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2015 Detroit Auto Show

18th January 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, where we once again have a mayor who’s actually in charge (it’s the little things…). Here’s a rundown of the major introductions and other cars & trucks to make sure you don’t miss.

Chevrolet

2016 Volt: 50 miles on a charge, up from 38. New styling inside and out. Looks great, but also like a Honda Civic.

Bolt Concept: pure electric concept car. Said to have range of 200 miles and a price of under $30K. Since when do concepts have a price? That’s just stupid. To imagine what it looks like, imagine the offspring of a Chevy Sonic (for size), any random Honda (for styling) and a Ram ProMaster (for headlight placement). Now that’s a 3-way!

Buick

Cascada: a premium 4-passenger convertible, which Buick obviously stole from Opel (just look at the grille), the Cascada is powered (if you can call it that) by a 1.6L turbo with 200HP. Speaking of 3-ways, this one gets VW’s lamps/front end, the Opel grille and the overall look and backend of a Chrysler Sebring/200.

Avenir: this is a stunner. It borrows a little from the Porsche Panamera in the rear, but mostly it’s a clean-sheet styling exercise that really works. It’s a big 2+2 configuration with beautiful lines. I hope that build it.

Nissan

2016 Titan: all-new pickup. The current Titan has never caught on in the US, at least partly due to the lack of customization options which pickup buyers want. Nissan addresses this with 3 available engines (including its first V6 and a 5.0L V8 Cummins Diesel option), the 3 normal cab configurations (regular, extended, crew) and 3 bed lengths (5.5 feet, 6.5 feet and 8 feet). It will be the largest Diesel in a light-duty truck. Nissan claims the Titan XD bridges a gap between light-duty pickups and heavy-duty pickups. XD means “eXtra Duty” and includes a beefed up frame and suspension. It will be available with the Diesel or V8 gas engine. The base Titan will be available with either gas engine. The new Titan certainly looks the part. Time will tell if US buyers will take the bait. On sale late 2015.

Alfa Romeo

4C Spider: the topless version of the 4C. Stunning good looks, great power. Like a “cheap” Ferrari. If by cheap you mean $70K (Slandy estimate). Has a turbo 1.75L engine with 237HP. Doesn’t sound like much until you realize that those horsies are only pushing around less than 2500 lbs. Sweet!

Ford

GT: the return of the iconic sports car from last decade. This new iteration is dramatically more extroverted. Powered by a V6 EcoBoost engine making more than 600HP. Extensive use of lightweight materials, including carbon fiber, will give the GT “one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any production car.” Goes into production in 2016…we have to wait a year for this? Ford, you’re such a tease. Optional equipment will include drool cups and bibs.

Mustang Shelby GT350R: the most track-ready Mustang ever. A new 5.2L V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft, which allows the engine the breathe better at high speeds, produces “more than 500HP” making it the most powerful naturally-aspirated production engine ever from Ford. To go with the track intentions, it has aggressive aerodynamics and liberal use of carbon fiber. To further reduce weight, Ford removed the air conditioner, stereo, rear seats, among others. This is a serious track package, not a Hertz special.

2017 F-150 SVT Raptor: the off-road special adopts the new aluminum body of the regular F-150, drops the 6.2L V8 for a 3.5L EcoBoost and picks up a 10-speed transmission (you read that right). This is 1 badass truck! Not on sale until Fall, 2016. L

Edge: not yet available, but already introduced. The new Edge borrows some styling from the Fusion and has a new powertrain lineup. It has a new 2.0L EcoBoost (not to be confused with the old 2.0L EcoBoost), a 3.5L V6 which carries over from the current Edge and a new 2.7L V6 EcoBoost, which it shares with the F-150 and Lincoln MKX.

Mercedes-Benz

F 015 Research Vehicle: really pushes the styling envelope. As its name implies, this vehicle is not intended for sale. It is meant to explore autonomous driving, and Mercedes-Benz’s vision of autonomous driving is more than merely transport. It’s a mobile living space, and that’s reflected in the dramatically radical interior. Check it out. It’s not like anything you’ve seen before.

