DETROIT - The Detroit auto show always surprises. This year is no different, with a blend of new models and refreshed standards, all against the backdrop of new self-driving technology displays.
And this year it hasn’t always been about the vehicles with the even-larger influence of President-elect Donald Trump and his protectionist trade rhetoric wending through the event, influencing automaker investment announcements.
There was even a reveal without a vehicle as Ford talked about relaunching its Bronco offroad SUV and its Ranger midsize pickup.
But there were still plenty of cars — and trucks — and SUVs. Here are some of the most-interesting and important models that hit the show floor this week.
Honda Odyssey: A minivan with a 'magic slide
While the Detroit auto show is often known for its hot rods, minivans always seem to make noise. Stuffed with new technology and features, the sportier Honda Odyssey with the second-row seat that makes it easier to reconfigure the seats for child seats, easy access to the third row or for two passengers.
The minivan also has a new camera and a display screen to help parents keep an eye on their kids in back rows and talk to them, a new audio touch screen and a new rear entertainment system with streaming video.
The new design, features and technology are aimed at helping Honda fend off increasingly tough competition from the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan as well as popular midsize SUVs and crossovers that are also designed to serve families.
Toyota Camry: Energizing the nation's best-selling car
Toyota is seeking to inject fresh energy into the best-selling car in America, Toyota Camry, as low gasoline prices undermine midsize sedans and nudge consumers into crossovers and sport-utility vehicles. The Japanese automaker revealed the redesigned, eighth generation of the Camry.
Consider this redesign more structural overhaul than cosmetic revolution. Toyota engineers designed the Camry using a global architectural platform that is shared with other vehicles of similar size and allows the company to spread out costs and improve quality.
Ford F-150: Increased power — and refreshed look
Ford is updating the look of its F-150 pickups — featuring a redesigned grille — just two years after launching an all-new version of its top-selling model.The refresh is evidence that the Dearborn, Mich., automaker is committed to continuing to invest heavily to keep its F-Series trucks the most popular in America
Improvements to the 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engines should increase power and fuel economy. A 10-speed automatic transmission will be standard with all engines, but the base 3.3-liter gets a 6-speed. All the engines now use direct and port fuel injection.
The midcycle update to the F-150 also includes new headlights, tail lights and tailgates.
GM reveals the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse
Chevrolet unveiled a redesigned 2018 Traverse that beefs up its SUV design elements to make it more truck-like as the brand aims for a slightly more affluent, family buyer.
The base engine will be a 3.6-liter variable valve V-6 paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission that Chevrolet claims will deliver a 10% improvement in fuel economy. The slightly larger dimensions and the more substantial, truck-like profile should help distinguish it from the midsize Equinox, which also debuts a new design this spring. The new Equinox is slightly smaller than the 2017 model it replaces.
GMC Terrain: A more spacious, sculpted look
A clear evolution in the direction of a more car-like crossover look, the new Chevrolet Terrain boasts sharper and more sculpted elements such as the grille and lighting features. Its shape is more aerodynamic than the current model. It was refined in a wind tunnel so its shape cuts through the air with optimal efficiency and less noise.
There will be three turbocharged engine choices, including a new turbo-diesel. Two new efficiency-enhancing 9-speed automatic transmissions are matched with the gas engines — a first application for the GMC lineup.
Kia Stinger: Can sporty hatchback elevate automaker's image?
The Kia Stinger starts with the looks of Kia’s popular GT concept car and adds all- and rear-wheel-drive, a pair of turbocharged engines and a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Stinger’s long nose, short rear deck, sweeping roofline and flared fenders demonstrate that Kia’s “tiger nose” styling theme can stretch from the brand’s previous family sedans and crossover SUVs to a European-style sporty hatchback.
Kia expects the dynamic Stinger sporty hatchback's looks and performance to raise the brand’s image to a new level.
Mercedes E-class: New look, new electronics
Mercedes’ sleek new E-class coupe is a marked step up from its predecessor, thanks to the all-new architecture and electronics of the E-class sedan. The hood is long and low, leading to a sharply raked windshield, frameless side mirrors and a very short rear deck. The 2018 model is 4.8 inches longer than its predecessor.
Volkswagen Tiguan: Small SUV stretches to reinvigorate
Volkswagen aims to boost interest in its Tiguan small SUV with a new model that grows 10.7 inches longer and offers a third row to seat up to seven people. The 2018 Tiguan offers front- or all-wheel-drive and a 184-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. With 57% more cargo space, the Tiguan is much bigger than its predecessor.