Jason Kerluck

Jason Kerluck

Jason Kerluck has written about Cars, Tech, and more recently...Retail Sales and Management for the past decade! He brings an approach that blends psychology with common sense to get the most out of your staff and your customers.
Fasten Your Seatbelts And Hang On For The Ride With Biz X’s Annual Auto Show Review

Biz X’s Annual Auto Show Review

2020 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor . . .Be sure to buckle up as you don’t want this SUV showing up in your rear-view mirror!

Fasten Your Seatbelts And Hang On For The Ride With Biz X’s Annual Auto Show Review

What’s old is new(er) again as the automobile prepared to take another giant leap forward at this year’s “North American International Auto Show” (NAIAS).

“Don’t call it a comeback” a rather “Cool” rapper once said.

Those thoughts couldn’t help but come to mind when we viewed all the models that announced their comeback at this year’s Detroit show in mid-January.

This was the last winter for the show as next year’s NAIAS takes place in June. But, for now, the familiar chill that was in the air wasn’t felt inside, with many hit new concepts and announcements. Plenty of names from the past were resurrected but, the future was very much present as well.

While autonomous, or self-driving, cars are appearing on dealer lots — with Tesla’s Autopilot, Nissan’s Pro Pilot Assist, and Cadillac’s Super Cruise already available to buy — this feature appears to be poised to leap further into the mainstream.

There were a number of models, such as Nissan’s IMs (featured on the front cover of this issue) that don’t need a driver at all.

Just like some science fiction movies, such as “Total Recall,” there are signs that in the future we will no longer be owning traditional cars. Instead, we will hail self-driving vehicles that will whisk us away to our destinations.

Of course there will be many who would still rather drive themselves. Autonomous vehicles will be hugely popular in large cities, where car ownership can be pricey. Hopefully we will have a choice . . . but I’m still waiting for Blade Runner’s flying taxis!

Overall, it was a quieter show this year, with many brands not on the show floor this time around. Mercedes, BMW, Audi, as well as nearly every other European automaker sat this show out, with only Volkswagen making an appearance.

It may be a sign of the times, as many simply need only look online for info about their prospective dream car.

But, for those in attendance, there’s simply nothing better than seeing a car in person and sitting in the driver’s seat.

Now, buckle up and hang on tight as we speed on through the highlights of this year’s show!

The 2019 “North American Car, Utility & Truck Of The Year” Award Winners

Well let’s get the awards out of the way first. To the surprise of many, Hyundai scored wins in two of the three categories! That’s right, the former builder of the much maligned Pony has become the one to beat. The first winner is part of Hyundai’s strategy to create a premium brand a-la Honda’s Acura or Toyota’s Lexus. Their Genesis brand came as a spinoff of the Genesis model that Hyundai sold previously.

It was felt that some buyers would be reluctant to drive a Hyundai regardless of the price, so the Genesis nameplate was born. And from that . . . uh . . . Genesis . . . comes this year’s “North American Car of the Year” winner, the Genesis G70!

It’s a handsome looking car that checks every box for luxury buyers. Some features are hard to find in cars that cost four times as much. With horsepower approaching 370, and with the agility to match, this car is a compelling option for someone looking to be coddled, as well as having a little fun.

If this car was the only winner for Hyundai, that would be impressive on its own. But wait, there’s more . . .

Earning the “North American Utility Vehicle of the Year” is another entry from Hyundai, the smart and stylish Kona. Like ice cream, it comes in many flavours and is pretty cool to boot. And this is far from the only award the Kona has won, having racked up a few more for the trophy cabinet. Available as both gasoline-powered and pure EV (Electric Vehicle) the Kona removes any argument some may have about owning an SUV.

Years ago, it was the Japanese makes that shone brightly. Is this the time for the Koreans to take that crown? With the Chinese brands like GAC at the show, what’s clear is that we are in store for a very competitive market.

But, right now in 2019, Hyundai seems to be making all the right moves.

What isn’t a surprise is the winner of the “North American Truck of the Year” though! Try as the import brands might, America knows how to do trucks right.

This year, RAM gets the nod for its 1500 truck. The RAM 1500 has always kind of done its own thing, such as having coil shocks versus leaf springs, and was one of the first trucks to make a bold styling statement back in the mid’90s.

RAM has been careful to keep the truck on the leading edge, while staying clever and practical. It coddles you with luxury, while being able to tough it out at the construction site. This blend of style and substance has been a part of the winning formula that makes RAM such a potent competitor.

