The industry comes roaring back at the Detroit Auto Show
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Published on Mon, Jan 19, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
2015 North American International Auto Show
Story by Christopher Merlo & Mark Dapoz
Pictures by Mark Dapoz
DETROIT IS ON A ROLL
With auto sales topping 16.5 million in 2014, the mood at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) was both upbeat and optimistic. Automakers and analysts are predicting that sales will continue to climb and reach 17 million in 2015. Yes, Detroit is on a roll. Further cementing the importance of the NAIAS is the continued resiliency of the U.S. economy and the demand for cars and trucks.
Significant themes at this year’s show included:
• Performance on the road, on the track and off road
• The importance of motorsports to the development of technologies that migrate to production vehicles
• Lightweighting - weight reduction via the use of lightweight materials and decontenting.
• The importance of trucks in this highly profitable segment. In 2014, truck sales topped car sales.
That’s a quick snapshot of the themes, now here is a brief summary of the top world debuts at this year’s show.
2016 Acura NSX
Two concept iterations later, Acura finally unveils the production version of the NSX and makes good on its promise to bring a new, exotic luster to its lineup and brand. Designed and engineered in the U.S., the longitudinal, mid-engine layout features a 3.5L V6 supplemented by a hybrid system that includes two electric motors to drive the front wheels and one embedded in the transaxle for rear-wheel drive. All told, the powertrain puts out over 550 horsepower. Underpinnings include an aluminum space frame with high-strength steel and carbon fiber floor. The car can be “tuned” for drivers of all skill levels by selecting one of four drive modes: Quiet, Sport, Sport+ and Track. The 2016 NSX goes on sale this fall with an estimated sticker price of $155,000.
2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
Alfa Romeo’s return to the North American market emphasizes the marques motorsports, Italian design and technology heritage. This convertible version of the acclaimed 4C features the same performance mechanicals as its stable mate but without the compromise of a less rigid structure due the loss of a hard roof thanks in no small part to the carbon fiber, windshield surround. For less than sunny driving conditions there’s a carbon fiber hardtop. The Spider’s 1.8L turbocharged I4 and six-speed automatic powertrain produces 237 horses. The 4C Spider goes on sale this summer.
2016 Audi Q7
Audi is on a tear racking up record sales here in the U.S. propelled in part by robust demand for their SUVs—the Q Series—accounting for one-third of overall sales. To fuel future growth, Audi is expanding production of the Q models along with introducing a fully revamped Q7. Lighter in weight and 25 percent more fuel efficient, the new model is packed with new technologies, upgraded connectivity and offers a wider choice in powertrains. There’s a turbocharged I4, a supercharged V6, two variants of the TDI V6 plus a planned plug-in hybrid diesel.
2016 BMW 6-Series
BMW premiered the refreshed 6-Series lineup including three distinct body styles: the M6 2-door coupe, 4-door Gran Coupe (a carryover body style from the former series) and 2-door convertible. All three feature a new, more prominent front grille and LED headlights.
Buick Avenir Concept
GM promises that numerous designs cues on the Buick Avenir concept will be present on next-generation Buicks. Highlights include the boattail fastback design, flowing body lines, ventilated front fenders, retractable door handles, sequential turn signals, interior and exterior polished aluminum trim, and grille based on the 1954 Wildcat Concept. The bold, full-size 4-seat AWD luxury sedan is powered by a direct-injected V-6 with a 9-speed automatic transmission, paddle shifters, and twin-clutch AWD system. The interior features a full-length center console throughout the entire cabin, providing center console storage and infotainment system for the rear seat passengers.
2016 Buick Cascada
Along with the possibility of entering the full-size luxury market with the Avenir Concept, Buick celebrates its growing market share by expanding its lineup with the 2016 Cascada, its first convertible in 25 years. For sale in Europe since 2013 as the Opel Cascada, but slightly modified for the American market, it features the 200 HP 1.6L Ecotec I-4 direct-injection turbo with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The automatic soft top opens and closes in 17 seconds, while driving at speeds up to 31 mph. Available in early 2016, with pricing estimated to start in the low- to mid-30s.
