First up this morning was Toyota with a third-generation Highlander for 2014. It features three rows of seating for what the maker says is up to eight passengers with a four or V6 power plant coupled to a new six-speed transmission. A V6 hybrid will also be in the mix. The new model is three inches longer and one-half inch wider and Toyota claims additional cargo capacity.
Making its U.S. debut was the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf. It will go on sale here as a lighter 2015 model that allows VW to claim up to 15 percent better fuel economy. Three models will be offered including a diesel and the enthusiast’s favorite, the GTI with an expected 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
In case you ever wondered, the Kia Soul hamster mobile is an “urban utility vehicle.” The 2014 model was displayed this morning with a new chassis that is said to be stiffer, longer, and wider. Three trim levels will be offered and pricing will be announced closer to the Soul’s launch date. While dimensions increase by fractions of an inch, the rear tailgate is wider by 2.4 inches. Said one designer, “If you think about droplets falling into a still pond, you begin to visualize the inspiration” for the interior.
Kia also revealed a 201 horsepower Turbocharged four cylinder Forte Koup, (their spelling.) It will go on sale in the fourth quarter. The turbo cranks out 201 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque with a sport tuned suspension. Also on the stand was refreshed Optima.
Mercedes was juiced showing off its B-Class all electric hatchback. It says a full charge will take the car 115 miles powered by a 20-kwh lithium-ion battery and 134 horsepower motor. Top speed is said to be 100 mph. Merc will not offer a gas powered B class here in the states. Look for it early next year.
The three pointed star also showed off a group of AMG performance models. Among them was the CLA 45 AMG with a 332 horsepower four and a zero to 60 romp in 4.5 seconds. It will hit showrooms in September as a 2014 model with a $47,450 price tag.
A third generation Acura MDX was the final unveiling of the morning session. Built on a new platform, the crossover will seat seven and will be offered for the first time with less expensive two wheel drive. A new VTEC 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower is the power of choice with a six speed transmission. Acura said the front drive version is good for up to 28 mpg highway. A new touchscreen will reduce the number of buttons on the center stack from 41 to 9.