Enter the 2016 NAIAS
CES 2016 was just last week, with plenty of automotive-related announcements, namely the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt. But the auto industry never rests, heading straight to Detroit for the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) the following week.
Since this is the first auto show of the year, plenty – like, more than a baker's dozen – of new cars were introduced. I'll dive right in with all the production cars loaded with the in-car tech we love. Don't worry, we've saved the concept cars for a separate story.
(Note: all but one of these cars are still waiting for a price tag, so don't whip out the wallet just yet.)
BMW M2 and X4 M40i
BMW used NAIAS to debut the new M2 and X4 M40i. The M2 is a little rocket that incorporates a new TwinPower Turbo, 3.0-liter six cylinder with 365 horsepower (hp) and 343 pound-per-foot (lb-ft) of torque. The X4 M40i is a crossover utility vehicle (CUV) with some M-Performance treatments, including a similar motor as the M2, but tuned to 355 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque.
Since the M2 and X4 M40i are based on the existing 2-series and X4 series, expect the same available technology options, including: BMW navigation, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, backup camera and park assist. The BMW X4 M40i also has available adaptive cruise control, a head-up display and a 360-degree camera.
Expect the BMW M2 to arrive in April with a starting MSRP of $51,700 (UK and AU pricing isn't available yet) and the X4 M40i in February starting at $57,800 (UK and AU pricing isn't available yet).
Chevrolet Bolt EV and Cruze hatchback
Chevy debuted the production Chevrolet Bolt EV last week at CES 2016, and techradar went hands-on, but details on the powertrain were scarce. The 411 was revealed at NAIAS and the numbers are impressive – 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque.
The powertrain is enough to propel the Bolt EV from 0-to-60 mph in under seven seconds, which puts it in the same ballpark as the hot-hatch Ford FIesta ST. A 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack from LG Electronics, which consists of 288 total cells, divided into 96 cell groups of three, occupies the entire floor of the car, which is double the capacity of the battery pack in the 2016 Nissan Leaf.
The entire battery pack weighs 960 pounds. and covered by an 8-year or 100,000 mile warranty. A 7.2kW onboard charger can add 50 miles of range to the Bolt in less than two hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charger. DC fast charging is available via the SAE Combo connector to add 90 miles of range in a mere 30 minutes.
Announced prior to the official start of NAIAS is the 2017 Chevy Cruze hatchback (seen above), which joins the sedan that debuted last year. The last-generation Cruze hatchback was strictly an international affair that never made it stateside, but GM wisened up with the second generation model.
The Cruze hatch goes on sale in the fall with a single engine – a 1.4-liter, turbocharged four cylinder that produces 153 hp and returns up to 40 mpg on the highway. Tech features available in the Cruze hatchback include standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility with the Chevy MyLink infotainment system, OnStar with 4G LTE hotspot capabilities, optional forward collision alert, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor and rear park assist.
Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid
Chrysler took to the stage to debut its new 2017 Pacifica minivan while retiring the Town & Country name, which has been part of its minivan lineup since 1990. The Pacifica name was previously used for a Chrysler CUV in the early aughts, before CUVs were as popular as they are today.
The new Pacifica is a looker and carries similar styling cues as the sharp Chrysler 200 sedan (review coming soon), but the headlining feature is the hybrid model that can drive on pure electric power for an estimated 30 miles. While its falls behind the Chevy Volt's 50 miles of pure electric range, the Pacifica is much larger and can seat seven passengers.
A 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery pack powers two electric motors for driving in the city, while a 3.6-liter V6 with an estimated 248 horsepower (hp) provides long-range driving duties for epic road trips. The non-hybrid model gets a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 287 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission.
I previously owned a 2011 Volkswagen Routan, which was a rebadged Chrysler Town & Country, with the 3.6-liter V6 and a 6-speed automatic and found the engine eager but the transmission was terrible. However, I'm currently driving a Chrysler 200c with the 3.6-liter V6 and 9-speed automatic, and it's a little rocket that's much more entertaining to drive, so I'm excited to see how the new Pacifica drives, albeit with an extra 1,000 pounds to haul around.
Chrysler is throwing everything – yes, including the kitchen sink – at the Pacifica when it comes to technology. The Pacifica features Chrysler's Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system, but we were unable to confirm whether it's the newest generation with a capacitive touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, which debuted at CES 2016. There's a Uconnect Theater rear-seat entertainment system with high-definition (HD), 10-inch touch screens and internet access for content streaming and built-in games, too.
