Editors' Choice: Top Five 2015 Detroit Auto Show Debuts

Picking Our Favorites From The Best NAIAS In Years

Optimists we are (mostly), and the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit kicked off the year's show season in an incredibly upbeat fashion. There were several surprises, a smattering of performance offerings, and heck, even Cobo Center had just undergone some much-needed renovations, with a gorgeous new media room that actually allowed us to see the light of day while we pounded our keyboards to bring you our usual, obsessive coverage.

But we digress. The cars shown in Detroit were absolutely awesome this year, and selecting our usual round of Editors' Choice picks wasn't as easy as you might think. There was definitely a clear winner this year, but our editors' personal lists varied based on personal taste, and you'll see that represented in the larger-than-usual list of honorable mentions at the end. Have a look below to see what our team liked best in Detroit. We only hope the rest of 2015 is this good.

5th Place –

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SEYTH MIERSMA: Hyundai's concept seems to draw inspiration from the trucklettes of the 1980s and the Australian utes that we American enthusiasts have been hankering after for years. God only knows if Hyundai has the chutzpah or the business case to build it, but a production utility vehicle along these lines would certainly peak my interest.

BRANDON TURKUS: I'm totally enamored by the Santa Cruz. It looks handsome, but more than that, a major automaker may be finally stepping up plans to build a genuine compact pickup truck. The Santa Cruz foreshadows a great idea, and I can't wait to see if Hyundai will bring it to fruition.

CHRIS PAUKERT: A small but vocal group of enthusiasts have been clamoring for a compact pickup offering good efficiency and refinement along with just-enough functionality. Hyundai's HCD-15 Santa Cruz concept looks like it could fit the bill, with a lot of clever design touches that don't take away from a contemporary form that looks neither wimpy nor cartoonishly brawny.

4th Place –

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SEBASTIAN BLANCO: What the upgraded Volt (and the Bolt) say about GM's electric efforts should outweigh anything else revealed at the show. There are a lot of "ifs" here – if GM builds the Bolt, if it hits the range and cost targets – but the Bolt should be the most important car of the show if everything plays out the way GM is talking. "Game changer" is tossed around too lightly, but sit for a second and actually imagine an affordable, 200-mile EV. Or a world with competing models (new Leaf? Tesla Model 3?) with those specs. That's a game that's changed.

CHRIS BRUCE: Gas might be cheap now, but that's temporary at best. Prices are inevitably going to start creeping eventually. That's what makes Chevy's tactic with the latest Volt's design so interesting and potentially so revolutionary. The company took a mainstream approach for the shape, and the decision makes the model look less futuristic and more like just another compact sedan on the road, albeit a great-looking one. Some of the plug-in hybrid's fans might not like the idea of driving something that looks so conventional, but the average buyer might take the bait. The shape actually looks better than that of the Cruze, while offering 50 miles of pure-electric range and 102 mpge. Both of those are going to be a big deal when the price at the pump creeps up again.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: When it comes to everyday transportation, I'm a green leaner, and the Volt makes perfect sense to me. The last time I had a Volt for a week, I averaged well over a hundred miles per gallon, and I'm sure the next one will do even better.

3rd Place –

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SHARON CARTY: When news first broke that Chevy was about to unveil the Bolt at the Detroit Auto Show, I thought someone was punking the poor Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote the story. The Bolt? Like the Disney character? Unfortunate name, but lofty ideals. Consumers have been hesitant to really embrace alternative fuel cars for a variety of reasons, like price, range and reliability. The Bolt promises a 200-mile range for a $30,000 car, which is pretty cool, if GM can deliver what it promises. In an interview, Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president of of global product development, hinted strongly that the Bolt is on its way. Hopefully they'll change the name, though.

CHRIS McGRAW: Finally, an EV that satisfies both range and my wallet.

GREG MIGLIORE: With a range of 200 miles and a price tag of $30,000, the Bolt really intrigued me as something I'd want for my personal life. It's a strong message from General Motors that electric vehicles are a priority, and it puts Tesla, BMW and other electric vehicle proponents on notice.

2nd Place –

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ADAM MORATH: At last the long-awaited Acura NSX arrived, and it did not disappoint.

STEVEN EWING: With every subsequent NSX concept, I've grown increasingly more excited. Now the production model is finally, finally here, and it's (nearly) everything I could've asked for.

SEYTH MIERSMA: The NSX combination of technology and aggressiveness wowed me on the show stand, and has set my expectation high for its experience on the road.

CHRIS BRUCE: Despite some important questions left to be answered, like weight and horsepower, the design is still an intriguing assertion of future performance. I'm very curious to see if there's further evolution before production begins.

CHRIS PAUKERT: After what seems like such a long time in the making, the production Acura NSX almost comes off as anticlimactic, but it's still an impressive specimen that I can't wait to drive. The NSX is attractive and well proportioned, and I appreciate the fact that Honda has invested the time and resources to try out a number of different powertrains until it hit upon one it felt lived up to the NSX name. Let's hope its performance merits the years of hype.

1st Place –

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CHRIS PAUKERT: Kudos to Ford for bringing out a new GT that respects Blue Oval performance history without becoming a slave to it, either aesthetically or technologically. It seems impossibly long, low, and almost Italianate, and I'm glad Ford has already confirmed that it's going to build the thing instead of yanking fans around for years.

SEYTH MIERSMA: Ford killed it this year. The Shelby GT350R showed the most aggressive version of the new Mustang we've yet laid eyes on and the Raptor is more desert-chomping than ever. But there's no question that the GT is the star of the stand, and quite possible the star of the show. A supercar, the next iteration of a racing icon and one of the best-looking wheeled sculptures in the Motor City this week. Winner winner.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's really coming back. Pinch yourselves, enthusiasts. The GT looks exactly how I'd hoped: modern and muscular, yet there's an awareness of the car's lineage. Bring it to Le Mans!

STEVEN EWING: I want to applaud Ford's performance blitzkrieg as a whole here, but nothing has stolen an auto show (and my votes) quite like this GT concept. What a stunner.

JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: There's nothing not to like here – from the 600-plus horsepower EcoBoost engine to the carbon fiber monocoque – all wrapped up in some pretty exquisite bodywork. Best in show.


As we've done with our past Editors' Choice lists, each staffer had 25 points to distribute amongst five cars, with no one car receiving more than 10 points. After everything was tallied, here's how the Top Five fell.


With the Ford GT and Acura NSX garnering so much of the allotted votes, everything else fell really close together, with a few points scattered across a wide range of products. Here's what else we liked from this year's Detroit show.

Ford GT | 2015 NAIAS

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