The North American International Auto Show — better known as the Detroit Auto Show — is underway now, with more new model introductions, including concept vehicles, than the public has seen in years. The auto industry is bouncing back, but even so, not everything is a hit. There are some misses. Here’s what the industry trade newspaper Automotive News gives a thumbs up, and a thumbs down, starting with the Acura NSX, which Automotive News calls the star of the show —
Acura NSX–The star of the show. This two-seat hybrid sports car blew folks away. There were whoops and hollers when the wraps came off. And it will be made in America, at the Honda factory in Ohio. Lottery ticket sales soared immediately.
Acura ILX–Acura has used the Honda Civic platform before, but the Integra and RSX never looked cheap. This looks like a warmed-over Hyundai Elantra, which certainly isn’t luxury.
Ford Fusion–The fascia lightly borrows from Aston Martin. The narrow greenhouse is sleek, and faux-aluminum interior details highlight the cleaned-up center console. The sweeping roofline makes for a narrow trunk opening, though.
Honda Accord Coupe–Take a current Accord, mash it with the Mitsubishi Galant, add over-blown fog-light cutouts. Honda should know better.
Lexus LF-LC--Gorgeously sculpted air intakes are everywhere, yet the coupe concept doesn’t look cartoonish. The LED headlight accents hint at the Nike swoosh. Just Do It.
Mercedes-Benz SL–Mercedes calls it “athletic.” It has to be, to store the massive folding hardtop in its huge trunk. But the muscular proportions work. Sexy with the top up or down.
Cadillac ATS–This is the first compact Cadillac in more than two decades. The sharp creases of the larger Caddys do not scale down to the compact segment. The proportions of the car’s width, hood, wheel arches, greenhouse and trunk simply do not agree.
Lincoln MKZ–The ghastly baleen whale grille has been transformed into an eagle spreading its wings. The trellised center console is the finishing touch on an elegant new interior design.
Dodge Dart–How do you mess up the lovely Alfa Romeo Giulietta? Let Dodge designers make a Neon out of it. The C-pillar sweep into the trunk is wrong. The steering wheel is oddly chunky. The wheel arches are too small.
Toyota NS4–To be positioned above the Prius, this hybrid flattens the Prius’ triangular silhouette. The intuitive, “learning” telematics system and myriad glass technologies make this a technology showcase.
Audi Q3 Vail–There’s not enough wheelbase and length for its height and thick sheet metal panels. An SUV that looks like a beach ball.
Chevrolet Code/Tru concepts–The Code 130R is blocky, almost like it’s going the wrong direction, but it works. The Tru 140S would make a perfect entry-level sporty coupe.
Nissan Pathfinder–The scalloping of the body panels is a rip-off of Hyundai’s previous-generation SUVs. Those subtle lines contradict the hulking front fascia. Just confusing.
Chrysler 700C–This train wreck got worse as it rotated on the stand. From the snoutlike hood, to the bizarre window cuts, to the goofy proportions, this minivan had no good angle.
VW E-Bugster–If this is what it takes to make electric vehicles cool, so be it. The EV’s limited range makes it perfect for high school girls with overprotective parents. I can just hear it: “It is soooo cute, Daddy, pleeeeease?”
Buick Encore–Take Audi Q3, add in plasticky knobs and switches, and overly busy hood and fascia styling. Decent cargo room, though.
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