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10 Potential Game-Changing 2017 Vehicles

Updated October 23, 2018

Emission regulations have never been more strict then they are today, and that requires plenty of effort on car manufacturers’ part. Not only they need to find a way to limit the CO2 emissions, but they might be forced to deal with an entirely new threat before long. Germany, for instance is planning on phasing out internal combustion engines completely by 2030. Norway is even more ambitious. They’re planning on doing the same by 2025. While it’s still too early to think about the consequences, it’s clear they’ll be significant should the plan become a reality. Just think of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche and the co. Now, think about their future lineups if internal combustion actually does get banned in Germany.

Needless to say, every reputable manufacturer already has, or is working on a plug-in hybrid car. Tesla leads the pack, but they’re EV exclusive manufacturer after all. It’s about all other manufacturers right now, and about what they’re capable of producing in that field. Moreover, SUV craze isn’t showcasing any signs of stopping, so that’s another area worth looking at. Then, there’s the efficiency issue. More and more manufacturers are downsizing their engines in order to remain competitive, and it can safely be assumed they’ll continue to do so. Finally, we can’t forget the utes and performance cars. Former group’s foothold in the US market will likely never be threatened, while latter group gains in popularity as some people openly reject seemingly imposed downsizing on carmakers’ part. Here are what we think might be potential game-changing cars in the following 2017 model year.

Honda Clarity

Although Honda is finally launching their production fuel-cell car, let’s not forget to mention Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson FCEV as well. They all fight for the same limited piece of market’s pie that can potentially bloom in the next few years. Well, this probably won’t happen in 2017, although things will certainly look better than they have this year. After all, hidrogen station network grows by the day. Game-changing technology will certainly play an important role in the future of zero-emission vehicles, and Honda Clarity might establish itself as a leader. Something similar to what Prius has done in the hybrid world. 366 miles of gas-free range aren’t to be trifled with, and they’ll only grow as fuel-cell technology starts gaining foothold.

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Honda Ridgeline

A few years have passed since Honda offered a truck in the US market, but Ridgeline is now making a comeback for 2017. It’ll be interesting to see how the GM Canyonado twins will respond to some real, quality competition. Not that they’ve been around for too long, but even couple of years is enough when the mid-size pickup segment gets neglected for better part of the decade. Ridgeline will offer some innovative touches like the two-way tailgate and bed-mounted speakers. It’s also very spacious for its size and makes its competitors look outdated, which they mostly are.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

It’s currently one of the most affordable plug-in hybrids, and that makes it one of the most interesting cars currently available as well. Chevy Bolt EV costs around $30,000 after tax rebates and offers close to 250 miles on a charge. It can’t compete with Tesla in range segment, but it costs much less than anything California-based company offered up until now. Will it be a game-changing car, remains to be seen? For now, though, it looks like it might shake things up a bit, at least.

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Kia Niro

Kia Niro is yet another upcoming hybrid car for 2017. It’s also a compact crossover which should serve it nicely in gathering the necessary attention. After all, who can resist a ute with efficiency of 50 mpg combined? Not only that. Niro will be filled to the brim with safety gear, thus increasing its innovative demeanor even further. Not like it needed to be that good. There’s a certain void in the market when it comes to the efficient SUVs. Kia only exploited that gap. However, since they already pushed for it, Koreans decided to make it good too. We’ll see how it turns out in the next few months.

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Acura NSX

Very few people will be able to afford it, but that doesn’t mean the new NSX isn’t a game-changing car. At least to some extent. It’s not the first electric motor-bolstered supercar, but it’s currently the cheapest one. Where else can you get a 573-horsepower supercar for $157,800? 0 to 60 acceleration of 3.1 seconds is as impressive as it gets too, and so is the top speed of 191 mph. It’s a fine alternative to more expensive Ferraris and Lamborghinis, and it should stir the supercar market a bit.

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Honda Civic Type R

Ford Focus RS is already shaking the hot hatchback world, and Honda Civic Type R is now entering the fray. Honda’s hottest hatch has never before been offered in the states. Well, it finally is now. However, nothing is official yet. It will likely make close to 350 horsepower and corresponding amount of twist. Knowing the Japanese, their red hatch should rev to a redline just shy of 9,000 rpm. Although it won’t have a supercar-worthy top speed and acceleration, Honda Civic Type R should be able to bend the corners to its will with ease. By the way, have you noticed it’s the fourth Honda on this list counting the Acura NSX? Japanese surely are spicing their lineup up for the next few years, and we like it.

Lexus LC 500

Lexus has been making some extremely beautiful cars these last few years, but LC 500 takes the cake, it would seem. Moreover, it’s also available as a hybrid car. And not just any hybrid car either. Lexus LC 500h is a 354-horsepower sports coupe with an exquisite taste. Conventional LC 500, on the other hand, packs 471 horses and 398 lb-ft of torque thanks to 5.0L normally aspirated V8. Prices should start from $90,000 for the V8 and $100,000 for the V6 hybrid model. That might be a problem for Lexus, but then again, LC 500 is supposed to compete with even pricier opponents like the Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe, BMW 650i, and Maserati Gran Turismo. It’ll also go against more affordable Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911.

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Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Chrysler Pacifica is already becoming one of the more popular minivans, and with a good reason at that. It’s spacious, comfortable and reliable. Pretty much what anyone would want out of a minivan. As of 2017, however, Pacifica will also be fuel-efficient. Or rather the hybrid model will. Its 30 all-electric miles should be enough for everyday carpooling, but 80 MPGe raise it to an entirely new level. It’ll succeed in doing what Town & Country couldn’t have. I’m positive. And it should cost less than $30,000 after a full $7,500 rebate. Game-changing car? You bet!

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Hyundai Ioniq

Another one of game-changing cars from Asia, Ioniq combines three of the greenest possible car platforms in its lineup. There’s the Ioniq hybrid, an EV and a plug-in hybrid, and they should all debut by 2017. Both conventional and plug-in hybrid use the same 104-horsepower 1.6L 4-cylinder engine. While hybrid receives the 43 hp electric motor and 1.6 kWh lithium-ion-polymer battery pack, plug-in model benefits from 60 hp AC motor and larger 8.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. EV Ioniq will be powered exclusively by the 120-horsepower electric motor and 28-kWh battery good enough for 110 miles of range. It’s the first time that one nameplate features three distinctive green models, and that’s a game-changer if ever I saw one.

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Tesla Model 3

There aren’t many game-changing cars like the Tesla Model 3. It combines Tesla’s market-leading all-electric vehicle technology with longest available ranges (at least 215 miles), and low sticker that’s hard to come by – not only in other automaker’s EVs – but in conventional internal combustion vehicles as well. When all is paid and done, and tax returns get refunded, Tesla Model 3 should cost less than $30,000. It will yet again do what Ford Model T has done more than a 100 years ago by making new automotive technology affordable to the masses. I can’t think of a better game-changing car than that, and although first models probably won’t be available prior to 2018, I bet we’ll be hearing a lot more about it in 2017.

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Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much.

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