2016 Cadillac CTS-V
In an effort to go head to head against the top European premium brands, Cadillac continues to hit the accelerator on its overall performance with the introduction of the CTS-V, the third new V-Series model in as many months. V-Series is the moniker for Cadillac’s performance package targeting the likes of Mercedes-AMG and BMW M. Delivering on this premise, the CTS-V is the most powerful Cadillac ever to the tune of 640 horsepower and 630 foot-pounds of torque complements of a 6.2L supercharged V8 teamed with an eight-speed automatic. This powertrain propels the CTS-V from zero to sixty in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 200 miles per hour. To handle this level of power while delivering a full luxury experience Cadillac switched to the Alpha platform that debuted on its smaller sibling the ATS. Additional “V” enhancements include ground effects packaging, performance data recorder and magnetic ride control. The track capable CTS-V debuts in showrooms in the third quarter.
2016 Chevrolet Volt
First introduced in 2010, the 2016 version is Chevrolet’s first complete overhaul of the Volt. The second-generation hybrid model is 200 pounds lighter and completely redesigned inside and out. On the outside, there’s more aggressive aero styling while interior roominess expands to seat five passengers. Chevrolet is also targeting hybrid leadership with the first application of the new 1.5L four-cylinder Eco-Tech engine teamed with a more powerful electric drive. A smaller, lighter and more powerful battery increases the EV-only driving range to 50 miles, a 31 percent improvement. Combined driving range increases to 400 miles thanks to a gas equivalent fuel economy rating of 102 miles-per-gallon. The new Volt goes on sale in the second half of this year.
Chevrolet Bolt Concept
Raising the hybrid/EV bar even higher and intended to challenge the planned Tesla 3 in the race towards affordable and practical electric transportation, Chevrolet unveiled the Bolt Concept. GM claims that this stylish crossover will eliminate range and cost anxiety by delivering a 200-mile range on a single charge and at a relatively affordable $30,000 MSRP. The Bolt is also a technology test bed featuring an advanced lithium-ion battery, active aero controls, advanced lightweight materials and a smartphone app for vehicle on / off, ride-sharing management, vehicle location and auto park/retrieval.
2016 Ford GT
Ford grabbed headlines and perhaps the show with the reveal of its first supercar in 10 years sporting the venerable GT name. Slated for release in 2016, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40 team’s first, second and third-place victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. The GT reveal topped a press conference laden with Ford messaging about its racing heritage along with a commitment to performance and innovation. This supercar delivers on all points beginning with the intent to race at Le Mans. As for performance, how’s 600 horses produced by a mid-mounted, twin-turbo 3.5L V6 mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission? And when it comes to filling the innovation quotient there’s the aluminum front and rear sub frames encapsulated in structural carbon fiber body panels. Finally, there’s just the jaw-dropping styling and presence of this hyper car. Nothing speaks louder about Ford’s comeback and exuberance for all things automotive than this supercar.
2016 Mustang GT350R
The Mustang GT350R is packaged for one purpose: racing. There’s no rear seat, no air conditioning, nothing to detract from making this a screamer on the track. And yet it is fully street legal. Given its purpose, the most important feature is power to the tune of 500 horses produced by a 5.2L flat-plane crankshaft V8—Ford’s first ever.
2016 F-150 SVT Raptor
Ford is wasting no time in slapping the Raptor badge on the all-new, aluminum-intensive F-150. If trucks are profitable, then it stands to reason that a fully loaded performance package will bring even higher transaction prices (added profits) while adding buzz among on- and off-road enthusiasts. Starting with a purpose-built, high-strength steel frame, Raptor features a number of off-road, performance upgrades including larger, longer-travel Fox shocks; a smart terrain management system that allows drivers to select between mud, Baja, weather and street settings; and off-road mode driver assist technology. Also new for 2016 is a 3.5L Eco-Boost V6 that delivers more horsepower and torque than the outgoing V8.
