It happens every year: The day after the final out is recorded in the World Series, the collective media looks ahead. The Champagne isn’t even flat yet, but the pundits are trotting out their best predictions for how things will shape up next season.
To turn this sporting metaphor toward the automotive, this past year featured some rollicking competition. So while we salute the excellent winners in our tests—Lamborghini Huracan Performante, Jeep Wrangler, Ram 1500, and Genesis G70—this coming year will feature a cast of new vehicles so strong that winning our Best Driver’s Car and Of The Year competitions will require next-level stuff. Let’s take a look at the highlights of what we have coming:
Best Driver’s Car: For 2018, we tested too early in the season to have access to a Ferrari 812 Superfast, Aston Martin Superleggera, Bentley Continental GT, or Lamborghini Urus. Here’s hoping the Chevrolet launch team will have their mid-engine Corvette ready by summer for what could be an all-time shootout. Wait, is that the new Porsche 992 tearing up the asphalt, being chased by a BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra? And maybe a Lambo Huracan replacement, or a McLaren Speedtail, or Aston Martin Valkyrie, or a Tesla Roadster prototype? Time to call Tire Rack.
Truck of the Year: This past season had the rarity of brand-new full-size trucks from Ram, Chevrolet, and GMC, plus a diesel entry from Ford, all hitting at the same time, but next year might be even more exciting. Heavy-duty trucks are coming from these same brands, and we also have new midsize entries in the form of the Jeep Gladiator and Ford Ranger—plus Chevy has the rock-crawling Bison version of the Colorado ZR2. Rumor also has it that Toyota has significant changes in mind for its full-size Tundra.
SUV of the Year: Honda will bring back the Passport nameplate to split the gap between our two-time SUVOTY-winning CR-V and the solid seven-seat Pilot. But its fast track to the title will have solid competition from the Lincoln Aviator—which, if it’s anywhere near as good as its big brother Navigator, will be right in the mix. The Blue Oval isn’t done yet, with the return of the Escape (and maybe the Bronco by year’s end). Chevy reprises the Blazer. Now that Genesis has shown that Korean brands can deservedly win an OTY competition, Hyundai trots out the seven-seat Hyundai Palisade. Don’t count out Toyota with its new Highlander. At the high end of the market, the massive BMW X7 arrives, as does the Mercedes GLE with its instantly adjustable ride height. Land Rover moves its stunning Velar styling language down to a previous SUVOTY-winning Evoque. And given the impact the electric Jaguar I-Pace had on this past year, one can readily assume the Audi E-Tron will shake things up.
Car of the Year: Good luck comes in threes. Next year, the redesigned BMW 3 Series and Mazda3 debut. For those of you keeping score, our last two COTYs—the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Genesis G70—were vehicles that challenge the BMW 3er for luxury compact sport sedan dominance. Now the Bimmer is back to reclaim its crown. Meanwhile, the Mazda3 (the staff’s default pick when asked, “I need a fun first new car that won’t break my wallet”) aims to show once again what is possible at the affordable end of the spectrum. Toyota will beg to differ, however, with a redesigned Corolla sedan running on the zippy new TNGA platform, while Nissan aims to show what the Renault alliance can mean for its Sentra. Mercedes continues its march downmarket with the A-Class sedan. The VW Passat—which won COTY at its last launch—is all new. For those with more premium-brand aspirations, BMW is bringing back the 8 Series, and Jaguar redesigns its XJ sedan to be fully electric.
Caught your breath yet? These are just the vehicles we know about. There could be even more new arrivals in the wings, hidden under designers’ tarps. To return to baseball (and shamelessly borrow from W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe), it looks like all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place. The universe is showing us what’s possible.
More by Mark Rechtin:
- How We Determine our Car, Truck, and SUV of the Year
- You Can’t Buy Love, Bug
- A Decade’s Progress
- The Evolution and Rise of the SUV
- The Sedan Is Not Dead
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