Thu | Oct 18, 2018

5 new cars lit up Detroit Auto Show

Published:Sunday | January 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM

DETROIT :

Auto shows often spotlight the fanciful the dream cars that represent a designer's flight of fancy. Or they can be the vehicles that people actually buy and drive.

This year's North American International Auto Show has plenty of both, but the focus is on new versions of some of the nation's more popular cars.

Of course, "popular" is a relative term right now when it comes to the market for cars versus SUVs or pickups. Car sales were down 10.9 per cent last year while sales of SUVs and pickups combined rose 4.3 per cent, Autodata reports.

With gas prices low, SUV and truck sales are edging towards two out of every three vehicles sold. Still, cars aren't disappearing - more than 6.3 million of them sold in 2017. And automakers aren't giving up on the car nameplates they worked so hard to establish.

"What we have here are the meat-and-potatoes the cars that are actually driven," Jake Fisher, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports magazine, said about the auto show. "There are just real vehicles."

Here are some of those cars:

 

Hyundai Veloster gets a tougher look

 

Hyundai showed an updated Veloster. it's a small, fun, sporty car. It kept its same basic looks but made it a little bit lower, with the front-roof pillars now farther back and more prominent fenders and wheel arches for an overall tougher look.

It also kept its signature feature: a big, wide door on the left side for the driver and two smaller ones on the right.

The new one comes to showrooms later this year.

Veloster's grille gets a new design, a criss-cross somewhat akin to chicken wire.

The new Veloster will be available in two different engines. One is a 4-cylinder, 2-litre motor good for 147 horsepower. The other is a 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, spitting out 201 horsepower.

The car "represents an even more compelling offering for young and young-at-heart automotive enthusiasts," said Mike O'Brien, vice-president of planning for Hyundai Motor America.

 

Volkswagen Jetta given 'coupe-like' exterior

 

Volkswagen introduced a redesigned Jetta aimed at renewing interest in the compact.

One thing that might help: more car for less money.

Despite the changes, the new Jetta is born into the world facing an uphill battle. Although it remained VW's best-selling model in 2017, sales tumbled 4.4 per cent to 115,808 vehicles as Americans rapidly ditched small cars in favour of crossovers and SUVs.

Unlike many of today's new vehicles which fetched an average transaction price of $35,126 in 2017, according to Cox Automotive the Jetta is priced to sell.

The vehicle carries a starting price of $18,545, or $100 less than the previous model.

Designers gave the new model a "coupe-like exterior" with a quickly sloping roofline. The new model gets a 1.4-litre engine with 147 horsepower and six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.

It's slightly longer, wider, and taller than its predecessor, too which is not unexpected as Americans seek out roomier rides.

 

Kia Forte gets bigger

 

Kia introduced a redesigned version of its Forte compact as the brand seeks a turnaround after falling on hard times in the US market.

The Forte grows larger but becomes more fuel-efficient, and it draws design inspiration from the company's slickly designed Stinger car, which popped on to the scene last year.

While the Forte was Kia's best-seller in the US in 2017, the model arrives amid gloomy conditions for compact cars.

Kia is hoping that the Forte can break into the upper echelons of passenger cars that are still faring well a small crowd dominated by the likes of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

A 10 per cent jump in fuel economy could help. The redesigned Forte gets an average of 35 miles per gallon in combined city-highway driving, up about 3mpg from the previous model.

The fuel efficiency comes from a 2-litre engine with 147 horsepower.

 

Toyota Avalon upgrades fuel economy, safety

 

Toyota Avalon, the brand's full-size car, gets nicer all around.

An all-new eight-speed automatic transmission channels power to the Avalon's front wheels and enhances fuel economy.

Besides Yamaha wood and aluminum cabin accents, Apple CarPay and dynamic auxiliary turn signals will be standard, as well as an adaptive variable suspension that should enhance ride and handling.

Differences between the front grille with chrome border distinguishes the XLE and Limited versions. Those trim packages also offer LED headlight bezels, body-colour rearview mirror housings and wheels ranging in diameter from 17 to 19 inches.

Toyota will tout Avalon's package of safety features, including pedestrian detection, dynamic cruise control, lane departure alert, blind-spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert, and a standard backup camera.

Other standard safety features include 10 air bags, enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, brake assist, anti-lock brakes, and smart stop technology.

 

Mini hardtop gets even more British

 

The Mini is still one of the most fun cars on the road. And it was one of the smallest cars to get an update for the auto show this year.

But the changes are, for the most part, pretty small. For instance, Mini tweaked the look of its headlights, which, on the vehicle, are a pair of orbs that are one of its most distinctive features.

They're still round, or at least oval, but they now have a black panel in them to make them "more expressive".

Designers couldn't leave the taillights alone either. Now, they've been given a new design to play on Mini's British heritage the Union Jack, the national flag.

There are also new paint colours and wheel styles.

- Chris Woodyard