The cars receiving their U.S. and world premieres during the press days at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which wrapped up this week, offered a glimpse of the short and medium-term future of the automotive industry.
There was no one vehicle that dominated the show, although the 2018 Kia Stinger GT, Lexus LS 500, and 2018 Toyota Camry received a lot of attention along with a few couple of interesting concepts and Pixar’s life-size model of Cars star Lighting McQueen.
The automakers that decided to skip Detroit were as much a story leading up to the show, as the companies that did have reveals.
Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Rolls-Royce—those ultra-luxe automakers that tend to inject oohs and aahs into auto shows—skipped it this year. (Though Bentley did have an invite-only reveal of its Continental Supersports GT coupe and convertible at a tucked away location ahead of the show.)
Perhaps the biggest theme this year wasn’t so much the vehicles but where these companies are planning to build them. President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism against automakers with operations outside of the U.S. meant executives were asked a lot of questions about how they planned to respond.
Not every Detroit Auto Show can be loaded with mind-blowing reveals; these tend to be cyclical. This year, automakers seemed to focus more on the technology inside the vehicles than the exterior design. However, there were some standouts as well as some reveals that will be important for brand.
Kia was the big surprise this year. After offering up a number of GT concepts, the company finally revealed one that will go into production. It didn’t disappoint. The 2018 Kia Stinger, a rear-wheel drive sports sedan, could compete nicely with some German vehicles, like the BMW 4 series or the Audi A5.
Meanwhile, Chevrolet and Ford presented vehicles that are important to their portfolio.
The Ford F-150—part of the Ford F-Series truck lineup and the best-selling truck in the U.S. for 40 consecutive years—has undergone a comprehensive refresh
Ford revamped the exterior of its full-size pickup and made big changes to the engine, including a diesel option. All Ford F-150 models receive new grilles, headlamps and bumpers that create a visually wider and more planted stance and maximum differentiation between the series.
The automaker added in all the driver assistance bells and whistles too, including emergency autonomous braking function with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control system with full stop-and-go capability for driving in heavy traffic.
Unfortunately for Ford, the one vehicle we did want to see—the Bronco is coming back!—wasn’t on stage.
The Chevrolet Traverse has a new body profile that gets away from the rounded design and goes back to a sharper look like the Chevrolet Tahoe. The vehicle has better legroom and storage than previous iterations, and other features including wireless charging.
BMW launched its 5 Series and the company did many things right. Fortune had a chance to actually drive the new 5 Series the week before at CES, the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. In a word: Super.
Then there were the concepts, including Volkswagen’s latest microbus concept, Nissan’s VMotion 2.0, and Audi’s plug-in hybrid crossover Q8.
It’s unlikely Volkswagen will actually make this all-electric bus. But let’s hope so. It was the kind of fun concept vehicle—including a meditating gnome that hovered on the dashboard— that injected some life onto the Detroit Auto Show floor.