While frigid temperatures and snowy weather made a cold beginning to the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the show had an electric atmosphere with many exciting new trucks, cars and alternative fuel vehicles. The variety of new technologies and models at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show made it one of the best in recent memory.
New Titan, Raptor, Tacoma, Santa Cruz and Rebel Trucks
Heading into the show, most journalists knew we were going to see two new trucks: the 2016 Nissan Titan and the 2016 Toyota Tacoma. However, nobody really knew the full scale of all the trucks being launched. In fact, the truck reveals almost stole the spotlight of the entire show.
The first big surprise of the show was the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor. It had been rumored that the new Raptor was going to be unveiled at the show, but it was still surprising when it hit the stage. The new off-road truck features the aluminum-alloy body of the new F-150, as well as a new, high-output 3.6-liter EcoBoost engine and a host of new off-road goodies. The new Raptor is listed as a 2017 model because Ford says they still have some work to do before it is ready for production.
Next up was the redesigned 2016 Nissan Titan. Unlike the Raptor, most journalists knew this truck was coming. However, they didn’t know that Nissan was going to focus on what they call an XD model. The Nissan Titan XD is a heavy-duty, half-ton model, which means it fills the gap between a half-ton truck and a heavy-duty ¾ ton pickup. With a strong frame and a large, turbodiesel 5.0-liter V8 engine that’s capable of producing 555 pound-feet of torque, the Titan XD will fill a gap in the marketplace.
Another truck that was expected was the 2016 Toyota Tacoma. The Tacoma has been the midsize truck sales king for some time, and the new 2016 model has been completely redesigned from the frame up. It is so new in fact that Toyota Chief Engineer Mike Sweers joked that it may share the same gas cap as the previous model. With a new optional V6 engine, new off-road options and new styling throughout, it is a smart upgrade.
Then, Hyundai jumped into the small truck arena with a Santa Cruz concept. This truck is a basically a unibody SUV (think Hyundai Santa Fe) with a bed. It has room to seat five, features a car like driving experience and has the bed for a small amount of cargo. The concept isn’t green-lighted for production, yet with a really hot truck market, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hyundai seriously considers building it.
Lastly, Ram ended the big truck reveals with their new Rebel model. It is a Ram 1500 with a special suspension and unique Rebel badging throughout the truck. Though “not a Raptor fighter,” according to Ram truck communications guru Nick Cappa, the Ram 1500 Rebel is a lifestyle truck meant for the back roads and for the guy who wants something different. It is beefy, brawny and full of personality. Ram says it is selling confidence, and the Rebel certainly delivers.
While this truck was exciting, the other big news is a new HFE version of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel which is rated at 21/29 mpg city/highway. That’s slightly better than the current 1500 EcoDiesel’s 20/28 mpg, which helped the new HFE model steal some of the spotlight from the Rebel.
Sports Cars, Oh My!
While trucks dominated many headlines, new sports cars from Ford also grabbed the spotlight. During the best press conference of the event, Ford started off by wowing the crowd with the new F-150 Raptor. Then, they pulled back the covers on not just one, but two exciting sports cars. Plus, Acura showed the new 2016 NSX.
First, Ford showed off the most aggressive stock Mustang on the planet with the new Shelby GT350R. It is truly a track model of the Mustang featuring a large V8 engine and tons of track goodies. Ford also removed items like the air conditioning, stereo and rear seats in order to reduce the Shelby GT350R’s weight.
Next, Ford blew away the crowd again with a new Ford GT. This exotic sports car is the beginning of the new Ford Performance lineup that harkens back to the Ford GT of old. With its supercar styling and an EcoBoost V6 engine that produces more than 600 horsepower, the Ford GT is sure to be a winner. The best news is that the Ford GT isn’t just a concept meant for display at auto shows. Ford will start producing the new GT in 2016.
Lastly, Acura lifted the covers on the long-awaited NSX. This car had been teased for years with concepts being unveiled at various shows. Now, the production model is finally here, offering technology and aggressive lines that should make it a winner on the track and in the showroom. While information on weight and horsepower still need to be answered, this car is sure to deliver.
Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Vehicles
While trucks and sports cars were the big items, plug-in hybrids and EVs continue to evolve and they made a strong showing at the Detroit Auto Show. The big ones were the Chevrolet Bolt EV concept and the redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt.
Chevrolet says that the Bolt EV concept offers “a vision for an affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 miles of range starting around $30,000.” While the Bolt is still a concept, a $30,000 price tag could make it a hit with the masses.
Meanwhile, the larger and fully redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt gets a host of improvements that are well-aimed at the consumer. It will have a longer range, special home charging setup, a longer charging cable and several other improvements. Thanks to these upgrades, the redesigned Volt should be easier and better for owners to charge and use.
Honorable mentions go to the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid and the Mercedes-Benz C350 Plug-in Hybrid, as both vehicles continue to grow the hybrid segment.
Overall, the show included a large variety of vehicles for consumers to look over. The industry hit sales records last year and is slated to do the same this year, and it is a good time for customers since all the manufactures are offering unique models for a range of tastes. For consumers, journalists and car fans, this show will go down as one of the best Detroit shows in years.