2020 Toyota Supra — Toyota’s Flagship Supercar Storms Back From A 20 year Hiatus

This particular comeback was huge news, as Toyota’s former flagship has been away for over 20 years. Oddly, the brand has had some models similar to the Supra over at Lexus, but it’s been a heck of a long time since Toyota has had anything sporty. Known now for reliable and fuel efficient cars, they used to have the MR2, Celica, and even the entry level Paseo in the ‘90s. Then the 2000s came and Toyota walked away from them all. This new incarnation has the tight, muscular look of the fourth generation model, while appearing modern and sculpted.
2019 Chevrolet Blazer — The ‘90s Favourite Small SUV Returns In Bold Style

I always had a soft spot for the Chevrolet Blazer. It is sporty, practical, and sharp looking. It was a popular choice for those looking for a truck-like vehicle without the massive footprint.
Based on the S-10 small pickup, sadly it was never really updated, and died with some very old bones alongside the S-10. This new Blazer is clearly not based on that old S-10 platform, instead its bones are from the GMC Acadia.

Having said that, GM made a similar move to Ford’s, cutting most of its cars from the line-up. So it makes this one of a number of crossovers to be sold by the bowtie bunch. It will be interesting to see how the blazer will stand apart from the Equinox, the Traverse, and the rest of GM’s small to medium crossovers.

2020 Lincoln Aviator — The Navigator’s Little Brother Takes Flight Again After Being Gone For Over 10 Years

Back in the early 2000s, Lincoln dressed up the Explorer and tried to sell it as the Aviator. It sold modestly, always in the shadow of its bigger brother, the Navigator.

Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the Aviator a lot. The Navigator was always a bit too much for me. Like showing up to a dinner party in a suede purple suit with a feather-capped fedora and lots of gold chains. It made a statement on the roads, that’s for sure! It hollered “Look at ME!” To me, the Aviator was more like showing up in a fitted sports jacket and some sharp shoes.

Having also recently won the Detroit News “Readers’ Choice” Award, this new Aviator fills a similar role in the Lincoln line up. Still based on the Explorer (the next-gen one that is), it’s far less obviously so than the previous generation.

2019 Ford Ranger — The Smaller Ford Pickup Makes Its Return To Showrooms

With Ford’s bombshell announcement that it’s killing off all of its cars except for the Mustang (and the new Ford Focus Active set to debut next year) and trucks, Crossovers/SUV vehicles, many wondered what would fill the void left behind.

The new EcoSport is likely an example of the type of vehicle that we will see more from the Blue Oval. But, it’s the return of the Ranger nameplate that has some Ford fans jumping for joy.
Mind you, this new Ranger is nothing like the simple and reliable old model.

Also interesting to note is that it would be more accurate to say new to North America, as this Ranger has been sold for the past several years overseas. Thoroughly modern inside and out, it’s still as capable as it is handsome.

Similar to the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, it’s not as small as the former Ranger, being about fourth-fifths the size of the big trucks. Like the F-150, the Ranger will come in many variations and options are plentiful.

You won’t be able to option the engine though. At least to start, you get a choice of an EcoBoost 2.3L four cylinder mated to an 8 speed automatic and that’s it. It’s likely that more engine choices will come later, but it doesn’t seem to affect its generous towing capacity of 7,500 pounds!

2019 Ford Edge ST — Ford’s Performance Trim Level Finds A Home After Its Cars Are Cut

As mentioned previously, when Ford announced the automaker was no longer making certain cars, people wept over the loss of the brilliant and potent Focus ST and Fiesta ST. Was this the end of the ST moniker, or would another platform carry it forward?

We found our answer in the form of the 2019 Edge ST. It has the same sharp and racy upgraded looks as the Focus and Fiesta; but does it have the rip-snorting power, or the razor sharp handling of those two cars? It’ll certainly be different, simply given the difference in what these vehicles are.

It’s doubtful that it’ll have the same raw spirit and the target audience of the two hatches may not find a midsize crossover to scratch that “Boy Racer” itch.

Regardless, it was inevitable. We may never again see traditional cars from Ford, as they stick with high profit Crossovers and Trucks and explore autonomous vehicles.

