This year, the general consensus was that the 2017 edition of the North American International Show in Detroit was not a banner one in terms of spectacular unveilings or presentations of futuristic vehicles. In fact, it appears that most carmakers preferred to make their splash with cutting-edge concepts and products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas one week prior to the Detroit show.
This absence of automotive “bling” is more of an observation than a criticism; carmakers must, while they await new product advancements, continue to meet the immediate needs of automotive consumers. Hence the profusion of new mass-market SUV and sedan models. Incidentally, the few concept cars unveiled in the Motor City were mostly SUVs. The number of journalists on hand at the 2017 Detroit show was also undeniably smaller than in previous years, and some attributed that to the choice made by many to forego the show in favor of CES.
Here then is my list of the most interesting launches at the latest North American International Show in Detroit, ranked in order of preference.
1. Chevrolet Bolt
This is here because the fully electric Bolt was named North American Car of the Year. Its presence at the show did not constitute a launch as such, but rather the exclamation point on the bounce-back by a manufacturer from its widely-publicized financial troubles. It’s noteworthy that a manufacturer that needed rescuing by the newly-installed Obama administration back in 2008-2009 has progressed to the point of producing 2017’s best North American car.
The renaissance could be enlarged to include Detroit as a whole, since the city has started to regain some of its previous lustre after going through bankruptcy and being forced to adopt a better way of functioning. Cobo Hall, the site of the 2017 Detroit show, has for example been entirely renovated over the past five years, with impressive results.
Besides the Bolt, other year-end winners at Detroit were the Honda Ridgeline (North American Truck of the Year) and the Chrysler Pacifica (North American Utility Vehicle of the Year).