It's Auto Show season. In its 30th year, the annual Houston Auto Show is showing off a ton of new cars and trucks making their Texas debuts in the Reliant Center through Sunday.
Trucks are always big news in Texas, and the redesigned Chevy Silverado is about as big as that news gets. The new Silverado gets a lighter, but more advanced and stiffer frame, new engines featuring direct-injection, and evolutionary styling.
The rear doors are now, finally, front-hinged like normal doors, the new interior benefits from redesigned instrumentation and a 4.2" center console screen. The new GMC Sierra is also at the show, for buyers who prefer a different, slightly premium aesthetic.
Other parts of the world have enjoyed the red-hot Audi RS 5 for a few years now, and now it's been given a tweak and unleashed for us to play with in America. Using Audi's revvy 4.2 liter V8, the RS 5 makes 450 naturally-aspirated horsepower delivered through Audi's legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system.
Different wheels, a retractable rear spoiler and dramatic front and rear fascias make the RS5 stand out visually from the normal S5 coupe.
BMW Gran Coupe
Aston Martin Vanquish
Ford Fusion Energi
Though is wears the same attractive body as the normal Fusion, the Energi is a plug-in hybrid on the cutting edge of fuel efficient production vehicles. Similar in concept to the Chevy Volt, it uses a battery and electric motor paired with a small, 2.0 liter inline-four internal combustion engine to deliver a 620 mile range.
It can be driven in electric-only mode up to 85 mph, and has an all-electric range of 21 miles.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
One of our favorite SUVs on the market refuses to sit still. Jeep has given the Grand Cherokee a thorough freshening, with new LED-ified headlamps and tail lamps, new fascias and changes to the interior that bring an improved steering wheel and LED display gauges.
It also gets a new eight-speed transmission, which will help efficiency and also improves the Grand Cherokee's towing capacity. Even more exciting is the new 3.0 liter EcoDiesel V6, which we can't wait to try.
After years of taking criticism for overly conservative styling, the 2014 Lexus IS 350 is a shocker. The redesigned sports sedan bears the most extreme example yet of the new Lexus "Spindle Grill," along with wildly stretched taillights and separated, multi-piece headlights that look like nothing else on the road.
Does it work? Will it succeed? It's impossible to know for sure, but you can't say Lexus isn't trying something daring.
Toyota Avalon Hybrid TRD Edition
Best in Show