Monday, January 15, 2007

My Trip to the 2007 Detroit Auto Show

This past Saturday, I spent the day at the NAIAS with my dad and brother. There were a lot of people and it was a lot of walking, but we really had a good time checking out all the cars. I took over 250 pictures, all of which are posted to my Photobucket account. For some weird reason, the last ones I took are on page 1, and the first ones I took are on page 12. But the order I took them in doesn't really matter anyway. Here are all the photos (the good, the bad, and the ugly):

2007 NAIAS Photo Gallery

Anyway, onto my impressions, alphabetically by brand/model...

General Motors

Buick Enclave
They had two Enclaves - both in the same brown metallic as last year's concept. One was cut in half, which allowed for nice interior pictures and a nice perspective of the Lambda chassis, and the other was intact but on a turntable so mostly inaccessible. The interior looked really good to me on the cutaway one. You could see just how flat the cushion was in the third row from the cutaway, but at least there's lots of room back there, and at least it folds flat! The wood on the dashboard looked slightly more realistic than the Outlook's orangeness did, and the extra curves and styling (both inside and out) of the Enclave make it a compelling choice over the Acadia and Outlook.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible Concept
This car looked great! The spokesmodel said that the color is a modern interpretation of Hugger Orange, so anyone who said the car is red and not orange is definitely mistaken. It looked nearly as orange as the Challenger did last year. Here is an interior shot, and here's the exterior.

Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD
This truck cut an imposing figure, though I will admit that the new Ford Super Duty appears to be a bit "tougher looking." Check out the huge pieces of chrome on the bumper. And they really should up-size the tires on the HDs - they look too small for such a large truck. I'd still move to the right lane if this face was bearing down on me.

Chevrolet WTCC Ultra Concept
Looks really cool in person. More like a race car than anything you'd be able to drive regularly, but I hope its aggressive stance and styling cues make it into small Chevrolets in the future (Aveo anyone?). Here's the back and pictured is the front.

Chevrolet Malibu
Chevy did a really nice job with the 2008 Malibu. If their goal was to make a car that looks more expensive than it really is, then they succeeded. The profile is definitely the best angle on this car, but the front end actually works pretty well too, in spite of it being similar in concept to the Uplander's nose. The Malibu's back end looked just as disappointing in the flesh as it did here. Overall, the car cuts a nice profile, and I was impressed by little things like a rear window sunshade (one of the linked pics above showed the hooks for it). At least the back end of the Malibu had an interesting "bevel" sort of thing going, where it's like a 2" wide part at 45 degrees, between the horizontal surface of the trunklid and the vertical surface of the back end where the taillights were. It was hard enough to check out the interior, but it looked way better than the current car's, but no better than the Aura's IMO. The door panels looked very plain to me, even in the two-tone configuration in my photo.

Cadillac CTS
WOW! I cannot say enough about this car. The CTS overall just blew me away. I was more excited to see it than any of the other cars in the show. I was not disappointed. Sure, there are minor gripes other than what's been talked about here for the past week or so - plus, I'm annoyed that a $24,000 Honda gets an XM antenna that's painted the body color, but not a $35,000+ CTS. The whole package looked great to me. The car has a nice "Coke bottle" shape, with the wheels and fenders obviously poking out past where the doors are. There are all sorts of interesting styling features that I never noticed from photos, like the shaping of a crease that borders the front and sides of the top of the hood, or the slight crease on the roof next to the doors. Oh, and for you door panel lovers, here's the front, and here's the rear. Much nicer than the G35's, at least. The back seat also looked like it had a lot of legroom, which is important for people my height (6'4"). Comparing the leather stitched dash in the CTS (which I couldn't touch) with the SRX's (which I could touch), the SRX does not appear to have stitching over the entire thing - just the edge and the hood over the gauges. However, the CTS does appear to have the entire thing stitched. One thing I liked most about the style of the CTS is that every line went somewhere and made sense in the overall shape of the car. I really am in love with this car.

