Autoblog's five favorite 2016 Detroit Auto Show debuts
The Best Of The Best
There’s nothing quite like the North American International Auto Show. January in Detroit might not seem like too much fun, but we promise, NAIAS is an incredibly exciting event. Nothing quite warms you up from cold temperatures like an endless array of super hot cars.
This year’s show wasn’t quite as spectacular as last year’s – it’s hard to compete with a show that featured a surprise showing of the Ford GT. But what we did see this year were hugely important debuts from American manufacturers. And once again, it’s an American that tops our list for Best In Show.
But we won’t spoil the winners. Click through to see the cars our editors liked more than anything else in Detroit.
5th PLACE: 2017 LINCOLN CONTINENTAL
GREG MIGLIORE: It looks really elegant in production trim. The more I stared at it, the more I was drawn in. The Continental has gravitas.
NOAH JOSEPH: Lincoln's been skating by for far too long. The new Continental doesn't just represent the rebirth of a storied nameplate – it's a harbinger of a fresh start from the entire brand. Ford is finally giving the last remaining premium marque under its umbrella the flagship it deserves, and it looks like a world-beater.
JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: 400 horsepower to all four wheels sounds good, and those electric door handles are pretty trick.
4th PLACE: BUICK AVISTA CONCEPT
DAVID GLUCKMAN: Yeah, it's real purty, somewhat derivative styling (Tesla Model S lights, a Ford Fusion grille) but it's way beyond anything Buick is offering right now or has in decades. Only thing is, I'm not convinced Buick is going to do anything with it besides build hype.
CHRIS BRUCE: For the second consecutive Detroit Auto Show, Buick presents one of the best looking concepts of any automaker at the international event. Now, I just wish the company could translate these great looks to production models. I'd love to see the brand's lineup include stylish vehicles like the Avenir and Avista.
BRANDON TURKUS: It’ll probably never get built, but this is the second year in a row that Buick has wowed us in Detroit with an exciting, dramatic concept. Kudos for that.
3rd PLACE: 2018 LEXUS LC 500
CHRIS BRUCE: The Lexus LF-LC concept was gorgeous, and the LC 500 does an amazing job of bringing the taut shape to production. The company's designers aren't ready to give up the spindle grille yet, but this coupe has the best yet incorporation of the polarizing styling cue.
ALEX KIERSTEIN: This is the antidote to any cynicism about where the auto industry is headed. It's one of the most exciting new cars I've seen in person, being classically proportioned and beautiful without being derivative or retro. And it should be incredible to drive. Isn't that the total package?
JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Even if it's not my favorite design, I admire Lexus for pushing boundaries. It took guts for Lexus to build this thing.
2nd PLACE: 2017 VOLVO S90
ALEX KIERSTEIN: It's amazing that you can take such a basic sedan profile, and without overdoing the styling cues, add an outsized amount of hyper-modern style. In our crossover-heavy market (and a SUV-wild auto show), the S90 is a breath of fresh air.
STEVEN EWING: Oh man, do I love this thing. I had a teacher in high school who always used to say, "The beauty’s in the simplicity," and nowhere is that more true than on this Volvo S90. What might seem overly basic to some is actually gorgeous, and I cannot wait to see this big sedan on the road.
DAVID GLUCKMAN: A good looker, great understated interior, and the new Sensus infotainment setup. If the XC90 is anything to go by, it will be pretty nice to drive. It's good to see new, competitive products from Volvo again.
1st PLACE: 2017 CHRYSLER PACIFICA + HYBRID
SEBASTIAN BLANCO: Without a doubt the plug-in standout of the show. Sure, minivans are boring people-movers, but we all know that most of them go from home to school to home to work to school to violin practice and so on. If a family can do most or even all of these trips without burning gas, that's a tremendous advantage, even in this temporary era of $2 gas.
GREG MIGLIORE: The Pacifica was the single-most important vehicle for FCA and one of the most significant introductions at the show. FCA did a smart job of re-imaging the minivan segment and making it compelling for a new generation. I’m divided on the name Pacifica, but most people outside of Detroit probably don’t remember the lackluster wagon that used it previously. For most consumers, Pacifica has a West Coast cool sound. Props to FCA for taking a risk and innovating again in a segment it invented.
ADAM MORATH: The Chrysler Pacifica proves that the inventors of the minivan are still on top of their game. The new minivan from FCA adds handy features like a vacuum, and improves on old standards like stow-and-go seating. Most impressive is a plug-in hybrid powertrain with 30 miles of electric range and 80 MPGe.
BRANDON TURKUS: Minivans are the best family vehicles, and families spend a lot of time making short, couple-mile trips, which the limited EV range of a plug-in is perfect for. Simply put, a plug-in hybrid minivan is long overdue. The only reason I didn’t give the Pacifica the maximum ten points is because ditching a nameplate as long-lived as Town & Country is moronic.
DAVID GLUCKMAN: Minivans are great. New minivans with lots of improvements are super-great. And the plug-in hybrid powertrain makes tons of sense in a vehicle with the varied tasks of a people hauler. And it's attractive – for a minivan.
For voting, each editor is given 25 points to spread between their five favorite cars. No one car can earn more than 10 points per editor. Here’s how the voting breaks down:
- Chrysler Pacifica – 54 points
- Volvo S90 – 38 points
- Lexus LC 500 – 37 points
- Buick Avista – 35 points
- Lincoln Continental – 13 points
As you can see, the Pacifica was the runaway winner this time around, but the middle of the pack was super duper close.
Top five aside, the 2016 Detroit Auto Show had plenty of other attention-grabbing debuts. Here are the other vehicles we liked, and how many points they received.
- 2016 BMW M2 – 11 points
- Nissan Titan Warrior Concept – 11 points
- 2017 Honda Ridgeline – 11 points
- Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept – 9 points
- VLF The Force 1 – 7 points
- 2017 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor SuperCrew – 5 points
- Audi H-Tron Concept – 5 points
- 2017 Ford Fusion Sport – 3 points
- 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback – 3 points
- 2017 Infiniti Q60 – 2 points
- 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class – 2 points
- Kia Telluride Concept – 1 point