Cover story continues on PAGE 18

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL - BIZ X TALKS WITH TONY TODD

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH TONY TODD

Photo: Tony Todd has played some evil characters in his career, but he is the nicest down-to-earth guy you will ever meet, as our writer Jason Kerluck (also pictured) lets our readers know in this exclusive interview. Photo by Rod Denis – Biz X magazine

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL – BIZ X TALKS WITH TONY TODD

At the end of this past September, the region was treated to a visit by many celebrities from the horror and Sci-Fi genre. It was all thanks to recent Biz X Award winner “Windsor ComiCon” (WindsorComiCon.com), an event that brought the stars and their fans together again for the fourth year in a row.

As detailed in our article, immediately following the event, there was something for everyone who appreciates the world of super heroes, horror flicks, and comic books. But, it’s those visiting celebrities that take the experience to the next level for many fans.

To meet an actor face to face, when you have only watched them on the big screen is a treat indeed. For many, it was former wrestler-turned-movie-star Tyler Mane (Michael Myers in the Halloween movies and Sabretooth in X-Men) they wanted to meet. To their delight, while imposing in size, he was a gentle giant and fans left grinning ear to ear.

But for some, even Mane wasn’t geeky enough. That’s because while he has had his giant hands in many different franchises, he simply can’t beat the current King of Geekdom . . . the incomparable Tony Todd!

Biz X magazine seized an exciting opportunity, during the two day event, to sit down and interview this accomplished actor. And we were promptly taken to school when it comes to the world of movies!

Among his many acting credits, Todd has played Candyman, Kurn in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1990-1991) and was the voice of the Fallen (2009) in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. 

Get comfy and read on as we get to know the man behind the roles.

Biz X: Welcome to Windsor!

Tony Todd (TT): Thank you. First time in Windsor. I’ve heard about it all my life. Right over the bridge . . . I’ve been to Detroit plenty of times. Aren’t you guys’ kissing cousins?

Biz X: Oh yeah. Always been that way.

TT: Lots of marriages in between the countries.

Biz X: For sure, and for us going to a Red Wings game is no harder than going downtown Windsor. It’s faster for us to get to Detroit, than to see a Blue Jays game.

TT: That’s crazy!

Biz X: It’s an absolute thrill to meet you…

TT: Thank you.

Biz X: Ever since I was young…

TT: We are all younger once! (laughing)

Biz X: …one of my favourite episodes of (Star Trek) The Next Generation was when you were Kurn. And I loved that play up that we didn’t know who you were . . . . you were some jerk that was giving Worf a hard time…

TT: Why was I a jerk? (laughing)

Biz X: Because you were being mean to everybody! (laughing)

TT: (Recounting the scene) I come on board to figure things out and talk to my brother. They feed me (bleeping) food that was barely edible. I farted for four days . . . . I farted like an American! Not that Star Fleet was all American, it was many nationalities all represented. It was the future! We are all unified!

Biz X: Everyone was holding hands and loving each other.

TT: Thank you.

Biz X: We saw that back then, that sense of mischief, that smirk, that look like you’re loving putting people in those positions. We saw that unsettling look also in Candyman as well. Where did that look come from?

TT: Well, I was an only kid, and every Christmas I’d buy myself a new Monopoly set and I’d play it myself . . . I didn’t need other people. And the people I did invite over were stupid, I mean they were my dear friends, but they couldn’t play the game. They didn’t know when to buy Park Place or anything like that.

Biz X: They weren’t in on it . . .

TT: They would buy the easy (stuff), like Oriental Avenue and all that to be a slum lord all of their lives. I had other ambitions. I just wanted to be King of the Villains!

(Writers Note: While I thought Tony had gone on a bit of a tangent, I realized his Monopoly analogy showed his view of the world growing up versus those around him. He wasn’t happy doing what everyone else was doing, he was hungry and wanted more. This wasn’t going to be the last bit of cleverness he had in store for me.)

Biz X: You can see that, you see a character that has control over the situation. Now, you’re like geek royalty to so many. You’ve done Transformers, you’ve done The Flash, you’ve done Star Trek, and you’ve done horror stuff. You’ve done so many different things. You’ve done voice acting as well as acting on screen, and you come through so well when you’re voice acting. With all of that, which do you prefer?

TT: Well I come from the theatre, that’s my first love. I have my Masters in Theatre. I went to Trinity Repertory Company in Rhode Island . . . I won two Tony Awards. I’ve been on Broadway twice, as well as regional theatre.

Biz X: So is this a third thing you’re into?

TT: That’s my number one love! I was offered three plays recently, one was Richard the Third as Buckingham . . . couldn’t do it. I had an offer to do a play in my hometown of Hartford, Connecticut in the play Sunset Baby, but SOON I’m going to have to go back to the stage. Every time I go onto the stage it feeds me in a way I cannot describe to you.

