It has been a few years since I last attended the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I have been credentialed, but never attended since 2013. It could be disappointing on one hand, but getting all the news one needs from afar is truly advantageous.
There had been some major introductions in Detroit this year. Without further ado, let me dive into the ones I think will be resonant with you – the readership of Victory & Reseda!
KIA STINGER GT: If there will be one vehicle that will stop the debate on whether Kia should play in the premium car market – it will be this one. The design, itself, is incredible, different and earthshattering. We see some Kia elements, but the execution appears to be akin to the Audi A7. To make things more enticing – it is rear-wheel drive with a 365 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 available. The point of Kia is to be a sportier side of its corporate partnership with Hyundai (and Genesis). Which brings me to this idea: Could we drop the K900 and sell this at the top of the range, instead?
CHEVROLET TRAVERSE: There are buzzwords. Then, there are buzz numbers. For example, Chevrolet touted that the third row legroom in the 2018 Traverse is 33.7 inches. This confirms one fear I had when they announced this second generation of Chevy's mid-sized, three-row SUV. The outgoing version is known for being extremely spacious and accommodating for a family of seven. If the third row space is true, this could extend its legacy and perhaps show any of its competitors how to make a true family conveyance short of a minivan. Oh, and its gets a nine-speed automatic to mate with the 3.6 liter V6!
LEXUS LS: This is a massive surprise. I knew that the new flagship was going to be different, but I was not prepared for how much different it would be. First, the design adds a new pane of glass to the C-Pillar – something that has not been seen on a Lexus other than a SUV. It is also will not feature a V8 – hopefully, for starters. The first engine will be a new 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 415 horsepower. I hope this is not the only engine, because I think the 5.0 liter, 471 horsepower V8 featured on the LC 500 coupe would make this flagship sing. And, the Remote Touch mouse goes away for the touch pad. That change I welcome with a standing ovation. I could go on, but I cannot wait to see this in person.
VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN: To say that "it's about time" is to underscore the compact SUV‘s importance to the Volkswagen lineup and resonance. The fact that VW waited on presenting this to us was justified, since they wanted to make this right for our market. To do so, they extended the wheelbase by over four inches beyond the global version to accommodate a third row of seating for our market. They will offer the new Tiguan with a 2.0 liter turbocharged TSI engine with 184 horsepower, available 4Motion all-wheel drive and a handsome look. Since sales are up for the current Tiguan, proper pricing should help extend its growth.
HONDA ODYSSEY: The third vehicle to be made on the same new platform as the Pilot and the newly crowned North American Truck of The Year Ridgeline. They did extensive work on the cabin adding Wi-Fi streaming capability and a cabin talk/watch feature to the second and third row. It will also debut the new 10-speed automatic transmission, along with a new direct-injected engine. On the outside. It is evolutionary, but quite handsome. In all, the Odyssey will now have to battle with the newly crowned North American Utility of the Year Chrysler Pacifica for minivan supremacy – even if it is the sales winner in the segment for 2016.
NISSAN ROGUE SPORT: The original name of this vehicle is "Qashqai." Can you say "Qashqai?" Probably not. It is named as such because the average American cannot speak fluent Persian/Farsi. That's fine. It is what Nissan needs – a properly designed subcompact SUV to augment the Juke and slot below the popular Rogue. It will get the smaller 2.0 liter engine for the Rogue Sport – 141 horsepower worth. It is only available with two rows of seats. Furthermore, this is ripe for a fight in a lightly bubbling segment, now that Ford has jumped in the scrum with GM, FCA, Honda, Toyota, Kia, Subaru, Mazda and Mitsubishi.
TOYOTA CAMRY: As of this day forward, thou shalt not call this car "beige." This Camry is designed to make you forget about its previous blandness. Power offerings remain the same – 4-cylinder, V6 and Hybrid. There is new technology for each powerplant, more horsepower and torque, and the non-Hybrid models will be coupled to a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Toyota's Safety Sense will be added to the Camry with active safety features abound – including a Heads-Up Display. The interior is redone, which appears to be driver focused. In other words, there is nothing beige about the 2018 Camry.
INFINITI QX50 CONCEPT: It is a concept – for now. However, it is a signal that Infiniti wants to get real competitive in a hot segment – the premium compact SUV. While the recently updated current model gained major traction in sales, some buyers still went to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover/Range Rover and Audi for their wares. This should stop a few from going to a European brand – a design that is influenced by the rest of the lineup, VC-Turbo power – which is the latest technology in balancing performance and efficiency – and other technological advances. One hopes this would go into production soon.
HIDDEN VEHICLE TRICKS: What Ford did not show, they announced instead. They confirmed the fact that the next Ranger pickup will arrive in 2019, while the long-awaited Bronco SUV will show up the next year. Both vehicles will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne. Meanwhile FCA announced that Jeep will introduce the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer by 2020 with production starting at their Warren Truck Plant.