The Consumer Reports Cars team is in Detroit in force, covering the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Highlights from this major new-car event will be posted here, including notable all-new models and concept cars, with photos and video. In addition, expanded stories will be posted as car news.
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2017 Audi A4
As we’ve come to expect of Audi and its A4, the redesigned 2017 model doesn’t look much different from the outgoing car. But dig your nails below the surface and there’s considerable news inside the cabin and under the skin. The ninth-generation A4 has a reworked engine, a new transmission, a lighter body, and numerous advanced safety features, plus the availability of Audi’s customizable digital instrument panel, as already seen in the TT and the 2017 Q7.
The A4’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has been reworked to produce 252 hp, up from 220. But instead of the previous combo of a CVT automatic for front-drive models and an eight-speed automatic for all-wheel-drive models, all 2017 A4s will come with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Audi has addressed the A4’s cramped rear seat with increased legroom, along with more shoulder and headroom up front, although specific dimensions weren’t given. A new standard infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.
The 2017 Audi A4 goes on sale in the spring, starting at $37,300 for the base front-drive Premium model, with all-wheel drive beginning at $39,400.
Learn more about the 2017 Audi A4.
2017 Buick Envision
The Chinese-made Buick Envision is a midsized crossover that will probably reach American shores as early as this summer. The five-seater will slot between the compact crossover, Buick Encore (made in Korea), and the seven-seater Buick Enclave (made in Michigan), targeting models such as the Acura RDX and Lincoln MKC.
The Envision will be sold in the U.S. with a 252-horsepower, 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive.
Premium amenities abound, with such notables as active noise canceling, tri-zone climate control, cooled front seats, built-in Wi-Fi, Bose stereo, and panoramic moonroof. Safety features count lane monitor with assist, park assist, and 360-degree surround camera.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt
The Chevrolet Bolt electric car introduces an all-new platform that tucks its batteries neatly below the flat floor surface. GM boasts that the Bolt will have more than a 200-mile range and cost around $30,000, after government incentives.
Where most small electrics have delivered less than a 100-mile real-world range, the Bolt stands out because its promised travel distance approaches that of a Tesla Model S—a large, luxury electric car that costs about three times as much. Using a fast charger installed in your home or at a public charging station, the battery can reach 80 percent of capacity in 60 minutes.
The Bolt has 200 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque, enabling it to run 0-60 mph in 7 seconds.
Learn more about the Chevrolet Bolt.
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
Providing an alternative version of the redesigned 2016 Cruze sedan, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback will share essential mechanicals and features. The liftgate exposes 22.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, capable of expanding up to 47.2 cubic feet.
On sale in the fall, the hatch benefits from the same weight reduction measures made to aid fuel economy and performance in the sedan. Both versions boast a generous roster of available high-tech features, such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, mobile Wi-Fi, Teen Driver monitor, and a full suite of active safety systems. In addition, there are some luxury touches, such as a heated steering wheel and heated rear seat.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler invented the family-hauler minivan 30 years ago and still dominates in a segment that’s shrinking nearly as quickly as crossovers proliferate. Rather than abandon the form (like Ford and General Motors did), Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles ordered up a clean-sheet design to appear in dealerships this spring under the name Pacifica, rather than Town & Country. There won’t be a lower-cost Dodge version.
And it made this minivan more shapely than the box-it-came-in esthetic of previous models, with a steeply raked windshield and a curving roof profile. It looks somewhat crossover-like except for the sliding doors that can be opened with a kick under the sill, one of 40 claimed “innovations” for the 2017 model. FCA also claims to have the most interior room, with space for 4x8-foot sheets of plywood, and limousine levels of noise suppression and comfort. Yes, your mom’s family hauler has transmogrified into a luxury cruiser.
A Pacifica Hybrid (arriving 3 to 6 months later) promises plug-in capability for up to 50 miles of all-electric range; when not in hybrid mode, it will be running the same 3.6-liter V-6 and nine-speed automatic drivetrain as the conventional model.
Learn more about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew
Following the rollout of the popular Ford F-150 truck in consumer and commercial configurations comes the F-150 Raptor SuperCrew, which is designed for off-road performance. Like all current F-150 trucks, the Raptor benefits from a dramatic 500-lb. weight reduction over the previous generation, and this four-door Raptor aims to take advantage of the improved power-to-weight ratio.
