2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview
A sneak peek at one of the crown jewels of the auto show season, and the most prestigious of the American auto shows, this 2014 Detroit Auto Show preview will whet your appetite for the exciting reveals scheduled for the upcoming extravaganza next week. Also known as the North American International Auto Show, the exhibition is celebrating its 25th anniversary as an international event this year.
What’s more, the show’s traditional home, Detroit’s Cobo Hall has a new look to greet show goers. And, while the region has been experiencing extremely frigid temperatures—even by Detroit standards, there will be some very hot cars on display in the newly burnished convention center.
Press previews start on Monday, January 13th. The show opens to the public on Saturday, January 18th. Here are some of the models we’re really looking forward to at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Audi Q3
Certain to become the latest darling of the suburban crossover utility set, Audi’s Q3 is blessed with the good looks of its very popular Q5 sibling, but in a much tidier (read cuter) size. A 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of producing 207 ft-lbs of torque is the only engine offered at launch. A six-speed transmission will route the engine’s output to either the front, or all four wheels depending upon the driveline chosen. The model will also feature electric power steering, hill descent control, electronic stability control, and of course Audi’s Drive Select system, which allows the driver to adjust the suspension settings and the steering response. The Q3’s comfort and convenience niceties include xenon headlights, heated, power adjustable front seats, and naturally, leather upholstery. A maximum of 48 cubic feet of cargo space will be available with the rear seatbacks folded, while 16 cubic feet is the count when the rear seatbacks are deployed. Audi has been teasing North Americans with this model since 2011, but some legalities had to be worked through to get the car certified for the trip across the ocean. Audi’s MMI navigation system, a 7-inch video display, WiFi, a power tailgate, parking sensors, a backup camera, and a 14-speaker Bose audio system will also be offered.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Chrysler 200
Poised to debut on desirability lists everywhere (if its looks are any indication) is the 2015 Chrysler 200. Sleeker, more fluid, and light-years more attractive to the eye than the model it replaces, the upcoming Chrysler 200 is an exceptionally lovely car. And it comes not a moment too soon for The Chrysler Group’s flagship brand. The basic look of the Chrysler 300, while admittedly handsome, has been around since the beginning of the century. Meanwhile, the previous iteration of the 200 was a warmed-over version of the highly lamentable Chrysler Sebring model, which debuted in 2007 to the sound of crickets chirping and cavernous yawns. Immediately banished to rental-car status, that version of the Sebring was nowhere near as good looking as the first generation of the model that debuted in 1995. But that’s all in the past. Plus, now that it’s riding on the same platform underpinning the Dodge Dart (which is loosely based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s), the new Chrysler 200 promises to be an entertaining driver as well.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Dodge Dart Blacktop
Frankly, we think Dodge missed a real opportunity here when they overlooked painting the roof of the Dart Blacktop black. Blacktop—black roof, it’s a natural. Particularly since the Blacktop is more of a style thing than a performance thing anyway. Six other Dodge models already get the Blacktop treatment, so it was inevitable the handsome little Dart would eventually get it too. In this cars, we’re looking at glossy black exterior trim accents, which includes the traditional Dodge crosshair grille—along with the rearview mirror caps, window surrounds, road wheels, and headlamp bezels. Inside, the Dart gets laced with either black and light tungsten-, or black and ruby red cloth upholstery. This is teamed with red accent stitching for the instrument panel, center console, and seats. Essentially a trim package for a trim package, to get a Dodge Dart Blacktop, you’ll have to opt for the SXT trimmed Dart with a Rallye package. Power comes courtesy of the 2.4-liter Dodge “Tigershark” engine, making 184-horsepower and 174 ft-lbs of torque. According to the Dodge folks, you can expect the Blacktop trim package to add $295 to the price of a Dart SXT Rallye.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Ford F-150
Teasing the arrival of an all-new F-150 with its Atlas concept at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, the smart money is betting heavily on the appearance of an all-new F-150 this year. Given Dodge, uh excuse us, Ram, showed an all new model two years ago, and Chevy showed an all-new Silverado last year, Ford’s pretty much due. The big news here is the F-150 is expected to become the first aluminum-intensive full-size pickup. This is not unprecedented however, in that Land Rover went to aluminum for its Range Rover models with their last redesign. This move could easily make Ford’s F-150 the fuel economy leader in the segment, considering the exceptionally fuel miserly eco-boost engines Ford has touted for several years now. Knowledgeable pundits estimate an improvement of some five miles per gallon. The biggest worry however will be convincing contractors, ranchers, and other buyers who really wring their pickups out that an aluminum full-size pickup truck can be just as tough as a traditional steel one. The fuel-efficiency message will be quite compelling, but intenders will likely wonder if that efficiency will come at the cost of reliability. The good news is, the F-150, with its perennial best-selling vehicle in America status, is in a good position to see if the market will accept such a change.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Honda Fit
Hard to believe the Fit has been around since back in 2001, but that’s when the smallest Honda model offered in North America debuted. Boasting an all-new look, with a front end bringing it more into line with the contemporary Honda “face”, the 2015 Honda Fit is said to have been reworked to provide improved stability on the highway and a more confident driving feel all around. Suspension refinements have reduced body roll, as well as understeer in cornering situations. Honda has also shown a hybrid version of the 2015 Fit with a projected fuel economy rating of some 55 miles per gallon. Most pundits doubt we’ll see that version of the Honda here in the States. But if we do get it, the hybrid system will permit the Fit to run in EV mode at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour for short distances. The conventional powertrain will most likely be comprised of a 1.5-liter unit, and it is expected the continuously variable transmission will give way to a traditional automatic—but that’s only speculation. We’ll have to wait until Honda unveils the model on the 13th to find out for sure. We do know the Fit’s flexible interior configuration will continue to be offered—continuing to make it one of the most capacious models in its class.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Hyundai Genesis
