2015 Detroit Auto Show Highlights: Media Day 1, Part 1

This is Part 1 in a four part series covering the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.
See AlsoPart 2, Part 3, Part 4

Detroit is a happening city right now, thanks in large part to the 2015 edition of the North American International Auto Show. The NAIAS is the granddaddy of all auto shows — at least on this continent — what provides the lion’s share of new releases and concept vehicles for the year ahead.

The buzz leading up to this year’s show has been filled with early-breaking news as usual. Toyota, Buick and Jaguar were among the brands that unveiled new models beforehand, as did Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolet, Infiniti and Volkswagen. Yet, the early show and tells only served to feed the beast as social media, particularly Twitter, lit up with photos and comments on the eve of the first media day.

This writer is not in Detroit and for a very good reason too: a seasonal virus has knocked him down for the count, but not so far down that he isn’t relying on “boots on the ground” to help him out. Next week, he plans to head for Washington, DC, to attend the Washington Auto Show, an auspicious event in its own right.

For right now, the Motor City is the focal point for all things automotive as it should be. Indeed, Detroit is the nerve center for the US auto industry and every manufacturer, foreign and domestic, is paying it homage.

This article covers the first batch of announcements through mid-morning today with the remainder of the day’s releases coming later. We will follow up with more announcements on Tuesday. In the coming two weeks, we’ll dig deeper to reveal certain background details about select models, a postscript of sorts to help ensure that the buzz continues.

Buick Twosome Bedazzle

2015 Buick Avenir Concept.
Is the Buick Avenir the future flagship for this premium brand?

Auto Trends has been expecting Buick to expand its model line, but we were prepared for just one announcement, not two.

The first one confirmed what we have long suspected: the Opel Cascada will make a transformation and go on sale early next year as the 2016 Buick Cascada. This darling 2+2 coupe brings to Buick the first convertible since the Reatta, a halo model to magnify the brand.

The second announcement substantiated a theory we’ve considered, one that has Buick offering its own model variant based on GM’s Omega platform. That platform will underpin the forthcoming Cadillac CT6, what represents the pinnacle model for GM’s luxury brand. GM has said the platform would support other models, thus Buick will most likely deliver.

On the eve of the NAIAS, Ed Welburn, vice president of General Motors Global Design, presented the Buick Avenir, a premium sports sedan. A concept vehicle, the Avenir (French for the future) points to Buick’s style direction, one that fans will most likely embrace.

Big on luxury and technology, the all-wheel drive Avenir has a long hood, wheels located to the corners, and a sloping rear deck.

Powered by a next-generation direct-injected V-6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, this nascent concept should become a reality by 2017.

Expect GM to jettison the Avenir moniker and bestow the “Riviera” name on the production model. Sure, it is a sedan, but its 2+2 seating layout and sleek proportions likely won’t have too many people complaining.

Car and Truck of the Year Awards

Kicking off the show as usual were the North American Car and Truck of the Year announcements. As expected, the all-new and aluminum-based Ford F-150 was the winner here, beating out the Chevrolet Colorado and the Lincoln MKC.

Although the Colorado is a strong entrant in the small pickup truck segment, the groundbreaking F-150 won as expected.

Quite a few people expected Ford to win double honors by snagging the Car of the Year award as well with the Mustang. However, the Volkswagen Golf and Golf GTI snagged the most votes, beating out the Mustang and Hyundai Genesis sedan.

Last year, Chevrolet swept the awards with the Corvette Stingray and Silverado winning car and truck of the year recognition.

Nissan Titan Unveiled

Since 2004, the Nissan Titan has served mostly as a placeholder pickup truck for the brand. In the Titan, Nissan gained access to the market, but has woefully underserved its customers by limiting this truck to a singular body style, engine and duty class.

At the NAIAS, Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn unveiled the second generation model, a vehicle that makes great strides over the first generation pickup truck. The new truck will be available in standard, extended (King cab) and crew cab configurations, with three engine choices and both 4×2 and 4×4 layouts.

For the first time, the Titan will offer a gasoline V-6 engine and a Cummins-supplied 5.0-liter turbo-diesel V-8 engine. Nissan says that the 2016 Titan, going on sale later this year, will pull up to 12,000 pounds when properly equipped and carry a payload capacity of up to 2,000 pounds.

Nissan promises that the next generation Titan will come equipped with advanced technologies, including a rear view monitor, an around view monitor, moving object detection and a trailer light check system.

News releases and photos supplied by the respective manufacturers.

Matthew Keegan
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