Saturday, February 2, 2013

Winners and losers picked from Detroit Auto Show


MARK PHELAN/DETROIT FREE PRESS

photo

The new Corvette Stingray is displayed after its unveiling in Detroit this week. - AP Photo

Who stole the auto show? Who should’ve stayed home?

Here’s my list of hits and misses. Drop me a line with your nominees for highs, lows and what-were-they thinking? The show continues through Sunday night.

HIT — CHEVROLET CORVETTE STINGRAY:

The 2013 North American International Auto Show will be remembered for the Corvette Stingray. A body that’s simultaneously efficient, lightweight and beautiful is just the start. The C7 seventh-generation Corvette goes faster on less fuel than its predecessor, adds the latest technology, and fits the great

American sports car into a globally relevant footprint about the size of a Porsche 911. The Corvette also provides my favorite detail at the show: The elegant chrome stingray badges on the front fenders feature little depressions where a real ray’s gills would be.

HIT — ITALIAN STYLE:

Fiat Group constituted a one company Cobo Center beautification campaign as Ferrari, Fiat and Maserati classed up the joint with eye-catching new cars.

As much as I love Cobo’s new riverfront atrium, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and view of the Windsor riverfront, I may like the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, Maserati Quattroporte and Fiat 500L a little bit more.

Detroit has become the Fiat Group’s second home, and it’s our good fortune when that makes the NAIAS recipient of gloriously styled, uniquely Italian new vehicles.

Ciao, bella.

HIT — HONDA URBAN CONCEPT:

Honda concept vehicles tend to be, shall we say, cautious, which makes this flamboyant little crossover SUV intriguing. Sharing its platform with the next generation of the Fit subcompact, the five-seater looks a lot like a production model coming next year. If Honda resists the urge to tone down its looks, this could be the boldest vehicle in its showroom.

Expect 40 mpg, a continuously variable transmission and optional all-wheel drive.

MISS — CHRYSLER:

Chrysler’s approach to auto shows has gone through the looking glass. It used to be the master of turning molehills into mountains, of grabbing headlines while making very little actual news. Chrysler was a font of intriguing concepts and early looks at upcoming production models.

No more. Replacements for the Jeep Liberty, Chrysler 200 and Town & Country, Dodge Journey and Avenger are all coming soon, but there’s no hint of them at the show.

The new diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Dart GT are fine, but they pale next to the concept and production models other automakers unveiled.

MISS — FORD ATLAS:

The Atlas appeared on stage, and I shrugged. This concept vision of the next-generation F-150 pickup was expected to make news with innovative technology and lightweight materials, but mostly it was light on substance to justify the fanfare.

The styling relies on familiar cues like giant wheels and a metal billet-style grille. The only hints of new technology are a chin spoiler that lowers, shutters that close gaps in the multi-spoke wheels at highway speed to improve aerodynamics, and vague references to a new engine.

Ford wanted to draw attention from the new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC pickups that debuted at the show, but it takes more than a shiny grille to dazzle business-minded pickup owners.

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