The Raptor has a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Power will exceed the outgoing 411-horse V8, although exact engine specs haven’t been released. Ford claims the Raptor has the strongest frame in the F-150 lineup, and the company notes that the Raptor is six inches wider than a typical F-150. The massive Fox shocks now measure three inches in diameter, a half-inch larger than previous versions, and boasts increased travel to better absorb harsh trail conditions.
A new Terrain Management System allows the driver to dial in the truck’s various systems to best tackle street, weather, mud/sand, high-speed desert running, and rock crawling. The new Raptor goes on sale fall 2016.
2017 Genesis G90
Hyundai is kicking off its Genesis luxury brand with the G90, a sedan with relatively conventional construction. Two different engines are available: a 375-hp, 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 and a 430-hp, 5.0-liter V8. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic, and both are available with optional all-wheel drive, addressing a shortcoming of the rear-drive-only Equus.
The spacious cabin is bathed in soft-touch materials and flanked with wood and chrome trim. However, it comes up short on wow factor, feeling more conventional than artistic. Thick and wide, like a favorite armchair, the driver's seat has standard 22-way power adjustments.
However, as is typical for this oft-chauffeur-driven class, the back seat is really the place to be. Power massaging chairs face optional rear seat monitors, and a bank of controls in the center armrest control audio and climate settings. It also includes a complete suite of advanced safety features, despite that rivals typically reserve these features as expensive added-cost options.
Learn more about the 2017 Genesis G90.
2017 Honda Ridgeline
After a two model-year hiatus, Honda’s unconventional pickup returns in the fall as a 2017 model. Built on the same platform that debuted under the 2014 Acura MDX and 2016 Honda Pilot (and closely related to the hardware underpinning of the Odyssey minivan also being revised this year), the new Ridgeline takes on a more traditional truck profile.
Owners of the previous model, Honda says, thought the Ridgeline would be more useful with a traditional pickup bed. The new one retains two innovative features of the previous 2005-2014 model: a dual-action tailgate that can swing sideways like a door or fold down in traditional fashion, and a lockable “trunk” space below the the bed floor.
Even as Honda contends that Ridgeline occupies a unique place in the market where all other pickups use body-on-frame construction, it also says that with V6 power and all-wheel drive, Ridgeline will post “class-leading” towing, hauling, and bed space capacities, while besting other midsized trucks on acceleration and fuel economy. It has at least nailed one aspect of traditional truck marketing: Talking Big.
The Ridgeline may not appeal to truck traditionalists any more than the first one did, but it moves in that direction just enough to broaden its utility for the rest of us.
Learn more about the 2017 Honda Ridgeline.
2017 Infiniti Q60
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 is an update to an existing premium sports coupe. First delivered in 2013, the Q60 was a replacement for the G37 when Infiniti re-jiggered the names of its entire lineup.
Part of the renovation of the brand has been strong emphasis on design, and the Infiniti Q60 definitely fits that bill. Both lower and wider, the body creases are bolder and sportier, emphasizing the promise of performance-oriented, dynamic driving.
The most significant updates on the Infiniti Q60 are the new powerplant with claims of improved efficiency and a redesigned suspension. The new VR30 engine is a 3.0-liter V6 twin turbo that is available in either a 300-horsepower or a 400-horsepower configuration. A four-cylinder, 2.0-liter engine will also be available with 208 horsepower. The standard configuration is rear drive, though all-wheel drive is available.
The driving experience can be customized with a new Drive Mode Selector that features six options to adapt the driving dynamics to conditions and personal preferences, from high performance to cruising comfort. The Q60 goes on sale late summer 2016.
2017 Kia Forte and Forte5
Kia has refreshed its Forte sedan and Forte5 hatchback for the 2017 model year updating the small car exteriors with a new front bumper, grille, headlamps, and taillights.
The Forte sedan sees the adoption of a new S trim level to slot in between the base LX and top-level EX. The S gets a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Both the LX and S come with a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (replacing the 1.8L) with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The big news for the Forte5 SX, which comes with a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder, is the availability of a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Both sedan and hatch have access to a new option, Dynamic Bending Lights, which angle the headlamps through corners based on steering wheel input. The 2017 Kia Forte sedan and Forte5 go on sale early this year.
Kia Telluride Concept
Kia has unveiled its idea of what a full-size luxury SUV would look like, if the Korean manufacturer decided to add one to its arsenal of value-packed models. Looking like a giant Kia Soul just back from flair school, the Telluride concept is based on a stretched Sorento platform. (It measures about 10 inches longer than a Sorento, and it rides on a wheelbase that’s a whopping 11.9 inches greater.)
