At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES ’16) many automakers showcased vehicles because of their technological wizardry. The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, which opens to the public today, is a showcase for the full package: gorgeous sheet metal; comfy, luxurious interiors; performance and speed (but with maximum fuel efficiency); and of course lots of whiz-bang technology. There are more than 750 vehicles on display – 50+ of them new production or concept vehicles.
Clearly, the American automotive manufacturing renaissance continues. Journalists at the press previews lavished praise on the Buick Avista concept, the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, the reintroduced Lincoln Continental and the all-electric Chevy Bolt (also seen at CES ’16) with its 200-mile range.
Buick’s tagline question, “That’s a Buick?” achieves real meaning with the Avista concept. It may never be produced, but if Buick uses its design in future cars, they’ll be noticed. Avista is a luxury sedan with 400 hp and the no-handle door openers that are trending in several high-end cars.
It’s unusual to hear automotive reviewers drooling over minivans, but they loved Chrysler’s new Pacifica, which will replace the Town & Country. It’s sleek enough to compete against the crossovers that have overtaken it in sales. It also will be offered in a plug-in hybrid model – the first minivan hybrid – that will go up to 30 miles in full electric mode. The gas-powered model has a 287-hp, 3.6-liter engine.
Ford reintroduced the Lincoln Continental with gorgeous leather and wood interior and all-adjustable seats. It has a 400-hp, 3.3-liter engine and is loaded with technology including smartphone app-powered start and lock and the latest safety software. They’re hoping it will sell well in China.
Luxury sedans like the Continental are another trend in Detroit. Hyundai has spun Genesis off into its own brand. The 2017 G90 has a heads-up display and 9.2-inch high-def touchscreen. Intended to compete with Mercedes, BMW, Acura and Lexus it’s also focused on China’s market. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 10th generation E-Class, notable for self-driving features: ability to accelerate or brake, change lanes when you turn on the turn signal and automatically maneuver to avoid accidents.
Acura’s Precision concept is long and low with unusually angular styling, including “suicide” rear doors. It may never get built, but various elements should be included on future Acuras. Inside it had a curved screen, one of the big trends at CES ’16.
Notable entries gathering raves in the sports coupe segment include BMW’s M2, with a 365-hp twin-turbo inline six engine and optional manual transmission; the 2107 Lexus LC500 with its 467-hp 5-liter V-8 and the brand’s distinctive hex-cell hourglass grille; and the Infiniti Q60 3-liter V-6 available with either 300 or 400 hp and a raft of safety technology.
In the performance car category, Porsche is showing the next generation 911 Turbo and Turbo S models with 540 or 580 hp. The S is rated at zero-60 mph in under 3.0 seconds. Equally fast and gorgeous is the first-ever Force 1, designed by Henrik Fisker. It can zoom to 218 mph with a 745-hp V-10. It will be built in Michigan and cost about $270k.
Trucks are very big. The long-awaited, restyled Honda Ridgeline looks more like a standard pickup and has a unique, roomy under-bed storage compartment. Nissan’s Titan Warrior concept is built for off-road and boasts “unapologetic, aggressive, athletic styling…” Ford’s 2017 Raptor uses aluminum to lose 500 lbs. even with a bigger cabin to haul more people. It’s powered by an efficient twin-turbo V-6.
Can’t neglect SUVs and crossovers! GMC debuted a reworked, smaller Acadia. Kia unveiled a large Telluride plug-in hybrid concept. Its leather seats have sensors that can read and display passengers’ vital signs.
Volvo’s XC90 plug-in hybrid is completely redesigned with amazing new technology and drive features, and notable for winning the North American Truck/Utility of the Year award. The N.A. Car of the Year winner is the new Honda Civic.
These only scratch the surface here at NAIAS.