On Monday, Detroit’s Cobo Center opened its doors to what is quickly becoming the most memorable North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in years. There’s much to cover, and no best place to start, so we’ll just dive right in—and get under the hoods.
It’s no secret that gas prices have plummeted and are expected to tick a little bit lower this year. But this doesn’t mean you should rush to put a bid on a government surplus Hummer. Alternative fuel options are not going anywhere, if for no other reason than the billions that have already been invested. Besides, we all know trends die and bubbles pop. Regardless of what the future holds for oil, here’s the best of the alternatives we’ve seen so far—and a few good ol’ gas options too.
Hybrid/Dual Source Power: Acura NSX
After much anticipation—and many a rehash—the reincarnate of Acura’s beloved halo will re-emerge this year, outfitted with a complex, hybrid/dual-source power network. Going the route of pricier players such as the Porsche 918 or Ferrari LaFerrari, the next generation NSX will generate roughly 550hp from a combination of a twin-turbo V6 and three electric motors (two upfront and one in back). The goal for the collaborative effort is more efficient, instant power, delivered optimally to the wheels that need it most. Is this the new powertrain trend for supercar power? It certainly seems like more that could break, which is totally part of the true supercar experience.
All Electric: Chevrolet Bolt
No, that’s not a typo. While Chevy has taken the wraps off an all-new version of the Volt, its shocking news comes by way of the Bolt; an all-electric, quirky hatch that is promised to deliver a 200 mile range, at a sticker of around $30K. While labeled a concept, Chevy hints it could come to market rather quickly, hitting pricier EV brands—like Elon Musk’s Tesla—right in their e-wallets.
Diesel: Jaguar/Land Rover
Rather than electric-slide with the masses, Jaguar/Land-Rover has gone Oprah, and torque’d up almost their entire lineup of cars and SUVs. The British Marque’s press conference effectively came off sounding like “YOU get a diesel, and YOU get a diesel—everybody gets a diesel! Except for you, F-Type.” While Land Rover enthusiasts have been clamoring years for the option, the mass-rollout will give Jaguar cats a chance at a greater range as well.
Forced Induction: Ford GT
Ford’s early drop-the-mic moment of the show came by way of its all-new GT. Gorgeous from every angle, the mid-engine supercar concept could be powered by a rubber band or hamster wheel, and few would care. Jokes aside, what drives it is not what you might think. Rather than opt for a high-displacement V8 or better, the sculpted Ferrari-fighter will drive to market next year via a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, which ford claims will churn out more than 600 horsepower; all while operating more efficiently than a higher cylinder offering. Though the target here is far from MPG optimization, it’s a positive step for the future of forced induction engines, likely to affect the rest of the brand’s lineup. And while little beats the roar of an all-American gas-guzzling monster, turbo-spooling and wastegates can be quite aurally pleasing in their own right.
Gasoline: Toyota Tacoma
With all the alternatives, it’s easy to overlook the continuous advancements being made with “traditional,” naturally aspirated gasoline engines. A perfect example comes by way of Toyota’s new mid-size Tacoma pickup, which has had its thirsty, sluggish 4.0L V6 downsized to 3.6L. The engine is expected do deliver equal—if not greater—power and torque of its predecessor, at a smoother curve. Exact figures have not yet been released, but we anticipate numbers in the mid to high 200s. Dropped into the truck’s all-new, great looking shell, it has Taco Supreme written all over it.