GLE-class: this new model will replace the M-Class in Mercedes’ lineup. It’s the same body type as the BMW X6, Toyota Venza and the Honda Crosstour. In other words, I hate it. This body-style can trace its roots to the much-maligned Pontiac Aztec (may it rest in peace). It’s not quite a car, not quite an SUV. It’s a shape in search of a segment, and it failed.

Volkswagen

Cross Coupe GTE Concept: though a “concept” this is a preview of the new 3-row crossover that is in VW’s near future. It’s quite good looking, in that typical VW way. Looks solid, tight. Not overly expressive, nor bland. It walks the line in the middle. Nobody will be offended or bored by it. The overall shape and the rear (tail lamps in particular) seem to be channeling the Jeep Grand Cherokee a bit. OK, maybe a lot.

BMW

New 2016 6-series (coupe, convertible, Gran Coupe): a mild facelift for the 3 flavors of the BMW 6. It was already a great-looking car, so they got out the comb, Fonzie-style, and decided that they already looked so good – why bother changing anything?

Porsche

911 Targa GTS: the Targa introduced last year, with more power. Because they can, that’s why.

Cayenne Turbo S: ditto

Acura

NSX: it’s finally here (yawn). Acura has teased us so much over the past decade that the actual intro doesn’t seem so exciting (Ed: it’s only been 4 years. Really? Seems longer.). And that’s a shame, because this is a really cool car, with great styling and great power. Also working against it is the unfortunate timing of the intro: 2½ hours AFTER Ford introduced its GT. Oops. Somebody got their thunder stolen.

Audi

2016 Q7: Audi’s flagship SUV gets a total makeover. More wagon-like stance and revised front end, and with an aluminum-intensive structure, Audi claims the Q7 has lost over 700 pounds. This will translate into improved fuel econ and better performance. Powering the Q7 are 2 3.0L engines: a supercharged gas V6 (333HP) and a turbo Diesel V6 (272HP). Later, the Q7 will add a plug-in Diesel hybrid (373HP), which Audi claims will achieve 138MPG and go 38 miles on a charge. The Q7 was also awarded “Best Designed Interior” by EyesOn Design at the show.

Q3: is finally coming to the US market, refreshed and ready to go. In this market, it will only include the 2.0L gas engine. Like all Audis, this is a really good-looking car. Front wheel drive is standard, but Quattro is optional, of course. Prices start at $32,500.

Toyota

2016 Tacoma: all new truck, but you wouldn’t really know it by looking at it. The engines include a 4 cyl and a V6. The 3.5L V6 has both direct and port injection, which is rare. The V6 can also be had with either a 6-speed manual (yeah!) or 6-speed auto. Has a really nice interior. New for 2016 is a TRD off-road version.

Mirai: this is a fuel cell vehicle, coming late this year. If you don’t know what a fuel cell is, you’re not alone. Most people don’t. It’s an electric car, but the electricity is not stored in a battery, like electrics you can buy today. It uses hydrogen gas and air to generate the electricity. The only exhaust is water. Many automakers are working on these. Mirai price is $57,500, but you’ll be able to lease it for $499/month with $3649 down – but only in California to California residents who live near a hydrogen fueling station. So, like 3 people. It has 153 HP/247 torques, gets up to 300 miles on a fill. It only takes 5 minutes to fill with hydrogen (take THAT Nissan Leaf & Tesla). Also qualifies for the HOV lanes in California and is zero emission. So, how does it look? Maybe a little quirky, but pretty nice.

MINI

John Cooper Works: the most extroverted of the MINI family of extroverts is back. I love the idea and the powertrain is hot, but the styling is something only a 15 year old could love.

Superleggera: this concept is striking in its combination of the MINI personality with an Italian roadster. The Union Jack tail lamps are a great touch.

Bentley

The SUV has a name, and it is…Bentayga. “Fastest, most luxurious, most exclusive SUV in the world. In other words, it’s going to be the Bentley of SUVs.” On sale in 2016. Get your home equity line of credit pre-approval now! Oh, and it’s not at the show. The name was all there was.

Hyundai

Santa Cruz Concept truck: an interesting concept, it’s a unibody pickup truck. Think Subaru Brat or (for you old-timers) Chevy El Camino.

Sonata plug-in hybrid: 22 electric miles, combined 93 MPG. Nothing new to look at though.

