The 2017 Detroit Auto Show is filled with surprises, plenty of hype, and possibly the best-looking sport sedan we’ve seen in a very long time. Oh yes, and that rear-wheel-drive performance car just happens to hail from South Korea.
This year’s show has a wide range of cars and concepts that challenge convention. Volvo has proved station wagons can be sexy. China’s GAC Motors says it’s considering selling SUVs in the U.S. within the next two to three years. And Lexus opted to give its LS luxury sedan a wild side.
Meanwhile, the star of the show could be the Kia Stinger, the Korean automaker’s surprisingly seductive take on a true performance sedan. The Stinger is more than a cool name, it’s one of the sexiest cars here at the show and has the performance specs to make rivals extremely worried.
That’s not to suggest other automakers are content to let Kia steal the spotlight. VW is offering another hint at the return of the Microbus, courtesy of the huggable I.D. Buzz Concept. Toyota and GMC went for volume sellers, with complete revamps of popular and/or hugely important models, such as the Camry family sedan and the Terrain crossover.
We scoured the show to find the 10 best and most influential cars and trucks here in the Motor City — the vehicles we think will have the biggest impact on the car world in the months and years ahead.
1. Kia Stinger
We knew the Kia Stinger was going to be interesting; we just never expected it to be this good. From the wicked name to the stunning lines of this seductive sport sedan, the Kia Stinger is a huge step forward for this South Korean automaker. For years, we’ve been told Kia would be positioned as a sportier brand, but the results never quite materialized. That ends now with the Stinger, a rear-wheel-drive sedan with a range-topping 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 that serves up 365 horsepower. Punch the gas, and Kia estimates you’ll need only 5.1 seconds to sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour.
2. Nissan Vmotion 2.0
No, there has never been a Vmotion 1.0 concept car; trust us, we asked. Other than the slightly hokey name, this Nissan is a very intriguing machine. It’s also very glittery, with sparkle-effect finishes applied to the wheels and along the car’s roof. The doors open suicide-style, to reveal a gorgeous and airy cabin. The steering wheel resembles more the yoke of a fighter jet, or Star Wars X-wing fighter, than a car’s directional device. We expect the Vmotion hints at what the next-gen Maxima will look like, not to mention a glimpse at Nissan’s plans for self-drive systems throughout its lineup.
3. GMC Terrain
GMC has finally given its Terrain crossover a complete makeover, to bring it right into the thick of the booming market for SUVs and crossovers. Gone are the boxy lines of the previous model, not to mention that car’s wheezy engines and budget cabin. The new Terrain, which goes on sale later this year, has a sleek new exterior, complete with LED lighting and an extremely handsome grille. There are three engines available, all of them turbocharged four-cylinders, including a diesel option. That variant could make the Terrain an attractive choice for small businesses that need the extra torque — and MPGs — offered by a diesel.
4. Lexus LS500
Lexus is adding a little LC coupe to its tried-and-true LS sedan. Toyota’s luxury brand has cars like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class firmly targeted with the fifth-generation of its top four-door model. The LS500 comes with a new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6, coupled to a 10-speed automatic and your choice of rear- or all-wheel-drive. The cabin is gorgeous, though we wish the touchpad control for the infotainment system wasn’t the same fiddly and hyperactive one found in the rest of the range. That being said, this car’s daring design and massive amount of tech — coupled with Lexus’ rep for quality — could rearrange the pecking order among the ultra-luxury sedan segment.
5. BMW 5 Series
You might not notice it, but BMW’s 5 Series sedan is riding on an all-new chassis. From the outside, however, only the most eagle-eyed BMW fan will spot the slightly trimmer headlights and lower stance of this new model. The biggest change could be inside, where the 5 Series has a new 10.3-inch display. The system responds to hand gesture controls — like the ones found in the 7 Series — and brings BMW level with the best interiors from Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The entry model, the 530i, will come with a 248-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder when the new 5 arrives in February of this year.
6. VW I.D. Buzz Concept
Stop teasing us VW, and bring back the bus! For years now, Volkswagen has toyed with the idea of bringing its iconic Microbus back to market. Now, it seems the end is near, at least judging from the I.D. Buzz Concept shown for the first time in Detroit. This electric-powered concept is also a self-driving car. When you’re in the mood to, say, play a ukulele or talk about wicked surfing, the I.D. Concept will handle the driving, dude. According to VW, the I.D. Buzz can travel about 270 miles per charge. But really, you’re grooving on that lemon-yellow paint job and those wacky light-grey tires, aren’t you? We are too. Now let’s get VW to build this darn thing.
7. Volvo V90
A brown station wagon, the ultimate unicorn of the car world is sitting seductively on Volvo’s stand at the Detroit Auto Show. The V90 is proof that SUVs and crossovers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. The V90 looks absolutely stunning, especially in an unconventional color — we also loved the blue V90 sitting nearby. Starting at around $55,000, the V90 doesn’t come cheaply. Then again, this 316 horsepower Swedish machine doesn’t look cheap, inside or out. The cabin features the same large center touchscreen that works wonders in the S90 sedan and XC90 crossover. We hope more people give wagons a chance. Volvo is sure trying to convert the non-believers.
8. GAC Motors GS7
Trust us, we’re very skeptical when it comes to any automaker making grandiose claims about entering the U.S. market. Several Chinese automakers have come to previous Detroit auto shows and talked a good game about huge sales here in North America. GAC is the latest, and in a few years, we’ll see if claims to sell an SUV at a compact car-like price ever pan out. Yet, based purely on cosmetic appeal, the GS7 is more intriguing than most upstarts. The styling of this four-cylinder-powered sport-ute looks like a cross between a VW Tiguan and Mitsubishi’s long-gone Montero. It’s rugged and pretty darn handsome, if we’re being honest. What’s far less certain is if a GAC vehicle will ever actually make it to our shores.
9. Toyota Camry
Toyota is letting the most popular sedan in the U.S. let its hair down, just a bit. The Camry is many things: safe, quiet, reliable, and great in terms of resale value. But exciting? Nope, not even close. The latest model pushes the envelope in terms of exterior razzle-dazzle, at least compared to the previous generation of Camry. Riding on Toyota’s new TNGA platform, the driving dynamics should be sharper, to match the sportier style. The updated cabin features a new tiered dashboard, and an available head-up display stretches 10 inches across.
10. Ford GT
We know it’s not brand new anymore, but how could we not include the Ford GT on this list? Ford has two GTs on display in Detroit, including the racing variant that won its class at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. This mid-engine monster has a carbon-fiber chassis and body. Resting at its heart is a twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine that produces more than 600 horsepower. Top speed is estimated at being well over 200 miles per hour. The only downside might be fuel economy. The GT returns a pitiful 11 MPG during city driving. Oh yes, and the $400,000 price per copy makes this Ford a tad out of our travel budget.