The city of Detroit—at least its central core—is bustling now more than it has in years, but was the same true within the walls of its sprawling convention center for the 2017 Detroit auto show?
It’s known as the North American International Auto Show, or NAIAS, (possibly because the convention center actually overlooks Windsor, Ontario, Canada), but the Detroit show has typically been a place where home turf automakers like Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and General Motors show off their best and their brightest. That didn’t quite happen this year. To be sure, Ford had some worthwhile news like a turbodiesel engine for its F-150 pickup and confirmation that both the Bronco and the Ranger nameplates will return. And GM took the wraps off of some new crossovers that will no doubt be on many shopping lists this year. But things were quiet at FCA, which had no news to report whatsoever.
European and Asian brands filled the void for the most part with some important all-new unveilings like the Toyota Camry, Honda Odyssey, Volkswagen Tiguan, and BMW 5-Series.
And there will be some previously unfamiliar nameplates arriving in dealers soon, like the sporty Kia Stinger sedan and the Nissan Rogue Sport crossover.
We used to see dozens of concept cars in Detroit, but things were a little tame this year. Nissan previewed its next-generation Altima sedan, Audi gave us a hint of its new megabuck Q8 crossover, Infiniti showed off a thinly-veiled QX30, and VW teased us once again with a new concept car.
Finally, here’s a new one: Ford told us to expect a new mid-size pickup using the revived Ranger nameplate and it confirmed long-standing rumors that the Bronco off-roader will return. That’s great and all, but the automaker told us absolutely nothing about them and they showed off no images or renderings.
Here’s a look at what we actually saw this year in Detroit—and what we thought.
Our top five
These were the most important new car debuts in Detroit.
2018 Chevrolet Traverse. With its Tahoe-like shape, the Traverse has finally been updated. The old model had amazing staying power and we hope that Chevrolet has kept its virtues while updating what was beginning to feel tired.
What we like: Looks great inside and out.
What we don’t: Fuel economy estimates aren’t impressive—just 25 mpg highway with front-wheel drive.
2018 Ford F-150. To keep its hugely popular F-150 fresh, Ford updated its engine room, added some new tech, and will eventually be making a turbodiesel V-6 available.
What we like: The turbodiesel could give the F-150 30 mpg efficiency.
What we don’t: The F-150’s new grille design looks like fellow Detroiter Tom Selleck’s mustache.
2018 Honda Odyssey. Honda focused on interior flexibility with its new Odyssey by creating a second row of seats that be configured and reconfigured in seemingly endless ways.
What we like: Big interior upgrades and choice of advanced 9- and 10-speed automatics.
What we don’t: The second row multi-configurable, but it still doesn’t fold into the floor like the Chrysler Pacifica.