- Jul 31, 2013
Best And Worst Of The Detroit Auto Show
The North American International Auto Show, aka the Detroit Auto Show, was an upbeat, fun affair this year. There were lots of introductions, enough that we could pick our top five best and a handful of bummers.
The past few years have been sedate affairs at the Detroit show. But with the economy picking up and everyone feeling more optimistic, the auto show started to feel like a party again. And it was great to see so many new car and concept car introductions. In the past few years, most introductions took place on the Monday of the show. This year, there were enough presentations to bubble over until Tuesday.
We here at AOL Autos voted on what we believe to be the best -- and worst -- products shown at the Detroit show. Flip through to see if you agree.
Best pick No. 5: Volkswagen CrossBlue concept
Seriously, how can you not love this concept car and root for VW to actually produce it? The CrossBlue concept is a three-row plug-in diesel hybrid SUV that promises to get 89 mpge (the equivalent of miles per gallon if it were just a gas car.)
This car, in theory, could offer a no-compromises solution for people who need to haul around a lot of people. It'd have the power of a diesel engine, the efficiency of a hybrid, and the space of a big SUV. Should it reach production, it is currently slated to come with a 2.0-liter turbo diesel four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, which gives it 305 horsepower and a ludicrous 516 pound-feet of torque.
The CrossBlue came in fifth, getting votes from three of our editors and narrowly edging out the Toyota Furia concept for a spot.
Best pick No. 4: Audi RS7
A new RS model from Audi may not be as groundbreaking as some other cars and concepts shown at NAIAS, but it's hard to find anything not to love about Audi's RS7 Sportback.
A 560 horsepower, 4-liter, twin-turbo V8 engine, wrapped in a sleek, understated body with sporty cues? Yes, please. Even those of us concerned about the environmental tradeoff of such performance can commend Audi's cylinder on demand (COD) system, which deactivates up to 4 engine cylinders when the sports car isn't being pushed to the max.
Three of our editors voted for the Audi RS7, putting it in 4th place in our poll. - Adam Morath
Best pick No. 3: Jeep Grand Cherokee
We're suckers for diesels, so it's intriguing to see a mainstream brand like Jeep bring one into development. Given the hideous mileage Jeeps currently get, the addition of a diesel engine is an unconventional way for Jeep to boost the fuel economy and performance of one of its most popular models.
The Cherokee is only getting a mild refresh, but the introduction of diesel made it our third-favorite car at the show. It got three votes from our editors, but one of them ranked it as his favorite vehicle of all. That's some serious love coming from a simple interior refresh and powerful diesel engine.
Best pick No. 2: Cadillac ELR
GM is finding new ways to make the cost of its Chevrolet Volt technology worthwhile, and the end product is a sleek, non-polarizing vehicle that might be – from an exterior design perspective – one of our favorite Cadillacs in years.
Cadillac's ELR could've been higher on our list, except that the plug-in's big auto show debut was a bit spoiled by official images released by GM months ago. Combine that with the fact that we're now 3 years removed from Cadillac's Converj concept -- the car that got the ball rolling on a Voltec-powered Caddy -- and we can't help but be a bit reserved in our response to the unveiling. Despite that, we're genuinely excited for the ELR to inch ever-closer to production.
All five of our editors voted for this on their best-of-show lists, although no one ranked it as No. 1.
Best pick No. 1: Chevy Corvette Stingray
Really? Do we have to explain the allure of the Chevy Corvette? Well, OK. If you insist.
The Stingray name returns for Corvette's seventh generation, and along with it an edgier design that is sure to ruffle some feathers of Corvette purists. Namely, the car's rear end, which now features squared off tail lamps. To our eye, we appreciate that the car has gotten lower, wider and more angular, but feel that all the vents and a two-toned rear bumper is a bit busy.
The Corvette got the top vote from three of our editors, and it appeared on our other two editors' lists as well. - Adam Morath
Worst pick No. 4: Honda Urban SUV
There are a lot of reasons why, on paper, this concept car makes sense. It's small, and buyers these days are constantly looking for fuel-efficient wheels that can haul their stuff. Many automakers are looking at making their SUVs smaller to capture this market.
A lot of other auto critics thought this car was cool, but we found it to be ho-hum. It's probably very close to what Honda actually plans to put into production when and if they make this car, so that's why it doesn't look like a jaw-dropping concept. Still, there's not much to differentiate it from other similar vehicles which might be slightly bigger, but still look the same.
But, whatever. Our criticism won't mean much. People love Hondas, and the company will sell hundreds of thousands of these awkwardly-named vehicles if they want.
Worst pick No. 3: Hyundai HCD Concept
We just don't know what Hyundai was thinking. The original Genesis is a very nice piece of work. The Sonata, Elantra, Santa Fe and Accent are all top-notch designs that are keeping executives at Ford, Toyota and Honda up at night.
This is a concept design that is meant to point to where they are thinking with a new Genesis. The front end is massive and out of proportion. The back view is the dog's dinner. To our friends at Hyundai, we say: "Think Again." - David Kiley
Worst pick No. 2: Acura MDX Prototype
For a vehicle with "prototype" in its show name, it couldn't be more yawn-inducing. The uninspired MDX Prototype feels more like a mid-generation refresh, than the futuristic framework of an all-new SUV. - Adam Morath
Worst pick No. 1: Guangzhou E-Jet Concept
One of our editors listed the Guangzhou Automobile Company's offerings at the show as his least favorite. How do you stir the imagination of importing to America without a car you're ready to deliver immediately? We wanted to like them, but they made it hard.
Plus, it's clear they've got a long way to go before they really understand the U.S. market. They're still struggling with the language. The spec sheets for the two production cars contained a few awkward -- in some cases, undecipherable -- phrases like "lamp of sleeve," "portable ashtray" and "Tweeter & Sackbut." Also, wheels for the cars were listed under optional equipment. - Pete Bigelow