Saturday, March 10, 2018

Auto Show 2018

Place: Shake Shack
Lunch: Chick'n Shack (no lettuce), cheese fries (w/mayo), Coke

Word of advice....avoid Mall of America on Saturdays.  That is all.  Wait, that's not all...probably avoid this chicken sandwich while you're at it.  It's fine, but it's no Chick-Fil-A, and it's certainly not worth the $6.79 they're charging for it.

The convention center is full of that new car smell.  And people.  Let's dance, Bridget.

The show felt kind of flat this year.  It seems like so many cars, especially from an interior standpoint, are just variations on the same theme anymore.  They're just not very different.  Nothing really popped this year.

Alfa Romeo

Stelvio -  Alfa Romeo's first ever SUV.  Because you can't compete in the US without one.  It has a 280hp 2.0 four cylinder (?) or a 505hp V6 in the Quadrifoglio version.  Starts around $43k, but the V6 Quadrifoglio version can set you back nearly $100k.


A6 - The 2019 model gets a new look and all the advanced Audi tech A6 fans have been clamoring for, including Adaptive Driving Assistant, an advanced cruise control that keeps you from rear-ending slowpokes and keeps you from drifting into neighboring lanes.

Q5 - Audi's mini-ute (and best seller) enters a new generation with new everything, yet not looking all that new, really.  I can't remember what the old one looked like.  Probably like this.  No V6 this time, but the new 4-cylinder is said to be pretty peppy.


Envision - Buick's Equinox-size SUV gets a style refresh just a year into its US debut because it had already been on sale in China for years and was due there.  I think it's the best looking of the GM small SUV segment, but it seems pricey for what you get.

Regal Sportback GS - A more sporty Regal Sportback.  Or something.


Equinox - Oh hey look, there's now a diesel version that'll get you lots of low-end torque and about 39mpg on the highway.  Leave it to Chevy to suddenly embrace a technology everyone else is abandoning.

Silverado -  Pickup trucks are the true profit center of American manufacturers, and Chevy's newest Silverado will be ready to be picked up (see what I did there?) this Fall at your local Chevy dealership.  It's...a pickup truck.  Bigger, badder, and tougher than the last one somehow.  Doesn't look all that different to me.  More rounded, maybe?  They apparently didn't save weight with a bunch of aluminumy body work like Ford did with the F150, so those commercials where they make fun of Ford still work.


EcoSport - Ford announced quite awhile ago they were bringing in an existing vehicle from India to plug their subcompact SUV hole.  Said vehicle has JUST started showing up at US dealerships.  The thing is already kind of ugly and dated and it sure seems underpowered, which pretty much describes everything sold in India.  A lot of cars sold there today couldn't pass US crash test standards from decades ago.

Ranger - Hey, remember Ford's small/pickup?  It's back.  Why?  Because Chevy's revival of the segment with the Colorado has been a success, so Ford was all like "Me too!"  No, not like the #metoo hashtag.  That's a whole different thing.


G70 - This is Genesis's all-new smaller sedan, something along the size of Infiniti's Q50 (and by my eye stealing more than some of its styling cues).  This is typically the volume seller for luxury/sport brands, so it should be a key product for Hyundai's new luxury line.


The GMC stand was full of custom full-size vans that would make Uncle Rico proud.  There were probably some new lineup changes to their vehicles but it was hard to tell with all that van bling.


Elantra GT - Hyundai's hatch version of it's compact sedan looks REALLY weird now.  Almost SUV-ish.  Which it isn't.

Kona - A new four-banger CUV with bratty styling aimed at young trendy urban overgrown kids.  Looks kinda like a tricked out Subaru Crosstrek.  The round shifter was cool.  Felt like a manual.


Q50 - The American version of the Nissan Skyline and Infinti's "volume" seller gets a style refresh and apparently improved tech.  It just got new engines a year or two ago.

QX50 - The all-new 2019 model, the "Car of the Show" winner this year, started arriving at dealerships last week.  Redesigned to be an Audi Q5 competitor, it shares little-to-nothing in common with the old model.  It's taller and wider than the outgoing model and rides on a front wheel drive platform with a CVT transmission.  It's Infiniti's first model to feature their new 2.0 VC-Turbo motor, the first of its kind that can adjust compression on the fly to deliver optimal power when needed and efficiency when not, resulting in high performance off the line while returning Nissan Rogue-like gas mileage numbers.  There's no V6 option at all despite being able to option this thing up to over $57,000.  It seems to have the same messy infotainment system as the Q50 and Q60 (with no Apple Car Play or Android Auto support because why would they) but also is the first Infiniti to have Nissan's ProPilot driver assist. The shifter is a knobby electric thingy.  The cupholders look awful.

QX70 - The legendary FX, as it was properly known before the idiotic Jollibee combo menu name change scandal, is done.  Over.  Bye fans of the rear wheel drive-based V6 sport SUV beast.  Who needs you.  Infiniti really hopes you'll buy a new QX50, because they're really that clueless.  What we really wanted was basically the existing QX70 with updated tech and that 400hp twin turbo.  And the FX badge back.  It deserved a far better death than this.  The new QX50 has absolutely none of the sex appeal the FX had.


