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2017 NAIAS Recap: Key Unveilings From the Detroit Show

By Clint Simone

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is the first major auto show of the year, beginning the international show circuit in Detroit. Several major automakers used the show as a platform to unveil new concepts and production vehicles, highlighting futuristic technology both under the hood and inside the cabin. Here are a few of the biggest debuts from the 2017 NAIAS, most relevant to SEMA members.

’18 Lexus LS

2018 Lexus LS
’18 Lexus LS

Lexus unveiled its fifth-generation LS flagship in Detroit, redesigning the interior/exterior and making major changes to the powertrain options. The new LS rides on the GA-L platform, which it shares with the recently introduced LC 500 Coupe. This new wheelbase adds 1.3 in. to the current LS wheelbase, improving interior space for the passengers.

Gone now is the popular V8 and in its place, a 3.5L twin-turbo V6, rated at 415 hp and 442 lb.-ft. of torque. Adding to the changes, Lexus swapped its eight-speed transmission and is now offering a 10-speed automatic as the only transmission choice for the new LS. Lexus gave a claimed 0 to 60 time of 4.5 for the large sedan. Inside the car, a large color display and new heated, massaging seats are options in addition to a new suite of driver safety features. Expect to see the car go on sale at the end of 2017 in both regular and F-Sport trim levels.

Ford F-150 Gets Diesel; Ranger and Bronco Confirmed

Ford F-150
’18 Ford F-150

The ’18 F-150 will retain its aluminum body and now offers an all-new, standard 3.3L V6 engine. The engine is expected to deliver performance numbers equivalent to the prior standard 3.5L V6, but with direct injection to deliver better mileage.

An all-new second-generation 2.7L EcoBoost engine features advanced dual port and direct injection technology, reduced internal and advances in reduction of internal friction for improved levels of output. The 2.7L EcoBoost will be paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission for 2018.

The 5.0L V8 also sees improvements in 2018. Ford promises the naturally aspirated engine will feature significant upgrades for increased power and torque, and is also paired with the 10-speed automatic transmission.

Other advances include a standard start/stop feature for better mileage, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control.

The big news is an optional 3.0L Power Stroke diesel engine, designed, engineered and tested in-house and paired with the 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s the first-ever diesel engine offered for F-150 and will go on sale in 2018.

Ford also confirmed that an all-new Ford Ranger midsize pickup truck will be reintroduced to the North American market in 2019, and a midsize Bronco SUV will return in 2020. Both will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant.

’18 KIA Stinger

’18 KIA Stinger

The Stinger is a performance-minded, five-passenger fastback “grand touring vehicle,” offering an alternative for customers considering a car made by a European automaker. The Stinger was designed entirely in Germany and takes aim at the German luxury sedan market. Perhaps unorthodox to KIAs of yesterday, the Stinger was designed as a performance sedan from the ground up with adaptive suspension and available all-wheel drive (AWD)—the first KIA sedan to ever offer it. Also noteworthy is that cars without AWD will send power to the rear wheels, not the front.

There are two engine choices available; the bolder of the two is a twin-turbo V6, offering 365 hp and 376 lb.-ft. of torque. Base trim models come equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, putting out 255 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with five drive modes. Brembo vented disc brakes, MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension are included as standard. Completing the performance package, a five-mode Dynamic Stability Damping Control System allows the Stinger GT to switch between driving modes, altering its driving personality.

’18 Chevrolet Traverse

’18 Chevrolet Traverse

The ’18 Traverse is Chevrolet’s latest attempt at making their line of SUVs a top competitor in what has become an extremely crowded SUV/crossover market. Taking cues from the updated Equinox and Trax, the Traverse brings to the table Chevrolet’s latest in terms of driver safety technology. Teen Driver—Chevy’s in-vehicle monitoring system—comes as standard, allowing parents to closely monitor driving habits and vehicle information, even if they are not in the car while it’s driving. This will help parents encourage better driving habits.

However, the new technology is not just limited to the cabin; a new 3.6L V6 engine is now mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, adding up to a 10% increase in power from the current model and an estimated 25 mpg highway. A new Traction Mode Select is standard on each trim level, allowing the driver to adjust the car’s performance parameters according to what the driving situation calls for. The High Country trim level will also offer AWD, improving the Traverse’s off-road capabilities.

’18 Subaru WRX/STI

’18 Subaru WRX/STI

Subaru is adding some major revisions to their sports sedans, the WRX and WRX STI. Although a new Impreza—which the two performance models are based on—was recently released, fully redesigned versions of the WRX and WRX STI are still a few years away. So in the interim, Subaru added several performance and interior upgrades to keep the WRX fresh. The front section and front fascia have been restyled to give a more aggressive look and improve front collision protection.

Performance upgrades include revised suspension and steering, in addition to an upgraded brake package. The WRX models also receive new wheels to help with comfort and handling. Inside, the cabin has been improved with higher-quality build materials and more concentrated sound deadening. For the STI, an upgraded version of the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) is also included in the refresh. Not changed, however, are the horsepower figures, which remain at 268 for the WRX and 305 for the WRX STI.