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2013 Detroit Auto Show

19th January 2013

This year’s auto show was supposed to be bigger and better than it has in many years. In some respects, it is. More than 50 introductions, big, bold displays from the manufacturers and the companies are making money. However, the show had a certain feel to it that didn’t quite live up to the hype. Sure, there’s a new Corvette and many others, but the big news at Ford is a commercial van that they already sell almost everywhere else in the world. Anyway, read on for the highlights and must-see vehicles at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. For pictures, go to our Facebook page.

Ford

  • 2014 Transit – it’s a slow show when one of the biggest premiers is also one of the biggest vehicles. The Ford Transit is a box that comes in Transit will be offered in three body lengths; two wheelbases; three roof heights; van, wagon, chassis cab and cutaway bodystyles; 3 engines and in XL and XLT trim levels. If you can’t find a Transit to suit your needs, maybe you didn’t really want a commercial vehicle.
  • 2014 Transit Connect – this is Transit’s little brother. It’s been the ugly ducking of the family, but no longer. New styling for 2014, along with new engines, will make the Transit Connect more appealing.
  • Fusion – not new, but still one of the best-looking vehicles to be introduced in a long time.
  • Atlas Concept – this truck hints at the next-generation F-150, due out of the 2015 model year. Big, bold and aggressive.
  • Lincoln MKZ – built on the same platform as the Ford Fusion, this car is better looking every time I see it. Especially from the rear.
  • Lincoln MKC “Concept” – on sale later this year, the MKC is an entry into the growing small luxury crossover segment. Beautiful design, but they’ll probably have to add door handles when they make it for sale. Just a thought.

Nissan

  • Infiniti Q50 Sedan – the first of the new Infiniti naming plan (“everything’s a Q” – sounds like a Star Trek TNG episode). This is a really nice update to the G37 sedan. Has classic long hood, short deck proportions. The front grille seems to be a copy of Lexus’s new spindle grille design.
  • Nissan Versa Note – an update to the Versa hatchback only. The sedan was updated for 2011.
  • Nissan Resonance Concept – supposedly signals the direction of Nissan’s crossover design. They better ask Volvo if they don’t mind, because this looks like a cross between the Volvo C30 and XC60. It’s good-looking, though, and that’s why it tied for the Eyes on Design Award for best concept.

Hyundai/Kia

  • 2014 Kia Cadenza – as I have pointed out before, styling from Hyundai/Kia tends to be “borrowed” from other vehicles. The Cadenza is really great looking, but has a definite resemblance to the BMW 5 Series.
  • 2014 Kia Forte – nice update to the small sedan. As is customary from Kia, this little guy is loaded with features for its price.
  • 2014 Kia Sorento – see Forte. Same nice updates.
  • Hyundai HCD-14 Concept – hints at the next-gen Genesis. Looks part Audi; part Chrysler 300. See styling comment above. Darn good looking though, especially the lamps – front and back.

Chrysler/Fiat

  • 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee – nice update inside and out. Sports a new 8-speed tranny and a new 3.0L Diesel that will get 30 MPG.
  • Ram Pickups – the light-duty (1500) has been on sale and the heavy-duty (2500-5500) will be on sale soon. They get a nice visual update inside and out, though the overall look is the same. An 8-speed trans with the 3.6L V6 on the 1500 yields 25 MPG highway, best in the pickup segment. The 2500+ get up to 850 lb-ft of torque. You can tow up to 30,000 pounds. Not sure where to stay on your next vacation? Just tow your house!
  • Fiat 500L – the bigger Fiat is basically Fiat’s answer to the Mini Countryman. It’s a 500 for adults (with kids). I should have ordered one when I had the chance.
  • Fiat 500e – all-electric version of the 500. It has a push-button transmission selector where the “regular” shifter is on the “regular” 500.
  • Maserati Quattroporte – I have only 3 things to say about the latest 4-door. Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.

General Motors

  • 2014 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra – the big pickup gets a major update for 2014, but if they didn’t tell you, would you notice? GM showed the twins last month. This is the first showing in public. Big mistake, in my opinion. They spent a ton of money updating the truck, but then show it about 6 months before you can buy it. This is no win for GM. For folks that really like it, GM just gave them a reason to not buy the current truck (which is already having some trouble). For everybody else, they will wonder why GM is calling it new. It has new, forward hinged rear doors (see Ram Quad Cab), a cool bumper step and a damped tailgate that won’t come crashing down on its own anymore.
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala – this, more than anything else in GM’s lineup, badly needed an update. It finally gets one, and it’s a good one. It’s no longer an appliance on wheels. The touch screen lifts out of the way to reveal storage space and a USB port. It also has tons of legroom and trunk space.
  • 2014 Chevrolet Corvette (C7) – major update. It’s more exotic looking, more powerful, better fuel economy. Brings back the Stingray name, but GM made way too much of that. They said it was only used for special Corvettes, but it was used on all Corvettes from 1963-1976. Also worth noting is that on “Industry Preview Day” when engineers and others are spending their time measuring anything you can imagine on the cars, everybody at the Corvette display was just standing and staring (maybe drooling). That’s Detroit for you.
  • Cadillac ELR – it’s the offspring of the CTS Coupe and Chevy Volt. The baby got its daddy’s looks and its mommy’s spirit.