Chevrolet Silverado Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Concept
This was one from SEMA. It looks REALLY impressive in person. It wasn't at the NAIAS, but rather at the GM World exhibit on the ground floor of the Renaissance Center, which as you know is GM's worldwide headquarters as well as where we stayed. Other the one shown, here are some other pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4.

GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook
First, I sat in an Acadia SLE with cloth seats and no navigation. It looked pretty good on the outside, but I didn't like the cloth seats (the fabric was rough). I realized that I was in a lower model, so moved onto the SLT with leather, navigation, head-up display, two sunroofs, etc. I didn't look at the MSRP, but I'm sure it was up there. Once you figured out how to move the second row seats to access the third row, they really made a large opening. I was able to fit reasonably comforably in the third row. Although the third row has a very flat cushion (so it can fold flat, no doubt), it felt OK and my knees weren't against the seat. I couldn't sit back there when the second row was in its rear-most position, but even with the second row pretty far forward, there seemed to be an adequate amount of legroom there for second-row occupants. I preferred the Acadia interior to the Outlook's, because I prefer metallic accents to wood, and the Outlook's wood was extremely fake-looking. Plus, I can use my GM Card earnings on an Acadia and not an Outlook. Saturn's loss, not mine!

Holden Efijy
I had been really looking forward to seeing this car in person, and I loved what I saw. The color is great and the fact that it's built on a C6 chassis is cool too. This was one of my favorite concept cars ever, even though it's been "around the block" for a few years to this point. It almost reminds me of a caricature of a car - serious performance, yet whimsical styling. More exterior pics: 1, 2, 3. Interior.

Saab AeroX
This car looked really good in person. The canopy is over the top (literally and figuratively), but the rumor that Saab will be taking a lot of their future styling cues from this car is not a bad thing to hear. It's sort of fun to tip their cap to the "aircraft heritage" that Saab brags about and have the canopy, jet blade wheels, aircraft-type instruments, etc.

Saturn Aura XR
This was the first time I had sat in an Aura, and some things about it impressed me and some did not. The good: exterior styling is unique in the US market and very attractive and upscale-looking, multispoke wheels are growing on me, and the doors sounded/felt great when opening and closing. Also, the dash on the one that I really paid attention to seemed to have everything in alignment. The bad: door panels felt flimsy and looked as bad as they felt. The console lid sounded incredibly cheap when closing, because of the secondary lid underneath (so there could be two compartments). My Honda Accord has a similar setup, and I'm not pleased with the way the Honda's works, but at least its lid sounds better when it closes. I didn't like the Moroccan brown leather in person - it looked and felt like vinyl, and I fail to see how a brown that is in reality mostly orange goes with a dark blue car.

Saturn Outlook
See comments above under GMC Acadia. The fake wood looked too fake, but otherwise, it looked fine inside. There was lots of hard plastic on the dash, but on the good side of the ledger, the front end looks better in person than in photos.

Saturn Vue
Looked pretty good in dark blue - that's always been one of my favorite colors. The interior was hard to see from the floor (it was on a turntable), but overall it looked like a more attractive, more modern version of the old one.

The Competition
Rather than making you all download every competition photo I took, I hyperlinked them into my narratives below. Note that these are NOT AdWords links - they go to the specific photos in my Photobucket gallery.

Acura MDX
I fit better into this one, but it was mucho expensive. Also, lots of buttons on the center stack. The third seat looked very small in there - not nearly as much space either in the seat or behind the seat as in the Lambda crossovers. I don't understand what they were thinking with the grille.

Acura RDX
The driver's seat seemed a little small (I'm 6'4") but I really liked the big navigation screen (I noticed at the show that every Honda/Acura screen is, I believe, 8 inches). Lots of buttons on the interior. I was also surprised that the cargo area was larger than I would have expected, given the shape of the exterior and the size of the back windows behind the rear doors.

