Lexus LS - NAIAS

Highlights from NAIAS so far

Detroit’s North American International Auto Show is on the short list of the world’s premier venues for automakers to introduce new models and technologies. With the automotive industry moving at a fever pitch, it looks like 2017 won’t disappoint car aficionados.

The show takes place in Detroit, and foreign brands harbour no reservations about bringing their biggest and best new offerings to America’s motor city. The first day of the show belonged to the Japanese and Korean brands, with Toyota, Lexus, Kia and Honda introducing progressive new models, and Nissan delivering a rakish new concept.

Toyota/Lexus asserts dominance with two new designs

For the uninitiated, Lexus isn’t a car brand in Japan. Toyota invented the brand in the same way that Honda invented Acura to appeal to North Americans. Credit for both the redesigned 2018 Toyota Camry and 2018 Lexus LS goes to the top brass at the big T brand.

Both cars play important roles in each respective brand’s lineup, but the roles they play are extremely different. The Camry has evolved from sedate transportation appliance to what appears to be a more athletic, youthful take on the family sedan. Despite being the best-selling vehicle without a truck bed in 2017, it seems Toyota felt threatened by more involving models from Honda, Mazda and Volkswagen.

Unlike its small cousin the Camry, the LS is a genuine flagship. It might not have the sporty profile of the newly-introduced, V8-powered LC coupe, but it’s a complete reboot for Lexus’ ultimate people-mover. It features eye-catching curves, trick flush-mounted exterior glass and a twin-turbocharged V-6 that promises to deliver 415 horsepower.

A stinging surprise from Kia and other import goodness

For Kia/Hyundai, the last decade has been spent trying to shed the stigma of cheapness they deserved twenty years ago. NAIAS saw what is arguably the best indicator, yet that Kia has arrived in the new Stinger GT concept, a rear-wheel-drive sports sedan concept that many are hailing as a bargain BMW. With a former BMW M-division head at the helm of the project, we understand why.

Speaking of BMW, the Bavarian brand unveiled its first model with an “e” in its name since the New Kids on the Block were, well, new on the block. The 530e iPerformance will carry BMW hybrid technology into the future and deliver 5-series fans an experience they know without the current car’s fuel consumption.

America is great, again, too

If you’re a fan of the big 3, don’t feel left out. American brands know better than to come to NAIAIS unprepared, and there have already been a number of meaningful announcements from the folks in Dearborn, including the confirmation of a new Ford Bronco and a hybrid version of Americas’ pony car, the Mustang.
With the rest of the week still to come, I’m expecting big moves from the bow-tie brand coming soon — particularly one about its red-blooded fiberglass world-beater, the Corvette. Don’t blink, you might miss something good.

Scott Huntington writes about cars on his blog Off The Throttle, and has been featured on Yahoo Autos, GT Spirit, Business Insider, and more. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.