Other tech features available on the new Pacifica include standard active noise cancellation for a quieter cabin, optional 13-speaker Alpine or 20-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound systems, 360-degree Surround View camera, ParkSense parallel and perpendicular park assist, full-speed range adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.
Chrysler also took a page from the Honda minivan playbook and offers an optional integrated Stow 'n Vac vacuum cleaner, co-branded with Ridgid, the tool company.
Expect the Chrysler Pacifica to arrive in the spring, while the Pacifica Hybrid arrives in the second half of 2016.
2017 Ford Fusion
Ford debuted a mid-cycle update to its Fusion mid-size with a few styling tweaks, but the upgrades are inside. The 2017 Fusion gets Ford's SYNC 3 infotainment system, which supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the SYNC Connect telematics system to remotely access the car via a smartphone app.
The interior layout received some minor tweaks that greatly enhance day-to-day use, including the removal of capacitive touch buttons for the stereo and climate control functions. I personally hate capacitive touch buttons in cars, as there's no physical feedback and they're not as responsive as physical buttons, so I'm glad Ford finally saw the light.
Gone is the traditional automatic transmission shifter, too. Ford installed a round knob, similar to Chrysler, but first made popular by Jaguar.
Available driver assists for the 2017 Ford Fusion include pedestrian detection, hands-free parallel and perpendicular park assist, lane keep assist, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
The powertrains carry over, so you can get the Fusion with a 2.5-liter four cylinder, 2.0-liter or 1.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder, hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrains. New to the 2017 Fusion, and the model I'm most excited about, is the Fusion Sport, which is as close to an enthusiast midsize sedan you can get.
Ford installs a 2.7-liter, twin-turbo V6 in the Fusion Sport, with 325 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels, albeit with an automatic transmission. Regardless, the Fusion Sport should be very entertaining, and I look forward to driving it.
Expect the 2017 Ford Fusion to arrive this summer.
2017 Genesis G90 and G80
Hyundai used NAIAS to debut the first new car from its luxury Genesis brand – the G90. The G90 replaces the outgoing Hyundai Equus and serves as the brand's flagship, the best engineering and extravagance it has to offer.
As a flagship car, the G90 features plenty of driver assist technologies, including: automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, full speed range cruise control, blind spot monitor, lane keep assist, 360-degree camera and a 9.7-inch, heads-up display.
On the infotainment side of things, a new 12.3-inch, HD display is controlled by a center console mounted knob. Genesis makes no mention of support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, unfortunately.
Premium sound is provided by a Lexicon-branded 17-speaker sound system with 10-inch subwoofer. QuantumLogic Surround and Clari-Fi sound processing is part of the premium sound system. While I haven't heard this particular sound system yet, the Lexicon system in the Hyundai Genesis sedan and Harman Kardon system in the Kia Optima pleased my ears, so I have no doubt the Genesis G90 will sound good.
It's not a flagship sedan without lavish comfort features. The Genesis G90 includes a 22-way adjustable driver's seat and available 12-way adjustable rear seats, for those that prefer to be chauffeured around. There's an available rear seat entertainment system with dual 9.2-inch, HD displays too.
Powering the Genesis G90 is your choice of an all-new, 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 good for 365 hp and 376 lb.-ft of torque or the familiar 5.0-liter V8 with 420 hp and 383 lb.-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and send power to the rear or all wheels.
Starting with the 2017 model year, the Hyundai Genesis sedan is no more. Instead, it joins the Genesis brand as the G80 without any changes, except dropping the italicized H-badge. Most car buyers won't probably notice the difference anyways, as the Genesis sedan only had two Hyundai badges – on the trunk lid and plastic engine cover.
Expect the G80 and G90 to arrive this summer at Genesis dealerships.
2017 GMC Acadia
GMC's Acadia CUV has been around since 2006, which seems like forever. To put things into perspective, since the GMC Acadia originally launched as a 2007 model year car, I was a junior in college and single. In the time it took GMC to finally release a new Acadia, I got married and had two kids.
As a 10-year old car, the GMC Acadia was lacking in terms of tech, but the new 2017 model brings it up to date. Driver assist features include front pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, 360-degree camera, safety alert seat, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor and forward collision warning.
GMC's IntelliLink infotainment system delivers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity while OnStar 4G LTE hotspot capabilities let passengers take advantage of in-car Wi-Fi.