Arguably the car that put Hyundai on the map in the entry-luxury segment, the Hyundai Genesis was named North American Car of The Year when it debuted back in 2008. The second generation of that car, slated to be revealed at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, is reaching for new levels of refinement—while introducing new styling elements to the Hyundai Fluidic Sculpting styling language. Leading the list of changes is a new hexagonal grille, said to be the face of Hyundai models to come. Wisely sticking with rear-wheel drive, the Genesis will be primed to be an exciting performer as well. The wheelbase is longer, though overall length is barely unchanged. This means more interior space and shorter front and rear overhangs. More reliance on ultra-high-strength steel will make the car considerably more rigid. This should improve its handling as well. Both the 3.8-liter V6 and the 5.0-liter V8 fitted to the current model will reprise their roles in the revised version of the Genesis. However, a new all-wheel drive system is being offered. Blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and a host of other active safety features will be part of the package as well.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Lexus RC F
For those of you who have been wondering when Lexus was going introduce a follow-up to the SC hardtop convertible, it looks like your wait is going to be a bit longer. However, those of you who have been waiting for the coupe version of the latest Lexus IS model introduced at last year’s Detroit show are about to be very pleasantly surprised. The Lexus RC F presages the next generation small Lexus coupe, albeit in potentially its most potent form. It also offers a hint of what to expect from the next generation of the Lexus IS-F sedan. The Lexus RC-F is powered by a 480-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 feeding the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The last high performance luxury coupe on the market to stick with normal aspiration, the RC F V8 is all new, save the basic cylinder block. A torque vectoring rear differential is fitted and can be pre-set to deal with both slalom and track situations. The RC F also features what is essentially a new suspension configuration. The grooved brakes feature 15-inch rotors up front and four-piston calipers in the rear. A carbon-fiber roof panel helps lower the center of gravity, and a deployable tail spoiler programmed to activate at speeds above 50 mph is fitted into the trunk lid.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Mercedes-Benz C Class
With the CLA sedan holding down the value line for the venerable automaker, it can now afford to move the C Class sedans farther upmarket, and that’s precisely what the company is doing for 2015. To accomplish this, the new version of the Mercedes will be larger, more stylish, and of course, more comprehensively equipped. Bristling with features, the safety suite of the new smaller Benz offers (and this is just a partial list of the safety features); Active Park Assist, Brake Assist System Plus, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, Enhanced Active Lane Keeping Assist, and Traffic Sign Assist with Wrong-Way Alert. You’ll almost have to TRY to have an accident in this car. The redesigned interior treatment offer a new dimension of spaciousness to the car, and the touchpad controller for the COMAND infotainment system has found its way into the C Class Mercedes-Benz as well. At launch, the US market will get a choice of the C300 4Matic, with a 235-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 273 ft-lbs of torque and the C400 4Matic with a 329-horsepower turbocharged V6. A seven-speed transmission will complete the drivetrain, and yes both models feature all-wheel drive.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Volkswagen Golf R
Given the popularity of Volkswagen’s GTI, we suppose it is only natural to expect to get yet another hot new version of the Golf—with even more performance potential. Expected to deliver 290-horsepower and 280 ft-lbs of torque to all four wheels through the buyer’s choice of either a traditional six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, or an optional six-speed semi-automatic direct shift gearbox (DSG). Volkswagen’s spokespeople say to expect a 4.7-second run to 60 with the DSG and 5.1 seconds with the manual clutch. A four-door hatchback proposition only, the Golf R will be quite luxuriously equipped, ostensibly in an effort to justify its bound-to-be higher price. Nappa leather, faux carbon fiber, and stainless steel will adorn the interior. Infotainment features will be accessed via a proximity sensing 5.8-inch touch screen monitor. Typically, these high performance Golf models, like the previously offered 2012 VW Golf R and the Volkswagen Golf R32 models before it were limited production affairs. That said, we think the count will come in somewhere around 5000 examples.
2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview: Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion
Masters at getting a lot of work out of little engines, the VW Group is poised to introduce a 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine fitted with direct fuel injection and turbocharging, capable of delivering 150 horsepower and a remarkable 184 ft-lbs of torque. Fitted with cylinder deactivation, the engine will run on two cylinders under light loads, essentially shutting down half of the engine as a fuel-saving measure. The powerplant also employs start/stop operation, shutting itself down at traffic signals and railroad crossings to avoid wasting fuel while idling. Coasting technology enables the engine to decouple from the transmission when the driver lifts off of the gas pedal, permitting the car to coast freely with minimal parasitic loss from the drivetrain. With all of the above working in its favor, Volkswagen’s engineering team says a Passat fitted with the powerplant could return 42 miles per gallon on the highway. This is remarkable in that the current Passat TDI model’s diesel engine returns 40 miles per gallon on the highway with an automatic transmission and 43 on the highway with a manual. That’s diesel numbers from a gasoline engine. Given these are relatively conventional strategies; we fully expect to see the BlueMotion Passat go into series production.
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