This year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit was much like the previous two shows to which I have been. It was chock-full of gorgeous models, free booze and German journalists who hounded the models and took all the booze. But there were also some pretty good introductions and concepts this year, the most significant of which I have written about here.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The Stingray name returns for the seventh generation (C7) ‘vette and is all new, sharing only two parts with the outgoing model. Chevy designers did not play it safe when designing the exterior, and it results in a “love it or hate it” look.
The front end has a certain Italian sexiness about it, looking similar to a Ferrari FF or F12 with a shark-like grille and beautifully sculpted LED headlights.
The rest of the body continues with an angular shape and numerous black vents. There is a new Stingray badge on the side with the redesigned Corvette badge on the front. The new Corvette also has less fiberglass, thanks to a carbon-fiber hood and roof.
GM is again reviving the LT-1 name for the engine in the new Corvette. It is the same 6.2 liters and still uses pushrods but now uses direct injection. The V-8 also gets variable valve timing and active fuel management (able to run on four cylinders to increase fuel efficiency).
All that power is still transferred through a torque tube to a rear-mounted transaxle, but the similarities stop there.
However, to turn this feature on or off, you use paddles behind the steering wheel that look exactly like the paddles used in the six-speed automatic transmission to shift gears. Maybe it was a cost-saving feature, but I can see it getting in the driver’s way.
GM estimates that the C7 Corvette with the LT1 engine and seven-speed transmission should deliver a 0-60 miles-per-hour time of less than 4 seconds, making it the fastest base Corvette ever.
Base price for the C7 ’vette wasn’t announced, but I expect it to be in the low $50,000 range to keep the tradition of the Corvette being the working man’s sports car.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
They always say never mess with a winning formula, and the all-new 2011 Grand Cherokee was just that with around 162,000 sold in the United States last year.
But in the automotive industry, what may be an attractive, hot-selling vehicle today will be an outdated, low-selling vehicle tomorrow. So in order to keep its edge, Jeep had to redesign the Grand Cherokee.
The biggest additions for 2014, however, are a new eight-speed transmission and a diesel engine.
The new diesel engine is a 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 240 horsepower and a whopping 420 pounds per foot of torque, more than the 5.7-liter V-8. The clean diesel also provides excellent fuel economy for an SUV, with 21 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway for the rear-wheel drive model, which provides a range of over 700 miles — all this while still being able to tow 7,200 pounds. 4WD will give you a 1-mpg penalty in the city and a 2-mpg penalty on the highway.
The new eight-speed automatic transmission is standard for all engines and will improve fuel economy, acceleration and, for those rock climbers out there, crawl ratio.
The interior has also been revamped for 2014 with new, soft-touch materials and a leather-wrapped E-shifter similar to the one on the Chrysler 300.
Ford Atlas Concept
The Ford Atlas concept is a glimpse into what future trucks in the Ford line might have. Ford states that the Atlas concept was designed with purpose, with innovative features that truck owners want and need.
In the bed of the truck, there are multiple 110-volt outlets to charge power tools and integrated tie-down points to strap down cargo. There are even hidden, extendable ramps so you can drive your four-wheeler or motorcycle onto the bed.
The current tailgate step has been put to more use by allowing it to act as a cargo cradle. The step now lifts as high as the roof, which has an indention in it so you can carry extra-long items without sacrificing bed space.
Ford says that the most difficult task for truck customers is hitching and backing up a trailer. To counter this, Ford created two new technologies: Trailer Backup Assist and Dynamic Hitch Assist.
Dynamic Hitch Assist works by giving the driver visual clues in the truck’s center display to take the guesswork out of hitching the trailer.
Ford also emphasized efficiency with the Atlas concept. The truck has innovative features such as active shutters in the wheels and grille that close shut during highway speeds to improve aerodynamics, thereby increasing fuel efficiency.
Toyota Corolla Furia Concept
2013 marks the 45th anniversary of the Corollas being sold in the U.S. through 10 generations, and the Furia concept is what the future might hold for the Corolla.
The Furia concept was a practice in exterior design only and was designed to appeal to younger buyers. Toyota calls the styling of the Furia ferocious and full of fury — tall words for a Corolla.
The most eye-catching part of the design is the car’s blazing orange paint that I dare Toyota to offer on a production car. The car also has an aggressive front fascia with a blacked-out grille and carbon-fiber lower spoiler.
Toyota also uses carbon fiber for the rear spoiler, rocker panels and rear valence, giving the Furia concept a sports-car appearance.
Toyota utilizes LEDs as well, for both the sculpted headlights and composite taillights, providing a premium car appearance.