Volvo

S60 Inscription: the Inscription is an upscale version of the S60 sedan with premium materials and increased rear seat legroom (Volvo claims best-in-class legroom).

S60 Cross Country: Volvo brings its Cross Country capability and stance to the S60 sedan. Volvo says it’s the sole contender in the luxury crossover sedan segment. I guess if you can’t compete in your segment, make up a new one.

Local Motors

3D printed car: you totally have to check out the car being “printed”. It’s really cool.

Infiniti

Q60 Coupe concept: explores where the Q60 coupe could go in the future, giving it a sleeker, more menacing look. Very nice – if they actually make it.

Lexus

GS F: not to be confused with the GS F-Sport, this is a true sport edition of the GS. 5.0L V8 with 467HP (but only 389 torques), this GS certainly looks the part. Its looks, however, are spoiled by an overly dramatic version of Lexus’ spindle grille. On other cars, it’s not quite so bad, but on this (and the RC F as well), it’s fugly. Being bold, dramatic and different is sometimes good, but not always.

Ram

Ram Rebel: this is Ram’s answer to Ford’s Raptor. Bold, expressive styling; big, meaty tires; increased ride height (thanks to the air suspension already optional on the Ram 1500); and unique interior accents (including Rebel stitching on the seats, red accents throughout the interior and a tire-tread pattern on the front seats). Like the Raptor, this is one badass truck!

Cadillac

CTS-V: supercharged 6.2L V8 making 640HP/630 torques, top speed of 200MPH, 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. Really, what else is there to say? MPG? If you have to ask, this car isn’t for you. The negative is that the only tranny is an 8-speed auto. On sale late summer.

ATS-V: already introduced in LA last fall, the ATS-V makes its first appearance in Detroit. Take the already superb ATS chassis and add a 3.6L twin-turbo V6 (455HP/445 torques), you get a 0-60 time in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 185+ MPH. You can have either the 6-speed manual with Active Rev Match, no-lift shifting and launch control or an 8-speed auto with paddle shift, launch control and Performance Algorithm Shift (whatever that means). Pricing isn’t available yet, but you’ll have to get behind me to buy it anyway.

Lincoln

MKX: this is a gorgeous car, make no mistake. That said, it looks WAY too much like the smaller, recently introduced MKC. Under the hood, things get different. The standard engine is the 3.7L V6. No change there. The optional engine is a 2.7L twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 (330+HP/ 370+torques). It also has 2 new Black Label editions to really dress things up and Ford’s new adaptive steering system, which changes the steering ratio depending on speed. On sale this fall.

Honda

HR-V: already introduced in L.A., the HR-V enters the growing compact SUV market. Like the NSX, the HR-V has been shown several times in various concept forms. This time, it’s for real. Power comes from a 1.8L engine with 138HP and 127 torques. Comes with either a CVT or a 6-speed manual (2WD models only for the stick). Nice-looking and exactly what you might expect from Honda in this segment.

The 2015 Slandy Awards®

Slandy Best in Show: Ford GT (duh)

SBIS Honorable Mention: Jaguar F-Type (not new, but now with 50% more pedals!), Cadillac CTS-V, Toyota Mirai, Mazda Miata, Buick Avenir

WATT*: Acura NSX announcement. They teased us for YEARS, only to lose the spotlight completely to the Ford GT.

Best feature you never heard of: instead of detents to stop the car door at certain spots, the BMW 750 has hydraulic door actuators that replace the normal part with the detents. The hydraulic part allows the door to stop in its tracks at any point along the travel of the door. This is especially useful when you have limited space, and the next detent will cause your door to hit something (a wall or another car). It may sound trivial, but this is a very impressive piece of engineering. I’ve never seen this on another vehicle (though maybe somebody else has it). I’m very impressed.

Brand Identity Crisis: Bentley. It occurred to me as I was sitting in the purple Continental GT Speed that this brand thinks of itself as a mix/combination of Rolls Royce and MINI. It really wants to be taken seriously as a high-end luxury brand, but then it wants to be a “fun” brand. I think they’re making it work, but it’s slightly schizophrenic.

*In case you’ve never read The Slandy Report and you’re not familiar with this award – what the heck is wrong with you? Read The Slandy Report! It’s awesome! Anyway, WATT is the What Are They Thinking award.

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