By Corey Conley
March is here, and with it the latest crop of auto show debuts. We run down our favorite cars to look forward to.
2017 Hyundai Ioniq
Although the siren song of temporarily cheap gas is luring buyers to ever larger trucks and SUVs, the reality of rising fuel efficiency standards marches on. Hyundai, never one to shirk from taking on a new segment, is finally taking on the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf at the same time with two versions of its Ioniq hatchback. The gas electric hybrid, rated for 57 city, 59 highway mpg, which bests the base Prius’ numbers by 3 and 9. The starting price, too, bests the Prius. At $23,035, it undercuts the cheapest Prius by $2,535. The all-electric Ioniq will start at $30,335 before applicable tax credits, a cool $1,210 less than the class leading Nissan Leaf. This Ioniq boasts 124 miles of range, placing it above its main competitors at the bottom of the electric car range.
2018 Dodge Durango SRT
For those who love nothing more than turning liquid fossil into forward motion the mad scientists at Dodge are still grafting powerful V8 engines into any vehicle that will take it. Their latest example of excess is the Dodge Durango SRT. Not content with more sensible options, Dodge shoehorned the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 from their performance cars into the Durango’s sensible frame, and claim the admixture will propel the over 5500 lb. wagon to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds - faster than many genuine performance cars and certainly faster than any three row SUV under six figures. Prices have not been announced, but expect it to start in the $70,000 range.
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT
Unlike most hatches, the Elantra GT isn’t just the sedan version of the car with an extra door tacked on the back. The GT is a more powerful, more refined model designed to compete in Europe’s highly competitive compact hatch market, which means a higher level of sophistication in the interior and a tighter, more capable suspension versus the Elantra sedan. The GT also boasts more power than the sedan with either the 167 horsepower base engine or the 200 horsepower turbo. In true European style, either is available with a manual transmission. For a taste of the continent by way of Korea, expect to spend around $20,000 for the well-equipped base model.
2018 Toyota Yaris Sport
The Toyota Yaris is the company’s least expensive offering in North America, a car so basic in amenities the ad campaign’s sole promise was “it’s a car.” That’s why it’s surprising Toyota is planning a 207 horsepower, sport-oriented version of their most plebian transportation appliance. While 207 is a respectable number even in much larger cars, the headline figure is the featherweight 2400 lbs weight of the Yaris, meaning this sporty subcompact bests the Mazda MX-5 - a genuine sports car - in both horsepower and weight. Cost and availability are to be determined, but we hope Toyota offers this angry lima bean to stateside buyers.
2018 Opel Insignia
“Yes, yes,” you may be thinking, “that’s a very nice-looking Opel sedan, but what does that have to do with this side of the pond, where there’s nary an Opel to be found?” Opel, for those it may concern, is the European-only branch of GM, and the Insignia is sold in the US as the Buick Regal, thus this is a very good preview of the next midsized sedan from Buick. We like what we see, with handsome, Volvo-esque styling inside and out. What’s more exciting are rumors of a planned performance variant and promises of a wagon bodystyle, though the latter is unlikely to make the leap to our shores. Expect prices to start in the high $20,000s for a base Regal when it goes on sale likely this fall.