Every year around this time, the world’s automotive industry gathers in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. Along with a few other key shows around the world, this is where automotive news is made – carmakers unveil the latest and greatest models, along with a stunning array of concept cars that give a hint of what the industry may look like in a few years’ time. There’s always a palpable air of excitement at the show, as journalists jostle with industry insiders to get a front-row seat at some of the biggest announcements of the year. The 2014 show, which has been open to journalists this week and opens to the public on Saturday, has been no exception – the news has come thick and fast.
One of the biggest stories at the show has been the new Ford F-150, which was unveiled at the show on Monday morning. The presentation itself was out of this world – the stage occupied nearly the full length of Joe Louis Arena. However, going beyond the hype, this was an incredibly important announcement for Ford – the F-150 has been the best-selling full-size pickup in North America for the last 37 years. The industry was looking to Ford to announce something that would continue that dominance – particularly since GM has recently launched a new set of redesigned pickups, and the Dodge Ram has also undergone a total makeover.
Ford didn’t disappoint. Although some analysts voiced their concern that the radical redesign represented an enormous risk for Ford, there is nothing to suggest that Ford has put a foot wrong. To start with, it has stripped no less than 700 pounds out of the vehicle while increasing the strength of the body. This is a result of the new frame, which is made of high-strength steel, as well as a body that is now made from high-strength aluminum alloy. Ford also introduced an economical 2.7 L engine for the pickup – which includes stop-start technology – while still continuing to provide the option of a 3.5 L engine and a 5.0 L V8.
The luxury German car manufacturer has been constantly in the headlines at the show, making a number of major announcements and showing off some of its new models for the first time. One of the main attractions was the new GLA45 AMG, a high-performance version of the new compact crossover SUV that Mercedes will be launching this fall. Along with aggressive styling elements, the AMG version of the vehicle featured a 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that develops 355 hp – and only takes 4.8 seconds to take the vehicle from 0 to 60. If you make a compact luxury SUV comparison, you’ll see there’s really nothing else in the market that can match this performance.
Another big announcement by Mercedes-Benz was its new 2015 C-Class. Compared to the previous model, the carmaker has increased both the size and luxury levels of the vehicle, while reducing the weight. These changes take the car to a new level – it’s no longer an entry-level Mercedes, but instead a roomy four-seater luxury car that will delight customers. It’s powerful as well. The 3.0 L V-6 engine provides 329 hp, while the more economical 2.0 L version develops a very respectable 235 hp.
Mercedes also had its new top-of-the-line S600 on show, which will replace the existing S550 when it goes on sale in the fall. It also had an S-Class coupe on display that it bills as a concept car, but which in all likelihood is going to form the basis of a production coupe down the road. Both cars were truly impressive, with the styling on the coupe managing to be both refined and aggressive.
General Motors also managed to grab the limelight with its Corvette Stingray. The iconic sports car took Car of the Year at the show, thanks in large part to significant improvements in its interior quality, as well as a massive 445 HP V8 that makes the 2014 model more powerful than any previous version. When you consider that the base model starts at a price of $51,000, the Stingray is a lot of car for the money.
GM’s Chevrolet Silverado also took Truck of the Year, giving GM a sweep of awards at the show. This is a new model for GM, and is likely to find itself in hot competition with Ford’s F-150. One advantage it may have over the F-150 is its fuel economy, which may be why Ford has introduced the new 2.7 L engine option.