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Detroit Auto Show Wrapup: The Best and Worst of the Rest at NAIAS

Now that the complete lineup of new and concept vehicles at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit have been revealed, it’s time to take a look at all the other cars not named “Corvette.” We’ve examined the beautiful new Acura NSX concept and Corvette Stingray as well as the new Lexus IS that sadly falls under the “Miss” category. Here are some of the other new cars making headlines from Detroit:

Hits

Cadillac ELR

(Jan 2013) Detroit, MI North American International Auto Show

A Cadillac-branded offshoot of the Chevrolet Volt has been rumored and teased for years now, and Caddy finally put its money where its mouth is with the announcement of the Cadillac ELR. The ELR is a fully realized, production-ready version of the Converj concept that GM has floated around since 2009, and it will go into production at the end of the year. Even though it is about the same size as an ATS and retains the looks of the CTS coupe, the ELR will actually ride on the Delta II platform like the Volt because it is front-wheel drive. The Volt isn’t exactly flying off the shelves, so a Cadillac version (and with it, a higher profit margin) completely makes sense for GM in order to recoup some of the substantial Volt development costs.

Inside, drivers are greeted by Cadillac’s new Cue infotainment system and good-looking leather seats. Although the Volt powertrain was obviously not built for speed, the seats contain almost no lateral support; if you want to make a tight turn at more than 10mph, this isn’t the car for you. The body style suggests a speed that the engine will not match, like a base Hyundai Veloster. Although official pricing hasn’t been announced, like for the Cadillac to be $10-15K more expensive than the Volt.

Toyota Furia

(Jan 2013) Detroit, MI North American International Auto Show

Yes, we were shocked too by Toyota’s stunning Furia concept that previews the next generation Corolla. That’s right folks, this is the first time “Corolla” and “stunning” have been used in a sentence together except when used as  “a stunningly boring Corolla.” Toyota used orange as a color for the first time ever, I think, to roll out the Furia, which looks like a cross between a Hyundai Veloster, Dodge Dart, and last-gen Honda Civic. The end result is a great looking little sedan with taillights courtesy of the new Lexus IS, and curves in all the right places.

Not everything is a hit, but that’s to be expected in pretty much every concept car. The black “carbon fiber” lower body molding, easily seen from side views, in unwieldy and awkward, and the rear under spoiler it morphs into is pretty cheap looking. Speaking of the back end, the rear view is way too busy, with the orange body point, chrome trim, and faux carbon fiber lower panel and lip spoiler all drawing your eyes from one element to the next.

There are little details on the front that look quite nice compared to the polarizing rear. For instance, when the headlights are turned on, little flecks of orange are visible in the grille surrounding the lights. Foglamps, too, are hidden behind the grille, so as to be nearly invisible when not illuminated. The insides of the wheel spokes are body colored while the outside is black, giving the entire piece a visually interesting black-chrome-orange paint scheme.

It’s a shame that the end product will look nothing like the Furia concept, but it’s nice to imagine a world where Toyota makes interesting cars. View the entire concept and closeups on the Furia’s official page.

Misses

Hyundai HCD-14

(Jan 2013) Detroit, MI North American International Auto Show

The HCD-14 is hands down the ugliest car previewed at the NAIAS this year. Hyundai apparently felt threatened by the Mercedes Ener-G-Force “Play-Doh” concept from last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show and knew they could create one worse.

First, grab a gaping grille from Audi, who does whale shark mouths like nobody else, and add in some floating horizontal chrome strips that don’t…quite…touch the sides. Hyundai divided the head- and taillight clusters into five sections, with HIDs in the front and LEDs in the back. In more capable hands, it could have been good looking. In Hyundai’s hands, each element looks like a fish scale overlapping the one next to it.

But then something strange happened. Somebody who had seen Tron a few too many times then decided that more LEDs were required. Huge light ovals are bizarrely placed below each light cluster and are split through the middle by the bottom edge of the car’s body panels.

The front and back ends both end abruptly in nearly vertical lines as if crushed by a car compactor. A very pronounced character line stretches from front to back and creates a high belt line that severely reduces driver visibility and looks claustrophobic. Suicide doors will never make it to final production if the car is picked up, but at least their presence reduces the thickness of the B pillar.

Most concept cars point to the direction the manufacturer is headed. Let’s hope that nothing from the HCD-14 sees its way into future cars. If you’ve masochistic, you can check out a full gallery here.

(Jan 2013) Detroit, MI North American International Auto Show

The new Acura MDX is the old Acura MDX with LEDs. Jalopnik’s Matt Hardigree has authored an impressively sarcastic review of the MDX concept, so I’m just going to link to a far superior analysis than I could write, and I’ll leave it at that.

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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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