Like the old quote about “the kid in the candy store looking for the perfect piece of candy,” the North American International Auto Show, (aka the Detroit Auto Show) is so full of goodies it’s impossible to choose. After days of media and industry previews the show formally opens Saturday displaying more than 750 cars, including 40+ eye-catching premieres and concepts.
Fast cars with high horsepower comprise a major contingent. Ford and Acura are especially buzz-worthy. The Ford GT racer’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 zooms beyond 600 hp. It’s gorgeously aerodynamic – a worthy heir to the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning GT40 from 1966. Its sibling is the Shelby GT350R, available later this year with a 5.2-liter V-8 – street-legal but built to race. Acura’s long-awaited NSX supercar combines a V-6 twin-turbo with three electric motors: one per front wheel and one to aid in accelerating and braking. The all-wheel drive NSX sports more than 550 hp and will be available late this year.
The new Porsche 911 Targa GTS with 430 hp (zero-to-60 mph in 4.1 seconds) and Cayenne Turbo S with 507 hp are exciting. Also hot: Cadillac’s 640-hp 6.2-liter V-8 CTS-V advertised at 200 mph and zero-60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Not as fast but looking like it at 237 hp is Alfa Romeo’s sexy 4C Spider convertible. Mini’s hot looker is the 2015 John Cooper Works Hardtop with 228 hp and 153 mph top speed.
Gasoline prices are down and trucks are way up in the Motor City with tons of possibilities. Ford’s all-aluminum F-150 won 2015 North American Truck of the Year. Ford’s new F-150 Raptor has 4WD with “Terrain Management System” to take on anything drivers might encounter. Its got a V-6 EcoBoost engine that’s more powerful than the old V-8. Ram’s choice is the 1500 Rebel with an inch more clearance than other 4×4 Ram 1500s. It has a 3.6-liter V-6 or 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and will be available later this year.
Toyota and Nissan also have new pickups. Toyota’s Tacoma has a 2.7-liter four-cylinder or 3.5-liter V-6. Its new “crawl control” can handle acceleration and braking while drivers steer, while adjustable throttle and brakes ease driving on unstable surfaces. Nissan’s Titan XD, with a 5.0-liter turbo-diesel V-8, can haul a titanic 12,000 lbs. Jeep’s Gladiator concept pickup is as big as a Ram but styled like a Wrangler. And Hyundai’s Santa Cruz concept “for urban adventurers” is but isn’t a truck: a crossover in front and pickup with extendable bed in back.
Even with gasoline prices down alternative energy options are visible in Detroit. Honda’s long-awaited FCV fuel-cell concept was officially introduced with sales set to begin next year. Chevrolet’s Bolt EV concept is attracting huge buzz with its 200-mile range, roomy cargo space, $30,000 estimated price and 2017 availability. It overshadowed Chevy’s second-generation five-seat Volt with longer range. Hyundai’s offering a plug-in Sonata, coming this year, and Mercedes-Benz unveiled its C350 plug-in hybrid, available this fall.
VW’s Cross Coupe GTE plug-in, seven-seat crossover concept will see production later next year. Another standout crossover on offer is the redesigned gas-powered Lincoln MKX, coming this fall with a raft of new tech features. Land Rover’s big news here is diesel engines for most of its models.
The sedan and convertible category doesn’t disappoint with a powerful midsize Lexus GS F and Infiniti’s Q60 concept designed with fierce-looking LEDs. Buick surprised with a very stylish Avenir concept hinting at future design direction, and a sleek Cascada convertible. From BMW, three restyled BMW 6 Series models – Coupe, Gran Coupe and convertible, and from Volvo, the S60 Inscription – built in China.
Here in Detroit, there really is something for everyone, even non-drivers. Mercedes-Benz’s F015 concept self-driving, capsule-like vehicle came fresh from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and China’s Guangzhou Automobile is showing the WitStar concept hybrid, steered by lasers, radar, cameras and GPS.