First, a disclaimer: take everything here with a grain of salt. A big one. Maybe one of those horse-sized salt licks. Sure, we keep an eye on what’s what in the automotive industry, so we have a decent idea of what to expect in the coming year. But there’s always some unexpected thing that comes along that trips us up. It could be an unexpectedly good–or bad–new vehicle introduction. Maybe some automotive executive shakeup that leaves the newswatchers stunned. Or something else so unimagined, it shocks all of us.
So, with the caveats out of the way, and with no promises to be made, here are our prognostications for the big story in the coming year.
Keith Buglewicz, News Director
Toyota will re-introduce the Supra sports car. At the very least, we’ll start to see spy shots of a Supra test mule based off some other vehicle. I’m sure of it.
Why? Because of the Lexus LF-LC, that’s why. This elegant, gorgeous, striking looking coupe is a prelude to a new sporty coupe from Lexus. The coupe will slot in above where the old Lexus SC coupe once stood; think of the Mercedes-Benz SL as a primary competitor. But that’s not a high-volume vehicle, even if it is based off the excellent Lexus GS sedan (as rumors have it). So, how best to amortize that hyper-expensive coupe? Why, sell a less expensive version under the Toyota banner, of course. It’s history repeating itself: The car we called the Lexus SC in the 90s was actually the Toyota Soarer in Japan, a car that had occupied a position for generations as a more expensive and luxurious version of the Supra. Besides, it fits in well with Toyota’s newfound passion for putting, well, some passion into its cars. Expect a prototype at the Tokyo Motor Show next year.
Or, y’know, not.
Matthew Askari, Associate Editor
Crossover Mania; if you think 2012 was filled with new or highly refreshed crossovers–think Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Crosstrek, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, and Buick Encore–you’d be right, but as the adage goes: you ain’t seen nothing yet. Buyers who grew accustomed to the advantages of larger SUVs, but don’t necessarily want the heavy, sluggish performance and poor fuel economy that can come with the grand behemoths, will be interested in this constantly evolving segment. And it seems automakers have taken notice; in addition to the new crossovers that will be launched, 2013 will signal the evolution and future of the segment. Beyond murmurs and vague plans, we’ll see more near-production-ready concepts, and have a more concrete window into automaker’s crossover objectives. From the micro-to-midsize, from gasoline to diesel, and hybrid to pure electric, there’s sure to be a bevy of smaller utility vehicles in the works, and 2013 will showcase the future of the segment.
Jacob Brown, Associate Editor
Next year’s theme for vehicles will be diversification and how to spin off new, attention-grabbing vehicles off existing mechanicals. Look at the upcoming BMW 4 Series that looks nothing like the 3 Series on which it’s based. Or the Buick Encore that costs nearly twice as much as the Chevrolet Sonic on which it’s based, yet covers a completely different segment–and pretty well, might I add. Automakers are going to create more and more niches as they compete with one another for greater sales numbers. The Acura MDX-based ZDX crossover may have failed, but Mini’s Paceman has a strong chance of making it in a similar segment. Automakers have lived in predefined niches for decades now; the war is going to move into the trenches in 2013 and into 2014 as automakers jockey for having the one and only four-door convertible coupe utility vehicle on the market, or something like that. Let the oxymorons begin.
Jason Davis, Associate Editor
I’m crossing my fingers for the emergence of in-dash turn tables. Vinyl is back, you know, and digital just doesn’t have the sound quality compared to this on-the-rise, decades-old technology.
Trevor Dorchies, Associate Editor
The next 12 months will be filled with introductions of important vehicles including a replacement for the Jeep Liberty, which represents another step in the Chrysler-Fiat marriage. This all-new D-segment vehicle is vital to the Chrysler-Fiat partnership and will be a telling sign of which direction the automaker is headed in. Another important debut, which has been scheduled (surprisingly) early for the 2013 North American International Auto Show, is the 2015 Ford F-150. With Ram and Chevrolet already unveiling a heavily refreshed or next-generation model of the 1500 and Silverado, respectively, Ford felt the need to answer, too. With all of the new or heavily redesigned models, expect the competition in the full-size pickup truck segment to heat up in 2013.