Cars driving up smarter than ever at the Washington Auto Show.
What do super sensors, test drives, robots, and self-driving capsules have in common? They’re all in the nation’s capital right now, at one of the most popular car shows of the year. The 2018 Washington Auto Show, which opened to the public Jan. 26 and lasts through Feb. 4, showcases over 600 new models from more than 35 automakers.
CarMax crashed the show to kick the tires on some of the latest mobility innovations that are disrupting the way people drive (we’ve got a history of changing the traditional car-buying experience too!).
Automakers are really shifting their vehicles and features into overdrive this year. Here’s what caught our eye.
Autonomous concepts and electrifying hybrids.
The show was full of eye-popping vehicles — some of the cars and trucks on display will go on sale in 2019, and some exist as concepts to showcase changes that may radically change the way we drive.
- Car or 4-wheel bike? The Toyota FV2 single-seat, autonomous concept vehicle has no steering wheel and tilts into turns just like a motorcycle.
- A neon-cockpit, self-driving minivan! The Toyota FCR demonstrates what a fully-autonomous vehicle could look like. It’s hydrogen-powered and self-driving — so passengers can spend more time on entertainment.
And for the kids, there’s also a Ford robot named Hank.
Alternative-fuel vehicle technology continues to improve. Companies are making more hybrids and all-electric vehicles — and some are powering ahead with fuel-cell sedans that run on hydrogen.
- Hydrogen vehicles may be coming to a city near you. Toyota says its Mirai fuel cell vehicle is the world’s first commercially-available, hydrogen-powered car. It’s been sold in Japan and California for a few years now. We took a tour with Washington Automotive Press Association president and auto journalist William Hopper, who told us there’s a push to build more fueling stations and expand the hydrogen infrastructure in the US northeast.
- EVs pack more punch. Cars like the 2017 Chevy Bolt can give drivers lots of miles on a single charge (an estimated 238!).1 It’s also got automated cruise control.
- While makers like Tesla are building all-electric vehicles with some amazing abilities these days, Hopper calls the Bolt a relatively affordable “electric car for the Everyman.”
Toyota showed off its i-Road concept, an all-electric, single-seat city commuter.
Smarter, snappier sedans.
Increasingly, sedans are all about connectivity. Hopper helped to highlight to us a lot of the autonomous-vehicle tech that’s available in sedans now. These innovations used to be found only in luxury cars — and now they’re more available in all kinds of vehicles.
- Start your car while you’re checking the time. With its latest Entune® system rollout, new Toyotas like the 2018 Camry sedan can be started using an app-enabled smart watch. And starting this year, Entune 3.0-equipped models, like some 2018 Camrys and Siennas, will also feature Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto®
- More driver-assist features. Acura’s AcuraWatch™ new suite of features includes forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning — and we saw most automakers are now touting similar features in their new cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans.
Bigger trucks. Smaller diesels.
Trucks are some of the best-selling vehicles in America, and automakers expect pickups to keep on leading sales in the near term. If you’re a truck fan, here’s some new truck tech:
- Rams are going greener. The 2019 Ram pickups are as beefy as ever, but they’re also packing wind-cheating front end treatments to help boost mpg, and some trims will have a hybrid option.
- Lighter, brawnier pickups. Chevy Silverado 1500 pickups will soon weigh less, thanks to the addition of more aluminum body panels coming in 2019. And the full-sized Silverado is getting a new, 3.0L Duramax diesel option. If you’re a midsized truck fan, some of the smaller Chevy Colorado pickups will offer a 2.8L turbodiesel in 2019. Smaller diesels are a big deal because they fit in smaller trucks and give owners plenty of pulling power.
SUVs & minivans
Larger passenger vehicles had their share of new, added-visibility options.
- Subaru’s extra set of eyes: The all-new 2019 Ascent SUV is the biggest Subaru yet — it seats up to eight passengers. And while other new Subaru models offer EyeSight® as an option (like the 2018 Subaru Impreza Limited), a Subaru rep told us this driver-assist system will be standard equipment on all Ascents when they roll out next year.
- Chrysler Pacifica’s early-warning system: The 2018 version of this minivan is available with a 360-degree camera that works in real-time, creating a field around the vehicle to let drivers know about objects approaching from the front, rear, and sides.
- A doubly-entertaining Range Rover. The three-row 2018 Range Rover Velar treats up to seven passengers to a full suite of entertainment features, including a huge, double-stacked set of infotainment screens.
Wild off-road adventures at the auto show.
Look who’s coming back!
- Ford Bullitt Mustang: Ford commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Mustang used in the 1968 movie with this hopped-up 2019 GT model. The paint job matches the original car’s dark-green, metallic tint.
- The Ranger pickup is back. After a seven-year dry spell, Ford is re-introducing its Ranger as a 2019 model — this time as a midsized, four-door model.
We’re excited to see how all of these innovations will create new possibilities for car owners. And it’s only the beginning — for all of us.
1EPA estimate. Range will vary based on, among other things, battery age, vehicle condition, and driving conditions. Battery decreases with time and use. See fueleconomy.gov.