-Ford Atlas: I wasn’t necessarily swept off my feet by the Atlas concept’s styling or active aero features, but I was by its cargo box. I witnessed what one Ford rep jokingly called “Man Step 2.0” in action, but it’s hardly just a step anymore. With the gate down, it can double as a bed extender; with the gate closed, it can rise up to serve as a carrier for ladders and other long cargo, negating the need for expensive aftermarket racks. I was completely blown away when I later discovered the bed also had integrated ramps.
This. Needs. To. Happen. ASAP. I’m tired of shilling out for expensive, bulky ramps to load my Honda Super Cub/ leaf chipper/ other large, heavy, motorized ferrous items in the back of a pickup, and then having no good spot to carry or store them while in transit.
-Acura NSX: Yeah, I know we’ve seen this before, but it’s nice to see the next Honda/Acura sports car project has progressed beyond a static display model. We now have a concept car that not only boasts a cabin for the first time ever, but also rides upon a preliminary mockup of the new car’s architecture. The new interior is attractive, looks upscale, and has more than a brief hint of Lexus LFA within; outside, the exterior is virtually unspoiled by the evolution. I like it – but then again, I’m a sucker for wispy flying buttresses.
-Jeep Grand Cherokee: I know this is technically a mid-cycle refresh, but there’s actually a fair amount packed into this update. The eight-speed automatic is a welcome addition, as is the advent of the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6. The diesel allows the Grand Cherokee to tow like a Hemi, but manages to sip less fuel than if the SUV were built with the 3.6-liter V-6. That 30-mpg highway rating (28 mpg on 4x4 models) is also quite tempting.
-Shelby Ford Focus ST: Are you ready to pony up $15k for a widebody kit, new wheels, obnoxious exterior graphics, and
-- wait for it -- no power upgrades? I’m not, but if you feel the need for some reason, Shelby American has the aftermarket package for you.
-Hyundai HCD 14: My first glimpse of Hyundai’s luxo-barge concept came from a rear three-quarters perspective. From here, I loved what I saw – the car’s sides are muscular but clean; the cabin is dramatically waaaaaay back; and the cabin design is tidy. Then I happened to walk up front. I’m not sure I quite agree with Robert Cumberford’s anatomical analogy (#sphincter), but the front fascia looks like an afterthought – it’s nowhere as seductive or sorted as the other 98% of the car. Pity, as I was so close to naming this a show hit.
-Chevrolet Silverado Display: I’m underwhelmed with GM’s full-size trucks by and large, but I’m even more let down by the caliber of the display they’re placed on here at NAIAS. Look, I’m okay with not letting the public into your early prototype builds and letting them interact with interior materials that aren’t quite up to snuff, but if you’re going to display a mock-up of the instrument panel for us to inspect, you might want to re-think showing a cluster display screen that indicates there’s a glitch with the forward-facing camera.
Also, whoever orchestrated the timeline of Chevy Truck history with 1/24-scale models overlooked one detail: the so-called 1918 Chevy was, actually, a Ford Model T – as evidenced by the “Ford” script on the grille. Thankfully, the Ford replica disappeared from the case by Tuesday afternoon.