The new Acadia goes on a 700 pound diet and sacrifices seven inches of total length compared to the previous generation, but keeps the three row seating configuration.
Powering the 2017 GMC Acadia is a choice of 2.5-liter four cylinder with 194 hp and 190lb-ft of torque, or a 3.6-liter V6 producing 310 hp and 271 lb-ft. A six-speed, automatic transmission sends power to the front or all wheels.
Expect the new GMC Acadia to arrive in dealerships this spring.
2017 Honda Ridgeline
Honda used NAIAS to debut the Ridgeline pickup truck for the 2017 model year. The new Ridgeline continues where the previous generation left off, but with a traditional truck look that hides its car-based roots.
New to the Ridgeline is Honda's suite of driver assist technologies, including: lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. A backup camera and Honda LaneWatch technology are standard, but higher end trim levels will get a radar-based blind spot monitor. An 8-inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support ensures the Ridgeline is ready for your smartphone.
Honda wants to cater the Ridgeline to tailgaters, and installs a in-bed audio system and optional 400-watt power inverter. The in-bed speakers use exciter technology, which is a speaker without a speaker cone or membrane. Instead, the technology employs an oscillating mass that can transform any surface into a speaker.
The Honda Ridgeline features six sound exciters installed in the truck bed walls, powered by the car radio. Up to 540-watts of power can be applied to the sound exciters to create a bumpin' tailgate party.
There's no mention of what motor powers the Ridgeline, but expect the standard 3.5-liter V6 that Honda uses in everything from the Accord to the Acura MDX. The Ridgeline will be available in front or all wheel drive configurations, however.
Expect the new 2017 Honda Ridgeline to arrive in the first half of 2016.
2017 Infiniti Q60 Coupe
Infiniti's Q60 coupe originally debuted in 2007 as a 2008 model year vehicle: the G37. While the G37 sedan received a complete makeover for the 2014 model year with a new name – the Q50, the coupe soldiered on with minimal changes.
After three years, the Q60 finally receives the update it deserves. The 2017 Infiniti Q60 sports all-new styling that I find very attractive. However, the good looks comes with Infiniti's second generation Direct Adaptive Steering technology, also known as steer-by-wire.
I've driven an Infiniti Q50 with the steer-by-wire, which steers the car without a direct connection to the steering rack, and hated it. There's a fail safe for direct steering in case the electronics fail, but steer-by-wire eliminates all feel of the road and makes it feel like you're driving a car in Grand Theft Auto rather than the real world.
Nevertheless, Infiniti offers the Q60 with driver assists such as: adaptive cruise control, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure prevention, blind spot intervention, backup collision intervention and a 360-degree camera system.
On the infotainment side of things, the Infiniti InTuition dual display system is standard on the Q60. Infiniti claims the system is upgraded with a faster processor, but my experience with InTuition was not positive, and performance wasn't the problem.
InTuition's dual display layout is terrible because you have a responsive and customizable capacitive multi-touch display mounted lower on the center stack, and a second display for navigation at the top of the center stack. The control layout makes absolutely no sense because the top display is controlled by a control knob, while the lower one is purely by touch. I hope Infiniti improved InTuition, but I have my doubts.
Nuances aside, the Q60 is the first car to have Nissan's new 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 derived from the Nissan Skyline's motor. The new VR-series (Nissan's engine code, not virtual reality) has two output configurations, a high output engine with 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque and a regular output with 300hp and 295 lb-ft. There's a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine borrowed from Mercedes-Benz that makes 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque on base models.
Unfortunately, a 7-speed automatic that sends power to the rear or all wheels is the only transmission available, so those that want to row-their-own gears with a third pedal will have to look elsewhere.
Expect the Infiniti Q60 to arrive in dealerships later this year.
2017 Kia Forte / Forte 5
Kia debuted a minor update to the Forte sedan and Forte 5 hatchback. I'm personally not a fan of the new schnoz at all but the car gets an infotainment system upgrade, at least. Standard on the 2017 Kia Forte and Forte 5 is a 7-inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.
Driver assist features available on the Forte and Forte 5 include: autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.
The Kia Forte sedan receives an engine upgrade to a 2.0-liter four cylinder that replaces the previous 1.8-liter on base models. Kia didn't release official numbers for the 2.0-liter motor, but it makes 173 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque in the current Forte EX sedan. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but the optional automatic transmission is different between the LX and EX – the LX gets an older, 4-speed automatic while the EX gets a 6-speed automatic.
