More than 40 new cars, trucks and crossovers made their debut at the North American International Auto Show during the event’s annual media preview, and while some are no more than basic transportation, many are “rolling sculpture…the equal of the work of an artist like Rodin,” said Dr. Philip Hessburg, founder of the annual Eyes on Design Awards.
They honor the most striking products to make their first appearance at Detroit’s Cobo Center each year, a jury of some of the industry’s top designers empowered to pick among the work of their peers.
This year, the jury handed out seven awards – with Nissan nabbing two for the distinctive Vmotion 2.0 concept it introduced on Monday. Hailed as both Best Concept Car and the new vehicle making the Best Use of Color, Graphics and Materials, the Vmotion 2.0 is “just a concept car,” Nissan global creative director Shiro Nakamura told TheDetroitBureau.com.
But don’t write it off as just another fantasy in chrome. Its bold styling is intended to preview the new design language that will appear on future Nissan products, company officials stressed, from the little Rogue SUV to the big Maxima sport sedan.
(Live from Detroit: Click Here for our complete coverage of the 2017 North American International Auto Show.)
The Kia Stinger started as another head-turning concept car. But the gran turismo that debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show as the Kia GT concept returned in production form at a media preview Sunday night. And the 2018 Kia Stinger was named Best Production Car.
“Usually, concept cars disappear” after they first appear at an auto show, said Kia product manager Eddie Rayyan, noting that a prototype of the Stinger first appeared at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. “So, I am really pleased this concept car came through virtually unchanged as a production car.”
Home-town automaker Chevrolet took honors for Best Production Truck, with the new Chevrolet Traverse SUV that was introduced at Cobo Center on Tuesday. The new model not only grows larger and roomier but adopts a more stylish, upscale appearance.
Toyota’s high-line Lexus brand has generated plenty of buzz at the 2017 NAIAS for the curvaceous LS sedan that was also unveiled on Monday. But it was the work designers achieved in the flagship four-door’s cabin that most impressed Eyes on Design judges who declared the 2018 Lexus LS had the “Best Designed Interior.”
Today’s interior are loaded with high-tech infotainment and other digital systems, balancing them against traditional materials like leather, wood, metal – and, yes, plastic. But what a motorist thinks of a vehicle can be strongly influenced by what happens when they try to operate that technology – as made clear by recent quality studies that reveal the degree of frustration owners often experience trying to change radio stations or plug in a destination.
BMW, which introduced one of the industry’s first modern infotainment systems – taking a fair bit of heat for its iconic iDrive system – received strong kudos, this time around, and the afternoon’s final award for offering the “Best User Experience” with the new 5-Series that it rolled out on Monday.
The new system offers drivers a variety of different ways to run the system, from touch to voice, all meant to make the process easier and more accurate, BMW officials explained.
The final trophy of the afternoon went to the retro-futuristic Volkswagen I.D. Buzz which, quite literally created plenty of buzz at the NAIAS. Declared Best Concept Truck, the VW minivan show car picks up on some of the classic cues from the German maker’s iconic hippie van, the old Microbus. But it packs in a long-range electric drivetrain and an assortment of other high-tech features, including autonomous driving capabilities.
Like many concept vehicles, it’s hard to tell whether the Buzz will fade away after this auto show season ends, but VW has long hinted it would like to bring back the old Microbus and Buzz, the latest in a series of minivan concepts, just might indicate the German company has found the right formula.
Tags: Eyes On Design, best auto design, best car design, best cars, car news, chevrolet traverse, eyes on design award, kia stinger, nissan vmotion 2, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisensteinauto news, thedetroitbureau, vw id buzz