Ford’s special “Bullitt” Edition Mustang, released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the classic film “Bullitt,” which featured the 1968 Mustang, turned a lot of heads, especially when viewed alongside the original car from the film.

Ford’s special “Bullitt” Edition Mustang, released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the classic film “Bullitt,” which featured the 1968 Mustang, turned a lot of heads, especially when viewed alongside the original car from the film.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Auto show roars into Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | C&G Newspapers | Published January 15, 2018

 The 2019 Ford Ranger represents Ford’s re-entry to the midsize pickup market.

The 2019 Ford Ranger represents Ford’s re-entry to the midsize pickup market.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 The 2018 Honda Accord was named the 2018 North American Car of the Year. Spokespeople for Honda said its sportiness, safety features and affordability were keys to lifting it above its competition.

The 2018 Honda Accord was named the 2018 North American Car of the Year. Spokespeople for Honda said its sportiness, safety features and affordability were keys to lifting it above its competition.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 Lincoln took home the Truck of the Year Award with its 2018 Navigator. A lighter frame meant engineers could include upgrades to both its performance and features.

Lincoln took home the Truck of the Year Award with its 2018 Navigator. A lighter frame meant engineers could include upgrades to both its performance and features.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 Ram unveiled its new 1500 Rebel, an upgrade of its other 2018 1500 models, the Limited and the Laramie, Jan. 15. The Rebel was designed specifically to tackle off-road conditions.

Ram unveiled its new 1500 Rebel, an upgrade of its other 2018 1500 models, the Limited and the Laramie, Jan. 15. The Rebel was designed specifically to tackle off-road conditions.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

DETROIT — The North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit Jan. 14 with its press preview days, unveiling several new vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

The show will be open to the public between Saturday, Jan. 20, and Sunday, Jan. 28. As always, automakers from Detroit and the world came to Cobo Center to show off new cars, interactive displays and updates on the state of the automotive industry.

The North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year Awards were announced Jan. 15. The much-coveted Car of the Year Award went to the 2018 Honda Accord. The automaker touted its upgraded safety features, such as lane assist and collision mitigation, and its affordability, which varies between $22,000 and $35,000.

“It’s a lot of car for the money,” said Davis Adams, the West Coast public relations manager for Honda. “We sell nearly 400,000 Accords a year, so when the Accord gets changed, it affects a lot of people, and it’s up to us to give them something worthwhile.”

Honda’s other big reveal from the show was the new Insight hybrid, which is slated to go on sale in the United States in the summer.

“It’s the beginning of the next step of electrification,” said Adams. “It’s a hybrid meant to compete with vehicles like the (Toyota) Prius. It has a similar footprint to the Civic, but with hybrid mileage. It’s swoopy and coup-like, but with a mature style.”

Truck of the Year went to the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. Molly Cosgrove, the Navigator brand manager, said switching to a high-strength aluminum body meant the loss of more than 200 pounds — weight they reinvested in new features to improve the performance and comfort of the vehicle.

“The Navigator was first introduced 20 years ago, and this was the first major redesign,” said Cosgrove. “It has more than 50 new features, and the frame and body have been completely redesigned. We also think we stood apart from our competition by designing the Navigator as a social space. Often the most time families get to spend together is in the car, so it’s got the quietest ride versus our competitors, and the best second- and third-row room.”

Volvo took home the Utility of the Year Award, the second-ever presented at the North American International Auto Show. The winning vehicle, the XC60, had a sleek design combined with powerful features that lifted it above its competition.

Many other automakers made some big splashes as they debuted new vehicles to both car buffs and the general public. Ram unveiled its new Ram 1500, with three different variations: the Limited, the Laramie and the Rebel. Each has the Ram carrying and off-road capabilities along with a longer wheelbase and crew cab, upgraded distinctive headlights and a more aerodynamic shape. The Rebel variation was specifically designed to better handle off-roading treks.

BMW showed off its new X2 Sport Activity Coup and its M5 Sport Activity Vehicle. It also led the way in the continuing automotive trend toward hybrids and electrics with new electric motorcycle models and a new electric prototype from Mini.

Volkswagen’s biggest new release was its 2018 Jetta sedan. Designed with sharper lines, a longer wheelbase and new features like a digital cockpit display and traffic warning system, Volkswagen was confident it would continue to be a best-seller in North America.

Volkswagen also showed off its new Passat GT midsize sedan, which was designed and built in the United States for the North American market.

One of the most talked-about cars of the show is the special “Bullitt” edition Mustang from Ford. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the classic film “Bullitt,” which featured action star Steve McQueen driving a 1968 Mustang through the streets of San Francisco, Ford released a new version of its muscle car classic to commemorate the famed chase scene.

“Since it was the 50th anniversary of the movie, it was a natural time to refresh the brand and go back to ‘Bullitt,'” explained Tom Barnes, the Mustang vehicle engineering manager. “Sean Kiernan, who owns the original car used in the movie, got in touch with us. His dad bought the car in 1974 before it went into storage for years. It was restored, and he wanted to do something with us.”

Ford released previous “Bullitt” editions in 2001 and 2008, but Barnes said the company pulled out all the stops this time to highlight the car he called “the height of cool.”

“It offers a lot, with a reworked rear with active exhaust, chrome around the doors and aluminum finish on the dash, and a cue-ball shift,” said Barnes. “We love working with the Mustang like this — that scene, the Steve McQueen cool, the unique Mustang style. … Even the sound of a Mustang V-8 engine is unique. From both the outside and inside of this car, you know what it is.”

Ford also turned heads by bringing back the Ranger pickup. With a 2.3-liter Ecoboost engine; a train management system so drivers can switch between mud and ruts mode, sand mode, snow mode and road mode; and trail control for greater off-road stability, Ford said it is going to be the perfect ride both on and off the streets.

“It’s redesigned to meet the ‘Ford tough’ mantra,” said Chad Callander, the marketing manager for the Ranger. “We left the market in 2011, because at the time the market segment was drying up. In the last three years, there’s been an 83 percent growth in midsize pickup sales. We have a global market Ranger, but we completely redesigned it for the North American market.”

Tickets and more information on the auto show can be found at www.naias.com.