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2016 Detroit Auto Show Hits, Misses, and Revelations

Published on www.automobilemag.com

January 13, 2016
2016 Detroit Auto Show Hits Misses Revelations

Detroit–There is a refreshing absence of new crossover/utility vehicles at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. In fact, this show is very balanced; some concepts, a few new coupes and sedans, a truck here or there, a relevant new minivan, and only five crossovers.
The show is so well-balanced that 10 of our editors and contributors covering the show have a lot to say, and have a lot of opposing opinions on the premiers and concepts. So sit back and enjoy a virtual tour of what’s hot, what’s not, and what’s confounding from Detroit 2016…
Buick Avista Concept Live Front Three Quarter 2

Hit: Buick Avista

This makes two hits in a row for Buick at Detroit. The Avista looks much more realistic than last year’s Avenir. It’s essentially a Buick Camaro, riding on the same outstanding chassis we love in the Cadillac ATS/CTS and Chevrolet Camaro, and it has a 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. The Avista is a beautiful car with exciting performance parts under the pretty wrapper, and I’d love to see it in Buick showrooms. –Jake Holmes

Miss: Buick Avista

This sexy concept somehow strikes me as less than the sum of its parts. Stunning color, balanced proportions, and just the right middle ground between concept-car wackiness and realistic production touches. I just don’t get it as a Buick. I would have been equally impressed had Hyundai, or Infiniti, or any other premium brand rolled this concept onto its stages. I don’t get a clear sense of identity, and I don’t particularly care whether they’re going to build it or not. –Joseph Capparella

Hit: Buick Avista

Register it a qualified hit for too much “homage” to Aston Martin and the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 concept (which was designed by Sungyup Lee, who designed the RWD 2004 Velite concept for Buick). If Buick gets the green light on Avista I suspect it will become a less cabin-rearward four-door “coupe” to further distance itself from the Alpha-platform mates. But first, the Olds wagon-like name has to go. “Riviera” still works. –Todd Lassa

Buick Avista concept live profile 3

Buick Avista concept live rear 1

Buick Avista concept live rear three quarter 2

Buick Avista concept live front three quarter 3

Miss: Buick Avista

I feel like I stand on solid ground when design editor Robert Cumberford agrees with me the Avista is a dud. It’s totally derivative, and it previews a car that nobody asked for and will never be built. The car feels out of harmony with itself; Camaro front end, F-Type in profile, and last year’s Avenir concept at the rear. The Avista seems like it’s good until you look closely and realize GM kind of phoned this one in. The Avenir has way better staying power and actually means something to the Buick brand. It’s as if GM management forgot that they already got rid of Pontiac, drew up the Avista, and figured the Buick badge fit on front as well as anything else. –Eric Weiner

Hit: Buick Avista

Dripping vehicular magnetism, the Avista has something for almost everyone, visually speaking, and it’s packing 400 horses under that long, low hood. Oh, and it’s rear-wheel drive. Yes, it’s a Buick. If it weren’t for last year’s Avenir, I wouldn’t think Buick was capable of something like the Avista—but now we just want to see the production car come New York. –Nelson Ireson

Hit: Buick Avista

We have to start with a big IF. As in IF General Motors has the guts to build the Avista without having to jerk the sheetmetal around to fit safety, production and other considerations not designed into the concept, it will have a real winner. Long and beautifully svelte, it’s ready for Rodeo Drive. Or, if they built it around the Alpha chassis with a Camaro attitude, it could be a 400-horsepower coupe…hard to say which I’d prefer. –John Lamm

2018 Lexus LC 500 Front Three Quarter Live

Miss: Lexus LC 500

Oh, that horrid front end! Those confusing backlight/side window/pillar intersections. The too- low roof. But above all, that grille… –Robert Cumberford

Hit: Lexus LC 500

This result of Akio Toyoda’s leadership and drive to make Lexus International a well-integrated operation looks like a concept car. Nope, it’s real and goes on sale in 2017. Give Lexus credit for treading where no others do in the styling department. Is that a good thing? Depends on the viewing angle. I like the idea of a new sports coupe not running a turbocharged engine, but how much does this alien weigh? If the LC 500 handles exceptionally well and the controls feel right, and it performs like its looks imply, it’s a hit. If it does those things as marginally as I fear it might, well, not so much. This isn’t a pure sports car, but it needs to be fun to drive. Either way, owners will certainly look like they’re wheeling a video-game bonus car regardless of how sporty it is. —Mac Morrison

Miss: Lexus LC 500

You remember that kid (maybe it was you) who had done a brilliant science project, right up to the night before the fair, when everything went wrong and then it all melted into a barely recognizable mess? That’s how I feel about the Lexus LC 500. There are—maybe—some interesting, even attractive styling elements in there, but they’ve been obscured by a few minutes too long in the oven. The front and rear ends droop, hood and deck spilling into low, baggy fenders. The details, in contrast, have been stuck on after the fact, as if to remedy the disproportion, but instead act as focal points for my unimpressed eye—lights, grille, the overwrought and under-thought side intake. None of it works for me. I wish there were a new Supra to love, but this just isn’t it. –N.I.

