The automotive world has become more and more competitive in recent years, as automakers jockey for the attention of customers. They try to pull in new customers and retain current fans with various new features, redesigns, and refreshes. On top of reworking their current lineups, automakers also release all-new models that help address gaps in their lineups or add technology that was not compatible with any current models.
Because the space has become hyper-competitive, it’s becoming harder for automakers to be creative in their ideas. So what we’re starting to see these days are automakers going outside their comfort zones creating these new cars, like Kia creating a premium sports sedan and Hyundai tossing a hand grenade on its corporate design for a single new crossover.
We weeded through all the brand-new of 2018 vehicles — ones that we’re seeing for the first time — and chose the six we feel will have the largest impact on the industry.
Kia has steadily become more and more luxurious on its top end while retaining its lower prices near the bottom of its range. The Stinger is yet another push upward for the Korean automaker, as this luxury sports sedan looks to battle the BMWs and Audis of the world.
Not only is the Stinger a sharp, new take on Kia’s corporate design, but it also has the power to hang with these premium brands. The base Stinger carries a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 255 horsepower, while the GT trim has a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 with 365 horsepower. Both engines make use of an eight-speed auto transmission and have available all-wheel drive.
On top of being quick, the Stinger also is nimble for its size, making it even more legit in the eyes of premium sedan shoppers.
Kia Niro Plug-In
No, the Niro isn’t new for 2018, but the plug-in version is — and it’s so sweet that it deserves a spot on our list. The 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In will feature the same look and feel of the standard Niro, but its powertrain will be even greener.
It’ll use the same 1.6-liter gasoline engine as the base hybrid model, but Kia will pair this with a 60-horsepower electric motor fed by a 8.9-kWh battery pack. This will give it an electric range of 26 miles. In electric mode, the Niro Plug-In delivers 105 mpg-e, and while in hybrid mode, it still delivers a respectable 48 mpg city, 44 mpg highway, and 46 mpg combined.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Alfa Romeo has made its return to the U.S. with furious vengeance, as it began with the sweet 4C, continued with the Giulia, and now the Stelvio crossover. I’m not a huge fan of crossovers, but this bad boy is one big exception. It has everything. It’s luxurious. It’s fast. And it looks amazing.
Under its sharp skin lies a pair of engine options. The base unit it a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. At the top of the range, it includes a Ferrari-built, 2.9-liter turbocharged V-6 with 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque.
This thing is all sorts of amazingness wrapped up in a family-friendly package.
Hyundai, while continually improving, has retained its general corporate design language for some time. Well, the 2018 Kona takes this design language, crumples it up and throws it in the trash — and I love it!
This angular look is a bold departure for Hyundai, and it’s perfect for the younger demographic the automaker is targeting here. Inside, things are a bit more traditional for this Hyundai, but its color accents, round air vents, and other highlights make it stand out a bit.
Powering this crossover will be a standard 2.0-liter four-pot with a ho-hum 147 horsepower at its disposal. On the top of the range is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a more exciting 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.
Lexus LC 500
After Lexus discontinued the SC in 2010, its fans begged for a new sports coupe from the Japanese automaker. Finally, in 2018, Lexus junkies can get the all-new LC 500 coupe, and dang is this thing sharp.
It retains all the key design cues of any other Lexus: spindle grille, checkmark running lights, angular headlights and taillights, and more. But its profile view is like no other Lexus. It’s sleek, stylish, and looks fast just sitting in a parking space.
Thanks to its 5.0-liter V-8 engine, it doesn’t just look fast. This mighty V-8 injects a cool 471 horsepower into the coupe and passes it through a 10-speed automatic before it hits the rear rubber. It also delivers a sweet balance between precision handling and comfort, like any true grand tourer should.
Inside, this coupe is jaw-droppingly gorgeous — save for the annoying Remote Touch Interface that Lexus continues to troll us with.
Though it’s had the Touareg forever, Volkswagen desperately needed a midsize crossover the average person could actually afford. The $50,000 Touareg definitely is not that. Enter in the VW Atlas.
The Atlas not only gives VW a legit three-row crossover that starts under $31,000, but it also tosses in a unique design. Its blocky looks are a far cry from every other VW on showroom floors, showing that it intended for this crossover to stand out in showrooms.
Inside, the Atlas offers the cargo room the Touareg cannot. It has 20.6 cubic feet of room with the third row of seats up, and you can open up a full 55.5 cubes with the third row folded down. It really delivers all the roominess any family would need.
Under its hood, the Atlas will have a pair of engine options. The standard powerplant will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 235 horsepower. Optionally, buyers can go with the 3.6-liter V-6 and its 276 ponies.