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Concepts, Production Cars Grab Attention at Auto Show

DETROIT – Wrapping up media days at the North American International Auto Show, four car brands showed off what customers can expect later this year and many years from now.

The two American manufacturers, GMC and Lincoln, presented previously announced models Tuesday that go on sale later this year. And Japanese automakers Acura and Honda displayed concept vehicles that executives said would be used a reference point for their brands’ future production models.

GMC reduced some weight on its Acadia line, dropping 700 pounds from its midsize SUV and in doing so boosted fuel economy to 28 mpg on the highway and 22 in the city, up from 24 and 17.

“It offers everything customers want in a premium crossover: versatility, refinement, family-focused features and technologies that make life easier and safer,” said General Motors’ vice president of global product development, Mark Reuss.

On top of a new “confident-looking, muscular design” on the outside, GM engineers made changes to the interior, among them new trims that offer five, six or seven seats and a quieter cabin.

Coming standard on all levels of the Acadia is a rear seat reminder, an industry first. The SUV will detect when a rear door is opened before the driver door and, after the driver stops and gets out, will give a reminder to check the back seat.

“Too many children are inadvertently left in vehicles with tragic results,” Reuss said. “This system does not detect the presence of a child in the back seat, but it provides a simple extra reminder for the driver to look in the rear seat as they get out regardless of what they have back there.”

Ford Motor Co. subsidiary Lincoln showed off its revived Continental nameplate, which will go on sale this fall.

“It embodies everything that Lincoln and quiet luxury stand for: warm, human, personalized experiences in all of our vehicles and our services,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Lincoln. “It is a contrast to machines of raw speed and horsepower that other luxury brands use as their calling card.”

Among the luxury features are a connected phone app that allows drivers to start, lock, unlock and turn off the Continental and automatically close doors, auto-hold brakes and Lincoln’s debut of the “Perfect Position Seat.”

“All of us rest our right leg at a different angle than our left leg when we’re driving,” Galhotra said. “With the Perfect Position seat, you can adjust independent side extensions so each leg is perfectly supported.”

Both Acura and Nissan showed off concept vehicles on the second day of press conferences at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit, showing off vehicles their executives say will set the tone of their cars to come.

At last year’s auto show here, Nissan unveiled a redesigned Titan pickup truck. That model went on sale earlier this month,

Tuesday morning the company showed off its Titan Warrior concept. The truck has a suspension system unique to the concept and 37-inch off-road tires that lift the truck an extra three inches. The interior changes aren’t as jarring compared to the production, but still singular to the concept such as orange fabric trim and a single-piece aluminum steering wheel.

“Truck buyers have a seemingly insatiable appetite for more content and more unique offerings,” said Nissan Vice President and Nissan North American Chairman Jose Muñoz. “Even though our all-new Titan just started arriving at Nissan dealers nationwide last month, we are already exploring new territory where Titan might go.”

Acura creative director Dave Marek heralded the brand’s concept, the Precision, as the future of his company’s design both inside and outside. He began with the front fascia, which no longer has the thick bar across the grille the Acura has used several years.

“The front fascia of a vehicle is critical,” Marek explained. “It’s an essential opportunity to dramatically draw attention to what a brand stands for. This new open grille projects a dynamic performance image. We call it the diamond pentagon, the biggest and boldest expression of the Acura mark we’ve ever had.”

Inside, the design team took varying approaches to the front and rear seats. In the back, cues were taken from lounge furniture to convey relaxation and quality, Marek said, while the front was meant to feel more like a racing cockpit. Steps were even taken to visually separate the two, as shades of black and gray were used up front, with white used as the primary color in the back seats.

“The importance of the Acura Precision concept is not only what it is, but what it says about Acura design,” he said. “For luxury buyers, styling is not just about fitting their lifestyle. It’s about changing their lifestyle and the Acura Precision is the leading edge of a renewed commitment to changing the discussion.”

The North American International Auto Show is open to the public Jan. 16 through 24.

Pictured:  Ford Motor Co.’s revived Lincoln Continental, which will go on sale this fall.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.