While I’ve already highlighted a few of my favourite releases from Detroit’s North American International Auto Show (the new G-Class and the very cool 2019 Mustang Bullitt), it is a big show and there were a lot of notable announcements. From a new Ranger and an updated Cherokee, to a trio of new electrified AMGs and a look at the next-generation Honda Insight, let’s dig further into what was on display in the Motor City this past January.
The 2019 Ford Ranger
The Ranger is back. After having been discontinued in North America at the end of 2011, Ford’s lovable mid-size pickup will return for the 2019 model year. Produced in Michigan and powered by Ford’s 2.3L EcoBoost engine, the new Ranger features a 10-speed automatic transmission and an available FX4 off-road package with an upgraded suspension, off-road tires, and under body protection. Reprising its original role as Ford’s entry-level pickup, the Ranger is positioned as an easy-driving, efficient, but still tough alternative to the larger trucks that dominate this segment.
The Refreshed Jeep Cherokee
Jeep used the NAIAS to show the updated 2019 Cherokee, a mid-size SUV that slots below the iconic Wrangler and the popular Grand Cherokee. With an updated front fascia, headlights, and hood all offering a more conservative (and handsome) design than that of the previous model, the 2019 Cherokee will also make use of a new engine option, a 270-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-litre with stop-start mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Though exemplifying a renewed focus on premium design, the 2019 Jeep Cherokee sacrifices none of the off-roading capabilities you would expect of a Jeep, with low range gearing, a mechanical locking differential, and an updated four-wheel drive system all keeping the updated Cherokee comfortable in the Jeep line up.
The New Mercedes-AMG 53-Series
While AMG is well known for its 63-Series of high-performance V8-powered Mercedes-Benz models, they have announced a trio of new AMG models under a new 53-Series specification. Based around a new turbocharged inline 6-cylinder and an integrated 48-volt electrical system, the 53-Series will be an available spec level for the E-Class Coupe, Cabriolet, and the CLS sedan.
Looking to offer a blend of AMG performance along with improved overall efficiency, the 53-Series combines that inline-six’s 435 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque with an additional boost in power and torque (up to an additional 184 lb-ft) from a special starter-alternator that Mercedes calls the EQ Boost. Used for short durations, the EQ Boost can help to mitigate turbo lag and provide a much sharper power delivery. Perhaps even more interesting, the 48-volt electronics platform supported by the EQ Boost system is paired with a battery that can manage not only a much more efficient use of power to the vehicle’s systems (like lighting and infotainment), but also provides a gliding mode and a much less noticeable implementation of engine stop-start functionality.
All 53-Series models will be fitted as standard with Mercedes’ 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive and their new 9-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission. With an advanced electronics system, a new inline-six engine, and all of the usual AMG performance and aesthetic modifications, the 53-Series looks like a compelling mix of performance and technology, and may well establish the formula for the next generation of AMG cars.
The Honda Insight Prototype
While not quite in its production form, Honda showed the prototype for their upcoming next-gen Insight sedan. Originally launched in 1999, the Insight is Honda’s electric hybrid platform and the third-gen is slated for an official launch later this year. Based on a four door sedan design, the new Insight will slot above the Civic in Honda’s current line up. With a goal of achieving over 50 mpg (4.7 L/100 km), the Insight will use an advanced Atkinson cycle 1.5-litre engine combined with an electric motor and a host of batteries to support the hybrid system. In most situations, the Insight should run on electric power alone, with the engine functioning as a generator for the electric powertrain.
While Toyota has had great success with the Prius, the Insight signals Honda’s next play at the very important hybrid segment and will join the Clarity series and the new Accord Hybrid in expanding the brand’s use of electric powertrains.
Stay tuned for more automotive news and announcements from the Geneva Auto Show in early March.
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