The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is America's annual celebration of the automobile. Manufacturers from all over the world display their latest products to the public, reveal new ones to the media, and show off concept cars to spark interest in their brands and provide a glimpse of the future.
Open to the public from January 18 to January 26, the auto show in Detroit also provides a glimpse of what will be showcased at the more consumer-oriented and larger Chicago Auto Show, which runs from February 8 to February 17.
The overwhelming theme of the Detroit show was performance. Several automakers revealed high-horsepower production cars and concepts, but several significant production models were also shown. The two biggest stars of the show were the production models from Ford and Chrysler. Here is our breakdown of the highlights from Detroit.
The biggest news of the show involved America's best-selling vehicle. Ford took the wraps off the 2015 Ford F-150 and confirmed the long-rumored use of aluminum for the body. Aluminum will help the F-150 save as much as 700 pounds, improving road manners, towing and hauling capability, and fuel economy. A new 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 engine will replace the current 3.7-liter V6 as the base engine, and the big 6.2-liter V8 will be dropped. Other notable features include a 360-degree view camera, stowable cargo ramps, and an eight-inch instrument panel "productivity screen" with customizable displays. The 2015 F-150 is due by the end of the year.
2015 Chrysler 200
The first all-new midsize offering since Fiat leadership took over Chrysler in 2009, the 2015 Chrysler 200 promises to add style, sophistication, and value to the midsize sedan class. The attractive design features a coupe-like flowing roofline, clean lines, and a taut shape. Four- and six-cylinder engines will power the return, both using a new nine-speed automatic transmission that will help the four-cylinder achieve 35 mpg on the highway. Front-wheel drive will be standard, and V6 buyers will have the option of all-wheel drive. Line-topping luxury-oriented 200C and sporty 200S models will be offered. The 2015 Chrysler 200 goes on sale in the second quarter of this year with a starting at $21,700, $95 less than the outgoing model.
2015 Honda Fit
The Honda Fit has earned a reputation as a fun-to-drive subcompact car that is efficient both in terms of fuel economy and interior space. For 2015, the Fit will improve upon all of those strengths. Though the new car is 1.5 inches shorter than the outgoing model, smart interior repackaging adds a whopping five inches of rear legroom and five cubic feet of interior space. A new 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine adds 15 horsepower for a total of 130 and improves fuel economy to as high as 33 mpg city/41 highway when equipped with the new continuously variable automatic transmission. Inside, the Fit gets higher quality materials, a seven-inch touchscreen, and Siri Hands Free smartphone control. Watch for it this spring.
The seventh-generation of the Corvette, the Stingray, was big news last year in Detroit and this year Chevrolet revealed the latest and greatest Corvette performance model, the Z06. Horsepower increases from 505 to 625 as the Z06 changes from a 7.0-liter V8 to the new LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V8. Transmission choices consist of a seven-speed manual and, for the first time, an eight-speed automatic. An available Z07 package adds carbon ceramic brakes and stickier Michelin Pilot Cup Sport tires to improve performance even more. Scoops and ducts abound to improve cooling, and they make the Z06 up to 3.15 inches wider than the Stingray. Look for the new Z06 early next year.
2015 Cadillac ATS coupe
Cadillac is on a roll. Sales were up 22 percent in 2013, making it the country's fastest growing full-line luxury brand, and the midsize CTS sedan was named the Motor Trend Car of the Year. The compact ATS has proven to be a world class sport sedan, and at Detroit Cadillac showed a sleek two-door coupe version. Rear- and all-wheel drive will be offered, and engine choices will consist of the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 3.6-liter V6; the pedestrian 2.5-liter four-cylinder will not be offered. The 2.0-liter adds 35 lb-ft of torque for a total of 295, and Cadillac quotes a 0 to 60 mph time 5.6 seconds. Sales begin this summer.
Toyota FT-1 Concept
Toyota has teased a successor for the Supra sports car several times, with the latest being in Detroit. The Toyota FT-1 Concept's design was inspired by the Supra and Celica of the 1990s, the 2000GT of the 1960s, and the current Scion FR-S. Designed in California, the FT-1 is a low, sleek, front-engine, rear-drive two-seater with the cockpit set back to create the long hood, short deck proportions of classic sports cars. Toyota gives no engine specs, but says it would be powered by a "high-technology, high performance internal combustion engine." FT stands for Future Toyota and company boss Akio Toyoda is sports-car happy, so we suspect a version of this concept will hit the streets as a new Toyota sports car in the next few years.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Mercedes removed the shroud from its redesigned C-Class in Detroit. The brand's best-selling car, the C-Class takes a significant step upmarket, likely due to the addition of the entry-level CLA last year. The new design takes cues from the dynamic lines of the CLA, and the car loses up to 220 pounds while growing 3.7 inches longer. The C-Class will launch with two new engines, a 235-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 329-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. Mercedes also promises an upgraded interior, optional air springs, and the availability of the safety systems from the S- and E-Class models. The next-generation C-Class is due this fall.
2015 BMW M3/M4
The high-revving 4.0-liter V8 is gone, but BMW is actually getting more power out of a turbocharged inline six-cylinder in the 2015 M3 sedan and M4 coupe. The 3.0-liter engine produces 425 horsepower, up from 414, and propels the M3/M4 from 0 to 60 mph in as little as 3.9 seconds. BMW says the new engine will reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 25 percent and weight by about 20 pounds versus the outgoing V8. The M3 will also weigh about 180 pounds less than the last-generation model, which should improve the car's legendary handling. The M3 and M4 will hit dealer showrooms early this summer.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun