The refrain we heard more and more this year was that new car buyers are trading cars for trucks, and that’s evident in the biggest news stories we covered this year.

Half of the top 10 stories had something to do with either new pickups or SUVs, especially ones wearing a Blue Oval badge on their grille (that is, Ford products).

A new-car-reveal or two stands out in defiance of that trend, but then again, another top story centres on the death of five sedans.

But enough of our dissection: here’s the top 10 news stories and new car reveals, in no particular order. We’ll let them speak for themselves.

The 2019 Ford Ranger

It seems just about everyone is excited about the upcoming midsize Ford Ranger pickup returning to the North American market for 2019 to give the Chevrolet Colorado a run for its money.

Following its debut at the Detroit auto show in the beginning of the year, we broke news of a possible off-road Raptor variant we’d crossed our fingers would come to Canada, then confirmed wouldn’t.

Then we reported on its solo engine option—buyers of the truck are stuck for selection, but at least it sounds like one incredible little engine. More recently, we broke the news of the pickup’s Canadian pricing, followed not long after by our own hands-on review of the thing.

Suffice it to say, we’re expecting with this much built-up anticipation for the truck, we’ll be hearing plenty more about the Ford Ranger in the coming months.

The 2020 Toyota Corolla

Even when given just a taste – via a heavily shadowed teaser image of a headlight – Canadians were whipped up into a frenzy over the new 2020 Toyota Corolla. It makes sense, considering the car is second only to the Honda Civic in terms of most car sales in Canada.

We’ve got a first look in-person so far, and confirmation we’ll be getting a hybrid version, if the gasoline trim isn’t enough to get you riled up. Keep your eyes open in 2019 for our driving impressions on the popular car, though.

GM closes Oshawa assembly, axes five sedans

This past month saw some of the year’s most shocking headlines: General Motors would be closing its Oshawa assembly facility in 2019, as well as four other plants in the U.S., as part of a plan to kill off five sedans.

Chevrolet’s Cruze and Impala will see the axe, it was revealed, and even though the goal is for GM to go electric, the Volt was put on the chopping block, too.

The saga on this side of the border will continue into 2019, with the union representing the workers in Oshawa, Unifor, pressing GM to consider alternatives to closure and a final decision coming down January 7. And if the half-century-old plant does get shuttered, there’s a rumour Elon Musk might just build Teslas there instead.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz

People who think the market’s not hungry for trucks imported from overseas didn’t see the furor kicked up when we confirmed Hyundai’s bringing its Santa Cruz pickup to production some time in the near future.

The designers have done their part, they say, which means we could be looking at the real deal’s debut in 2020 if not next year. However, noteverything is pinned down yet: the segment in which the Santa Cruz will compete is still up in the air, though personally we see it as more of a midsizer.

Long-lost prototype Shelby Mustang recovered

For the past 50 years, the hunt for the 1967 Shelby GT500 EXP nicknamed “Little Red” – a prototype hardtop Mustang that Carroll used for testing out a Paxton-supercharged 428-cubic-inch V8 – proved fruitless, the car presumed crushed.

Then, at the beginning of 2018, Craig Jackson of the popular Barrett-Jackson classic car auctions pinned down its location in Texas based on a tip—don’t look it up by its Shelby serial number, but by its original Ford VIN instead.

The one-of-two Shelby Mustang is in his hands now and undergoing an exacting restoration to like-new. It’s hard to say exactly how much the car is worth, but it goes without saying it’d fetch more than a few million if it went under the hammer.

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator

Perhaps just as anticipated as the Ford Ranger is the upcoming Jeep pickup, the Scrambler – no, wait, it turned out to be badged “Gladiator” – that should hit Canadian dealers around the middle of 2019.

The Wrangler already sells in droves, but a convertible version with a bed and, from what we gather, some incredible on- and off-road capabilities, promises to be even more popular, depending on how Jeep prices it.

The 2020 Ford Bronco (and “Baby Bronco”)

We are tripping over ourselves trying to get a look at the 2020 Ford Bronco. The buzz is building, and making it even hotter is the news a smaller, more road-focused “Baby Bronco” is inbound, too. (And we’ve seen that one!)

There’s still a while to go, though, before the long-awaited SUV breaks cover, with reports recently pointing to a new or refreshed F-150 and Explorer due out first. In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with these technically-new classic Broncos, which also drew thousands of eyes when we wrote about them.

The 2019 Mazda3

No one told Mazda the subcompact car segment is going away—the Japanese automaker just invested in a new all-wheel-drive version of its Mazda3, in sedan and hatchback body styles, unveiled at the L.A. auto show.

From the commotion the car’s reveal there kicked up, though, we’d argue it made a safe bet. People are keen on the concept-car-like styling, and the technology Mazda’s innovating into the thing isn’t hurting either.

The Ontario government scraps the Drive Clean program

Drive Clean, the mandatory emissions testing program that has for years been the bane of many Ontario drivers, was scrapped this year, with plans for it be replaced by a commercial vehicle testing program instead.

The program was brought in by a Conservative government in 1999, modified and made obsolete over 20 years of a changing industry, and finally nixed by the province’s new Conservative government this past September.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4

When the RAV4, Toyota’s best-seller in Canada and one of the progenitors of the small SUV craze, bowed with a fresh face in the first half of this year, buzz was big. Now it’s hit dealerships and buyers are digging the truck’s new powertrains. A hybrid version still sits on the other side of the start of January 2019.

Source: Driving

December 25, 2018