The 2018 Denver Auto Show

New cars from major automakers dazzle

By Randy Beaudette

The Denver Auto Show! Just the name excites car fanatics and sends hard core gear heads into a cold sweat, eyes glaze over, and the conquest for tickets begin. They stare off in the distance dreaming of high gloss paint, polished chrome, swoopy curves, and LED lights. The 2018 Denver Auto Show is a showcase of new vehicles with gadgets and technology that seems to come straight out of the future.

Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Toyota Nissan, Maserati, McLaren and 31 other brands were on display at the Denver Convention Center last weekend for potential and wannabe car buyers. The only exceptions were the Smart and Tesla cars. I guess they decided that the Denver market is not worthy enough to invest any resources into. Classic race cars, street rods, classic cars, and military vehicles which were not for sale, were on display. They added a nice alternative to the sales lot atmosphere experienced elsewhere in the Convention Center.

The Toyota exhibit was impressive with their newly designed Corollas and Camry’s. The 2018 4Runner with its redesigned body seems smaller than in years, past but according to posted data, the dimensions haven’t changed since the turn of the century. All the 4Runners have a 4.0 liter V-6 5A engine, 5 speed automatic transmissions, and seating for five. The V-8s have not been offered since 2009. Prices for the 4Runners range from around $34,000 for the SR5 model to $37,000 for the beefier TRD Off-Road model.

Nissan used the ultimate winter vehicle to lure lookie-loos into their display. The engineers at Nissan took a 370Z ki5 Roadster and outfitted it with a pair of skis on the front axle and a pair of Dominator snow tracks on the rear. Normally the 330 HP 370Z can do 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. With the tracks, it is doubtful that it can even get up to 60 MPH, but the fun-factor is huge! The 3.7 liter engine produces 332 HP and 270 Ft. Lbs. of torque with a 7-speed automatic transmission. This particular model is highly modified and lifted three inches to accommodate the ski track system.

In the Dodge arena, the big attraction was the 2018 Challenger Hellcat that takes its shape from muscle cars of the ’70 models. The boxy look of the Charger is wrapped around a supercharged SRT 392 motor that produces 707 HP and is available in a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. A redesigned grill and fender flares are new additions to the Hellcat this year along with the unique Hellcat logo. Dodge wins with overall style of all their products from the Dart to the Chrysler 300.

The exotics were well represented at the show too with sleek new cars from Lamborghini, McLaren, Lotus, and Maserati. In Lambo land there were only two different models to choose from. The Huracán Performante which has a 631 HP V-10 for the budget-minded driver was priced at a paltry $330,000. If money is no object or the new tax cuts have been really good to you, an upgrade is available with the Aventador 5 Roadster. Now this little cruiser has a naturally aspirated V-12 that runs smother than a baby’s behind, but produces a ridiculous 740 HP. It will do 0-60 MPH in a lazy 3.0 seconds with a top speed of 215 MPH. I believe it is a little too much for any Gilpin County road, and the price is a mere $553,000. Both Lamborghini models have a seven-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive to get the kiddos to school fast in all weather conditions. Studded snow tires are optional. Too much for your budget? You can enter to win a 2019 Lamborghini Urus, Huracán or $200,000 cash! Tickets are only $10 each and goes to a good cause. Drive for a cure to support children’s health. Visit to enter.

McLaren brought out its 720S from its Super Series and 570S Spider from its Sports series. There’s not too much information published about the 720S, so I guess they want to keep that confidential. The 570S is equipped with a twin turbo 3.7 L, V-8 that kicks out a 570 HP with a top speed of 204 MPH and weighs in at a little more than 3,000 pounds. Strap in and hang on Mable, we’re taking a fast road trip. Yikes! The McLaren is Jay Leno’s favorite sports car.

Enough about sporty cars – let’s talk trucks. Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge were the big representatives in the truck arena. Ford introduced the “Next Generation of Tough” in its Super Duty line. The new Super Dutys have a heavier suspension and frame to increase payload to 7,600 lbs. and towing capacity of 21,000 lbs. Fuel tank capacity has been increased for both the gas and diesel models.

For 2018 Chevy is introducing the aluminum body on its late 2018 models under pressure from the Federal Fuel Efficiency Standards. According to the Wall Street Journal, GM has secured contracts with Alcoa and Novelis Aluminum suppliers to increase production to meet the upcoming demands. This move can reduce the weight of the new Chevys trucks by up to 700 lbs., increase payload, and towing capacity. The bed floor will be still be steel so as to not make the same mistake that Ford did, averting those embarrassing strength commercials. The smaller 2018 Chevrolet Colorado model now has a 2.8 L turbodiesel engine to add to the existing 2.4L four and 3.6 L V-6 line. The Colorado also sports a redesigned grille with LED or HID headlights.

For Dodge, the smaller Dodge Dakota has made a comeback in 2018, incorporating a unibody platform. Engines that are available are the peppy 3.6 L Pentastar V-6 engine, or the 300 HP 2.0 L Hurricane engine. First introduced as a 1987 model, the Dakota had a long run until 2011 when it was discontinued. After a seven year absence, Dodge decided to resurrect the Dakota to compete with the Honda Ridgeline and the newly redesigned Ford Ranger.

Now for the practical. Subaru had the biggest surprise in this category. I know, you can’t throw a rock along the Front Range without hitting a Subaru. I’m sure they’re good cars and people that drive’em, love’em. They just are not a standout ride except for the Subaru BRZ. This car doesn’t look like a Subaru in that it has design lines more akin to the Datsun/ Nissan 280Z. It is classified as a sports car, but with a low price tag of $25,000 to $33,000, it can almost be classified as an economy sports car. The 2.0 L 4 cylinders opposed engine kicks out 200-205 HP. Fuel economy is okay for the low horsepower at 21 city/ 29 highway

After a day at the auto show, the gearheads find their way home with feet tired from walking, eyes tired from looking, and a cell phone camera filled with pictures to share in the days to come. They look at their old rides in the driveway and smile. But are they smiling at the absence of car payments, or are they dreaming of what could be? Only they and fellow gearheads understand the significance of this annual event that has occurred since 1904 where ideas are gathered and dreams are fueled.

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