If the 2018 International Consumer Electronics Show is any indication, this is the year vehicles become tech showcases. While we won’t have flying cars anytime soon, they are getting loaded with state of the art technology right now. Here’s an overview of what to expect out of 2018.
Big news from Nissan this year, as 2018 marks the second generation of the best-selling EV in the world, the Leaf. Nissan chucked what didn’t work, and improved the rest, resulting in an all-around capable car that will leave you asking why you still pump gas. The new Leaf delivers faster performance, longer range, and a more upscale interior. While the Leaf wasn’t the first EV, it was the first practical EV that performed like what customers expect of a “normal” car. With a 50% improved range over the older model, it will be interesting to see if 2018 is the year of mainstream EV acceptance.
The Tesla Model 3 technically hit the streets in 2017, but those were mainly final test versions and hand-built examples for employees. With the 2017 production running just approximately 1,000 models, we’re calling it a new 2018 model. This year, production is already rising exponentially as Tesla sorts the production welding issues and starts cranking them out. With a base price of $35,000 (before incentives) and range up to 310 miles, the 3 is Tesla’s first foray into typical vehicle production. The headlines aren’t clickbait; this is a huge deal.
Yeah, we’re still several years away from a car that will drive you to work while you scroll through Instagram or sleep. Still, we’re a step closer this year with Cadillac’s hands-free Super Cruise autonomous system, available for the first time on the full-size CT6. Super Cruise works on limited-access highways, meaning traffic going the opposite direction is separated by at least an undivided median. Think I-5 between Seattle and San Francisco. GM mapped all these highways, and Super Cruise uses the CT6’s in-car cameras, radar sensors and GPS to detect every curve, hill, or potential hazard.
Technically, Super Cruise is a Level 2 autonomous system, meaning the driver is to remain alert and focused on the road, and the car will disengage if it detects the driver is not paying attention. While Tesla already made headlines with their similar AutoPilot system, Super Cruise is a more evolved technology, and more importantly, it’s in a Cadillac. That means it could trickle down and be in your base Chevy Spark in three years. Super Cruise is a limited system, only for certain highways, in good weather, no construction zones or teen drivers, and so on. But if you need to get your hands on this hands-off tech, you’ll be happy to know the future is starting to arrive.
New In Showrooms
Honda’s Accord is an annual favorite among automotive journalists, reliability surveys, and customers. The brand new 10th generation Accord launched this year, and already earned the North American International Auto Show’s North American Car of the Year award, and is a likely contender for MotorTrend‘s coveted Car of the Year trophy. Mid-size sedans have taken a beating in sales as buyers shift to crossovers, but Honda is fighting back with an impressive 38 MPG in the new Accord, thanks to its tiny 1.5L turbocharged four cylinder. It’s also standard with Honda Sensing, a technology suite loaded with semi-autonomous safety technology. It’s been on Car & Driver‘s 10 Best list a record 32 times, and this year the Accord is looking for 33.
Volvo has been hitting it out of the park lately, and the XC60 continues that trend. The new compact SUV continues with a stately-yet-modern Swedish designed exterior, and a lovely and ergonomic interior with some of the best seats you can find. The previous XC60 sailed through every possible crash test, and while crash testing hasn’t completed yet, it’s likely this second generation will be just as safe or improve on the impeccable scores.
The Lincoln Navigator was the world’s first luxury SUV way back in 1998. While it earned some street cred there, Lincoln quickly went conservative on the design, leading to low sales. The 2018 Navigator is a proper luxury truck, featuring gorgeous Lincoln Continental design cues, and an all-new capable F-150 chassis underneath. The EcoBoost 3.5L V6 and 10-speed auto are well-liked by customers, and the wood and metal covered dash looks appropriately expensive.
Time to Buy Used
The last big buzz of 2018 is talk of sales numbers. New vehicle sales have hit 17 million vehicles sold for the last three years. With vehicles returning from lease, the used market is saturated, making for one of the strongest buyer’s markets in over a decade. While new tech dominates the headlines, 2018 may turn out to be the year of the used car.