Take a look at five new cars that are shaking up the American auto industry. Everything from first time debuts and highway staples to experiments and luxury fests.
With the big auto shows like Detroit, Geneva, Beijing and New York wrapping up for the year, we’re keen on giving a glimpse at what’s going on in the world of cars. Here we present five autos to look forward to landing on U.S. shores. From big estate cars to tiny electric ones, here’s what’s hot for the 2019 model year.
2019 Audi A7
- What is it? The follow up to the groundbreaking 2010 design which invited a slew of brands to play catch-up. Everyone from Ford (Fusion) to BMW (6 Series Gran Coupe) started inserting the fastback sedan into their lineups. It’s a large (technically midsize) 5-door coupe with the importance of styling edging out practicality. It’s a sleek design that is instantly recognizable as Audi.
- Why does it matter? It’s the second generation of a car that basically invented a body style. It has to maintain its claim to the crown. It definitely does, incorporating line-up defining design elements plus some of the most exotic lighting we’ve ever seen. Inherently experimental due to its form factor, the Audi A7 serves as Audi’s design playground. See the headlights and interior design- it’s cutting edge.
- What’s cool about it? It’s technically a “mild hybrid” (Yes, that’s a thing) All A7s will receive a 48-volt vehicle electrical system and belt alternator starter (BAS), making it, secretly, a hybrid. We don’t know how aggressively this will affect the MPG numbers, but its worth knowing. Of course, it will also have Audi’s V6 engine. This is the same engine in the brand new Audi A8.
- When can I get it? Soon. It’s already available in Europe. Sales in the U.S. will come in the fall.
2019 Cadillac XT4
- What is it? Cadillac’s official entry into the luxury small CUV (crossover utility vehicle) scene. It’s a 5-passenger compact luxury SUV to join the big Escalade and the middle-sized XT6 (formally the SRX). It’s powered by a 4-cylinder with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
- Why does it matter? Cadillac is validating the sub-compact to compact SUV market as a real thing. When Aston Martin did the Cygnet, no one was convinced. When Land Rover did with the Evoque, no one wanted it to be true. But now, the Cadillac XT4 took the Atari-Nintendo route and is poised to one-up the originator with the XT4. Part of Cadillac’s major lineup overhaul and expansion, the XT4 will be an interesting elaboration on a recipe that seems to be working.
- What’s cool about it? The interior is distinct- eschewing hundreds of buttons in exchange for a touchscreen, the center stack is marked by a single Home button. The engine was completely newly designed for the XT4. No repeat parts here. It will be interesting to see how Cadillac luxury translates into this small package.
- When can I get it? In the fall in three trims: Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport.
2019 Volvo V60
- What is it? In Volvo’s words, “a classic reimagined”. But don’t let that scare you off, Volvo wasn’t about to mess with a good thing. The V60 is a full-size estate car (“station wagon” to you Americans), that’s been in Volvo’s lineup for years, but only now has come to the forefront as an spacious alternative to Volvo’s SUV-heavy lineup. It seats 5 and fits even more with it’s massive boot space.
- Why does it matter? Suddenly, Volvo’s commitment to the estate car/variant/wagon format has paid off. Thought to be the stuff of U.S. nostalgia and cool Europeans only, everyone from Buick to Jaguar to Mercedes-Benz has a true, full-size wagon available in their lineup. Volvo’s been playing in this game for years, so no wonder they wanted to add an extra dash of Volvo-ness to this important car.
- What’s cool about it? For starters, it looks great. It’s long with a high belt line, large windows, and a taller ride height than some of its equivalents. The design strikes a perfect balance between super posh and super versatile. It’s polite and calm but simultaneously prepared for anything.
- When can I get it? ASAP. It goes for sale in the coming months.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
- What is it? Hyundai is trying its best and having fun. As part of a dramatic line-up upgrade (Santa Fe, Veloster, and Tucson all getting overhauls), the Kona and Kona Electric are compact cars with versatility and cool factor maximized. The Kona Electric takes it a bit further with some tech upgrades and subtle design changes.
- Why does it matter? With Honda’s Insight getting a serious reevaluation (now basically a Civic Hybrid), and Honda Clarity going to the big stage (as a hybrid, fuel cell, and plug-in), it was time for Hyundai to double down on alternatives. Hyundai has played in electric territory (the Ioniq) but the format wasn’t exactly compact nor available (only for sale in California). The Kona Electric is here to help that bottom line.
- What’s cool about it? Design First: The Kona Electric is probably the closest America is ever going to get to having a Citroen on the roads. The look of the Kona is truly ripped from the French and refined by the Koreans. The result is a sporty and perky pair of autos (Kona and Kona Electric offered as models). Tech: The electric one will get a 250 mile-range out of the box. They come with a contained and cleaned-up interior design with a cool heads-up display and massive 8-inch display. The interior stores a good deal of personality with circle details and a high belt-line.
- When can I get it? Get the Kona now. The Kona Electric comes in the fall of this year.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta
- What is it? The venerable Jetta gets a full update for the 2019 model year. Despite growing more than 7 inches in length over the course of its lifetime, the Jetta is still considered a compact auto. The Jetta evolution is part of a further story of VW tailoring to American tastes: the Tiguan got lengthened significantly (America getting the equivalent to a long-wheelbase version globally), and the Touareg a cut entirely to be replaced by the American-centric Atlas. It’s big car and we can only hope VW will insert a smaller sedan in the line-up soon.
- Why does it matter? The loyalty around VW and Jettas is fierce and every brand seeks it. VW’s diesel fiasco required damage control beyond an ad campaign. VW still has dreams to grow into the world’s biggest automobile company and America is an important step in that journey. The Jetta nameplate is valuable for its established quality and it’s pretty much VWs only entry in the important small sedan category.
- What’s cool about it? Though the exterior design takes some getting used to (built on VW’s be-all, end-all MQB platform which everything from the little Golf to giant Atlas sit on), the interior is aces with VW’s first 10-color ambient lighting system, plus out-of-the-box Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It’s one of the few cars in this category to offer a digital display. Turbocharged engine is standard.
- When can I get it? Build on VW.com now. Available later this year.