Five Biggest Impacts from the 2016 Detroit Auto Show

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 8.09.10 AM

Last week I wrote about seven Detroit Auto Show debuts to watch. The only one I got remotely wrong was the 2017 Chrysler Town & Country, but that was only because FCA pulled a fast one and changed that vehicle’s name to the Chrysler Pacifica.

Here are the five vehicles that made the biggest impact at the North American International Auto Show, which runs through Jan. 24 at Detroit’s Cobo Hall.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica
This seems like a dumb name, because the old Pacifica was a largely uninspired early crossover made from 2003 to 2007 before being put out of its misery. In spite of its name, the new Chrysler Pacifica is turning out to be one of the new vehicles with the most impact from the show.

Money magazine, for example, called it a game-changing vehicle. Auto journalists were practically falling over themselves to promote how cool it is.

Then again, we auto journalists are a rare breed, because given our druthers, we would all drive 8-speed manual-transmission station wagons with turbodiesel engines.

Buick Avista concept
Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 8.08.00 AMContinuing the weird “Hot Tub Time Machine” vibe of the show was a Buick making a true impact. That would be the Avista concept – a 2+2 coupe that pushes the brand’s contemporary design ethos and rekindles its historic performance roots. Okay, the last part of that sentence was entirely written by Buick, but for once it’s not overheated hype.

The Avista, while a concept, managed to sneak in and catch journalists mostly unawares. That probably helped make its impact that much more powerful. Here’s hoping it actually hits production soon. It’s got a 400-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 driving the rear wheels. Plus it has sporty proportions and an aggressive stance.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt
Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 8.07.02 AMOkay, it was technically introduced at CES in Las Vegas, but the Chevrolet Bolt was still turning heads one week later in Detroit – with a couple of strikes against it. First is that gas is $2 a gallon, so no one gives a damn about electric vehicles right now. Second, the EV market is starting to get a little crowded, and demand isn’t increasing.

Yet the Bolt continued to be talked about for its 200-mile range from a relatively quick-charging battery pack. Plus it will be packed with cutting-edge tech, which keeps interest high.

2017 Lexus LC 500
2016_Lexus_LC_500The Lexus LC 500 proves Toyota’s luxury division can once again make stunning cars. Sure, this is going to be an absolute performance beast. Its all-aluminum, 32-valve V8 puts out 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque.

But this Lexus is snapping the heads of show-goers for its look. It incorporates so much of the LF-LC’s design ideology. There are no bad angles on this car. It could easily become what the Acura NSX was supposed to be, especially if Lexus creates an LC F version that tops 500 horsepower.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew
Gray Raptor Dunes Action 0190I drove the previous-generation Ford F-150 Raptor across segments of the Baja 1000 last year. This vehicle can pretty much do anything – and now it’s roomier. Among the other enhancements, an all-new high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost, all-new 10-speed transmission, and torque-on-demand transfer case make the new F-150 Raptor even more powerful, efficient, and easy to drive off-road.

Sure, when it comes to driving off-road, nobody cares about fuel efficiency. In the grand scheme, though, it’s good that OEMs do, because it boosts OEM’s corporate average fuel economy. And that lets us keep having toys like the F-150 Raptor.

-Keith Griffin

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Editor’s note: New England car fans who can’t make it to Detroit might want to consider attending the New England International Auto Show.

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