Detroit’s Cobo Hall has turned into a giant-size playroom for adults who love sparkle, shine and speed. The North American International Auto Show has been busy all week with previews of all the new automotive toys for industry insiders and the international automotive press. It’s open to the public Jan. 19-27. There’s a lot to ooh and ahhh over: 59 new models or concepts are making their bows.
The Detroit show is the auto industry’s celebration not just of getting through, but roaring back from hard times. And, while it’s clear that efficiency is still important, the proliferation of powerful cars makes it clear that the industry believes consumers are just as interested in comfort, luxury, performance and sex-appeal. Trucks are also very much on display.
The show kicked off Monday with naming of the North American Car and Truck of the Year. The Cadillac ATS Sports Sedan and the Chrysler Ram 1500 Pickup claim top honors, chosen in a vote of U.S. and Canadian automotive journalists. The ATS is part of Cadillac’s determination to compete with German and Japanese luxury sports sedans. The Ram 1500 shows how hard manufacturers are working to balance power with fuel economy: Ram’s ads claim it gets 25-mpg highway.
Perhaps the biggest buzz surrounds the seventh-generation 2014 Chevrolet C7 Corvette, heir to the storied “Stingray” name and is all new with 450-hp that zooms from zero-60 mph in just under four seconds. Forbes calls it “the holy grail of American super cars.” No round taillights, though.
Among the other superfast cars on display: the Maserati Quattroporte, a four-door, 530-hp V-8 that Maserati says will do 190 mph; the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible with a 616-hp engine that does 202 mph; the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta with 730-hp that does zero-60 in three seconds with a top speed of 211 mph. Audi joins the party with the RS7 Sportback at 560-hp that does zero-60 in about 3.9 seconds. All fast, and all make a point of mentioning improved fuel efficiency, too.
Fuel efficiency is a major selling point for trucks and SUVs. Ford and GM are grabbing eyeballs with new truck debuts. Ford’s Atlas concept is widely considered the future of F-150s with an advanced EcoBoost powertrain and some new technological whiz-bang. Chevy’s 2014 Silverado and GMC’s Sierra boast cylinder deactivation on their engines, supplying the full V-8 when needed but acting as V-4s on the highway. Chrysler is reintroducing diesel to the Jeep lineup with a 3-liter EcoDiesel V6 in the 2014 Grand Cherokee.
Volkswagen, Lincoln, Nissan and Honda all unveiled SUV/Crossover concepts. The VW CrossBlue, built on the Golf platform, is a six-seater diesel plug-in hybrid. It’s expected here in 2015, priced around $32k. Lincoln’s MKC is a small SUV with elegant design and luxury features but no information available about engine or proposed timeline.
Nissan’s Resonance concept foreshadows the next-generation Murano with an AWD hybrid powertrain. Honda is making a splash with an Urban Crossover concept, a subcompact SUV built on its popular Fit chassis.
Other must-sees at the show include the Cadillac ELR, essentially an upgraded Chevy Volt with high-fashion Cadillac style; the BMW 4 Series coupe – longer, lower and wider than a 3 Series; the Infiniti Q50 that replaces the G37; the Lexus IS 350 in hybrid and AWD versions targeted toward entry-level luxury buyers; the Hyundai Genesis HCD-14 concept with innovative “eyesight traffic and 3-D gesture control” that read your eye and hand movements; the upscale Kia Cadenza concept; the luxurious compact Mercedes CLA Class 4-door coupe; and on and on.
Watch for the Denver Auto Show March 20-24, where you’ll see some of these gorgeous vehicles, closer to home.