2016 NAIAS: KBB's Ones to Watch from Detroit
As the North American International Auto Show winds down in Detroit, we’ve had a chance to digest all the new model launches, concept reveals and general tomfoolery that surrounds such events. In our Detroit show coverage, there are 27 significant reveals, ranging from the surprising Buick Avista concept to an all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline that decided to swap its flying buttress design for a more conventional pickup look. Out of all these, there are five that truly stand out as vehicles that warrant your attention in the days to come. They are:
2017 Chevrolet Bolt
Even as gas prices hover around the $2 per gallon range, the 2017 Chevy Bolt is the future not so much because we’ve reached peak oil (because we haven’t) but more so because we’ve reached peak regulation. With a 57.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy average looming in the not too distant 2025 future, coupled with Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standards in key markets like California, the industry will be building and selling more plug-in hybrids and dedicated electrics. The Bolt is clearly a sign of things to come and it will be the first EV below $40,000 (Chevy hopes close to $30,000 with government incentives thrown in) to offer a range of 200 or more miles. If the Bolt can’t move the needle on EVs, it’s doubtful anything else will.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica
While minivans are the unsung heroes of family transportation, they still represent a fairly healthy slice of the new car market. It’s been a while since the Chrysler name has tripped off the tongue when talking about these vehicles, so it’s high time that the automaker has weighed in, which it does quite nicely with the all-new and renamed 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Wider, with styling influenced by red-hot crossovers, the Pacifica retains the traditional sliding doors and trick fold-into-the-floor seating. The Pacifica is not likely to cause a wholesale stampede back into minivans, but the improvements have the potential of putting Chrysler ahead of tough rivals Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
2017 Buick Envision
As the first Chinese-built vehicle carrying a domestic nameplate, the 2017 Buick Envision is much more than an argument over trade and labor policy waiting to happen. It’s also a handsome, well-appointed 5-passenger crossover SUV positioned solidly in one of the fastest growing market segments. It’s also an important building block in the Buick hierarchy, bridging the yawning gap between the subcompact 2016 Buick Encore and the full-size Enclave on the truck side of the ledger. Chinese-sourcing of the vehicle should make it more than competitive on the pricing front.
2017 Lincoln Continental
There has been much yammering about Lincoln lately, on how it’s more a premium than a true luxury brand, that its design direction seems to be unfocused and that no way can it overcome the head start that Cadillac has with more than 10 years under its belt with products that reflect its Art & Science approach. There is more than a kernel of truth in all this and yet, when you look at the 2017 Lincoln Continental in the flesh, you see a vehicle that’s better executed than the concept revealed last April at the New York Auto Show. Yes, the chips are stacked against Lincoln, but seeing the Continental in the flesh, it’s a long shot worth taking. And if it pays off, it could mark the rebirth of a more traditional and American approach to luxury cars.
Kia Telluride Concept
The fact that the Kia Telluride Concept has no model year attached to it is a clue that there are no solid plans to bring a full-size SUV like this to the market, yet. Still, there’s much to be gleaned from this ruggedly handsome vehicle, especially since the underpinnings are said to come from the full-size platform used for the rear-drive K900 luxury sedan. If that’s the case, this Kia bears attention for it will mark the entry by the highly competitive Korean automakers into a segment long dominated by GM and Ford. With great features, aggressive pricing and Kia’s long warranty, a vehicle like the Telluride will offer buyers more choices in a segment that could use them.