The Telluride concept uses a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, with a 3.5-liter V6 and an electric motor combining for a blended output of 400 horsepower, sent to all four wheels. Kia says this setup would return 30 mpg on the highway.
Although the Telluride is a three-row, seven-passenger SUV, the focus was clearly placed on the second-row, which features reclining captain’s chairs with fold-away footrests. Sensors in the seats keep an eye on each occupant’s vital health stats. The data is displayed on door panel screens, and the vehicle can react to address fatigue by changing cabin lighting. Rear-hinged second-row doors create a huge entryway to the interior.
While Kia is claiming the Telluride is merely a styling exercise, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a full-size production SUV in the near future.
2017 Lexus LC 500
Looking to chase the upper echelon of well-heeled empty-nest car shoppers, Lexus has introduced the LC 500 coupe, going on sale in early 2017 with a projected starting price near $100,000.
The LC 500 is based on the aggressively styled LF-LC concept sports car of several years ago, and it will be the first model using a new front-engine, rear-drive luxury-vehicle platform from corporate parent Toyota. The body uses a large percentage of high-strength steel, which Lexus says is more resistant to the torsional twisting forces under hard cornering than the carbon fiber used by other supercar makers.
The 5.0-liter V8 engine is borrowed from the high-performance GS F and RC F coupes, generating 467 horsepower and 389 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is sent to the wheels through a close-ratio 10-speed automatic transmission, enabling a claimed 0-60 mph sprint of less than 4.5 seconds.
As befitting a high-performance coupe, the driver will sit quite low to the ground. Using run-flat tires means no spare tire, while affording engineers more flexibility in how to design the car. Lexus also moved the battery to the trunk to help balance overall weight distribution and thereby aid handling. The small, 113-inch LC has its wheels pushed to the corners, providing an athletic stance with short overhangs to the overall length.
2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class hits the streets with enough fuel economy, safety gear, and comfort technology to keep it among the most sophisticated luxury sedans on the market. Through the redesign, the company’s mainstay “business-class” leader gets a longer wheelbase and more overall length.
The new base E300 will be powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in the Mercedes C300 and GLC300, putting out 241 hp. It will run through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Diesel and hyper-horsepower AMG variants are likely on the way, as well. An optional driver-selected suspension allows both sport and comfort settings. An air suspension system is also available, with a self-leveling feature that adjusts depending on vehicle load and speed.
Safety highlights include a “Car-to-X communication” system, which uses your mobile phone to exchange information and on-the-road warnings with other vehicles further down the road.
The new E-Class goes on sale in summer 2016.
Learn more about the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster
Mercedes-Benz continues to revitalize, and rename, its product line, with the latest example to be the transformation of the SLK retractable hardtop into the SLC. By adopting the classic SLC moniker, the brand is recognizing the roadster’s C-Class pedigree while aiming to better align the models in its range.
Of course, the new SLC variants will still feature the SLK’s pioneering “vario-roof,” a mechanical feat that defined the roadster as one the first retractable hardtop convertible sports coupes sold. The top can now deploy or retract at speeds up to 25 mph. The SLC will also offer the Magic Sky Control option from the SLK, which adjusts the opacity of the retractable glass roof to control the amount of sunlight allowed through.
The SLC300 will have a 241-hp, four-cylinder engine shared with the C300 sedan. Mercedes-Benz claims 0-60 mph sprints in 5.7 seconds.
Learn more about the Mercedes-Benz SLC.
2017 Volvo S90
The S90 is hailed as the beginning of the second chapter in Volvo’s product lineup revamp, on the heels of the XC90 introduction. The S90 and XC90 share the same platform and represent a commitment to Scandinavian design and safety from the Chinese-backed company.
The technology portion of the sedan’s features are some of the most significant to the brand’s ongoing commitment to active safety technology and zero deaths or significant injuries in its new models by 2020. Active safety system package includes forward-collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, distance alert, and lane-keeping feature. Volvo’s CitySafe system will now include a large animal detection option, similar to the pedestrian detection system, to avoid striking moose and other large road-crossing critters. The Volvo S90 will have the same powerplants as the XC90: a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine called T5 (about 250 hp); a supercharged variant called T6 (316 hp); and the plug-in hybrid variant T8 (410 hp).
Learn more about the Volvo S90.
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