Automobile firms stretch the power, comfort limits with new lineup at Detroit auto show

Companies give extensive makeover to popular models with more speed, comfort and glitzy interiors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 January, 2017, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 January, 2017, 8:30pm

From hot-selling sport utility vehicles (SUV) of all sizes to the a redesign for the Toyota Camry, the top-selling car in the US, the 2017 North American International Auto Show has a diverse lineup of new vehicles.

The show opens to the public on Saturday, and carmakers gave the media a sneak peek at their newest cars and trucks earlier in the week. Here are some of the buzz-worthy new cars and trucks at the show.

BMW boasts luxury and power in its 2017 BMW 5 Series. The cars’ advanced personal driver connectivity features an optional gesture control, latest generation head-up display and remote 3D viewing. The 5 Series also has remote control parking and advanced driver assistance systems. The BMW 540i xDrive goes from a stop to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds. The M550i xDrive runs on an 8-cylinder petrol engine and produces 456 horsepower. There is also a 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid. BMW says the vehicles are expected to begin arriving in showrooms next month.

Lexus introduced its LS flagship at the Detroit auto show in 1989. On Monday, it unveiled the latest version. The 2018 LS is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor. It also weighs 90kg less, thanks to greater use of lightweight materials. Under the hood is a new, 415-horsepower turbocharged V6. Other new features include a system that will automatically brake and steer away from obstacles and seats that provide passengers with Shiatsu massages. The LS goes on sale at the end of 2017.

Audi unveiled a concept version of the Q8 SUV hybrid, which it says will roll out in 2018. Audi officials said it will open a new segment for the brand. The Q8 is sleek, features a downward sloping front end and has as sporty yet elegant look. The concept was created under Audi chief designer Marc Lichte’s direction. His description of the vehicle also can be applied to an Olympic athlete or world-class race horse. “ ... the waistline is very lean and the muscles extremely powerfully defined”, Lichte said in an interview in Audi’s technology magazine.

The 2018 model year will kick off the redesigned Mercedes-Benz GLA compact SUV. Mercedes says the GLA will offer LED high-performance headlamps characterised by a colour temperature similar to daylight, and new seat covers and trim parts as well as chromed control panels in the interior. It also features a 360-degree camera that records the direct surroundings of the SUV. The GLA also offers autonomous braking and is standard-equipped with an “attention assist” features that can detect typical signs of drowsy behaviour.

Kia Motors heads into new territory with the Stinger sports sedan. Designed in Germany and based on Kia 2011 GT concept, the Stinger has the elegant looks of a European fastback. Engines are still in development, but Kia says a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder will produce 255 horsepower; an optional 3.3-litre V6 pushes that up to 365 horsepower. Kia is targeting a zero-to100km/h speed in 5.1 seconds. The Stinger goes on sale in late 2017. Pricing hasn’t been announced.

General Motors went small when it started revamping its ageing midsize people-hauling SUVs last year with the GMC Acadia. But it going bigger with the e Acadia sibling, the Chevy Traverse. The company says Chevrolet buyers want more space, so the Traverse will seat up to eight and have more cargo room. It comes standard with a new 3.6-litre V6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission. A 2-liter turbo four is available. There is also a new GMC Terrain small SUV with sleeker looks and smaller engines including 1.5-litre and 2-litre turbocharged four cylinders with nine-speed transmissions. There is also a diesel option.

Volkswagen stretches out its Tiguan SUV by 28cm to meet American demand for more space. The 2018 Tiguan also has more cargo space, sliding second-row seats and an optional third row. New safety options include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and a lane departure warning system. Under the hood is an updated 2-litre turbrocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower. The bigger Tiguan goes on sale in the US this summer.

Toyota unveiled the eighth-generation Camry at the show, at a time when car buyers in the US are flocking to SUVs. The 2018 Camry has a more rounded look, new engines and transmissions with sportier handling.

The mini-van segment has got smaller, but is still hotly contested. Honda is giving the Odyssey its first extensive makeover since 2011, adding hi-tech innovations such as an intercom and a system that allows the driver and front passenger to monitor back-seat passengers via display audio screen.