Grand Cherokee Trackhawk - It's a Grand Cherokee with Fiat-Chrysler's 707hp Hellcat V8.  Doesn't look much more badass, but it is way more totally badass.


Forte - Forte gets a new sportier look and smarter driving aids.  Still packs a four-banger under the hood similar to last year's.  For when you want to look good and don't care about performance, I guess.

Niro - Kia's Stinky Prius fighter gets a plug-in hybrid option.  It's basically the same setup as the regular Niro hybrid, but with a bigger battery and better electric motor, allowing for more time running electric.

Stinger - Kia sorely needed a 365hp twin turbo V6 fastback in its lineup, and now it has it.  Also, I'm kidding.  How in the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS does this make any sense in the Kia lineup?  I don't even think it's a very good looking car.  Stinger Pedestal Announcer: "This is the car many of you came to the auto show to see."  NOBODY came to see this, buddy.  NO ONE.


UX - A new subcompact SUV that shares a platform with the Toyota Stinky Prius?  Weird, man.  So it sits lower and handles better than competitors in the segment.  Looks nice in photographs, but in person it's like the goth chick who dresses all scary to be intimidating but in reality when you see her in person and she's under five feet tall, it's just silly.  If they make an F-series, will it be called FUX?


Despite the fact Mitsubishi sells like four models in the US and probably sells like a half dozen of each tops, they still show up in a big way to this show.  There were a dozen cars on the floor to heck out and a great big driveable obstacle course ON THE SHOW FLOOR for anyone who wanted to see how the cars handled.  You want to impress me, Mitsubishi?  Let me drive one on the Jeep obstacle course.

Eclipse Cross - This abomination of the use of the Eclipse brand on a subcompact SUV is just wrong, especially on such an ordinary looking vehicle.  Wake me up when the Nissan influence starts to show up on new models.


Kicks - An existing compact SUV in other countries making its North American debut, supposedly at the expense of the Juke.  More normal looking, I guess.  Certainly more boring.

Leaf - The all-new second generation pure electric has arrived and has far more conventional styling.  Maybe TOO conventional, especially the interior.  Range has improved too, but supposedly will have an even longer option next year.  Sucks to be you, first year adopters.  It also gets ProPilot.

Rogue - As sedan sales have collapsed, it was expected Nissan's Rogue would become the brand's top seller sometime in 2017.  Not only was that goal achieved, Rogue became the top selling non-pickup of ANY brand for awhile in the Spring.  Jeepers.  For 2018, Rogue's high-end model gets Nissan's semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist system, which keeps you in your lane and auto adjusts speed to traffic. You still can't set it and take a nap, the car will yell at you if you let go of the steering wheel.  All trims get front emergency auto-braking and...FINALLY...Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  That should keep it up with the competition.


1500 - It's a bit lighter, more aerodynamic, and has a start/stop/torque assist sort of maybe hybrid power system thingy attached to the V6 or optionally on the Hemi.  Seems too technical for a pickup.  Danged trucks are just computers on wheels anymore.  Can't fix a danged thing yourself and...oh, sorry.  I was channeling the local NAPA parts manager there for a sec.


Avalon - Supposedly nobody's buying sedans anymore, but Toyota built an all-new Avalon anyway.  Jerks.  There's a four-cylinder hybrid and a pure V6.  It's bigger with a freaky huge grille that looks like a dentist office visit gone horribly wrong.

CH-R - Not sure I've seen one in person before, unless i confused it for an old Matrix.  And what's up with that two-tone paint?  That just looks terrible.


VW's push forward into pure electric vehicles reportedly has been moved up and will include a sedan on European roads by 2020.  The ID Buzz, that thing that looks like a VW Bus, has been approved for production.  And there's talk that IF there's a next-gen Beetle, it will also be pure electric.  I want to see that happen.

Arteon - This sedan replaces the CC, which was supposed to be a sedan with a coupe-like profile.  Someting more sporty than the Passat.  Or just get a Passat GT (see below), which comes with a VR6 instead of the turbo four in this thing.  Coming this fall as a 2019 model.

Jetta - The all-new 2019 arrives in dealerships later this year and is way easier on the eyes than the dreadful cheapened outgoing sixth generation model VW has been selling the past few years.  It's been VW's best seller in the US since it went on sale in 1980 as basically a Golf (Rabbit) with a trunk..  I suspect that's a distinction that will eventually be taken over by the Atlas SUV, but it's going down fighting.  The second generation Jetta (1985-1992) is still one of my all-time favorite car designs.

Passat GT - It's a souped-up Passat with a 280 hp VR6 and a more sporty look largely applied out of the existing VW parts bin.  It comes in four colors, none of which are Toronado Red, which is a shame.

Scirocco - That European-only Scirocco that's been around for close to a decade has been killed, allegedly a victim of Dieselgate.  What???


XC60 - Volvo's most important smaller but not too small crossover enters its next generation with a very posh interior and some four-cylinder options under the hood ranging from around 250 to 300hp.