Powertrain options on the Forte 5 hatchback remain the same with the 2.0-liter four cylinder as standard on the LX and EX trims, while the SX gets a 1.6-liter turbocharged four cylinder. A 6-speed manual is also standard, with an optional 6-speed automatic on LX and EX trims. The SX gets upgraded to an optional 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which from my experience, shifts very fast and smooth.
Expect the updated Kia Forte and Forte 5 to arrive in the first half of 2016.
2017 Lexus LC500
Lexus made an unexpected announcement with a production version of the LF-LC concept, which debuted at NAIAS in 2012. The production LC500 is a stunning luxury coupe that's ready to take on the Mercedes-Benz SL and S-Class coupe.
Looks aside, the LC500 is the first car equipped with the 2017 Lexus Multimedia package that promises an easier to use user interface. A Pioneer-branded sound system comes standard on the LC500, with a premium Mark Levinson system available as an option. Toyota and Lexus refuse to support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, so don't expect to access your smartphone functions from the infotainment system.
The full Lexus Safety System + suite of driver assists will be available on the LC500, which includes: full-range adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and pre-collision mitigation.
Powering the LC500 is the same 5.0-liter V8 that's found in the RC-F and GS-F. The motor produces the same 467 hp and 389 lb-ft. too. I've driven the previous generation Lexus IS-F with the same motor and it's fantastic. The sound the motor makes at full throttle is a source for major eargasms, but it's subtly quiet around town.
The most notable powertrain upgrade in the LC500 is the use of a new 10-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. Lexus claims the automatic transmission can shift as fast as dual-clutch transmissions, but is smaller and lighter than the 8-speed transmissions the company currently uses. Together, the powertrain should send the LC500 from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4.5-seconds.
2017 Lincoln Continental
Lincoln finally has a worthy flagship car with the new production Continental, which was a concept car debut at the 2015 New York Auto Show. The production car keeps most of the concept design cues, including the unique door handles.
Using tech wizardry, the Continental doesn't have a physical door handle release mechanism. A button triggers a door popper to open the door while actuators enable a soft-close function, which automatically secures the door closed, so you never have to slam the door shut. Yes it sounds overly complicated, but flagship cars tend to be.
As a flagship, the Continental has a long list of driver assists that include: pre-collision mitigation, pedestrian detection, full-speed range adaptive cruise control and 360-degree camera. There doesn't seem to any mention of a lane keep assist system, unfortunately.
Lincoln throws the full suite of excessive lavishness at the Continental, with 30-way adjustable front seats that are sculpted like those found in private jets. The seats are heated, cooled with massaging functions for maximum comfort.
Ford's SYNC 3 infotainment system powers the Continental, so expect Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. A premium Revel audio system is available, while active noise control ensures the cabin is quiet to enjoy the sound system.
Powering the Continental is a 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 that's not shared with any Ford model. Lincoln expects power output of the motor at 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, but the Continental still rides on a front-wheel drive-based platform. I hope Lincoln offers a lesser motor if it plans to offer the Continental with front-wheel drive, otherwise that much power to the front wheels sounds like a torque steer nightmare. Lincoln mentions all wheel drive is available, but not standard, which is concerning to me.
Nevertheless, expect the Lincoln Continental to arrive this fall in the US and China.
2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Mercedes-Benz provided techradar with a glimpse of the infotainment system in the new E-class at CES last week, but the car was officially unveiled at NAIAS. The new car is loaded with enough technology to make even the S-Class jealous.
Headlining the E-class technology list is the new driver assist suite. Mercedes gives the new E-class an optional Drive Pilot system that makes the Distronic Plus assist in the S550 we drove to CES seem ancient. Drive Pilot enables takes the full-speed range adaptive cruise control and steering assist functions from Distronic Plus, improves it and adds active lane-change assist.
Active lane-change assist automatically checks the blind spots and changes into the adjacent lane with a simple flick of the turn signal stock. There's even active brake assist for rear cross-traffic. So, if someone walks behind your car or there's oncoming traffic you don't see, and you keep backing up, the car will automatically apply the brakes to prevent collision.
Rounding out the driver assist features is evasive steering assist, which helps you straighten out the car after evasive maneuvers. For example, if a kid runs into the street and you swerve to avoid him, the evasive steering assist helps apply steering torque to safely avoid the child and then helps straightening out the car.