Toyota

  • 2014 Lexus IS – adopts a new, aggressive look borrowed from the Lexus LFA. The new look includes new daytime running lamps that seem inspired by Nike. The powertrain is carryover.
  • Toyota Furia Concept – signals that Toyota design has finally woken up. The car shows what the next Corolla will look like. If so, then the next Corolla will be quite the looker. This is one good-looking car.

Volkswagen

  • Porsche Cayenne Turbo S – because the 500 horsepower Cayenne Turbo is just a slacker. 550? Now you’re talking.
  • VW Cross Blue Concept – hints at a new crossover for the VW brand. Bears some resemblance to the Audi Q7. Concept sports a Diesel plug-in hybrid.
  • Audi SQ5 – slaps a turbo 3L V6 into the Q5. 354 hp, 0-62 in 5.3 seconds. 21” wheels.
  • Audi RS7 – the A7 is gorgeous; the S7 is hot, so what do we do next? More power! This hottest of the 7’s has a 4.0L twin turbo good for 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Get in line behind me.

BMW

  • BMW M6 Gran Coupe – adds “M” power to the gorgeous 6 Series Gran Coupe.
  • BMW 4-Series Coupe Concept – really nice looking. Low and wide. BMW’s naming has been odd numbers for sedans and even for coupes and convertibles. Except for the 3-Series, which has had all 3 body types. BMW fixes that with the 4-Series. Coming soon.

Jaguar

  • XFR-S – adds a 5.8L Supercharged V8 to the lineup, good for 550 hp. $99,000, which is more than twice the base XF model.
  • F-Type – the spiritual successor to the E-Type (clever naming strategy, right?), the F-Type might be the best-looking car at the show. On sale this spring, the prices range from $69,000 – $92,000.

Mercedes-Benz

  • E-Class – new styling looks great, especially the front end. The coupe and cabriolet are more aggressive than the sedan and wagon.

Honda

  • Honda EV-Ster – cool, little open-air EV roadster
  • Honda Urban SUV Concept – hints at a car you can actually buy next year. Styled like the CR-V, but smaller and built on the Fit platform.

Others

  • 2014 Mazda6 – new 3rd generation with SkyActiv Technology. What’s SkyActiv? All you need to know is that it allows Mazda to have cars that are fast, handle great and get great fuel economy – all without expensive hybrid or turbo or other technology. Has the same 2.5L I4 engine as the CX-5 SUV. Why does “SkyActiv” sound like it might be the new James Bond movie?
  • Subaru BRZ – not new, but I really like this car (and its brother, the Scion FR-S). Worth noting that this car is the only vehicle in Subaru’s lineup that is NOT all-wheel drive (AWD).
  • Tesla Model X – to be built on the same platform as Model S, Tesla says this is the SUV of Tesla. Whatever you call it, it’s certainly pleasant to look at, especially with the rear “falcon doors” open. Not gull-wing, but similar. You have to see it to understand, but it’s way cool. Should be priced about the same as a similarly-equipped Model S, meaning starting in the low 60s. Available in about 1½ years.
  • Destino – the Fisker Karma is a great looking car, but has a powertrain that many people might not want, or trust. Enter VL Automotive. They’ve made 2 running prototypes, with more on the way. The car is a Karma, with all of the electric motor removed (and sent back to Fisker for re-use) and replaced with the Supercharged LS9 engine from a Corvette ZR1. Now the Destino has the power to back up the looks. Wow!

The Slandy Awards® 2013

Slandy Best in Show-Production – 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7.

Slandy Best in Show Concept – Acura NSX. proves that there is still a pulse at Honda and Acura

Honorable Mention (in no particular order) – Maserati Quattroporte, Cadillac ELR, Audi RS7, Tesla Model X, Jaguar F-Type, Destino

WATT – Mini JCW lineup. I get it that Mini is all hip and cool. Probably too cool and hip for me. But honestly? That color scheme? Me thinks they are trying WAY too hard to keep up that cool and hip image.

Trends to watch – Logos and other messages in the headlamps of many vehicles (Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ram pickup, matte finish paint is showing up more and more. See Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Chevrolet

Oops Award – Edsel B. Ford II spotted trying to get into a (locked) Jaguar. He showed a bit of frustration that he couldn’t get in. Sorry, Edsel, you don’t own that company anymore.

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