2018 Lexus LC 500 rear three quarter

2018 Lexus LC 500 front three quarter

2018 Lexus LC 500 rear end

2018 Lexus LC 500 front end

Hit: Lexus LC 500

I can’t quite figure this car out, and that’s what I like most about it. That the wild, angular, and frankly bizarre design comes from Lexus gives me a lot of optimism for the brand. And if it is this striking under the auto show lights, I can only imagine how shocking it will look the first time I see one on the road. –J.C.

Miss: Lexus LC 500

I agree with everyone else who finds it very impressive that a car this wild is going into series production. What I disagree with is the general excitement. With 467 horsepower and a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds, it’s hardly a performance monster. And there’s something about the design I simply don’t like. Maybe it’s the giant, flabby panels. Perhaps it’s that the car looks bent or curved from the side. Maybe it’s that the front and rear appear to have been designed by different people. Whatever it is, this car does not excite me. –J.H.

2018 Lexus LC 500 headlam

2018 Lexus LC 500 tail lam

2018 Lexus LC 500 wheel

2018 Lexus LC 500 engine 02

Hit: Lexus LC 500

The Lexus is, by far, the star of the show. Lexus created a roadgoing concept that is an incredible departure from anything we have come to expect from the luxury automaker. The LC 500 is not the prettiest, nor the most desirable car, but for me, it’s ranks as one of the coolest I have ever seen. –Conner Golden

Hit: Lexus LC 500

And also a revelation. It gets the latter because it’s a terrific-looking coupe with 467 horsepower and what should be a competent chassis. I’d be stunned it if isn’t a delight to drive. But it gets the revelation tag because it finally kicks Toyota into the high-performance super league. Sorry LFA fans, but this is the car Akio Toyoda needed to make the full statement about his goals for Lexus. Okay, that spindle grille is still a bit much, but this time the overall package makes up for it. –J.L.

Hit: Lexus LC 500

Not sure this design will age well, especially being in the ephemeral sport coupe segment, but it certainly takes our minds off of premium-beige RXes and ESes. –T.L.

2017 Ford F 150 Raptor SuperCrew Front End 02

Miss: The Ford Stand

Ford absolutely dominated last year’s Detroit show with the new GT concept, the F-150 Raptor concept, and GT350 Mustang. But Ford was barely a blip on the radar this year, showing only a production version of that same Raptor, a mild update to the Fusion midsizer, and all sorts of app/connectivity/mobility nonsense. Even Ryan Seacrest, who chatted with CEO Mark Fields on stage during the Ford press conference, couldn’t save the show. Maybe the Ford brass decided it was Lincoln’s time to shine instead? –J.C.

2017 Lincoln Continental Front Three Quarters

Miss: Lincoln Continental

There are several things I like about the Continental, namely its upscale interior, but the exterior wow factor of the concept isn’t really there with the production model. The door handles were strange, there’s too much chrome, its lower fascia is messy. And I expected more out of the Black Label on the show floor. For example, the rear sunshades were manual pull up style. This car needs to be better than that. – Mike Floyd

Hit: Lincoln Continental

Lincoln has an uphill battle ahead, and I was prepared for the production version of this luxury sedan to be a disappointment. And while it doesn’t blow me away, the Continental oozes presence. It’s big and imposing and authoritative, just like a Lincoln should be. The interior is spacious and nicely finished, and the rear seat is sumptuous. Pricing will be key to the Continental’s success—around $50,000 would be a nice sweet spot—but this car is exactly the step Lincoln needs to be taking right now. –J.C.

