Some of the biggest debuts in years will take place next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit - from the Chevrolet Corvette to the Lexus IS, these never-before-seen cars will change the future of some automakers and maybe even the entire industry, so let's take a look at the most important NAIAS debuts headed our way.
With the market thankfully shifting away from the traditional SUV and toward the sporty crossover, the Acura MDX needed a refresh. We’ve seen a sketch, but Detroit is the first place we’ll see the new MDX design in the flesh. Acura has toned down its glaring front beak and showed hints of athleticism in the new MDX, so we can’t wait to see what the car looks like in the flesh.
A gas-electric hybrid Cadillac, may not have always seemed like a great idea, but the world may be ready for it now. The Chevrolet Volt just finished a very strong year of sales, and Cadillac could use an exciting new model – the ELR fits both bills. For people looking for a little more luxury than the Volt can offer, or a little more affordability than the Tesla Model S, the new Cadillac ELR could be a winner. We just need to see whether Caddy got the looks right.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
What else is there to say about the Corvette Stingray? While it will maintain the traditional front-engined profile, the Stingray will undoubtedly be the most outrageously-designed Corvette ever. Expect big curves, lots of air ducts and a body befitting the racing pedigree of the monstrous LT1 V8 engine under the hood. By the time the sheet has come all the way off the new Corvette Stingray, the first run of production cars will probably be sold out. it doesn't get any bigger than a new 'Vette.
2015 Ford F-150 Concept
The stakes are high in the full-sized pickup segment, so making a splash goes a long way. The new Chevrolet Silverado is set to make its public debut, but its biggest competitor will try to steal the thunder by unveiling their all-new Ford F-150 Concept. Now, the F-150 recently went through a light refresh, so it will be fascinating to see whether the new concept is a continuation of that design, or a completely new departure. Either way, Ford is making a statement by staging the F-150 Concept debut during the Silverado’s big entrance.
Chinese automaker Guangzhou has flirted with entering the U.S. market before, and their appearance in Detroit this year may be further testing the water. They may not have a brand new model to show, but could bring the Trumpchi, a sedan based on Alfa 166. Not much is known about their intentions, but this is NAIAS – anything could happen.
Honda Urban SUV Concept
Continuing with the crossover theme, the Honda Urban SUV Concept is sure to draw a crowd. Likely aimed at athletic crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Juke, the Honda concept promises an enticing design that makes us believe in the segment again. Nothing says that big cars have to be boring, and we think the Honda Urban SUV Concept will prove it.
Hyundai HCD-14 Concept
Mercedes started a bona fide wildfire when they made the CLS four-door coupe, and Hyundai was one of the first to bring the style down to affordable levels with the Sonata. Now, with the HCD-14 Concept, they may be bringing the fight directly to the CLS, Audi A7 and other luxury players. As they’ve done with the Genesis and Equus, Hyundai could be trying to undercut the more expensive competition here. We’re fans of the four-door coupe style and fans of making luxury more affordable, so we’ll be watching this concept closely.
Whether you were ready for the Infiniti naming change or not, it’s here, and the Infiniti Q50 is the first new vehicle to hammer that home. This replacement for the old G37 sedan and coupe will try to restore the energy and excitement that surrounded Infiniti when the original G35 debuted. Few cars were able to combine luxury, performance and value like the Infiniti G – so will the Q50 continue that tradition, or move in a different direction?
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Some automakers are shifting toward a crossover future, but the Grand Cherokee will proudly retain its SUV status. Just, updated. Expect a more luxurious Grand Cherokee than in the past, with extensive use of LED lighting and high-quality materials. Chrysler may also offer a diesel engine with the Grand Cherokee, and we anxiously await the details on that likely-turbocharged powerplant.
Lincoln MKC Crossover Concept
More on the crossover front, as Ford continues to try to remake the Lincoln Motor Company with the new MKC. It will be based on the Ford Escape, which has proved extremely popular for its value, aggressive design and high-quality interior – does the future hold the same fate for the MKC? With more luxury – and hopefully more power, and hopefully not the awkward smiling front grille that other Lincolns sport – it just may. Ok, that’s a lot of conditions. We’ll just have to wait and see.
It’s no big secret that Toyota has been trying desperately to rid itself of its reputation for making slow and sleepy designs, so expect the new Lexus IS to add some LFA-esque panache to its four-door design. If the recent LF-CC concept is to betaken seriously, we can look forward to a huge grille and enlarged front intakes, plus a ducktail trunk, coupe-like roof and sporty side skirts. Then again, the IS is a huge seller, so they may not go crazy.
With Audi and BMW wildly diversifying their lineups in the last few years, Mercedes can’t afford to stick with their familiar vehicles. The CLA should shake things up quite nicely, adopting qualities of compact cars, sedans and sports cars alike. Mercedes has been slipping in the sales race against their German rivals, and an exciting new entry level car to battle the BMW 1-Series could be just the thing to boost the bottom line.
Toyota Furia Concept
Another potentially exciting debut from Toyota, the Furia Concept will give us hints to the future of the new Corolla design. Ok, so it’s not exactly a new Corvette, but the Corolla is a vital car to the brand and one of the best-selling cars in America. You can afford to take risks with a sports car, but not an affordable compact – so how does Toyota approach this concept with their commitment to making exciting cars? The Furia will say a lot about not only the production Corolla, but the future of Toyota design.
VIA Motors X-Truck (Electric Silverado, Suburban, and Express)
VIA Motors is intent on bringing hybrid and electric trucks to the mainstream, and they’ll have their biggest debut yet when GM exec Bob Lutz introduces the X-Truck. Lutz promises more than 800 equivalent horsepower and 100 MPG, so maybe VIA Motors is ready to be a viable entity in the auto industry. Then again, that kind of technology doesn’t sound cheap. Still, we can’t wait to see it.