Chrysler Nassau Concept
This car's shape made it look a little smaller than it actually is, which is a good thing in a full-sized RWD car. The rear window/hatchback treatment reminded me a little of a Subaru WRX wagon. The interior was definitely more attractive than the one they are putting in the current 300c.

Honda Accord Coupe Concept
This was one that I actually liked less the more I saw it. First of all, I'm disappointed that Honda didn't spring to even make this a running prototype - I'm pretty sure all the doors, etc. were fake and didn't open. I peeked underneath and saw plywood and a welded-together solid axle. As for the shape, it's more interesting than the current boring Accord coupe, but looks like it stole some styling elements from, of all things, Hyundais. Specifically, the profile reminds me of a Hyundai Tiburon, and the headlights remind me of a Hyundai Sonata. Oh yeah, and the taillights are from a Subaru Legacy. Ironically, the first time I saw this car in photographs, I liked the profile most and the rear the least - now I like the rear most and the profile the least. At least the back end is original (for Honda), though it reminds me of the Civic.

Infiniti G35
I was excited to see the G35 - on paper and in photos, it appears to offer a very compelling package. Nice numbers, decent price, attractive looks/interior (IMO). I sat in a G35x, and while the materials in the interior appeared to be high quality, the design seemed to be more geared toward the "sport" end of the spectrum than "luxury." I loved the thick, meaty steering wheel, though. I was also impressed that the inside of the console had RCA line-in jacks (I later saw that the STS-v had these too). There's a lot of plastic on the door panels.

Jeep TrailHawk Concept
This Jeep looked pretty good. Definitely not a wannabe Jeep like the Compass/Patriot are. The interior seemed to go along well with the exterior's shape. I'd like to see them produce something along the lines of this to replace the Grand Cherokee next time it's due to be re-done.

Lexus IS-F
They picked a great color for this car, which unfortunately my camera was unable to capture. The specs on this thing sound great, and I think the IS ordinarily is an attractive car, but in my opinion, Toyota totally dropped the ball on the body kit for this car. It's WAY too "boy racer" for the people who will actually be able to afford this car, particularly the vent behind the front wheels. The front end looks good, and I like the stacked tailpipes in the back end. Here is the interior, or at least as much of it as I could get.

Lexus LF-A Concept
This car, in spite of its low, swoopy shape, did nothing to raise my blood pressure. However, I must admit, Maseratis, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis in an auto show setting don't really do it for me either. Anyway, it had some interesting shapes. The front end was decent, but the rear 3/4 was my favorite angle. I didn't get a shot of the interior, unfortunately.

Lincoln MK-R Concept
I really liked this car a lot. It had a great presence on the turntable, and the color looked great. The front end is absolutely a styling direction that Lincoln should pursue. Here's a front 3/4 shot, except there were too many people blocking my view. As for the interior, I liked its look, but it's probably a little too swoopy (and bisected) for a production car. I liked the chrome trim on the seats, but again - impractical (who wants to have their legs burned on sunny days they're wearing shorts?) They should fast-track this thing and sell it in the mid-$30,000s (since it's on the Mustang platform). Oh, here's a shot of the rump. Not bad, but also not up to the standards of that awesome front end.

Mazda Ryuga Concept
A little "out there" for my taste, but here is the shot I took of it. Autoblog loved it, though. I think its purpose was just to give us some styling cues we'll see in future Mazdas. They've sort of "been there/done that" with their current theme of large front fenders and a swoopy greenhouse, which looks great to me, but they'll need to move on shortly.

Mitsubishi Prototype X Concept
Definitely an improvement over the outgoing Lancer. I wasn't quite clear on what this car was (I didn't stick around to listen to the model's speech), but they had the production Lancer on the stand next to it, and I don't think it's the full-tune Evo X. If so, it's too tame to be an Evo. Still, not awful looking. Here are the pics: 1, 2, and 3.