Miss: Lincoln Continental

There is nothing wrong with the production Continental. It looks great, and has Ford’s latest thinking on infotainment and connectivity. But who among us, whose not our retired uncle or a Ford employee wants to answer the question, “What did you get?” with “A Lincoln Continental.” I suppose the time has passed trying to convince Ford CEO Mark Fields to ditch Lincoln in favor of a new brand with a shot at real sales volume. — David Kiley

Revelation: The Lincoln Continental is a bit underwhelming, and that’s the point

“Quiet luxury,” could easily be misconstrued as “expensive and boring,” but I don’t think Lincoln has fallen into that trap with the Continental. I think it’s true that the Continental lacks a heaping dose of flash and opulence, but it has all of the ingredients for a successful luxury sedan. It’s clean, stylish, and loaded with tech. There are a solid range of powerful engines and available all-wheel drive. But most of all, the Continental is focused–it knows what it’s supposed to be, and that has nothing to do with exhaust notes and lap times. It’s an honest luxury sedan with a clear objective. More than any car Lincoln has introduced in the last 20 years, the Continental represents a clear directive with a chance to break the brand from its cycle of slow decay. –E.W.

2017 Lincoln Continental side

2017 Lincoln Continental rear three quarter

2017 Lincoln Continental rear interior view

2017 Lincoln Continental interior view

Miss: Lincoln Continental

This car just looks boring, fat, and plain. A blue interior doesn’t do it any favors, either. –J.H.

Miss: Lincoln Continental

A heavy, front-wheel drive-biased AWD sedan with slightly frumpy styling is just about the last thing Lincoln needs to become a major player again. –C.G.

Miss: Lincoln Continental

The dash-to-axle proportion on this big car betrays the Lincoln as little more than a well-appointed stretch Ford Fusion. At least the door handles are special, and the interior design is appropriately Mad Man-esque. –T.L.

Miss: Lincoln Continental

It looks like a vaguely familiar second-level Asian near-luxury sedan — think Hyundai before the Koreans got serious with Genesis — wearing a knock-off of the old Infiniti M45 grille. The FWD chassis results in excessive front overhang, which spoils proportions, but it has oversized door handles to suit arthritic senior fingers. –R.C.

2016 Buick Envision Front Three Quarters

Hit: Buick Envision

Exactly what Buick needs right now, with a nicely packaged interior and a spot-on size. Looks fairly modern, too, despite being on sale in China for a few years now. –J.C.

Revelation: Buick Envision’s Limits

The sole disadvantage to its Chinese manufacture is production constraint. Because they’ll be imported one ship at a time, Buick does not expect its compact CUV – the hottest segment in the U.S. right now – to become its bestselling CUV. –T.L.

2017 Infiniti Q60 Front Three Quarter 06

Hit: Infiniti Q60

The biggest sleeper of the show. People keep walking past the Infiniti stand, and I don’t understand why. The Q60 preserves the gorgeous lines of the Inspiration concept, and adds in a powerful twin-turbo V-6 that promises to be a riot. Infiniti has taken the mostly bland look of the Q50 sedan and turned it into something beautiful, pushing the needle for the brand. –E.W.

Hit: Infiniti Q60

I thought the Q60 looked great in photos, but the car really caught my eye as I walked past the Infiniti stand on my way to another press conference. The swoopy design is cohesive and sleek, and I found myself inadvertently looking back at it as I walked away. –J.C.

Hit: Infiniti Q60

My best of show. Perhaps more than anyone, Infiniti does a fantastic job converting its beautiful concept cars into production models without diluting their design. The Q60 is no exception, with flowing, rippling sheetmetal that easily makes this the prettiest car in its segment. Add in a range of three powerful turbocharged engines, a smart interior, and claimed sporty chassis dynamics, and the Q60 is a car I can’t wait to drive. –J.H.

2017 Infiniti Q60 side profile 13

2017 Infiniti Q60 rear three quarter 07

2017 Infiniti Q60 front end 05

2017 Infiniti Q60 rear three quarter 16

Hit: Infiniti Q60

Wow…make that double wow. Infiniti not only kicks the coupe’s styling well up the scale, but also backs it with take-that-you-Germans power. Can’t wait to try the 400-horsepower version, but I bet even the 2.0-liter four would make a nice package. Match them with the 7-speed and all-wheel drive. And it’s a looker, which should suit all those who don’t want to go to cars & coffee or Pebble Beach in still another BMW, Audi or Mercedes. –J.L.

Hit: Infiniti Q60

Another stunner in a surprisingly attractive field of coupes at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, the Infiniti Q60 takes the Q50’s sedan bones and wraps a sleek, elegant coupe body around them. The interior looks fresh and upscale, too, and with powerful drivetrain choices and a boatload of Infiniti tech on board, it’s one I’m looking forward to driving. –N.I.

