Cover Story

Biz X’s Annual Auto Show Review

Fasten Your Seatbelts And Hang On For The Ride With 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.

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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

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