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Auto review: Hits, misses and questions from the Detroit auto show

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT -- Here's my perspective on what worked, what didn't and where the jury was out at the Detroit auto show:

Hit: Mustang Bullitt

Not many vehicles could overshadow the 475-hp 2019 Mustang Bullitt at Ford's display, but the dented and rust-flecked '68 Mustang GT nearby renders it invisible. Lost for decades, it's the Mustang Steve McQueen drove into Hollywood legend 50 years ago in the classic move "Bullitt."

The rust and scrapes signify that this classic is a "preservation" car, one that reflects the miles and years it's covered, not a "restoration" car that's been polished and returned to showroom-new. The car on Ford's stand is as McQueen drove it, right down to the camera mounts welded under the driver's side door.

Hit: Chevrolet Silverado

You may not think much about pickup beds, but Chevy engineers sure did as they developed the 2019 Silverado pickup. It's got a power tailgate, tailored inner walls for class-leading capacity, and a steel bed that's sure to star in many commercials as Chevy and Ford battle for pickup supremacy. Less obvious, the crew cab has 3.0 inches more rear legroom, and the truck shed up to 450 lbs., despite growing slightly larger.


Tossup: Ford Ranger

There's no doubt the Ford Ranger midsize pickup will have serious off-road chops. It adds modern electronic controls to an architecture that's served Ford trucks on ranches, farms and construction sites from Thailand to New Zealand to South Africa since 2011.

The question is how that architecture will serve North American buyers who drive their pickup to work five days a week and for play on weekends when the Ranger goes on sale early next year. The addition of features like an Ecoboost engine and Wi-Fi hotspot augurs well. But the fact that Ford describes the interior as "functional and durable" raises questions about look, feel and comfort.

Hit: Ram 1500


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