If you’ve already sailed through Part I of our NAIAS coverage here, sit back and read the rest of the story — the rest of the debuted vehicles, that is. As the chief buzzard said, Detroit in January is never fun, but mostly because of the weather. The auto show itself is always great to see and be seen, and this year wasn’t any different. A lot of new introductions, a few concepts, and plenty of media coverage. So grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy.
Audi was quite busy in Detroit this year, with the introduction of two cars, one sport SUV, and one SUV concept. The Q8 Concept represents Audi’s upcoming design language. Except for the grille, which we hope is just a theory, the rest of the Q8 looks good. Dressed in Bombay Blue, the Q8 Concept ups the ante for full-size SUV luxury. The grille, which looks a little busy by Audi standards, features six upright double bars equally spaced to give a stronger appearance. Matrix laser technology is used for the headlamps, which means the light is broken down into more than one million pixels for more precise and bright light on the road. From the side, the frameless windows and slanted C-pillar make the Q8 Concept look smaller inside, although Audi claims the third-row passengers have a surprising amount of head and leg room. New user interface inside allows for a central control and display surface that disappears when not in use. Touch is the operative sense here for the controls, and an advanced HUD is the primary source of driver information. Under the hood is a 3.0 TFSI engine combined with an electric motor. Yes, the Q8 Concept is a hybrid, and the combined power rating is 333 horsepower and an impressive 516 lb-ft of torque. The lithium-ion battery consists of 104 prismatic cells, and helps deliver a pure electric driving range of just over 37 miles. A full charge on 240-volt power takes about 2.5 hours. No definitive word on final production yet, but the Q8 Concept looks more like reality than a dream.
Audi and BMW are tied for slicing their lineup as thinly as possible. Now the A5 has two more iterations with the S5 and A5 Cabriolet. The 2018 droptops are in addition to the A5 and S5 hardtop coupes in the stable. Since the A5 isn’t new, we’ll just talk about the topless part. The convertibles are fully electronic, and can be lowered using a one-touch operation in 15 seconds, but at speeds up to 31 mph. When opened, it folds into three layers and fits in a tray underneath the luggage compartment. The roof itself adds layers of insulation for a quiet ride. Whenever you chop up a vehicle, structural rigidity becomes an issue. With Audi’s new A5 cabrios, engineers added 55 pounds of integrity to the A5 and 99 pounds to the S5 to increase structure by 40 percent. Both the 2.0-liter I4 and 3.0-liter V6 in the A5 and S5 get a bump in power, as well as a redesigned front suspension for improved ride and handling. No pricing yet, but we’ll bet it won’t be cheap.
Audi’s midsize crossover sport vehicle is now in its second generation, with more power and features than before. The SQ5 sports an all-new 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Quattro AWD is standard, of course, and there’s also a new suspension to further enhance performance. This second-gen model receives an adaptable sport air suspension for the first time, which allows the driver to choose the correct setup for the driving circumstances. While the outside remains familiar, the inside gets more rear leg and shoulder room than before, as well as more cargo capacity with the second-row seats folded. Other niceties inside include a B&O sound system with 3D sound, MMI touch with handwriting recognition, a sport display mode for the IP, and a host of driver-assist technologies like adaptive cruise control with stop and go, Blind Spot monitoring, and more.
The night before the start of the auto show, GMC introduced the 2018 Terrain, and stole a bit of the thunder from its sister vehicle, the Chevrolet Traverse. Sharing a platform but different exteriors, the Chevrolet Traverse reminds us a bit of the Ford Explorer, if you remove the chrome treatment around the side windows. On sale in the fall, the Traverse will come in two additional trim levels: a sporty RS and an uplevel High Country. The RS package features a black-out exterior with black chrome grille and bowtie, 20-inch wheels, and more. The High Country includes unique interior items like Loft Brown leather seats with suede accents, D-Optic headlamps, twin-clutch AWD, and power-fold third row seats. Chevrolet also claims best-in-class third-row leg room, seating for eight, a longer wheelbase than the current model, and almost 100 cubic feet of cargo capacity with all seats folded. Lifting a few items from the competition, the Traverse also will offer a foot-activated hands-free liftgate and an illuminated bowtie logo lamp on the ground. Power comes from a new 3.6-liter V6 engine that will make about 10 percent more horsepower than the current model (est. over 300), and an estimated 5,000 pounds towing (the current Traverse offers a max 5,200-pound tow capacity). A bonus for Chevrolet is that the Traverse features a conventional gear-selection shifter, not the bizarre pushbutton-ish setup in the new GMC Terrain. No reason to doubt that the Traverse will continue to be a successful seller for Chevrolet.
Although the Ford reveal left plenty of media folks grumbling, there were some important announcements, but no actual concept vehicles to go with those announcements. We’ll get to that in a minute, but Ford did show the new Mustang. The next pony isn’t completely new, but changes up the design a bit to make it look more athletic in front and back, aiming for leaner and meaner with better aerodynamics. LED lights also will be standard, along with LED signature lighting. The back also gets revised LED lamps for a more “technical” look, and a new bumper and fascia finish the details. A performance spoiler is available, as is a standard dual-tip exhaust for EcoBoost-powered cars. The GT will get a standard quad-tip exhaust. Other upgrades include new wheels and exterior colors, a more premium look and feel to the interior, and an updated instrument panel. The 2018 Mustang will go on sale this fall.
Ford Bronco and Ranger
The most disappointing was the absence of physical concepts to go along with the announcement that both the Ranger and Bronco will be making a return to Ford’s North American vehicle lineup. Neither announcement was really a surprise, as the truck segment is booming compared to cars, and that both will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, and go on sale in 2020. The Ranger is already running around several countries other than the U.S., but with GM back in the midsize pickup segment, Ford will apply its F-Series voodoo to the Ranger to go after those Canyon and Colorado sales. The Ranger will be, according to Ford, affordable, functional, rugged and maneuverable, while the Bronco will be a “no compromise midsize 4×4 utility for thrill seekers who want to venture way beyond the city.” We promise to bring you more info as it comes to light.
2018 GMC Terrain
Sister vehicle to the Chevrolet Traverse, the GMC Terrain highlights the next generation of GMC vehicle design, with a not-quite-oval grille, contoured headlight surrounds and odd kick up at the beltline around the rear window. GMC calls it a striking design with functional beauty, but we think the Chevy Traverse is better looking. Available in four trim levels, SL, SLE, SLT and Denali, the Terrain goes on sale this summer. Features include HID headlamps on all but the Denali model, which gets LEDs, a choice of three turbo engines include an all-new 1.6-liter turbo diesel, and a new electronic shift, which is receiving flak for being probably the worst design to ever come out of GMC’s design studio, which is saying a lot.
For what we’re sure will be an incredibly expensive SUV, the push/pull buttons look cheap and are more complicated than they should ever be. It’s okay to copy an idea (Lincoln’s pushbutton shift), but the goal should be to make it better, not worse. That nit aside, the Terrain does offer some nice features like a fold-flat front passenger seat, under-floor storage, beaucoup safety and driver-assist features, and the valuable rear-seat reminder for those who need to be reminded there may be something in the back seat you don’t want to forget (like your kid, perhaps?).