Let The Shows Begin
by Jim Corbran
What's new at the auto shows
Nothing like the dead of winter to get people out kicking tires on new cars—indoors, where it’s warm and dry. January typically kicks off the new car season with what was always the biggest car show in the country, and was often one of the biggest in the world before manufacturers pulled in the reins on spending: the North American International Automobile Show (NAIAS), or, for short, the Detroit Auto Show.
Even amid the Motor City’s current climate of gloom and doom, carmakers are still working on new products, and you’ll see some of them at this year’s NAIAS, which runs January 11-24 at Cobo Center in Detroit. One of the more interesting models might just be the 2011 Chevy Aveo, which will debut as a concept car at the show. The biggest news about the car, apart from the fact that it no longer looks like a cheap ski boot, is the fact that it will be built in Michigan, as opposed to the current Aveo, which is a rebadged Daewoo built in South Korea. It’s longer and wider than the current model, but General Motors isn’t saying if the gas mileage will be better than the disappointing (for its size) 27/34 city/highway miles per gallon of the 2010 Aveo5.
Buick continues to make news that appeals to more than just AARP members. The 2010 LaCrosse has been a hit with the all-important automotive press (some might call them more “self-important”), and Buick will follow it up with the new Regal, which will also be at the Detroit show. You may remember the Regal from the late 1990s-early 2000s as a more expensive alternative to the almost identical-looking Century. Surely you had an aunt or father-in-law who owned one. I don’t know how they’ll feel about the 2011 Regal—especially the GS model with the six-speed manual transmission connected to a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. That’s right, a four-cylinder, stick-shift Buick, which GM says will do 0-60 in less than six seconds! It’s based on the new Opel Insignia, one of the hottest new cars in Europe, and brings back the Buick-Opel link we haven’t seen here in decades. Hopefully this Opel will do better than the last one GM disguised as an American luxury sedan—the Cadillac Catera. Ugh!
Speaking of Cadillac, the new CTS-V coupe will also be at the NAIAS. This is the two-door body style of the Cadillac that the European automobile press actually likes. For the most part they automatically pooh-pooh anything from North America, but the CTS and CTS-V have been garnering positive press ever since the 2007 models debuted. And the coupe can only make things better. The fact that the first coupe version to see the light of day is the high-performance V-series won’t hurt its image, either. Powered by a 556-horsepower supercharged V-8 engine, it’s the most powerful engine offered in Cadillac’s history. Maybe not too politically correct, but they’re competing with just as PC-unfriendly models from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Jaguar. And until such beasts are outlawed, somebody’ll be making them, so Cadillac figures it may as well be them. Other features: touch-pad operation for the doors removes the need for conventional door handles; hardtop styling, with no conventional B-pillar; Brembo brakes at all four corners; 14-way adjustable performance seats; and an exclusive new saffron color option for the interior—can’t wait to see that one!
Detroit’s not the only auto show in the upcoming weeks. There’s the Buffalo Auto Show, at the downtown convention center, February 10-14; the Chicago Auto Show, running February 12-21 at McCormick Place; and the New York International Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center April 2 -11. (The Chicago and New York shows are sure to have some debut cars on hand.) If you’re a car fan, and can get away, then you owe it to yourself to see one of the big, out-of-town shows. Maybe I’ll see you there!
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