The 2015 North American International Auto Show media days have ended. While we still have one more story to tell, our tradition of sharing our 5 best and 5 worst of every auto show goes on. So, who or what made our list?
1. Booth Models
Last year, an unhappy Infiniti model made it onto our 5 Worst list. This year, booth models made the top spot on our Worst list. Why? Just think about how many hours go into the design and manufacturing of a new car. Then think about putting that new car on a pedestal surrounded by thousands of photographers and journalists with deadlines to meet. Getting a clear shot is difficult enough. But some manufactures make it even harder by intentionally putting a person in the way. We get it. Sex sells. But aren’t the Ford GT and Alfa 4C sexy enough without models? We prefer Porsche’s approach, positioning a friendly expert just out-of-frame to answer any questions we had.
2. Chevrolet SS
What? How could a 415hp, rear-drive American sedan with an optional 6-speed manual transmission be one of the worst things at the auto show? Eagle-eyed readers might notice that there isn’t a Chevy SS in the photo above. And that’s the point! There was plenty of floor space in the Chevrolet Performance Vehicles section, but the SS was nowhere to be found. Seemingly the bastard child in Chevy’s performance lineup, (How many times have you seen an SS commercial?) it’s as if they just forgot to bring one. So Chevy gets the #2 nod, but only because there wasn’t anyone in a skirt standing around their cars.
3. Land Rover Discovery
This is the new Land Rover Discovery Sport. It’s probably very good offroad. From the outside, its fairly good looking, but it does share an awful lot of resemblance to the Ford Explorer. And then we climbed inside. The new Discovery’s interior is remarkably low-rent. The plastics and trim used throughout are chintzy and feel hollow. We appreciate that this isn’t a top-line Range Rover, but if companies like Ford, Chevrolet, and Mazda have spent so much time and effort improving the feel of their cabins, you’d think someone at Land Rover would notice. We were so taken aback that the inside of this Discovery Sport made the #3 spot.
4. Toyota Tacoma
The mid-size truck market has been quiet for some time. When Ford and Chevrolet left nearly a decade ago, Toyota and Nissan were the only two competitors left in that space. Unsurprisingly, nothing exciting happened. Aside from a few cosmetic and technology tweaks here and there, the last generation Tacoma went largely unchanged. But last year, GM announced its re-entry to the mid-size market with the Colorado/Canyon twins. This year, even Hyundai thinks they can redefine a “truck” with the Santa Cruz concept. So Toyota’s half-hearted attempt at a new Tacoma felt somewhat odd. Aside from detailing the new body, the changes are remarkably slim. The chassis is now a bit stiffer and there’s a new optional V6 under the hood. But is that enough? We’re not so sure. The big news at the conference seemed to be the new soft-open tailgate and factory tonneau cover. Which is why the next generation of the best-selling mid-size truck in America is at #4 on our list.
5. BMW 6 Series
You can’t roll out a slightly revised car and act like its brand new. In a room full of so-called automotive experts, nobody would buy it. But that seems like exactly what BMW did when launching the “new” 2015 BMW 6 Series. Stop the presses! There’s now one less slat in the kidney grilles! Aside from the tweaked body panels and new headlights, the 6 Series remains exactly the same. And while those changes do make the 6 Series, especially the M6, more visually appealing, it doesn’t really constitute something worthy of an entire 15 minutes. That’s why the BMW M6 is the least worst thing on our 5 Worst list.
5. Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
We know how absurd things can get when Porsche tacks on “Turbo S” to the badge. They’ve done it again with this 2016 Cayenne. This is a 5,000 pound SUV with with 570 hp and 590 lb-ft torque. This is a 5,000 pound SUV that sprints to 60mph in under four seconds. This is a 5,000 pound SUV that lapped the Nordschleife in under 8 minutes. How do you stop a 5,000 pound SUV with the performance numbers like this? 16.5″ carbon-ceramic brakes with ten piston calipers. That’s absurd. #5 Best absurd.
4. Azure Purple Metallic
Ah yes, the Bentley Continental. It’s an artfully crafted machine and this generation has aged like fine wine. Bentley’s big news is the introduction of its new SUV nameplate, the Bentayga. But there was a subtle splash of color on the Bentley stand in Detroit that didn’t come from the Mulsanne or Flying Spur. Bentley turned some heads and left us speechless with this Azure Purple Metallic Continental Speed. The theme continued inside with purple contrast stitching over the supple black leather. We approve.
3. Acura NSX
Three years and a late-stage redesign in the making, the next-generation Acura NSX is here. With a twin-turbocharged V6 and 3 electric motors driving all four wheels, this $150,000 mid-engine sportscar proves that someone over at Acura still has the right idea. And with guest appearances by car aficionado Jerry Seinfeld and IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti, Acura definitely generated some hype. While the performance abilities of the new NSX are still untested, the sleek, lightweight body excite us. Here’s to hoping the NSX kicks off a new, performance-oriented, focus at Acura.
2. Cadillac CTS-V
We knew this was coming. With the introduction of the new Z06 and the performance level of the CTS V-Sport, it was only a matter of time before the big bad V made its debut. And while we rebuked Chevrolet for leaving the SS at home, this new CTS-V super-sedan almost makes up for it. With 640hp from a supercharged V8 and a host of added stiffness and lightness, we’re big fans right off the bat. Cadillac certainly took the air out of the Lexus GS presentation, and we’re pretty sure Mercedes E63 and BMW M5 owners will be checking their mirrors as well. That’s more than enough to vault the new CTS-V to our #2 Best spot.
The next-generation of a fully capable, off-road-tuned pickup truck. A lightweight, track-focused, 500+ horsepower muscle car dripping in mechanical and aerodynamic improvements. A next-generation mid-engine supercar with 600+ horsepower and LeMans racing pedigree. Any one of these would be good enough to make the 5 Best list. But when Ford debuts all of them in less than 25 minutes, its solid #1 material. Responding to the next generation of off-road trucks, challenging Chevrolet’s Z/28 Camaro, and re-imagining a classic are huge moves for Ford’s performance divisions. When names like SVT, Shelby, and GT are all in the same place at the same time, fans of the Blue Oval can rejoice. And that’s why this year, Ford earns the #1 spot.