On the convenience side of things, the new E-Class has remote parking pilot and vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The remote parking pilot feature lets you pull the car in and out of parking spots using a smartphone app. As a parent that has had to load children into the car within a tight parking spot, I definitely could use this feature.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology lets the E-Class talk to other compatible cars on the road to warn of imminent danger or obstacles. However, unless there are other cars around with the technology, the E-Class will talk to itself.
The infotainment side of things gets dual 12.3-inch, HD displays for the gauge cluster and radio display. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported too. New to the infotainment system are touch-sensitive controls that provide complete access to both LCD displays, without ever taking your hands off the 12 and 3 o'clock positions. The center console mounted control knob and touch pad are available to control the infotainment system too.
A premium Burmester sound system with 23 speakers is available. I enjoyed the sound quality from the Burmester system in the S550, so I have high hopes for the E-class too.
Powering the E-class is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder with 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque that sends power to a new 9-speed automatic transmission. Other engines will be available, but Mercedes has not released details on the complete engine range yet.
Expect the new E-class to arrive this summer.
2017 Volvo S90
High-end sedans seems to be the theme at Detroit this year, and Volvo joined in on the fun with its new S90. Despite debuting last month to the world, Volvo used NAIAS to debut the car to the American public.
Volvo has always placed great focus on producing safe vehicles, so it's not surprising the S90 is loaded with driver assist technologies. At the top of the list of driver assists is Pilot Assist, which offers semi-autonomous driving capabilities. Pilot Assist combines adaptive cruise control and steering assist to keep the car within the lanes without a vehicle ahead to follow. It only functions at speeds up to 80 mph and should be adequate for most legal US speed limits.
While other car companies are focusing on pedestrian detection, the S90 has large animal detection capabilities. While it may sound silly at first, the S90 can detect deer, horses, moose, elk and other large animals in daylight or at night. Those of us that live in rural areas where deer crossings are the norm may find this feature very helpful in preventing major accidents. Park assist, pedestrian detection and a 360-degree camera are also available on the S90.
The S90 features the same 9.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system as the XC90. Volvo skips capacitive and resistive touch technologies in favor of infra-red (IR) touch technology that promises accurate touch capabilities with gloves or long fingernails. I haven't spent enough time with the XC90 or S90 to judge Volvo's infotainment system, but the car interior looks amazing.
Volvo plans to offer the S90 with its optional T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain. The T8 hybrid powertrain produces 410 hp with the ability to propel on pure electricity. Other powertrains should be available but Volvo has not released any final details yet.
Expect the Volvo S90 to arrive later this year.
Wrapping it up
This year's NAIAS provided some amazing new cars. The Mercedes-Benz E-class announcement isn't surprising, since a lot of information was revealed at CES, but I still find the car and its capabilities very impressive.
The E-Class is a production car that received its driver's license in Nevada as an autonomous car with a few software tweaks. Sure Nevada law is quite lax on autonomous driving, but the thought of autonomous cars arriving in my lifetime is not something I expected while growing up.
Ford's refreshed Fusion Sport was a surprise too. While Ford has gone all-in on performance with the Fiesta ST, Focus ST and RS, Mustang and Ford GT, I didn't expect them to release an exciting mid-size sedan. With 325 hp and all-wheel drive, the car should be a hoot to drive or take your kids to soccer practice.
However, the most impressive car debuted at NAIAS, to me, is the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. I grew up in a minivan family. Our first minivan was an '84 Dodge Caravan my father bought for $500 off the newspaper classifieds to fix up. He went on to buy a brand new '98 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport with the 3.8-liter V6, which he still drives to this day. There was even a '93 Dodge Grand Caravan with gold lettering that he bought for my mother in the late '90s, too.
When I had my first child, I bought a 2011 Volkswagen Routan, which was a rebadged Dodge Caravan, so Chrysler minivans hold a special place in my heart. The new Pacifica Hybrid solves my biggest annoyance with our VW Routan: fuel economy. While long road trips weren't too bad at 25 mpg, it was thirsty in the city and saw fuel economy in the teens.
The Pacifica Hybrid with its 30 miles of pure electric propulsion is perfect for errands around the city while the 3.6-liter V6 with the 9-speed automatic should yield acceptable highway fuel economy. Combine that with the new Uconnect system that hopefully gets Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is my nearly perfect family car.
Now if Chrysler would offer the Pacifica Hybrid with all-wheel drive, I may have to forego my environmentally-conscious plans of getting a Chevrolet Bolt EV for one.
It's time to gear up for MWC 2016