2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid
Hyundai continues to expand its alternative fuel powertrain platforms as well as its model lineup with the introduction of HEV and PHEV versions of the popular Sonata. Both models are powered by a 2.0L I4 teamed with a six-speed automatic. Battery capacity on the second-generation HEV Sonata has increased 13 percent along with expected improvements in fuel economy. The plug-in version is new to the lineup and boasts a 22-mile pure electric range and a 93 miles-per-gallon gas equivalent rating. The HEV and PHEV go on sale in the spring and summer, respectively, of this year.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Concept
Is it a truck? Is it a crossover? Hyundai hopes a new generation of “urban adventurers” will go for this interpretation of a truck utility vehicle. This all-wheel-drive midsize concept is powered by a 2.0L diesel I4 engine and features rear-hinged, rear access doors and expandable pickup bed with a drawer-like sliding floor.
Infiniti Q60 Coupe Concept
Infiniti continues to evolve its design language with this Q60 Concept that is a strong hint of the upcoming production model slated for the 2017 model year. Highlights include a new family of lighter, smaller, higher performing direct injection, twin-turbo engines. This concept features a 3.0L V6 teamed with a seven-speed automatic. Styling and design elements include a double arch grille and full car-length character lines that evoke F1 car design. Tech features include carbon fiber door accents, direct adaptive steering and Infiniti InTuition which recognizes four different driver preferences by way of intelligent keys.
2016 Lexus GS F
Lexus adds to its F-Sport stable with this third performance-engineered entry, the GS F. This midsize sedan is powered by a 5.0L V8 rated at 467 horses mated to an eight-speed automatic. Highlights include a torque-vectoring differential with three operating modes – Standard, Slalom and Track. F-specific enhancements include a reinforced chassis, upgraded suspension and forged wheels.
2016 Lincoln MKX
Lincoln took the wraps off the production version of the all-new MKX crossover. The concept version premiered at the Beijing Auto Show this past year – Lincoln’s first foreign debut underscoring the importance of the China market to the brand’s future. The MKX will offer the choice of two powerteams: a 3.7L V6 rated at 300 horsepower and 2.7L Eco-Boost V6 rated at 330 horsepower. Both are teamed with a six-speed automatic. Additional highlights include: adaptive steering, Revel audio system, 360 degree camera, perpendicular and parallel park assist and smartphone control of basic function via MyLincoln Mobile. The MKX goes on sale in the third quarter of this year.
Mercedes put on a full-court press to drive home the message that the automaker is a technology, performance and design leader.
Their first proof point is the F 015 Concept (Hydrogen Fuel Cell) which debuted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This concept emphasizes the future potential of fuel cell technology as well as autonomous driving. Future, or we should say futuristic, is key here given the concept’s advanced design including a lounge-like interior with 180-degree, swivel front bucket seats, touchscreens on all four door panels and gesture controls. The hydrogen-electric power system offers a 683-mille driving range including 124 in full electric mode.
Next up is the 2016 C350 Plug-in Hybrid, capable of traveling 20 miles on battery power alone. This plug-in is no miser on performance with a top speed of 130 miles-per-hour and acceleration from zero to sixty in less than 6 seconds. Mercedes is promising a total of 10 new plug-in hybrids by 2017 including AMG-badged versions.
From power efficiency to powerful performance, MB also unveiled the 2016 C450 AMG powered by a 362 horsepower, twin-turbo 3.0L V6 that goes from zero to sixty in 4.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Both C Class models go on sale later this year.
