I went to the Detroit Auto Show yesterday with Brad. I’ve only been to the Chicago Auto show before, so this was a new chance to gawk at brand new engineering and styling from a different and more “close to the source” setting. When I was younger, in the days before the internet brought all the latest auto news to my browser minutes after a story broke, I would try to collect as many brochures and posters as possible from every manufacturer. Audi and Porsche panoramas graced my walls through much of high school, as did a large Corvette. Not because I like Corvettes. They are unattractive cars, but a free car poster was a free car poster, so there it hung.
Now, it’s about sitting in as many cars and getting a feel for the entire car in 15 seconds. Here are some quick thoughts:
- Ford – Still haven’t become a fan of the MyFord Touch system, but I could see it working well after overcoming a slight learning curve. As always, I love the new Fiesta and Focus.
- Subaru – The Outback just keeps getting bigger (bad), while the Forester actually grew much less than I’d previously thought (good). Still love my 2001 Forester, and would definitely buy another.
- Chevy – The Volt was the absolute biggest disappointment of the show. I thought the exterior styling – the window trim, the rear reversing light, plastic grey grill – was terrible, and then I sat inside. I guess I haven’t paged through many recent press shots of the Volt because it’s been talked up forever, but I was abhorred with the center console. I don’t want the Volt to fail, but wow, I would never even consider one. I breezed by the new Sonic, much like the designers apparently did when they got to the rear end and must have run their budget dry, just slapping a tailgate on it and calling it a day. I was impressed with the new Cruze, but as my perceptions and the crowd gathering around them reinforced, its target is 30-50 year old married couples. New Corvettes and Camaros – blah.
- Fiat – I thought the new 500 was sharp. If there’s a market for the Mini Cooper, there’s one for the 500. Related note: we half-intentionally missed the Chrysler area, and so I can’t give any further scathing first-hand impressions of the new 300.
- Porsche – Set apart from all the grey models they had on display, that green Cayman R certainly looks hot.
- VW – The first thing I remember about the VW area of the show was how unbearably hot it was. They were using 3 times as many spotlights, and the added heat was noticeable, especially stepping into the new Passat that had been left to bake like an oven. I liked the Passat, but only because my expectations for it were quite low. They cheapened it up quite a bit and dulled the exterior styling, but I always love me some German interiors, so I couldn’t hate on all of it.
- Audi – Absolutely stunning as always. My life goal is to own one. Quattro is a must.
- BMW – I’m starting to fall out of love with Stuttgart. Aside from the 1 and 3 series, everything seems bloated, and I definitely don’t like the direction things are headed if the X6 actually catches on. At least they are slightly more interesting than Mercedes.
- Mercedes – Snooooooze. At least they don’t offend my eyes like…
- Toyota – I didn’t spend much time here, because their products make my eyes want to punch kittens, but I’m confused by who exactly is in the market for the new Prius V or Prius C. They’ll sell because of the Prius name, but that doesn’t mean I’ll understand why anyone would want one.
- Honda – I was thoroughly unimpressed with the new Civic. It’s just, meh. Honda seems to have no direction with their design, but they need to figure something out eventually. Just please stop making the Crosstour.
After seeing the entire show in one extended run, Brad and I were starving, so we walked through the food court. Thoroughly unimpressed with the $10 burgers on offer, we hit the quiet downtown streets of Detroit in search of Coney Island dogs, as recommended by Ian. The chili dogs hit the spot, but the Pepsi was phenomenal. It’s easy to forget how dehydrated you can get just by being on your feet all day, and the Pepsi rejuvenated us. If refills hadn’t taken 10 minutes to get to us, I would’ve sucked down a gallon.
All in all, the 6 hours spent driving to and from Detroit were definitely justified. A good weekend adventure.