Cars have become so seemingly identical, so reliable, and so regulated that they're boring.
You might find some who'll argue that. But anyone who simply takes a trip out to a couple of new-car showrooms will find that's actually far from the truth. Many of today's production cars offer expressive designs that scream out; pack futuristic materials and sophisticated chassis systems; run with complex powertrains; and give you interfaces that we might have only dreamed of just a decade ago.
Keeping in mind the spark of innovation, we've taken a look both at the vehicles that will be arriving for model-year 2015, and at the vehicles that we expect might arrive by the end of calendar-year 2015. And from them, we selected some of the most fascinating models on the way.
And because expensive cars often seem more compelling—or is that glamorous?—we made this even more interesting by keeping exotics off the list, and making sure that most of our picks are anticipated to start below $50k.
In the spirit of looking forward to what's fascinating, we've prepared a list of ten. There are indeed a few boring cars on the market today; but these upcoming models in the pages ahead certainly won't be among them.
Tesla Model X.
Tesla Model X
Is Tesla the most fascinating automaker of the year? Almost certainly yes, whether you judge that by buzz, controversy, or innovation—or by the sheer crowd-gathering potential of the so-called “falcon wing” doors of its upcoming second mass-market, all-electric vehicle, the Model X crossover
. The Model X is due for a production start (and maybe even first deliveries) by the end of 2014, and we're guessing that Tesla and its products will continue to keep the public—and tech geeks and car enthusiasts—enthralled for the foreseeable future.
Land Rover Defender.
Land Rover DC100 (revised) concepts, live photos
Range Rovers have always been pretty plush, but Land Rover hasn't always been a luxury brand. There's nothing as charming as the iconic Defender, which embodied the tough, down-to-basics side of the brand. And the Defender's coming back—based on the eye-catching DC100 concept
from 2011. While reports from earlier this year pegged it as delayed
, possibly until 2016, we're hoping it arrives by the end of next year.
2015 Acura NSX prototype
An all-new performance flagship for Honda (as a company) and Acura (as a brand) is just over a year away, and it's been a fascinating trajectory of design teases and technical details that have emerged over the past several years. We know the upcoming NSX
will be powered by an innovative all-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain, including a mid-mounted V-6 engine and dual-clutch gearbox, and that it will incorporate a lot of lightweight advanced materials. But there's plenty more suspense—in questions like how does it drive. Based on what we've recently seen in the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, we're expecting performance that chases—and maybe beats—the Nissan GT-R, as well as some exotics.
2015 Lincoln MKC, 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show
Why is the Lincoln MKC, which is essentially a more luxurious version of the Ford Escape, so fascinating? Because we see this compact crossover
as being a platform—for Lincoln's big chance to recast and refocus the brand toward younger, affluent shoppers on the coasts. Will this smaller alternative to the MKX, as well as the new 'Lincoln Motor Company,' be enough to pull off some marketing innovation...and a new kind of buyer?
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
Mercedes-Benz has long resisted offering anything smaller than the C-Class to the U.S.; but that attitude is history. It's fascinating to see an automaker make a complete about-face in terms of what kind of products it offers, and then emerge with something as fully conceived and beautifully executed as this compact luxury crossover. When it arrives next fall
, as the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA
, it'll be a hit—perhaps even more so than the CLA-Class that's already arriving this year.
2015 Ford Mustang GT
How could we not choose the Mustang? Americans are enamored of this pony-car icon. And unless you've been off the grid for the past several weeks, chances are you know that Ford has previewed an all-new sixth generation of the 'Stang due to go on sale this next year, as a 2015 Ford Mustang
. Highlights include a new independent rear suspension and a turbo four-cylinder version, plus styling that verges away from the overtly retro look of the current Mustang.
2012, 2013, and 2014 Toyota Prius
Toyota's green-car icon is due for a major redesign next year
. The last two versions of the Toyota Prius have been significant leaps ahead in efficiency and technology, while more comfortable and livable than ever, and we're anticipating the same kind of gains in the upcoming version. Toyota's aiming for the 55-mpg mark, is cutting weight, and is developing the plug-in version alongside the hybrid version this time. Factor in more interior space and “advanced safety technologies” and we're guessing it will continue to beckon both green-car households and miserly types.
2015 BMW i8
Is it one of the greenest sports cars, or a particularly sporty electric commuter? What makes the upcoming 2015 BMW i8
so fascinating is that it's both—thanks to a clean-slate engineering approach that allows this lightweight four-seater to use all-electric operation for 22 miles, then switch to gasoline—or favor higher performance from both power sources, for the performance (0-60 in less than 4.5 seconds) of a serious sports car. Add in a sexy design, and when it goes on sale in spring of 2014 this lightweight masterpiece should provide high-efficiency driving enjoyment of an entirely new sort.
Ford Atlas Concept revealed at 2013 Detroit Auto Show
At the time we're putting together this list, very little has been revealed about the all-new, next-generation versions of the best-selling model in the U.S.—Ford's F-150 pickup line. But we know it's going to be very interesting—and one of the most fascinating vehicle introductions of the 2015 model year. Ford is reportedly still planning to incorporate aluminum and other lightweight materials in the 2015 F-150 to save potentially hundreds of pounds versus the 2014 model. Factor in a few other radical new features borrowed from last year's Atlas Concept truck
, and we could see some serious innovation reaching the masses.
Chevrolet Code 130.
2012 Chevrolet Code 130R Concept
To throw out one final wild card, it's fascinating to see automakers (even the domestics) re-embrace smaller, rear-wheel-drive cars, and the Code 130 is a perfect example. Although executives have been mum officially for the most part, we're quite sure that a global car derived from this 2012 concept
is under development, perhaps borrowing some underpinnings from the Cadillac ATS and due as soon as late 2015. Mating the idea of a simple, upright four-seat coupe—think of what the BMW 3-Series was in the 1980s, for instance—and today's expectations for in-cabin tech, we see the 130R as a future car that's compelling for its straightforward performance and lack of extravagance.
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