DETROIT: Once upon a time, the North American International Auto Show was a great thing. The American automotive industry ruled the world, and this was their local event with all the bells and whistles that implies. But the world has changed. On the one hand, people can use the Internet and do so to determine which car they will buy. And with LA Auto Show, CES and NAIAS so close to each other on the calendar, there simply are not enough new things to fill the three events. The impression that took home to NAIAS this year – encouraged by a mediocre CES – was a lackluster performance with little in the way to stop a dry one.
Ford opened the events at the Cobo Center with a trio of new models that we covered early in the week. Mercedes-Benz had a new G-Class that looks almost identical to the 1979 model, an example of what could be seen embedded in synthetic amber outside the front doors. Midweek, this act of almost 50 tons of corporate fantasy was cordoned off, divided by cracks thanks to sub-zero temperatures. BMW gave the hybrid i8 a middle-aged blip, and Audi showed its new A7 on this continent for the first time.
Lamborghini also revealed his new SUV, but off-site, and visitors to the Cobo Center will not see the Urus on display. Nor will they see anything of Jaguar, Land Rover, or Porsche, or much of Volvo for that matter. But in the gallery above and the text below, I'll take a look at some of the other highlights of Detroit.
Trucks and SUV
NAIAS has become a show for new trucks and SUVs reveals, and 2018 had a couple of important. The Ram 1500 certainly generated the biggest buzz among the attendees I spoke with. Weight reduction was a priority, with 100 pounds (45 kg) taken out of the frame alone, 225 pounds (225 kg) lighter in general. Heavier loads are also possible: you can now transport up to 2,300 lb (1,044 kg) and tow loads of 12,750 lb (5,783 kg). And the Ram 1500 is now a 48v soft hybrid eTorque in Ram-speak.
Chevrolet's Silverado has also been on a weight loss program, dropping an impressive 450 pounds (204 kg) compared to the outgoing model. Part of this is due to a greater use of aluminum, which somewhat takes the breath away from Chevy's recent advertising campaign, casting a shadow over his rivals to use metal. For reasons not entirely obvious to this Philistine truck, the Silverado did not meet the same approval as its rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
FCA also used the Detroit show to debut the Jeep Cherokee 2019. Those horrible narrow headlights of the fifth generation of Cherokee no longer exist, which makes it a much more attractive SUV. It is a compliment that probably will not accumulate in the new BMW X2. BMW says that the X2 is actually a sports activity coupe, and the BMW logo on the C-pillar is intended to return the 3.0 CS coupe from the 1970s. If you say so, BMW …
Kia and Volkswagen brought new compact sedans to Detroit, with the shapes of the new Forte and the Jetta. Kia says he brought the Stinger's style to his smaller car, along with a set of advanced assistance for the driver. It should be a little more frugal than the outgoing Forte, in part thanks to Kia's new Variable Intelligent Transmission. Kia says that this transmission avoids the feeling of corridor band of other continuously variable transmissions, and is much more silent than that too.
The new Jetta is based on the MQB architecture of the VW Group, such as the Mk 7 Golf. So expect the same technology and features as those cars, but with a trunk instead of a hatchback. The big question is whether you will find buyers; A look at any comment thread here involving VW is all it takes to realize that many people have not forgiven being caught lying about diesel emissions. Maybe that's a great reason for the new Jetta to go on sale for less money (starts at $ 18,545) than the previous model.
Hyundai brought the new Veloster hatchback to Detroit. It will be available in the regular specifications, Turbo and N, each more sporting than the previous one. (Think of N as the Hyundai version of M or AMG). The company also brought a very neat "Hot Wheels" like Veloster that, we are told, will play a "significant" role in the upcoming Ant-Man and the movie Wasp .
Concepts and Curios
Things were not even so exciting on the front of the automotive concept. The Chinese brand GAC Motor brought the Enverge, despite the name, this is not the fusion of a couple of technological publications. My lasting memories of this concept were the large dihedral doors and the way in which the inmates of the wheels illuminated.
Lexus showed a concept called LF-1 Limitless. Imagine an iconic SUV Lexus in the future, using a design language that Lexus describes as "molten katana". Infiniti also presented a flagship concept, this time a sedan called Q Inspiration. Like the LF-1 Limitless, it has a rather scandalous interior that looks great but we believe it will never go into production.
Nissan, Infiniti's corporate parent, also had a concept for NAIAS, the Xmotion. It is pronounced "cross-motion", it is meant to be a Japanese aesthetic version of most of the form factors of American vehicles, the SUV. And it also has a theatrical interior, destined to be ready for a completely autonomous driving, which we would like to see appear in real cars. Well, maybe not that flyer.
Beyond that, some other pieces caught my attention. Denso had a strange idea of mobility that was a tricycle with a body of cloth, something that BMW explored a few years ago. Several suppliers had sectioned vehicles, including Aisin's in the gallery. There was the strange Michelin Vision tire concept, made of recycled materials that looked more like a strange round coral than an automotive component. And The Grand Tour pub – which we saw in LA – had returned, offering pretty decent bangers and mashed potatoes for hungry journalists.
Image from Jonathan Gitlin's listing