Top 5 Hits of the 2019 North Carolina International Auto Expo

posted 20 February, 2019 by Addison Lessing

Each year, Spiffy recaps the hits and misses of the annual North Carolina International Auto Expo, an event hosted by the Wake County New Vehicle Dealer’s Association to introduce manufacturers’ new lineups to the public. Thousands of spectators, automotive enthusiasts, and new car shoppers alike attend to get a glimpse of what’s to come in the year ahead.
As we enter the last year of the 2010s, the automotive industry has taken to ensure that the decade ends with a bang. We’re thrilled to report that we were not disappointed. With so many successes and so few missed marks, this recap will be focused on only our top 5 picks from one of our favorite expos to date.

#5: 2020 Jeep Gladiator

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

(Pictured: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon)

All new for 2020, Jeep is re-entering the pick-up market with the long-anticipated Jeep Gladiator. Don’t mistake the traditional styling for a Wrangler with a pick-up bed; this truck is unique in every sense of the word. Offering best-in-class off-road capability, a whopping 7,650-pound towing capacity, and almost 2 tons of payload capacity, this late entry into the ever-growing midsize pick-up market is certain to be a serious contender.
Jeep has promised to bring all new technology to the brand including diesel and even plug-in hybrid options for the pick-up. Yes, you read that right. Jeep will be offering a hybrid powertrain on the Gladiator. Between that and resurrecting the Gladiator nameplate, we have no doubt that Jeep purists and newcomers will be flocking to showrooms all the same. While official pricing has not been released, Gladiators are expected to start around $30,000 and should be appearing on dealer lots around Q2 of this year.

#4: 2020 Lincoln Aviator

2020 Lincoln Aviator, pre-production model

(Pictured: 2020 Lincoln Aviator, pre-production model)

Lincoln, Ford Motor Company’s luxury brand, has made astounding progress in the last decade in separating their vehicles from just another rebadged Ford. The 2020 Lincoln Aviator is no exception. Originally Lincoln’s Ford Explorer counterpart from 2003-2005, the Aviator has been reintroduced as a tried and true luxury SUV.
The elegant styling and luxury features carried over from their flagship Continental, along with the highly anticipated 450+ horsepower hybrid powertrain showcases Lincoln’s no compromise approach to the already competitive luxury sport-utility market. It’s sure to turn heads wherever it goes and should make competitors like Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, and BMW nervous. Playing the part well, the beautifully designed and capable Lincoln Aviator is expected to be priced from $51,000-$89,000 and should be available at local dealers this Summer.

#3: 2019 Audi e-tron

2019 Audi e-tron

(Pictured: 2019 Audi e-tron)

Audi made a statement that embraces the future of the automobile with the e-tron this year, earning it a top 3 spot on our list. The e-tron employs conventional, yet sleek Audi design language around a state of the art, electric powertrain. From a glimpse, the e-tron shares similarities to the all-new Q8, but it’s not just another electric or hybrid variant of an existing model.
The e-tron is truly all new and is clearly setting its sights on rivals like the Tesla Model X. The zero-emissions Audi is proud to feature 80% EV charging in just 30 minutes, offers the build quality both on and off road expected of a German luxury car, and sports the luxurious, simplistic interior we’ve come to appreciate from Audi. We’d be tempted to reserve our own if it weren’t for the $74,800 starting price, typical of an Audi SUV.

#2: 2019 Jaguar I-Pace

2019 Jaguar I-Pace First Edition

(Pictured: 2019 Jaguar I-Pace First Edition)

Audi was not the only manufacturer to show off its vision for the electric car revolution. Jaguar pounced at the opportunity to demonstrate its EV prowess with the new I-Pace. It’s difficult to describe the I-Pace without truly experiencing it firsthand. Immediately, the aggressive exterior design pulls you in. If the exterior wasn’t enough to captivate you, the interior certainly will.
While its range is just 5 miles shy of the e-tron (243mi versus 248mi), and not quite as fast as a Tesla Model X, the impressive, beautifully thought-out cabin and sleek exterior design make this our #2 pick. While we’re as ready to experience the future as Jaguar, we may need to hold off due to its $69,500 starting price.

#1: 2019 Mercedes Benz A-Class

2019 Mercedes Benz A220

(Pictured: 2019 Mercedes Benz A220)

Finally, our #1 pick for the 2019 North Carolina International Auto Expo is the show-stopping Mercedes Benz A-Class. Mercedes brought the A-Class to North America with one goal: to bring millennials into their showrooms. In short, they’ve nailed it. In the past, the S-Class has been known to feature the latest and greatest tech from Mercedes, but not this year. The A-Class features an artificial intelligence system designed in-house that makes any old voice command system obsolete. Is it getting chilly? Not a problem. Just say, “Hi Mercedes, it’s cold in here” and the heat comes on. Are the skies not looking as sunny as you’d hoped? Just ask, “Hi Mercedes, do I need an umbrella today?” The adaptive cruise control verges on to autonomous territory and offers an endless array of safety features.
We could go on about the technology and safety in this car, but that’s not what makes it a winner. The design departs from Mercedes’s recently soft styling and features a low, sporty look that’s sure to make your friends jealous. Contrary to Mercedes’ previous entry-level model, the CLA-Class, the interior of the A-Class is not just comfortable, it’s downright gorgeous. There is a high-quality fit and finish, with soft leather, plenty of head and leg room for all passengers, and a large enough trunk to take that weekend getaway you’ve been planning. Best of all, the base price is just $32,000.
Dealers should be getting their first shipments in the coming weeks, but we’ve already looked into pre-ordering an A-Class. For an automotive journalist, I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

Posted in Lifestyle

Written by Addison Lessing

The car guru. Changes cars more often than clothes. Favorite part about Spiffy: It's a tossup between the number of dogs here on a given day and our CEO trying to speak "millennial."