Biz X: I have friends that act on stage, and that sense of being in the moment, that linear story, start to finish, the whole story.

TT: It’s working with an ensemble people you’ve spent the last two or three weeks with working to that night . . . it’s like a salad coming to full life! Then after that I’ll get a call to do a TV show or a movie. I’ve been in some good ones . . .

Biz X: You’ve been in some amazing ones!

TT: But, those that you get are paper thin after you read Richard the Third.

Biz X: How do you top that?

TT: We had just seen a movie with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, The Goodbye Girl, where he plays a Shakespearean actor that moves in. Have you ever seen that movie?

Biz X: No I haven’t.

TT: OK, well you’ve got to see it. It’s really funny, one of Richard’s early roles — he was already there. He was just having fun, the actor moves in and crashes (not wanting to ruin it for me) . . . da da da . . . you’ll see it! I’m not saying it’s my favourite move EVER. I don’t want people to get it wrong. Double Indemnity would be closer to that . . . Sunset Boulevard.

Biz X: So this is a list of movies we need to watch!

TT: You’ve never seen Double Indemnity?

Biz X: No I haven’t.

TT: You should be STRUCK from the Earth! (laughing)

Tony Todd interview continues on PAGE 45

Windsor Comicon 2018 (10)

Biz X Was There – Windsor ComiCon 2018

Windsor ComiCon 2018 Returns to Caesars Windsor

If you happen to be downtown this weekend, and notice there are more than a few folks are dressed more dramatically than usual, there’s no need to be alarmed. They are likely just showing their unabashed love for their favorite comic book or movie characters at Windsor ComiCon 2018. This annual gathering of all things geeky is again being held at Caesars Windsor in the Colosseum!

This year’s event is jam packed with geeky goodness, as virtually every comic book and game shop in town is on hand, as well as many local artists and performers. While there are many vendors selling something sure to scratch every collectors itch, there are also many charities as well getting in on the fun. Canada’s own 501st Legion, a group that celebrates the Star Wars bad guys, is on hand to raise funds for the Make a Wish Foundation. Belle River’s Fight Like Mason is continuing to keep Masons brave memory alive by raising money to bring more awareness of Childhood Cancer. With many so vendor booths and plenty of distinguished guests from all genres, there’s plenty to see… and plenty more to buy at this year’s event!

Attractions will include a Jurassic Park themed exhibit as well as a very realistic Ghostbusters Experience. There will also be a Degrassi reunion taking place Saturday at Vu Nightclub. If you love to Cosplay and have a great costume, get on down there and enter the competition contest. You don’t have to be a geek to have a great time, there’s plenty to see and experience for everyone!

This weekend’s guests on hand are:

  • Tony Todd – Known for roles in Star Trek, Candyman, as well as voicing Transformers “The Fallen” and Zoom from DC’s The Flash among many others, Tony is Geek royalty!
  • Mark Henry – Weightlifter and WWE powerhouse, Mark has many accolades under his wrestling belt. Biz X was happy to bring this powerhouse to Windsor!
  • David Yost – Best known as the Blue Ranger from the first 4 seasons of The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. With almost 200 episodes to his credit, he is the quintessential Power Ranger.
  • Phil Lamar – A veteran voice actor who has been in pretty much everything, it’s almost easier to list what he hasn’t had a role in!
  • Tyler Mane – As Sabertooth in the first X-Men movie, he made a dramatic entrance to acting. As a former wrestler turned actor, he terrified as Michael Myers from the 2007 Halloween remake, as well as its sequel H2 and many other action/horror films.
  • Cal Dodd – Best known as the voice of Wolverine in the 90’s animated series, Cal has reprised that role in many X-Men video games.
  • Marv Wolfman – Creator of Marvel favourites such as Blade, Bullseye, Nova, and The Black Cat, he also had a huge impact in the DC universe as well!
  • Mark Bagley – Creator of Carnage, and producer of the Venom: Lethal Protector series in the Spiderman comics.
  • Larry Hama – Essentially the father of the 80’s G.I. Joe reboot, his vision lead to not just a new line of comics, but an iconic TV cartoon that still resonates with many today…because knowing is half the battle!
  • Chris Bachalo – Having worked with both Marvel and Dc, Chris’s contribution to comics ranges over many titles and characters too numerous to list!
  • Scott Hanna – Scott is Eisner Award winning artist who has literally worked on thousands of pages of comics, spanning both DC and Marvel universes!
  • Alex Milne – Alex has worked on many of the modern G.I. Joe and Transformers comics from IDW!
  • Richard Comely – As the creator of our very own Captain Canuck, Richard was inducted into the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creators Hall of Fame in 2010! The Canadian Mint is working with him to produce a Captain Canuck coin!