MB also debuted its M-Class replacement, the 2016 GLE Coupe. This new coupe-crossover targets the BMW X6 and includes AMG versions. There’s a choice of two turbo powertrains: a 3.0L V6 rated at 362 horsepower and teamed with a seven-speed automatic; and a 5.5L V8 rated at 577 horsepower and teamed with a 9-speed. Standard equipment includes adaptive braking, attention assist, collision prevention assist, 360-degree camera and crosswind assist. Available in showrooms late this year.
2016 MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop
This high-performance, rally-based hardtop features a 2.0L twin-turbo 4-cylinder engine, the most powerful engine to date in the MINI line. Available with a six-speed manual or automatic, the 228 horses propel the car from zero to sixty in 6.3 seconds and capable of reaching a top speed of 153 miles per hour. Built on BMW’s shared front-wheel-drive global architecture, the Cooper Works is tuned for performance including the addition of a two-mode adaptive suspension, Brembo brakes, electronic differential and torque-steer compensation. Coming to showrooms in the second quarter of this year in both three- and five-door bodystyles with a MSRP of $30,600.
2016 Nissan Titan XD
Nissan joins the battle to win in truck country with the all-new Titan. Designed, engineered and built in the U.S. the Titan is a significant step up for Nissan in its efforts to offer a legit entry in the full-size truck segment. Nissan is taking a unique approach by offering a truck that straddles the 1500 and 2500 categories. Nissan is calling this new segment XD. The Titan, while a light-duty, half-ton entry offers a turbodiesel V8 – along with its additional torque for serious trailer towing – that is usually found in the pricier HD or three-quarter ton segment. In all, Titan offers a total of three engines options: A V6, V8 and the aforementioned Cummins V8 diesel rated at 310 horsepower and 555 foot-pounds of torque. When equipped with the diesel, it can haul up to 2,000 pounds of payload and tow up to 12,000 pounds. Available in either a King or Single cab configuration, the new Titan goes on sale late this year.
2015 Ram 1500 Rebel
Ram Trucks continues to up its game with the introduction of the Ram 1500 Rebel, an off-road variant to face off against the Ford F-150 Raptor. Riding high on 33-inch Toyo all terrain tires, the Crew Cab bodystyle features aggressive design cues including black out treatments and a twin-snorkel sport hood. Available in two- and four-wheel drive and with a choice in engines: the 305 horsepower 3.6L V6 and the 395 horsepower 5.7L V8. The Rebel goes on sale in the third quarter of this year.
2016 Toyota Tacoma
Toyota unveiled the all-new Tacoma including the TRD Off-Road version. Built on a new high-strength steel frame, this is the first complete makeover of the Tacoma in 10 years. Available with a new 3.5L V6 engine that can be paired with either an automatic or manual transmission, the improved Tacoma is more powerful, efficient and refined than the outgoing model. Toyota offers a total of five trim packages along with feature upgrades including blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, and push button start. For the off-road TRD there’s a crawl-control system, a multi-terrain select system and GoPro camera mount. The new Tacoma goes on sale this fall.
Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE Concept
The Cross Coupe Concept is a look at the future design language for VW and a strong hint at a 2017 crossover model slated to be assembled at the automaker’s Tennessee plant. Built on the MQB, or modular platform, this plug-in hybrid can travel up to 30 miles in pure electric mode while its gas and electric motors are capable of accelerating from zero to sixty in 6 seconds with a top speed of 130 miles per hour. Fuel economy is rated at around 70 miles-per-gallon gas equivalent.
2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country
Dubbed a crossover sedan, the S60 Cross Country features rugged design cues along with increased ride height, all-wheel drive, higher profile tires and a 2.5L turbocharged, 250-horsepower five cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic. Available in the second quarter of this year.
2016 Volvo XC90 R-Design
The R-Design with its sporty styling cues is an additional trim level available on the yet-to-be-released and all-new XC90. Highlights include a new grille and front fascia, matte-silver mirror caps and roof rails and standard 20-inch wheels. The XC90 goes on sale in the second quarter of this year.
For additional coverage of the North American International Auto Show, see LA Car on social media here.