Forget everything you think you know about General Motors – well, except for the fact we still really miss the Pontiac brand. Yes, the American auto giant flirted with disaster a few years ago, as it teetered on the brink of collapse during the Great Recession. That was then, this is now, and the future looks bright for “GM 2.0.”
A wave of exciting new cars and trucks is on the way and, this time, ‘The General’ is not betting the farm on sales of only one type of vehicle (i.e. putting everything on the line in terms of profit-making SUVs). Yes, trucks are big sellers right now, but a smart and savvy automaker knows keeping its entire lineup fresh and modern is vital to long-term success.
Judging from what’s to come in 2018, GM has learned this lesson in a big, big way!
10. Camaro Z/28
To picture the next Z/28, think of a Camaro ZL1, with less … and more. The next Z/28 will continue its role as the Camaro honed for track use, with a nominal nod to everyday driving. Remember, in its insatiable quest to lose weight, the last model didn’t even come standard with stereo speakers – GM had to fit one, due to federal regulations mandating a door chime and an undone seatbelt warning. We’re guessing the new Z/28 will share the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 found in the Camaro ZL1 and Corvette Z06. A lighter body and larger spoilers and wind-cheating splitters will be along for the ride in the new version. Just don’t bet on hauling many people in this range-topping Camaro, because the rear seats are almost definitely getting the heave-ho, too.
9. Cadillac XT4
Big trucks and SUVs are selling well, but smaller crossovers are where the automotive market is going bonkers. Cadillac is still in the process of reinventing itself and, while the product range is much improved, overall sales have remained stagnant. The solution: The XT4, a city-sized SUV that is relatively nimble, fuel efficient, easy to park and, we hope, somewhat fun to drive. Riding on the same platform found in the new Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, this little Caddy is going to rely on turbocharged four-cylinder power to get around. We’re thinking Cadillac makes all-wheel-drive standard, to put some distance between the XT4 and its ‘lesser’ corporate siblings. A starting price around $35,000 pits the XT4 directly at rivals from BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Lincoln.
8. Buick Regal
One of the best American sedans you never knew existed, the current Regal is smooth and seductive once you get past the rental car base models. It’s also one handsome device, especially in upgraded 259-horsepower Turbo GS format. As for the new one, whoa baby, this is definitely not your grandpa’s old Electra 225. Not only will the next Regal be an elegantly proportioned sedan, we might also be in store for a seductive station-wagon variant. Fingers crossed! Look for a choice of turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or 3.6-liter V6 under the hood when the Regal sedan – and please, the wagon too(!) – breaks cover in early-April, shortly before the 2017 New York Auto Show.
7. Corvette ZR1
Power corrupts, and sometimes that’s a fine thing. The next Corvette ZR1 is not going to be the mid-engine ‘Vette that has been blowing up the Internet. That model, known as the “C8,” is still zipping around test tracks, sporting black-and-white camouflage over every inch of its bodywork. It remains to be seen whether this wild mid-engine Corvette replaces, or lives alongside, a traditional front-engine, rear-drive version (Shhhh … we think it’ll be a separate stand-alone model!). One thing we do know for certain is that the ZR1 is going to use copious amounts of aluminum and carbon-fiber to trim weight. It almost certainly will have a supercharged V8 which exceeds the current top ‘Vette’s 6.2-liter capacity. We think 7.0 liters sounds likely, as does an output nearing 800 horsepower.
6. GMC Terrain
While the previous Terrain looked like a Lego block – and pretty much drove like one – this new version is suddenly quite the head-turning small crossover. Lighter than the model it replaces, not to mention infinitely better looking, one of the biggest surprises is what’s behind those large front LEDs and beneath the engine cover. Not only do Terrain buyers have a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive, there are also three intriguing engines on offer: a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and even a turbocharged 1.6-liter diesel. The latter sounds especially interesting, thanks to the low torque and higher MPGs offered by a diesel motor – we just wonder if VW ruined the party with its diesel emissions scandal shenanigans.
5. Buick Enclave
Leaner, cleaner, though probably not any meaner; hey, this is a stately Buick, after all. One of the vehicles most in need of a redo in the GM product portfolio, the current Enclave is still selling strongly but has been pretty much the same since G.W. Bush was President. The new Enclave shares a platform with the similarly redone Chevrolet Traverse, while borrowing some of the lines seen on the sexy Buick Avenir Concept sedan. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 3.6-liter V6 will be available, as will your choice of front- or all-wheel-drive.
4. Chevrolet Traverse
A mechanical twin of the similarly new Buick Enclave, the Chevrolet Traverse goes from mid-pack status to top-of-the-class in the crowded market for mid-sized SUVs. Well, maybe it’s not the best (we need more time with one ourselves), but this Traverse sure is heaps better than before. A stiffer and lighter chassis helps improve everything from ride comfort, to handling and fuel economy. In total, Chevy trimmed more than 350 pounds from the curb-weight. Like the Enclave, there is a turbo four-cylinder or V6 to choose from, and a 9-speed automatic transmission comes with either motor. Then again, Traverse customers will probably be more interested in the fact that it’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and has an optional 4G LTE Wi-Fi that can serve up to seven mobile devices.
3. Chevrolet Blazer
Don’t expect a rough-and-tumble pickup truck or body-on-frame SUV. Sorry, but we wanted to get the bad news out of the way first. Chevrolet has a gap in its lineup, right between the mid-size Traverse and smaller Equinox crossover. To fill this space, Chevy might opt to use the updated GMC Acadia and re-skin it as a Blazer. That’s because the Acadia rides on a shortened version of the same chassis used in its near-twin, the Traverse. Are you lost yet? We know, Chevrolet has a lot of trucks on offer, and it wants to sell even more of them. Despite the confusing family tree, the Blazer, which would likely arrive in early-2018, could hit the sweet spot of the SUV/crossover market. Not too big, and not too small, it could be just right for many shoppers. Now, if only Chevy would bring back a true compact pickup … a budget-friendly S10, perhaps? Come on, Chevy!
2. Cadillac CT8
No more excuses, Cadillac is taking on the biggest of the big boys with the upcoming CT8 luxury sedan. Aimed squarely at posh sedans like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series, the CT8 is going to be bristling with power and innovative features. Details are still sparse, and there’s a chance it might not officially arrive until 2019. However, we think the CT8’s exterior will be heavily influenced by the recent Escala Concept sedan. Low, long, and sinister; the Escala makes contemporary Bimmer and Benz sedans look staid. Can Caddy bring this level of wow-factor to production? We sure hope so. Expect a twin-turbo V8 to rest at the top of the range, with a twin-turbo V6 as the base motor. Add in all-wheel-drive, and this could be the fastest and sexiest all-weather limo on the block (or in whatever posh gated community it resides within).
1. Chevrolet Equinox
Completely updated and sporting ruggedly handsome sheet-metal, this Chevrolet SUV/crossover was another model long overdue for replacement. Like its sibling, the GMC Terrain, the Equinox has ditched the choice of an optional V6, though you have a total of three four-cylinder engines to choose amongst, along with front- or all-wheel-drive. As noted in our description of the Terrain, that 1.6-liter turbo-diesel sounds extremely enticing on paper (or computer screen) – though we know most buyers will opt for the turbo 1.5 or 2.0-liter gas-fed engines, instead. Whatever the case, this small crossover is all new, both inside and out, and arrives a time when the compact crossover segment is absolutely red hot.