Hit: Infiniti Q60

Qualified — where its Q50 sedan sibling is a bit anonymous, the Q60 coupe is both derivative (are those front fenders straight off a BMW 4 Series?) and expressive (note the angle of the Nakamura kink). It’s what the Infiniti coupe always has been; a bargain-priced BMW 3 coupe/4 Series. –T.L.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Front Three Quarter1

Miss: Fiat 124 Spider

Ugly. On the Internet, in person, doesn’t matter what angle—ugly. The Crossfire-style hood, silver windshield wraparound, undercut sides, and long overhangs do the 124 no favors. The Fiat 124 Spider doesn’t even justify its homely appearance with a seriously beefed-up powertrain; the ultimate power-to-weight ratio is actually a bit worse than the Miata it’s based on (15.2 lbs/hp vs the Mazda’s 15.0). It may be a joy to drive, but it’s a convertible, so you’d have to be seen driving it. I’ll pass. –N.I.

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S front three quarters

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S front three quarter

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S rear three quarter

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo model set

Revelation: Porsche 911 Turbo S

Despite the evolution of the 911, and the increasing amount of threats from inside and outside the Porsche lineup, the 911 still has the power to captivate and excite. Take a seat, look around the exquisite interior, and you’ll get it. Plus, those muted gray colors on the new Turbo S look great. –C.G.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited Front Three Quarter

Hit: Chrysler Pacifica

I’m not sold on reviving the Pacifica nameplate for Chrysler’s new family schlepper, but the low-slung styling and stance, and list of useful and logical features make it the coolest minivan — I know, that’s not saying much — to my eyes since the Toyota Previa. Bring on an R/T “Man Van” version. –M.M.

Hit: Chrysler Pacifica

Still has all the cool things that made the Chrysler minivans great (Stow n Go, etc.), and now it has an 80 mpg-e plug-in hybrid version, much-improved cabin and the new people hauler must-have — a vacuum cleaner! – M.F.

Miss: Chrysler Pacifica

The virtues that made Chrysler’s minivans such a hit back in 1983 have persisted as the vehicles have grown in stature, power, weight and public disdain. If you need a minivan, the initiator makes a good one for you. But it looks awful, with embossed lines all over the sides that shorten the visual length while retaining the actual excess of the front overhang. Loops of chrome trail around the headlamps and grille, crossing each other here and there, and making you yearn for the decent simplicity of earlier versions (well, not the fake-wood trim models). –R.C.

Hit: Chrysler Pacifica

It’s not often we see huge innovation in the minivan segment, but the Pacifica is a great example of it. You’ve got a significant weight reduction; sleeker, more crossover-like style; and a hybrid powertrain. This is a great vehicle for families who recognize that a van with sliding doors is still more usable than a three-row crossover. –J.H.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited side profile

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited rear three quarter

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited front interior view

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited front end

Hit: Chrysler Pacifica

Ditching the Town & Country name in favor Pacifica for Chrysler’s new minivan is ballsy. In an age when GM won’t part ways with the Impala, Malibu and Regal names because the accountants say launching new nameplates is so much more expensive, Sergio Marchionne gets an “atta-boy” for realizing that when you have a transformative product to sell, marketing it under a name that is so 20th Century and has poor quality/rental mule baggage is a bad idea. The new Pacifica (yes, we know it’s a previously used name) is styled better on new architecture, and comes in a plug-in hybrid version. Loving that. Even for a minivan, which are so unlovable for many. The Pacifica should be a serious match for Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. — D.K.

Hit: Chrysler Pacifica

This van looks much better in person than it does in photos. The rear end is bulbous, but gives off somewhat of a cool, futuristic, space-shuttle vibe. The interior seems upscale enough, and the minivan is still king for space efficiency. I do question the market viability for a hybrid minivan, as both of those segments are shrinking, but it is cool that Chrysler is first to offer anything like this, before Toyota even. –J.C.

Hit: Chrysler Pacifica

Despite axing the longstanding Town & Country nameplate, the new Pacifica does what other minivan makers should have been doing all along: innovate. Instead of just adding things like a vacuum and a flashlight, the Pacifica brings style and technology to a dull class. –C.G.

Revelation: Chrysler TC by Fiat

Rumor is that Chrysler considered modernizing the old name by simply using the initials, “TC.” –T.L.

2016 BMW M2 Front Three Quarter 01

Hit: BMW M2

A pure hot rod, convincingly small enough to really enjoy on a narrow mountain road, fast enough for just about anyone save pro rally drivers, and with that desirable aura of being the car everyone wants to beat… and can’t. – R.C.

Hit: BMW M2

I think that the BMW M235i is so balanced and good that it doesn’t need more power, bigger brakes, and a stiffer suspension. But then again, the 2 Series is so intrinsically good that I don’t think there’s any way that the M2’s upgrades can possibly make it any worse. The low, wide, and mean stance along with the gorgeous blue color really cement it as a hit in my mind. –J.C.