Many of these guests will be doing panels upstairs on both days. Doors will be open from 10am until 5pm Sunday.

We hope to see you there!!!

You can view the full Windsor Comicon 2018 schedule HERE.

Photos by Rod Denis – Biz X magazine

Jason Kerluck, I'll Take Little Sales All Day Long, Being Store Manager - Like Being Captain of a Ship, Lack of Capacity & Capability, Business Coaching

Business Coaching is the Wheel that Steers the Ship

Business Coaching is the Wheel that Steers the Ship

To borrow a nautical metaphor, think of your staff as a fleet of ships on the ocean…moving together to a common goal. Your initial training is the first part of setting your staff on the right course. And for a while, all might move together as one. But, if left unattended, your staff will naturally begin to drift off course. It’s just human nature.

This isn’t news to anyone who has managed staff before. Every Store Manager, District Manager, and Regional manager knows that a good Training Program is nothing without being followed up by a strong business coaching program. The initial training we do gets the ship out to sea….while our coaching is the wheel that steers the “ship”.

However, what we often fall far short on is maintaining Continuous Coaching.Without continuous coaching, their ship will simply start to drift again and take them to places you’d rather they not be. Persistent and Constructive, continuous business coaching keeps them running with the fleet.

That coaching has to seek a result and be clearly given. Too often, when coaching is done, we see examples of coaching that makes a nice positive statement, followed by something minor that could have been done differently. While this is only slightly better than no coaching at all, it’s really the kind of coaching that should be done “On the Fly”. This is more like saying “You’re off course…”, instead of letting them know how many degrees they need to turn.

A better style of business coaching presents the employee data that shows where they are in terms of their metrics. It and sets performance improvement goals. It tells them where they are in relation to the needs to the business, and helps them change course. The best goals to set for them are based on the concept of S.M.A.R.T.. Creating realistic expectations with a clear timeline is a much more effective means of effecting change.

Not all staff are equally matched in term of ability and capability. Your “fleet” is made of of many different skills and attributes. And as a manager, you must learn to identify where they are struggling. There are some that will never keep up, and have to be let go. However, even that would be hard to identify without continuous coaching.

For the “Captain” coaching is a lot like reading a map. You figure out where they are, and where they need to be. Then you figure out how to get them there. Your coaching is the direction they need to keep up with the fleet. It is also your way of knowing if they belong in it in the first place. We must be vigilant in making sure that we identify when they stray from the course and act promptly. Only then will you be able to get where you want your business to be.

Here’s to clear sailing!

2018 North American International Auto Show Review - Hitch Your Wagon To A Star (car!)

2018 North American International Auto Show Review

Photo: The original 1968 Ford Mustang GT fastback from the 1968 Steve McQueen movie Bullitt paired with the latest 2019 Mustang Bullitt (right). Photo by Rod Denis.

2018 North American International Auto Show Review – Hitch Your Wagon To A Star (car!)

For many in the Windsor/Detroit area, the New Year means more than just being another year older or making some lofty resolutions. It also means the arrival of the “North American International Auto Show” (NAIAS; January 20 to 28, 2018 at Cobo Center in Detroit)!

The Biz X team arrived at the press preview days (January 15 & 16) safe and sound (thanks again to FCA and their media shuttle!), and had a blast checking out — not just the new cars from familiar manufacturers — but lots of the fun and interactive displays from the many auto parts and technology companies in attendance.

There were lots of interesting things to enjoy as well, like car pool karaoke, driving games and building your own LEGO toy. Obviously the total ticketed audience of 809,161 proved the show was the place to be!

However, this year was a bit different than previous years. This year things felt a bit more, shall we say . . . super?

Superhero themed cars were on hand. A classic movie superstar car made its return. There were exotic super cars. A world record setting super-fast car. And of course . . . plenty of supersized trucks!

Read on as we take you through a supercharged tour of this year’s “North American International Auto Show.”

Movie Superstars

Superhero movies and cool cars have been as universally intertwined as peanut butter and jelly. Every superhero needs a superhero vehicle.

