soft-top convertible is in the works.
Mercedes GLB and EQC
Mercedes will expand its ever-growing line of SUVs with the small GLB and electric powered EQC.
The small GLB fits between the car-like GLA and compact GLC, a small niche indeed, but it will offer an optional third row of seats. Sales begin later this year.
The battery-powered EQC compact SUV goes on sale early in 2020. Mercedes predicts 270 to 300 miles on a charge. All-wheel drive is standard.
Toyota’s main vehicle for families, the Highlander three-row SUV faces tough competition from new models like the Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride and Chevrolet Traverse. Going on sale later this year, it will answer that challenge with a hybrid model and long list of safety features.
Contact Mark Phelan at 313-222-6731 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Read more on autos and sign up for our autos newsletter.