The cars you’ll be driving in 2019
THE New Year is shaping up to be a bumper one for car launches.
There'll be a glut of new SUVs, with hybrid and even full electric versions finally looking affordable to the masses.
SUV spurners can look forward to new hatchbacks and utes too.
Here are the ten biggest arrivals for 2019.
Overdue a revamp, the strong-selling RAV4 mid-size SUV makes way for an all-new tougher-looking version in the second quarter of 2019.
Edgier design is complemented by a roomier cabin with a bigger boot and impressive safety features.
Under the bonnet, the diesel engine's been axed and replaced by a hybrid, Toyota's first in an SUV.
Shoppers can choose a front-drive 127kW 2.0-litre petrol or AWD 152kW 2.5-litre petrol, the latter detuned in the hybrid version and given electric motors for a combined 155kW.
Expect prices to start from $31,000 the petrol; the smarter Hybrid pick closer to $40k.
The return of a legend, albeit with a disappointing European crash-test rating, the little Suzuki 4WD fan favourite will arrive on Australia Day.
No word on specifications or pricing - from about $24,000 looks likely - but Suzuki Australia says more than 200 of these lightweight baby SUVs have been pre-ordered. Price, spec and safety kit will climb with different grades.
It'll feature an old-fashioned ladder-frame chassis, 75kW 1.5-litre petrol engine, low range gears and choice of five-speed manual or four-speed auto.
Value, fun and off-road ability will outweigh practicality and on-road dynamics, but looks alone will secure sales.
Only Toyota's Corolla outsells Mazda3 in the passenger car segment, and there's a design revolution for the all-new hatchback and sedan.
Set for a mid-year arrival, the 3 displays "a new form of elegance", according to Mazda, and its sleek lines are at their boldest on the five-door hatch's giant rear pillars.
There's a cleaner and more driver-focused cabin with new 8.8-inch screen, while efforts have been made to reduce the 3's notorious cabin noise issue.
Expect 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol engines with six-speed manual or auto gearbox, followed later by a super-efficient engine and perhaps all-wheel-drive. Prices should start at about $22,000.
The go-to choice for value in the gangbusters ute segment, the 2019 Triton gets the mother of mid-life facelifts and improved safety kit.
Arriving next month with a bolder grille, muscular wheel arches and new off-road selector, it nails the tough and durable remit.
Its 133kW 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine and leaf-sprung rear end remain, but a six-speed auto replaces the old five-cogger.
Cabin materials are softer touch, while safety will rival the Mercedes X-Class and Ford Ranger with auto emergency braking, blind spot warning, around-view camera and rear cross-traffic alert.
It'll remain good value, but the current dual cab run-out $33k won't be repeated.
VW targets Benz and BMW SUV shoppers with its third-gen Touareg, platform sharing with the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7.
The new model has a sharper design, with a longer and wider body, but it remains only a five-seater with generous boot space.
Fancy options include air suspension, rear-wheel steering, and giant 15-inch touchscreen beside a 12.3-inch digital display.
Diesel power only, with the Launch Edition running the 190kW/500Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo seen in the Amarok ute.
Current prices start at $75k, so expect the new one to add a few grand when it appears in the second quarter of the year.
Hyundai Kona Electric
Following Hyundai's all-electric Ioniq launch last month, its EV onslaught continues with the Kona Electric due early next year.
The zero-emissions small SUV features a 39kWh or 64kWh battery pack; the latter offering 150kW/395Nm and a claimed real-world driving range of more than 400km.
Buyers have been slow to embrace electric vehicles, but the Kona EV lands in the new-car market's fast-growing segment, boosting its chances of success.
An estimated price of $50,000 makes it a niche but fascinating offering.
The Kia SP concept car unveiled at India's Auto Expo early last year will eventually morph into the maker's entrant in the highly competitive city SUV segment.
Due towards the end of next year, the pint-sized SUV will take on the likes of Mazda's CX-3, Toyota's C-HR and sister brand Hyundai's Kona.
Kia is at pains to point out that the new car won't be a Kona clone, although it will be built in Korea.
Details are scarce, and the production vehicle won't look quite the same as the concept, but rumours suggest it may be powered by a small 1.0-litre turbo and be equipped to compete as a more up-market model.
Kia will also debut the new E-Niro electric SUV late in the year.
Prefer a proper car to the tsunami of SUVs? The tenth-generation Honda Accord drops in late 2019.
Honda knows its flagship sedan won't sell in big numbers - just 168 have shifted in 2018 so far - but the model's 30-year history in Australia has inspired loyalty from Honda if not buyers.
The new Accord is already on-sale in overseas left-hand-drive markets with edgier styling and prestige-targeting leaps in luxury, safety and technology, so expect a price of more than $40,000.
A petrol-electric hybrid version to challenge Toyota's Camry Hybrid looks a shoo-in to go with the choice of 145kW 1.5-litre or 191kW 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinders.
The French player will drop its Kadjar SUV into the crowded mid-size SUV segment in the second half of 2019.
The new arrival will slot in between Renault's Captur and the larger Koleos SUV, with an expected starting price of about $25,000.
It shares underpinnings with Nissan's Qashqai, and although Europe loves the diesel version, it's likely we'll get just a 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre turbo petrol.
Front- and all-wheel-drive versions are on sale overseas, but expect two driven wheels to be the preferred option for Australia.
Dropping in the first quarter of 2019, the new Wrangler has not got off to the best start with a one-star crash rating from Euro NCAP.
Aussie versions won't fare as poorly as they'll be available with AEB and other safety tech missing on the version crash tested in Europe.
The new JL model is the first all-new Wrangler since 2007, and we'll get short-wheelbase two-door and long-wheelbase four-doors and choice of 212kW 3.6-litre V6 petrol or 147kW 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, from about $39,000.
Expect multiple grades headed by the most hardcore Rubicon, an increase in refinement and technology, plus later, a segment-shaking Gladiator ute version.