2015 Detroit Auto Show: Worst in Show
The 2015 automotive year is off to a great start thanks to the Detroit Auto Show. Hosting no less than 27 production debuts, Detroit showcased some of the most exciting vehicles to hit the market from 2015 through 2017. Ford stole the show with three brand-new performance cars, including the 2017 GT, the 2016 Shelby GT350R, and the 2017 F-150 Raptor, while Acura drew massive crowds to its stand with the 2016 NSX. The truck segment welcomed three more additions in the form of the 2016 Nissan Titan XD, the 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel, and the 2016 Toyota Tacoma, while Chevrolet brought an electric lineup consisting of the second-generation 2016 Volt and the 2015 Bolt EV Concept. However, the 2015 Detroit Auto Show wasn’t all about cheers and chants. The Cobo Center floor had its fair share of dullness, and that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about below.
Why? Well, first of all, let’s say that it wouldn’t be fair to highlight only the good stuff. Secondly, the vehicles I’m about to review below reveal new brand strategies as well as existing policies that may or may not be healthy for the manufacturers in question. Keep reading for the worst bits of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show and make sure you share your thoughts about our list in the comments box below.
Click past the jump to learn which cars we find the worst on show this year.
Far be it from me to criticize Volvo products — I honestly believe most of its cars and SUVs are underrated when compared to German vehicles — but the S60 Inscription isn’t the type of automobile the Swedes should be building their stand around at a major auto show. There’s nothing wrong with revitalizing a nameplate that is nearing the end of its life cycle and it’s not like Volvo had anything else to bring to Detroit alongside the S60 Cross Country, but that doesn’t save the S60 Inscription from making it onto our list of less-inspired Motown debuts.
Much like the Volvo S60 Inscription, the Buick Cascada is of the reheated-soup variety. All Buick did was take the Opel Cascada, already available in Europe and Australia since 2013, and slap a new front grille and badge on its nose for the sake of having a convertible in its lineup. It’s pretty much what the American brand did with the Encore, but while its Opel Mokka-based crossover made a lot of sense financially, especially in China, the Cascada seems more of a fad. Sure, having a convertible in its lineup for the first time since 1990 might prove useful from a marketing standpoint, but the Cascada won’t stand a chance against competition from the BMW 3 Series Convertible and the Audi A5 Convertible, both of which feature more powerful engines and added luxury.
That’s not to say the U.S. market won’t receive a more affordable, entry-luxury cabriolet with some enthusiasm, but there is no way the Cascada will have a significant impact on Buick’s annual sales. This is probably why Detroit chose to rebrand yet another Opel rather than develop a brand-new model.
Don’t get me wrong, the second-generation MKX represents a significant improvement over the outgoing model. The fresh design, the sportier stance and the well-balanced proportions make it a worthy competitor for the midsize luxury market. What’s more, the redesigned model has the potential to restore MKX sales to pre-recession figures (read: at least 30,000 units per year). Despite this, the crossover is somewhat of a flop, mainly because Lincoln has yet to solve its issues with those Ford Fusion-inspired interiors. Sure, there’s plenty of leather and wood to keep owners happy, but Lincoln needs to realize it cannot compete with the likes of Cadillac with a warmed up interior that’s basically 10 years old.
Then there’s the peculiar drivetrain offering, with the two V-6 options differentiated by only 30 ponies. The 3.5-liter V-6 is long in the tooth, especially for the MKX, and Lincoln should’ve dropped it for the 2016, even with the risk of selling the crossover with just one engine, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost.
While I’m not an SUV guy, the prospect of Volkswagen building a seven-seat hauler in the United States makes me keep an eye on this otherwise boring German manufacturer. But I’m simply tired of countless statements and concepts cars issued to build a hype around a vehicle that’s not yet defined as far as anything goes. The Cross Coupe is the third iteration in a line of concept cars built to preview the upcoming SUV, and none of them provided any actual details. As far as I’m concerned, the seven-seater will feature the company’s new styling language, third-row seats and the usual in-car tech plus some cool new features Volkswagen showcased at CES 2015 in the Golf R Touch. There’s absolutely no need for a concept car to discover that and I think Volkswagen is simply trying to hard to not miss a major auto show.
You only need a quick peek to realize the Avenir is downright gorgeous, as well as the type of vehicle Buick desperately needs to add to its underpopulated lineup. So how come you read about it in this "Worst of Detroit" piece? Well, it is simply because this sedan is likely to remain just a beautifully sculpted concept car that most of us will refer to as the car that could’ve revived the company’s past glory. Buick may have posted record sales in 2013, with slightly more than one million vehicles delivered globally, but the brand is still rather lethargic if taken out of the big GM context. There is no Opel platform for Buick to borrow in order to the Avenir and unless GM finds it financially feasible to use the underpinnings for Cadillac’s upcoming flagship — and it probably won’t — the Avenir is just a design study previewing the brand’s future language. What’s more, Buick has a track record of not coming through with concept vehicles, having showcased three different models in a decade with no outcome on the production line. Needless to say, I wouldn’t mind it if Buick proved me wrong in a few years, but I’m not getting my hopes up.