Hit: BMW M2

In an era when Ford, Dodge, and Chevy have built contenders to the absolute top-performance crown, cars that can match million-dollar European hypercars for track times, it’s nice to see a real person’s performance car. That’s the BMW M2. Right-sized, not aiming to be the king of any particular hill, but gorgeous to look at, plenty powerful, and sure to be a riot to drive—the M235i is a fun little machine in its own right, and the M2 offers serious upgrades in every important area. What more could you ask for? Spot on, BMW. — N.I.

Hit: BMW M2

Wish you could still buy a brand new, 2016 model-year E46 M3? You can’t, but BMW’s M2 — looking fantastic in this particular hue — has potential to be the modern equivalent, turbocharged engine aside. — M.M.

2016 BMW M2 rear end

2016 BMW M2 front three quarter 02

2016 BMW M2 rear three quarter

2016 BMW M2 front end

Hit: BMW M2

Go back and read all my comments about our near-perfect Four Seasons BMW M235i. Now amplify those a bit more with the extra performance of the M2, and you’ll understand how much I’m looking forward to this car. Dibs on the first drive. — J.H.

Hit: BMW M2

There is something that feels old school wonderful about the M2, and being merchandised on the stand next to a 2002. With all this blather about cars that drive themselves, the M2 is unabashedly a car that you don’t want to let anyone else drive. I’m taking a manual on the product launch trip. &^%$# autonomous driving. — D.K.

Hit: BMW M2

The M2 might clearly be a parts-bin special, but it’s a mishmash I can get behind. With all the right bits from big brothers M3 and M4, a bootfull of extra power under the hood, and proportions that are just so right, the M2 will probably prove to be the best driving four-wheeled wonder to wear the roundel in many years. –C.G.

Revelation: The Price of a Real Person’s Performance Car

According to the “Standard Catalog of Imported Cars” (1946-2002), the 1972 BMW 2002 tii listed for $4,286, a 20-percent premium over the standard 2002. The 1988 BMW E30 M3 was $34,000, or 43 percent more than a 325 coupe. The new M2 lists for $52,695, which is 60 percent more expensive than a base 2016 BMW 228i. –T.L.

2017 Hyundai Genesis G90 Front Three Quarter

Hit: Genesis G90

I was impressed the moment I pulled the door handle. This car gives off a tremendous first impression, from the feel of all the interior surfaces to the solid close of the doors. It’s also ridiculously quiet inside, and it has a clean, modern design. Color me convinced that Hyundai could pose a real threat to well-established global luxury brands on the rise like Cadillac and Jaguar. –J.C.

Miss: Genesis G90

Yeah. Okay. I never liked the Hyundai Equus. The Genesis sedan and coupe have been fine entries into the premium market, and provided a more affordable value for would-be German lux buyers. But there is something about this sedan that smacks of a Chinese bureaucrat who wants to be driven around in it – well, if it didn’t have the national brand of Korea on it. Let’s just say it looks like a Las Vegas restaurant catering to those who love Vegas, and leave it at that. — D.K.

Revelation: Genesis G90

The design of the new Hyundai luxury brand’s flagship is a big improvement over the Hyundai Equus it replaces, and the interior is nicely designed and executed, though it doesn’t quite come together with the presence and attitude of its target, the segment-leader. I think it will have to be priced like a cut-rate Lexus LS, rather than a cut-rate Mercedes-Benz S-Class. –T.L.

Miss: Genesis G90

It’s not nearly as good as the Koreans and the American management claimed; nothing could be. But it’s safe to predict that after another iteration, and a few years field experience with this one, the Genesis will be a real rival to its targeted competitors. –R.C.

Revelation: It’s a Small Tire World, After All

The Chinese-built Buick Envision wears South Korean (brand) Hankook tires while the South Korean-built Genesis G90 wears German (brand) Continental tires. –T.L.

Acura Prescision Concept Front Three Quarter

Hit: Acura Precision

That Acura has done a lavish and dramatic concept car is a good thing. There was a clear need to break out of the beaky styling. There’s nothing ordinary about this concept car. –R.C.

Miss: Acura Precision

That it looks so strange, with so many peculiarities like a negative surface over the front wheels, a big hole in the sides, and a really odd backlight with overhanging roof CHMSL and the surprisingly blunt front means that the styling is not at the level necessary for a successful production version. –R.C.

