I get a chance to drive a lot of cars in a given year. On average, I’m in 15-20 vehicles in a given 12mo period and sometimes it’s quite a bit more than that, like when I attend the journalist-only Rocky Mountain Drive Experience. In 2017 I logged about a dozen cars at the event (“A Million Dollars Worth of Cars“) and in 2018 figured I drove at least as many cars in my two part writeup (“2018 Rocky Mountain Drive Experience” and “RMDE part 2“). Still, there’s something really convenient about being able to see hundreds of the latest cars and trucks in one place, so while I don’t get behind the wheel, I also really enjoy the annual Denver Auto Show.
Colorado is considered a truck, SUV and off road market – 80% of cars sold in Colorado have AWD, for example – but my interest is more in hybrids, EV and other hyper-efficient vehicles. Not a ton of those, but some of the key players definitely were showing off their best, including the brand new Nissan Leaf Plus EV. So let’s start with the hybrids because, well, they all kind of look alike. First out of the chute is the Hyundai Ioniq:
With a base MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, this isn’t what anyone pays, but it is the starting point for your off-the-lot vehicle pricing) of $22,000, the Ioniq boasts the best fuel efficiency of any non-EV vehicle on the market, an impressive 57 city / 59 highway. Imagine getting almost 60mpg! The above also nicely demonstrates how Hyundai is one of the many companies moving upscale with their lineup.
Still showing just a bit of its Insight roots, the Honda Clarity for 2019 is a solid addition to the lineup:
This is the plug-in hybrid version of the Clarity: This same basic vehicle is available as an all-electric or a hydrogen fuel cell car too! The hybrid boasts about 42mpg fuel efficiency, but of course you can drive it electric only for almost 50 miles on a full charge too, so mileage is quite a bit better than that number suggests.
Toyota had the most interesting hybrids as its well-proven tech migrates onto even more vehicles in the lineup. There was definitely discussion around the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hybrid:
The big revelation here is that you can now get a great Toyota hybrid without it having the dorky look of the Prius. It just happens to get 53 city / 52 highway with an MSRP base price of $22,950. I suggest that Toyota really has a winner on its hands with this one. Prefer a Compact SUV (known in the biz as a CUV)? Toyota also introduced the RAV-4 Hybrid AWD:
Not anywhere as fuel efficient at 34 city / 30 highway, but with a base price of $27,700 this is a great option for the CUV crowd. Then again, my Mazda CX-5 with a non-hybrid engine gets 27mpg so as with all hybrids, the question is: Is it worth the premium to get a sometimes small bump in fuel efficiency? You can do the math, of course: EPA estimates 15,000 miles/year for a typical driver, so 3mpg improvement in fuel efficiency will save you around 55 gallons each year. At $2.50 per gallon, that’s a savings of $137.50. Not so much, even across years and years…
Okay, enough of these fancy hybrids! Let’s wander the rest of the Denver Auto Show floor and see what caught my attention!
First off, if you had $200,000 would you spend it on a Lamborghini SUV?
This is the Lamborghini Urus and it gets a mind-boggling 12 city / 17 highway. And has a base price of $200,000. Why? I just don’t get it. Then again, apparently the Porsche SUV, the Cayenne, is the best selling vehicle in their lineup, so perhaps it’s purely based on the bottom line? Well, there’s this too, from the Lambo Web site: “The new Lamborghini Urus is the world’s first Super Sport Utility Vehicle as well as the first 5-seater super sports car, embodying the essence of the Lamborghini DNA, designed to express its enormous potential on any road, anywhere in the world. On track, sand, gravel or snow, the Urus stands out due to its V8 twin scroll bi-turbo engine with 650 HP and with no compromise in terms of handling, performance and luxury thanks to a unique technical package and limitless customization possibilities.” 🙂
Moving to a completely different vehicle, Audi was showing off a stunning green RS-5 Sportback:
Sadly, the $97,750 MSRP Audi RS-5 Sportback is the only Audi in the lineup that offers this stunning Sonoma Green. But ain’t she pretty?
I was impressed by the Hyundai lineup, and similarly, you might be darn surprised that this is a Kia:
This is the 2019 Kia Stinger, with a base MSRP of $32,990 and 22/29 mileage. It’s not going to win in a race against that Lamborghini, but the Kia Stinger’s 255-365hp is respectable for a little sedan nonetheless.
Shifting gears again, Jeep was very proud of its first truck in 26 years, the 2019 Jeep Rubicon Gladiator:
Definitely a curious hybrid, but the cab has all the features of the popular Rubicon line, including pop-off windshield, doors and roof, along with a cute little truck bed in the back for hauling gear and an occasional run to Home Depot. No price announced yet, but Jeep fans are going to love this once it’s available.
Prefer a luxury car that’s off the beaten track even more? The new Alfa-Romeo is gorgeous too:
This is the 2019 Alfa-Romeo Giulia Ti Lusso AWD sedan. Starting at $51,000 it’s lovely inside and out. But then ya gotta find a mechanic too at some point and that might just override the joy of being able to tell people that it’s a “Guilia Ti Lusso” with all the appropriate Italian flair!
Sticking with white – there were a lot of white cars at the Denver Auto Show! – but heading to a less exotic manufacturer, I couldn’t pass up a chance to photograph the cute little 2019 Subaru BRZ:
Starting at a quite modest $27,795, the 2019 Subaru BRZ definitely ranks as a sports car without the painful sports car price tag. The design, however, reminds me of the Nissan Z line, but change the front medallion and it has a bit of Mercedes or BMW DNA too if you squint just right.
Finally, I’ll wrap up with two beauties from Chevrolet. First, the 2019 Chevy Blazer – the first Blazer from the company in over a decade:
I have to say that I really like this design. It’s terrific. The MSRP starts at a very modest $28,800 and your mileage should be somewhere between 22 and 27mpg. I predict this is going to be a winner for Chevy.
Thought it might not sell quite as many units, my personal favorite – and dream summer car – is this sexy 2019 Chevy Camaro 2SS Convertible:
Yeah, the MSRP on this is $48,000 so it’s going to be over $50K out the door, but imagine cruisin’ down Highway 1 thru Malibu in Southern California on a hot, sunny day in this baby? Oh yeah.
That’s a wrap for my coverage of the Denver Auto Show this year. Next year? Hopefully more EVs, more hybrids and even some hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the floor…