When we began previewing this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), we warned it was going to be a low-key event this year. As it turns out, the prediction was vindicated. This year’s show has been muted versus previous years, with not a single automaker press conference on day two. Despite the muted tone, there are some significant headliners out of the show.
The following list is comprised of reveals this year that we view are most significant to the marketplace for 2017. These are the vehicles that may leave some form of a dent in the industry, be it in sales volume or some other disruptive factor.
This is probably an obvious pick, but we had to. There’s no disputing the fact that–of this year’s reveals–this car is among the most critical to the industry and parent company Toyota. The eight-generation Camry is important beyond just business factors though, because this Camry is supposedly designed to reflect Toyota the company – more fun, more stylish and better.
While styling is purely subjective, there’s no question the new Camry has more visual excitement than previous generations. The car also appears to have the hardware to be back at the top of the midsize sedan segment, but that segment may dwindle in significance in coming years as consumers migrate to crossovers.
Another reveal that’s obvious for its significance is the 2018 F-150. The refreshed design features modest changes at best, but the new look is an improvement over today’s. It looks wider and offers consumers seven different grille selections. We think more choice is always a good thing. Oh, and there’s diesel now too.
If someone would have told me even five years ago that Kia would have a rear-wheel-drive sedan with 365 horsepower, I’d have laughed. But I digress, because that’s exactly what the Stinger GT is. Kia management says the car is on the show floor today because “no one said no” to the idea internally, which is a pretty badass story of how this car came to fruition.
The Stinger GT is significant for a lot of reasons. It’s serving as a huge jolt to Kia’s brand image, which was already on a strong upswing. The car is also a subtle slap in the face to Detroit automakers in the fact that Kia can make a mainstream RWD sedan, but GM and Ford cannot. As I told someone at the show, “GM couldn’t make a spiritual Pontiac G8 successor, so Kia will.”
The Honda Odyssey has always been good, but the new one is even better. It’s got a ton of technology features and promises to be more refined than the outgoing model. The significance here is the fact that consumers now have two really excellent minivans to pick from: the Chrysler Pacifica and now this.
Honda is purposely going to heat up the minivan competition, which is nothing but win for the consumer that’s interested in this segment.
5 – Various Production Announcements
Wait, what? One of the oddities of this year’s show is how many future product announcements were made, but not revealed. It’s uncommon for these announcements to happen at this scale and almost signals a bit of a lull in the collective new product pipeline for the industry. Nonetheless, Ford confirmed the return of the Bronco and Ranger, Honda confirmed a new dedicated hybrid model and FCA finally confirmed the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.
While none of these were revealed in the flash, the announcements themselves did occur and they are all going to have big impacts on the industry going forward. Perhaps they’re all signs that future Detroit shows won’t be as low-key?