Hit: Acura Precision

Like Robert, I split my vote on this car. It’s as overdesigned as most production Acuras are under designed. The concave side surfacing and the complicated, creased backlight are rather weird. But the stance and the long dash-to-axle proportion look right, and the leather-and-wood seats look like a new take on the classic Eames chair. Tiebreaker? Lack of a platypus proboscis. –T.L.

Acura Prescision Concept front end

Acura Prescision Concept front three quarter 02

Acura Prescision Concept interior view 02

Acura Prescision Concept rear three quarter

Miss: Acura Precision

I do like the look of this concept, which has athletic proportions and really nice detailing inside to make a strong styling statement. But didn’t the NSX already make a statement like this for the brand? Instead of a design intent concept, Acura needs to show more tangible signs of how it is “getting back in touch with its roots” (a phrase I heard countless times at the press conference). Acura already has too wide of a gap between the wild, exciting NSX and the rest of its staid lineup. This concept just pushes things further away from reality, and doesn’t do enough to convince me that things are headed in the right direction. –J.C.

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept Front Three Quarters

Miss: Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept

The Tiguan GTE concept is one of the coolest from the automaker, but we know they wont build it, and if they did, it certainly wouldn’t make it to our shores, so why bother? Besides, lifted, off-road SUVs are the last thing the beleaguered manufacturer needs to focus on. –C.G.

Miss: Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active

I think this concept looks great and I like the idea of a plug-in hybrid off-roader as much as anyone else. But what’s the point in showing off this car, which will probably never get made, when we still haven’t yet seen the U.S.-market VW Tiguan? American customers need to see real products, like a real SUV, not a silly off-road design exercise. – J.H.

2017 Honda Ridgeline Front Three Quarter

Hit: Honda Ridgeline

The best-looking vehicle in Honda’s current lineup is a pickup. That’s just as weird to write as it is to read, but it’s true. The Ridgeline is a darn good-looking mid-sized truck, free of the somewhat awkward angles of the Chevy/GMC Colorado/Canyon twins. Inside, the Ridgeline is much more car-like than the knock-around GM pickups, too, which is likely to appeal to that segment of buyer who wants occasional small truck capability, but doesn’t want to feel like they’re headed to a job site every day. Rather than trying to beat the Americans at their own game, Honda has found its own niche with the Ridgeline, and they’ve nailed it. –N.I.

Miss: Honda Ridgeline

Not really a miss, perhaps, but now it’s just another pickup truck. Okay, the last one ended up being an orphan in that utility market, but don’t forget it was a North American Truck of the Year and kept on in production for a decade. What did Honda expect? What if it had had an update (and, heaven forbid, a V-8) after 6-7 years? But that’s not Honda’s modus operandi. Why wasn’t there a follow-up for the Element or S2000? –J.L.

Miss: Honda Ridgeline

It’s still a Honda, it’s still good quality, it still has unit construction… but it apes the styling of more structurally conventional pickups. Although, with one available configuration being a two-wheel drive version — the front wheels, mind you — you can get all the weirdness you need beneath the banal skins. –R.C.

Miss: Honda Ridgeline

After seeing how refined, capable, and comfortable the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma are, one wonders how much capability should be sacrificed for a small bump in comfort and refinement. The styling is lukewarm, the bed is too high, shallow, and short, and the fact that it comes standard with front-wheel drive is almost laughable. Pass. –C.G.

2017 Honda Ridgeline side profile

2017 Honda Ridgeline rear three quarter

2017 Honda Ridgeline interior view

2017 Honda Ridgeline trunk bed

Revelation: Honda Ridgeline Could Go Either Way

The second-gen Ridgeline looks a lot cooler and more truck-like than the first, and it should be very efficient and practical — all good things. But it still has a pretty small bed and, although we don’t know any official figures, probably won’t tow or haul as much as body-on-frame rivals. So I’m curious whether the Ridgeline will attract truck buyers, or whether shoppers considering a vehicle like this will either pick a real pickup, or a crossover like the Honda CR-V or Pilot. — J.H.

Miss: Honda Ridgeline

Is there anything flat-out wrong with the Ridgeline? A unibody pickup built on the same platform as the Pilot and Odyssey? No. Not if you are not a serious truck buyer. Then, it’s fine. Got mulch? Got tailgating coolers? Honda dealers want a pick up to sell. So, this is it. Keep on Truckin’. — D.K.

Miss: Honda Ridgeline

The Ridgeline is intrinsically an outlier in the pickup world, with its unibody, FWD-based layout. But the second-generation truck’s middle-of-the-road design, cribbed from the Pilot crossover, represents a missed opportunity to accentuate its differences. It’s not a normal pickup truck, so it shouldn’t look like one. –J.C.

