2017 kicked off with a Vroom at The North American International Auto Show, held in Detroit, Michigan was much less spectacular than previous years. Many brands opted not to show up at all, or, like Fiat Chrysler, Tesla, Mitsubishi, Mini, Land Rover, Jaguar, and Porsche, skipped the usual formal press events, leaving many to wonder about this annual event’s future.
Although there weren’t many eye-popping concepts or major standout introductions this year, I’ve compiled a list of vehicles that were both significant and necessary.
- Toyota Camry: The nation’s 15 year best selling vehicle was infused with sportiness and flair. With a line accented C-pillar, toned-down spindle grille, aerodynamic hood stripes, the sedan features optional sporty chrome quad exhaust tips. Inside, the “cockpitlike interior” gives it more of an attention getter than the affordable, roomy, durable sedan buyers have grown to expect and love. This move upmarket could be smart and timely, or it could polarize loyal customers, and force them to seek other options.
- Kia Stinger: This sporty sedan looks great on paper and in person, but may be taking Kia out of its depth. With a roomy interior, rear-wheel drive, and muscular body, Kia appears to follow the footsteps of sibling, Hyundai and going upmarket into BMW-esque territory. Kia will combine an eight-speed automatic transmission with either a 365-hp twin-turbo V-6 or a 255-hp turbo four, the fastest of which will reach 60 mph in just over 5 seconds. The Stinger could settle nicely into this new territory, or go the way of the Volkswagen Phaeton, which proved to be an uber misstep.
- Ford EcoSport: Ford is playing catch up in the subcompact utility department, but should quickly make up ground against Chevrolet’s Trax and Honda’s HR-V. While it is a little stubby and offers no real surprises, the Fiesta-based EcoSport carries Ford’s corporate look well and should be a relatively easy sell.
- Honda Odyssey: At first glance, you might be hard-pressed to notice much of a difference in the revamped Odyssey. It is still a little oversized as far as minivans go, and the lightning bolt side trim remains, but there are several innovations under the skin that are worth discussing. With an available 10-speed automatic transmission, a first for this segment, or 280 hp V-6 engine, the Odyssey is gearing up for a head-to-head with the North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, Chrysler Pacifica. Smart features, including a convenient communication system that allows the driver to see and speak with rear-seat passengers, could be the deciding factor for many buyers.
- Chevrolet Traverse: Chevy’s tough looking front-wheel-drive family vehicle has sold well since day one, and the revamped Traverse will likely continue that streak.
- Volkswagen I.D. Buzz: Still smarting from the diesel crisis, VW is trying to find it’s way forward. The I.D. Buzz is a fresh new take on their classic Microbus of the ’50s and ’60s, light and spacious inside, and very cool looking outside. Twin electric motors in the front and rear have the potential to attract groovy buyers, but no one knows if VW will build it.