Updated: Thursday, January 25, 2018, 6:11 AM
The Philadelphia Auto Show is in full swing this weekend, and it runs daily through Sunday, Feb. 4.
The crowds at the 2019 vehicles and other exciting displays may be a bit thick — the show’s attendance keeps breaking records, with 253,191 people visiting last year.
So head away from the crowded big draws to see some 2018 models. There, visitors get a chance to play with the controls and get comfortable after a long day of walking around the Convention Center (and might even see Mr. Driver’s Seat skulking around).
Here are 10 models you’ll see there, starting with five that I’ve had the chance to test (for 2018 or otherwise noted), with review highlights:
2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid: The Ioniq uses a four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor that captures brake pedal energy to recharge the battery and help conserve fuel economy. A plug-in model is also available for 2018.
The Ioniq even borrows the wind-cheating profile of the Prius but offers shifty drivers a real, honest-to-goodness six-speed shiftable automatic transmission.
The 139 combined horsepower from 1.6-liter engine and 32 kW motor doesn’t make a rocket out of the Ioniq.
Base price: $22,200.
2018 Genesis G90: This new division of Hyundai separates the wheat from the chaff, gives the wheat a fancy name, and boosts the price. But the result is not going to make you think “Hyundai.” Mr. Driver’s Seat didn’t recognize one at first pass, so chances are you won’t either.
The 5.0-liter V-8 produces 420 horsepower. It rockets the G90 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. A silver T handle shifter motivates drivers through the 8-speed automatic operation seamlessly, and shift function is delightful.
Base price: $68,350.
2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T: You may think now’s the time to go to sleep but don’t. This sedan — even without the turbo — offers a great ride, nice handling, and decent performance. A 2016 turbocharged version tested added even better performance all around.
And you’ll get all the fun features of the expensive brands at a fraction of the price.
Base price: $20,550.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas: Volkswagen finally goes full-on with an effort to capture America’s large three-row SUV market. In an upcoming review, I put it up against the Toyota Highlander to see how it fares.
The Volkswagen Atlas tested had a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 276 horsepower mated to an 8-speed automatic. A 2.0-liter four provides 235 horses.
Base price: $30,750.
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan: This sporty midsize crossover from Volkswagen has grown up from previous incarnations and now features available three-row seating and more cargo space. All trim levels of the Tiguan come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that creates 184 horsepower, so it’s no hot rod.
Base price: $24,595.
And here are five other models that I just have to try:
2018 Ford EcoSport: A new mini crossover, the EcoSport debuts for the 2018 model year. The base engine is a 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder, driven by a six-speed automatic. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder comes with the all-wheel drive version. Base price: $19,995.
2018 Jaguar E-Pace: Jaguar throws its hat into the compact SUV ring with the E-Pace. The E-Pace comes with a choice of two 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, turbocharged to provide 246 or 296 horsepower. The power is sent through the wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. Base price: $38,600.
2018 Jeep Wrangler: As much as marketers might disagree, few vehicles truly can be called icons, but the Jeep Wrangler is certainly one of them. So FiatChrysler throws around the term all new with some extra consideration.
I find the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 option a cool idea, but I am a diesel geek. A 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engines join the Wrangler lineup, while the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is upgraded for 2018. A six-speed manual is standard while an 8-speed automatic is an option.
The company says dozens of different door, top, and windshield combinations allow for endless configuration possibilities, and I believe them.
Base price: $26,995.
2018 Lexus RX L: By growing the body just 4.3 inches and making the hatch steeper, Lexus says it has squeezed in a third row and kept handling and maneuverability intact. But we’ll stuff Sturgis Kid 4.0’s stilty legs back there and see just how roomy the new L is.
The standard RX L gets a bench seat in the second row, while captain’s chairs there upgrade the ride but squeeze out Passenger Number 7.
A 3.5-liter V-6 in the RX350L offers 290 horsepower and front- or all-wheel drive, plus an 8-speed automatic, while the RX450hL uses a pair of hybrid drives to power all four wheels while saving fuel.
No styling changes have come along for the ride, so it still looks like an electric razor with an attitude problem.
Base price: $43,270.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: This new small crossover aims to add some fun in the segment, even taking part of its name from the sporty Mitsubishi Eclipse. It uses Mitsubishi’s patented All-Wheel-Control system and brings value to the segment with a starting price of $23,295. The Eclipse Cross gets its 152 horses from a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Read full story: 10 must-see 2018 models at the Philadelphia Auto Show