2017 Mercedes Benz E400 4Matic Front Three Quarters

Hit: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

It looks unassuming, almost anonymous, set among S-Classes and the new SLC. But it looks like a modern E-Class should. And Benz has added a heated three-point star in the grille, to keep the radar from icing up. Good to know Mercedes USA, which recently moved from New Jersey to Georgia, is thinking about us here in the Great White North. –T.L.

Miss: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Sure, the market dictates homogeny, but I’m not a fan. Like Audi and BMW, the Mercedes lineup continues its march toward visual equivalence, and the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class cuts a far-too-similar profile next to its C-Class and S-Class siblings. –C.G.

2017 Mercedes Benz E400 4Matic front end

2017 Mercedes Benz E400 4Matic rear three quarter

2017 Mercedes Benz E200d 4Matic rear end

2017 Mercedes Benz E200d 4Matic side

Hit: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

I don’t care if all Mercedes-Benz sedans look the same, because they all look great. –J.C.

Revelation: Mercedes-Benz E Class

Mercedes-Benz’s sedan lineup is now a complete, matched set. With a sleek new exterior (that mimics the S-Class’s as much as the C-Class does), a fresh, tech-centric interior, and a new range of powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid, the new W213 E Class promises to deliver another segment-topping experience. You can even get a few technologies that have yet to trickle outward to the S- and C-Classes—though you can be sure most of them will move up and down the range. You want a self-driving car? The new 2017 E-Class is as close as you’re going to get today—and likely for a while to come. –N.I.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatch front three quarter

2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatch rear three quarter

2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatch side

2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatch front end

Hit: Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

It’s a bit late to the scene, but the new Cruze Hatch is a great addition to Chevy’s already successful compact car lineup. Great space inside, and sharp looks outside. I’ll be especially curious to see how this stacks up to the five-door Honda Civic hatchback that’s scheduled to arrive soon. –J.C.

2017 GMC Acadia side

2017 GMC Acadia rear three quarters

2017 GMC Acadia rear end

2017 GMC Acadia front three quarter

Miss: GMC Acadia Denali

GMC has done a good job of “right-sizing” its popular midsize CUV, and it now even has some of the brand’s design cues – the larger model it’s replacing was designed to be a Pontiac. But the pricey Denali on the show floor has rather cheesy fake wood in the cabin …except, I’ve been told it’s real. GMC should demand a rebate from the supplier. –T.L.

2017 Volvo S90 Front View In Motion

Hit: Volvo S90

This handsome, conservatively understated luxury sedan was meant to be the first of the new-design-team Volvos, but its launch was delayed until this show, the XC90 SUV taking the introductory honors for the simplified line of two-liter four cylinder cars. –R.C.

Hit: Volvo S90

I don’t like the S90 just because it reminds me so much of the excellent XC90 crossover. I like the S90 because it’s a beautiful luxury sedan that appears to strike a nice balance between innovation and traditionalist luxury-car values. It is very, very pretty on the outside. It is very, very pretty inside. There is a ton of space. It will be fuel-efficient. It has great technology. So far, I’m not seeing anything to dislike. –J.H.

Hit: Volvo S90

It’s easy to like the S90 sedan, especially the interior with its warm Scandinavian wood and supple, inviting leather. There’s some serious feng shui there. But the tail of the car – the whole section behind the c-pillar, looks a bit VW Passat-like and leaves me cold. If it drives as serenely as an XC90 with a lower center of gravity, I’ll forgive the tail. –T.L.

Revelation: Volvo S90

Volvo continues to ride its wave of brilliant design, translating from concept to production like few other carmakers have managed this decade. From the sleek and handsome exterior to the luscious, warm, yet still inherently Scandinavian interior, the new S90 sedan makes a great first, second, and third impression. Bonus: it can detect and help you avoid moose and other large animals. –N.I.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Front Three Quarter

Hit: Chevrolet Bolt

It’s no small feat for GM to have engineered their first dedicated electric car platform since the EV-1. Impressive as the Bolt is, with its quick charge time, ample torque, and 200+ mile range, I’m more excited for what else can be developed on its scalable architecture. The Bolt is the first EV I’ve seen that combines a realistic price with everyday usability. The Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 are fine cars, but neither have the range to compete. The only thing that the Bolt needs is supercharger capability to make cross-country drives more feasible. –E.W.

