Honda used the Chicago Auto Show to unveil the 2016 redesigned Pilot that is 3.5 inches longer and 300 pounds lighter. The third generation Pilot is a three row SUV with either a second row bench seat for maximum seating capacity or two captain’s chairs that make it easier to access the third row. Under the hood will be a new 3.5-liter V6 but Honda is not ready to give us any power figures yet. It will be tied to either a six speed or a nine speed automatic. There will be a new all-wheel drive system, a feature that Honda says most buyers prefer. For the first time, a panoramic sunroof will be offered and for those who get thirsty Honda claims an 82 quart cooler can be stowed behind the third row seat. The new Pilot will be launched in the spring and Honda said an all new Ridgeline pickup will join the lineup within the next two years. Honda released a teaser drawing of the new truck.
Somewhat smaller was the electric all-wheel drive Trail’ster concept at the Kia stand. It really is a more rugged Soul designed for some mild off roading with skid plates, and two and a half inches more ground clearance. There are more rugged shocks and Perelli Winter Carving 245/45-19 snow tires. The concept, dreamed up at Kia’s California studio, also has a roll-top canvas roof. It is primarily powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four with 185 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque with a six speed automatic. It is matched with an electric all-wheel drive system on the rear axles intended for low speed assist, enhanced launch acceleration and improved traction in bad weather. Kia claims the concept can travel for up to three miles on pure electric power under light throttle. Under normal driving the electric motor will assist the gas turbo during acceleration calling for greater power and torque. In bad weather, the electric all-wheel drive system will do its thing when it detects the front wheels are losing traction. Whether the Trail’ster will ever be produced may depend on the feedback Kia gets on the auto show circuit.
Mitsubishi give the world a look at a full size crossover concept called the GC-PHEV, the GC standing for Grand Cruiser and the rest, Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. It is a full-size crossover with a supercharged V6 pared with an electric motor, eight speed automatic transmission and full time all-wheel drive. Mitsubishi said the drivetrain will deliver 335 horsepower and the unit will conquer “even the most daunting terrain and road conditions.” It can travel up to 25 miles on full electric charge. The concept seats four in bucket seats with access to what is called a “Tactical Table” – a touch screen located in the center of the cabin extending from front to back for in vehicle communication and infotainment features. It would automatically react to connected smartphones that are placed on it, sort of a modern day version of “don’t make me come back there.” The onboard battery can also supply an owner’s home with up to 1,500 watts of electrical energy during a blackout. With a fully charged battery pack and a full tank of gas to recharge the battery, the system can provide nearly two weeks of emergency power to the average household, Mitsu claims. Kudos to the maker for a concept that looks very different from anything else on the road. Like the design or not, and some have already called it the Mars Lander, it certainly would not enter a neighborhood unnoticed. Based on Mitsubishi saying this concept is the “return of a legend” my guess is that a lot of the features here will be included in the return of the Montero at some future date.
Ford’s striking new GT car will be built in Markham, Ontario, in partnership with Multimatic Inc., a firm that has previously produced some hot Ford cars such as the Boss 302R. The GT should appear in showrooms next year.
J.P Morgan has downgraded Tesla shares after the company missed fourth quarter results. It also cited increased competition for electric cars.
Along that line …
GM has confirmed it will invest $160-million in its Orion, Michigan plant to produce a long range electric car. It would be based on the Bolt concept car that was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. GM is aiming for a range of more than 200 miles and a price tag of about $30,000. ed.
Luxury pickup trucks are all the rage among customers these days thanks in part to lower gas prices. They are a profit making dream come true for manufacturers. To that end, Ram has introduced a slightly restyled top of the line Laramie Limited with lots of chrome. It will hit the market in the second quarter.
Also refreshed was the Toyota Avalon that will feature two suspension systems for 2016. One prioritizes a comfortable ride while the other is said to provide a more dynamic and responsive driving experience.
Public television’s MotorWeek has named the Mustang as its “Best of the Year” pick saying it “stood out amongst stiff competition for its eye catching retro-inspired exterior design, modern drivetrains, honest quality and over all progression.”