One of the most heralded events in the automotive industry is the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, in mid-January. It was at this venue that Chevrolet used to present the insane Corvette Z06, and many others have done the same. So far, it’s looking like this coming year’s show won’t disappoint.
Teasers, web reveals, and other appetite-inducing treats have been wrung out of many automakers over the past few weeks (even months), and with just a few more weeks to go, Detroit will do its part to jumpstart the enthusiasm for all that 2015 has to offer — as well as a glimpse at what 2016 will bring.
Read on to see eight of some of the most critical vehicle debuts and introductions happening at the NAIAS next month.
1. Cadillac CTS-V
Fresh off the excitement of the launch of the ATS-V in Los Angeles last month, Cadillac is preparing to do one better in Michigan come January with the larger and more powerful CTS-V, built on the company’s new model that features a new platform and improvements just about all around. To build on the current generation, Cadillac will be up against a 556 horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 (already about 100 horsepower more powerful than the new Corvette), and given that the ATS-V boasts a tremendous 450 horses, you can expect the next V to go nuclear.
2. Audi Q7
The Audi Q7 is among the oldest models in the German marque’s pen, but for 2016, Audi is grooming its new take on the luxury SUV. Prior to its official debut, Audi has shed some light on the vehicle, which now boasts a rugged new look (though many feel that with all the time, Audi could have done more) that fits in with its future design direction, new tech on the inside, but the real excitement is under the hood. There’ll be a plug-in hybrid model that offers up to 35 miles of pure electric driving, and both the gasoline and diesel engines have been tweaked for better efficiency and more power.
3. Toyota Tacoma
Many words come to mind when thinking of the Toyota Tacoma: Capable, reliable, utilitarian. But there’s another word getting lumped in there: Old. It’s been several years since the Tacoma’s last meaningful redesign, and Toyota is aiming to remedy that with a new model in Detroit, in light of new competition from GM. There’s not much to go by from the teaser image, though it will share the embossed “TACOMA” stamp in the tailgate, like the 2014 Tundra. Virtually nothing is known about it yet, but to handily compete in today’s market, it’ll have to have both four- and six-cylinder engine options, fuel economy in the mid- to high-20s, and a price in the low $20K range to start.
Essentially every Mini that rolls off the line is designed to provide driving enjoyment over virtually everything else. Even the crossover-SUVish Countryman exudes some degree of sportiness and fun, but the pinnacle of the Mini range has long been the John Cooper Works models. These are tuned up versions of the existing cars, and the new Mini JCW hardtop promises to be the most potent and fastest production Mini yet — with 231 horsepower, besting the previous generation by about 23 ponies. Speed is great and all, but the magic will lie in how it drives.
5. Lexus RX Successor
File this one away under “Unsubstantiated.” Rumor has it that Lexus is bringing a duo of models to debut in Detroit, and one of them is anticipated to be the follow-up to the company’s popular RX SUV, which last underwent a refresh in 2013. However, it was largely cosmetic and really only existed to put Lexus’ now-trademark spindle grill on the front so it wouldn’t look too out of place, so a larger overhaul is still required.
6. Nissan Titan
To say Nissan’s new Titan is overdue is akin to saying that Kublai Khan had a rather aggressive approach to foreign policy: They’re both huge understatements. The Titan hasn’t been touched in the better part of 10 years or so, and it shows. It lags behind its rivals in performance, fuel efficiency, and charges nearly $30,000 for the privilege. Fortunately, we’ll get our first look of the overhauled truck in Detroit, which promises a 5.0 liter, Cummins-sourced diesel engine (at least as an option). If Nissan is serious about its truck aspirations — and its PR materials suggest that it is — the new truck is going to have to change in just about every way.
7. Volkswagen Crossover Concept
Volkswagen has been parading its CrossBlue concept around for a while now, which it believes will be one of its most valuable assets in cracking the U.S. market formula for the brand. The company has invested about $900 million into its facility in Tennessee to build the unit, which boasts seven seats; however, word on the street says that VW is preparing a two-row, five-seater crossover model based on the larger concept to further generate buzz over the brand’s utility offerings. How it will differ from the Tiguan has yet to be seen, but there’s certainly room for marked improvement.
8. Acura NSX
Perhaps one of the most anticipated reveals in Detroit next month will be the Acura NSX, an arrival that is years overdue after Honda experienced many a setback with its development. We’ve seen the conceptual NSX making the show circuit before, but the model present at the North American International Auto Show this coming year will be the production one — the one people will actually be able to buy. This insinuates that Acura is making promising headway in bringing the car to market, which has proved troublesome for the company in the past.