Nissan Altima/Altima Coupe
I sat in a 2007 Altima SE CVT. I like how Nissan managed to resist the temptation to keep this car's size and weight down during the generational change, but that may be out of necessity, since they need to support both a smaller midsize (Altima) and larger midsize (Maxima) without cannibalizing each other too much. This Altima looked great on the outside, but the interior (in tan) was a little boring (and I didn't like the black around the radio/HVAC controls), and cloth seats just don't do it for me. The coupe looked better in person than it did in the publicity photos a few months ago. Here's the profile of the coupe, and and here's the rear 3/4 view.

Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe
I'm not a big fan of the Rolls Royce Phantom sedan, but this car just pushed the right buttons for me. It had all the classic styling cues, but didn't look like a caricature of them like the sedan does. I especially dug the stainless steel hood and suicide doors.

Toyota Camry Hybrid
I hadn't sat in a 2007 Camry before this show. I'm not 100% familiar with the Camry model hierarchy, but I believe that the Hybrid is somewhere in the middle of the lineup. The interior looked pretty good, but definitely had its share of plastic. Check out the door panels here, for example. When I opened and closed the back door on the driver's side, it sounded very cheap. I tried to record this sound with a quick video on my camera, but it didn't sound the same way on the recording. We've all seen the center stack before, and it's OK if you like that weird translucent blue plastic. It had the fancy LED-backlit gauges that are invisible when the car is off, which I like. I am still impressed by the fuel economy of this thing, though - 40 city/38 highway.

Toyota FT-HS Concept
This one also did very little to excite me, but one interesting thing is that the front bumper was not symmetrical. The rear 3/4 angle again was my favorite exterior view of this car, and the interior styling was pretty interesting, if not practical.

Toyota Tundra
The front end of the Tundra looks like it has a fat lip, with the large bumper being one of its most prominent features (the other being the large grille). In upper trim levels, the interior reminded me a lot of the Camry - I don't think it's necessarily any better than the GMT-900s, just different. The numbers, save two, on the 5.7 liter engine are impressive. The two that aren't impressive are 14/18, which are its EPA fuel economy ratings in a DoubleCab standard bed 4x4. I thought that the other engines' fuel economy ratings were also abysmal: 17/20 in a regular cab 4x2 long bed, and 15/18 in a DoubleCab SR5 4.7 liter V8 4x4 long bed. I believe GM is topping them with every engine, including the 6.0 liters in the Vortec Max, which very much pleases me. The CrewMax is just as obnoxious as the Dodge Ram MegaCab. The door panels looked very cheap in the V6 regular cab model.

Volvo XC60 Concept
I didn't look too closely at this one, but it really looked good on the floor. Nice, modern proportions, interesting lines. Here's the profile and here's the front 3/4 view.

Chinese Cars
These were in the lower level, so hopefully they wouldn't contaminate the "real" cars upstairs on the main show floor. They were so ugly and derivative. They were all left hand drive, but they really need to work on the names of the vehicles. They had three to show...the first was a compact SUV:

Next was a larger SUV that looked like a first-generation Honda CRV on steroids. The name on the front fender was "CFA2032A." Really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

The third one was a total Honda Ridgeline knockoff, yet even uglier than the original.


jerry.horta said...


Thank you for an excellent review of the show. One request for you. I am ready to order a Buick Enclave for myself and am on the hunt for any pictures I can get of the car. The two pictures you posted are great because they show different angles of the interior. is there any way you could please send me the original for rez shots. These would be only used for my personal viewing.

If so please send to

Thank you for your time

jerry.horta said...

Chris the picture number I wanted are:

DSC03244 and DSC03243

If you have any Enclave pictures from another show please sned those also.


Ghrankenstein said...

Great comments. You know you can't recruit me without a few opinions, but the props lay on you for the photos, the takes, and the legs to make it to Detroit. Well done!

The only opinion that I can add, in this case, is that the HD Sierra lacks the HD Silverado's overly heavy front bumper. It looks meaner, tougher, and more capable of swallowing Tundras.