A couple of years back, it was the Acura NSX and before that, an Audi R8 that a certain “Tony Stark” (aka “Iron Man”) chose as his ride. This year, “The Black Panther” showed off his vehicle of choice, or at least one inspired by him.

Based on the Lexus LC 500, this concept car (see photos on front cover of this issue also) features plenty of touches inspired by the movie, due out February 16, 2018, by Marvel Studios. Allegedly loaded with “vibranium” (the fictional metal that makes up “Captain America’s” shield) and a high tech “Brain-Computer” interface, this car could help “The Black Panther” fight the bad guys. While those features are purely fictional, it’s clear Lexus had fun with it.

The car also featured an image of “The Black Panther’s” mask and some blue underbody lighting. It wasn’t quite the “Batmobile,” but it was an exciting movie-inspired concept car nevertheless.

For classic movie buffs, there was a truly historic treat this year.

Ford revealed a piece of cinematic history to end the 40 year mystery on a certain car’s whereabouts . . . the original Steve McQueen driven Mustang from the classic movie “Bullitt!”

It was in no way buffed and cleaned up. It looked pretty much exactly the way it came out of the garage it was hiding in.

While not a supercar in its own right, it was part of one of the greatest car chases in cinema history. Long thought lost, it was sold to Robert Kiernan in 1977, through, of all things, a Road & Track magazine classified listing!

Steve McQueen himself appealed several times to Kiernan to buy his famous car back, but to no avail. For the next 40 years, it was kept quietly out of sight from the public, driven by Kiernan’s wife for a few years till the clutch died in 1980.

It was rolled into a garage, and there it sat until just recently. It was only when Kiernan passed away in 2014, and his son Sean brought it out of hiding, did we discover its existence. Sean contacted Ford, and it was fully vetted and confirmed as the real deal, with all of the movie modifications and serial numbers matching the original.

It should be mentioned that the only other movie-used Mustang “Bullitt” was discovered in Mexico last year. But, that one was far from the original, as it had been restored to look more like it did in 1968.

Kieran’s Mustang “Bullitt,” however, isn’t for sale. But, if it were, it’s estimated to be worth over $4 million!

To commemorate the discovery of these cars, Ford displayed a modern interpretation of this classic car based on the 2019 Mustang. The first example sold in January for $300,000 during a Barrett Jackson auction. The proceeds of which go to Boys Republic, a school McQueen himself graduated from.

North American Truck, Utility, and Car of the Year Awards

Of course, an Auto Show wouldn’t be complete without a winners’ list of new or significantly updated models. This year, there were three big winners for the “North American Truck, Utility, and Car of the Year” Awards.

While North American makes dominated the “North American Truck of the Year” category, it was an imports only showing in the other two.

Lincoln bagged this year’s “North American Truck of the Year” with its sharp and supersized new Navigator. Also in the running for the prize was the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Ford Expedition.

This is a first time win for the “Gator,” as it’s sometimes called, beating its corporate cousin, the Expedition. It is a refreshing departure from the older truck-based bones of past models.

For years, Lincoln simply updated the skin and interior while keeping the bones pretty much the same. While still a Body-on-Frame design, the body is now all aluminum. It also gets a 450HP Turbocharged V6 as the main powerplant, updating the “Gator” to match what Ford has done throughout its truck lineup. Finally modern and beautiful, it’s clear to see why it was chosen for the first time, this year.

Volvo’s versatile and attractive XC60 snagged the “North American Utility of the Year” trophy. This category is a pretty broad one, as it covers everything from Crossovers, small SUVs, and Minivans. Beating out the gorgeous Alfa Romeo Stelvio and the ever practical Honda Odyssey, the XC60 has always done a great job blending real utility with super style and super safety.

What’s truly impressive is the optional “T8 Engine” in its top range, plug-in hybrid model. Delivering 400hp, while impressive in its own right, it is able to do so while delivering a superb 56 mpg. Oddly, this year, folks looking to see this car wouldn’t find it in the show, but in a display just outside one of the entrances, but more on that later.

Honda’s new Accord, a frequent award winner, was tagged as “North American Car of the Year.” The Kia Stinger and Toyota Camry nipped at its heels, but in the end, the Accord just keeps getting better and better, especially in a segment that is getting smaller in terms of sales as people continue to choose small SUVs and Crossovers over full and mid-sized cars.

Bigger, more efficient, and sharply styled, the Accord shows that Honda still takes cars very seriously.

2018 North American International Auto Show Review continues HERE.