Hit: Chevy Bolt

I like electric cars. I like driving them. I like living with them. I get impatient with those who whine and winge about government subsidies, lack of handy charging stations. Blah, blah, blah. Every time I have had an EV for a week at a time, I always found a way to keep it charged with a minimum of effort. I’ve never been stranded. You figure it out. The Chevy Bolt is a game-changer as it both falls under $30,000, and gets more than 200 miles in range. Working off a fast charger, you can get it back up to 80-percent charge in an hour. It’s roomy, built on a new architecture that puts the battery under a flat floor where it belongs. It features a giant in-dash touchscreen, Apple Car Play and set up for autonomous driving enhancements should I ever want that. I’ll take mine in ice blue please. — D.K.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV rear three quarter

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV side

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front end

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV rear end

Hit: Chevrolet Bolt EV

This could be the most significant electric car…maybe ever? Now that Tesla has gotten rid of the stigma against electrified driving, I’m excited to see GM taking real, measurable action to improve range and reduce the price to something that’s priced closer to average new cars. It’s also encouraging, because the Bolt’s arrival later this year should spur competitors to come up with their own solutions for more appealing and accessible EVs that don’t require so much of a lifestyle change. –J.C.

Audi H Tron Quattro Concept Front Three Quarter

Miss: Audi h-tron Quattro concept

Audi previously showed off the all-electric e-tron Quattro concept, which seems like a much more relevant idea than this hydrogen fuel-cell-powered h-tron. There are many hurdles still to mass adoption of electric cars, but at least over the past few years we’ve built out a global network of charging stations. Where’s your closest hydrogen-filling station? Plus, turning electricity and water into hydrogen to be turned back into electricity and water is far more wasteful than, uh, just using electricity to charge a battery. — J.H.

Hit: Audi h-tron Quattro concept

One of the few truly beautiful cars at the show, with an elegant sinuous line on the flanks to delineate the wheel positions, fine detailing and a new overall look for Audi. –R.C.

Miss: Audi A4

Compared to the concept sitting next to it, the production A4 looks quite ordinary, and rather brutally surfaced. It actually contrives to look old. –R.C.

LINE X SSUV Concept Front Three Quarter

Revelation: Unique Fabricating-Line-X Super Sport Utility Concept Vehicle

This Jeep-based, 21st Century GP (General Purpose, hence Jeep) four seater has military stealth-look styling, beauty of line, and a cornucopia of new finishing and molding technologies that save weight, cost, and production time. It’s also sportier looking than most sports cars. –R.C.

Kia Telluride Concept front three quarter

Kia Telluride Concept front three quarter 02

Kia Telluride Concept side

Kia Telluride Concept rear three quarter

Miss: Kia Telluride Concept

Yaaaaaawn. The first misstep I’ve seen in a while from Kia. Too boxy and truckish, with an interior full of stupid gimmicks that nobody is naive enough to take seriously. Utterly forgettable. –E.W.

Mazda Prototype Race Car Detroit 02

Revelation: Mazda’s New Race Car

Mazda didn’t bring any new road-going hardware to Detroit, but it did bring its Prototype racecar now powered by the MZ-2.0T turbocharged gasoline engine — and executives are bullish about its chances in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Compared with the (finally) retired stock-block diesel engine Mazda used to wholly uncompetitive results during the past three seasons, the new engine helped the car to a 191-mph top speed during last weekend’s Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona International Speedway. That’s a staggering 31 mph faster than the diesel propelled the cars at Daytona in 2015. –M.M.

Force 1 V10 Front Three Quarter

No Comment: VLF The Force 1

I’m withholding all commentary about this vehicle. At the rate things are going, Henrik Fisker will probably sue me for whatever I say on grounds that it was a personal attack that impeded his ability to succeed in the marketplace. –E.W.

Miss: VLF The Force 1

Henrik Fisker has invested some of the money he had left over from failure of the taxpayer subsidized Karma hybrid project into Bob Lutz’s scheme to revitalize unsold and unsalable Karmas. Now he’s come up with a coupe based on a racing chassis with a Viper V-10 engine. There are enough details and surface changes and odd facets to satisfy any SEMA tuner seeking “different.” Looks like a likely candidate for the forgettable supercar stands at any Geneva show. –R.C.

Miss: VLF Destino

Bob Lutz’s “gotta stay in the game” rework of the Fisker Karma with Corvette power was a pitiful sight back in a dark corner of the hall. Does anyone actually buy these things? If so, why? –R.C.

Revelation: Marchionne is Blinded by the Light

FiatChrysler moved Sergio Marchionne’s annual NAIAS press conference to a new room with doors facing Cobo Hall’s south windows, thus providing a view of the Detroit River and the Renaissance Center. As the presser began, he told his PR people to “please close the doors. It’s not the GM building … it’s my eyes.” –T.L.