2009 Detroit Wrap-Up: 10 Best of Show

The Detroit auto show has come and gone, and has left the automotive industry with a little more to chew over. As a final wrap-up to quite possibly the most important auto show in America, we chose 10 cars that summed up the best of the show. We chose based on significance and looks, which is why you will see Honda’s Insight on the same list as the Fisker Karma. After much deliberating, here are the 10 we think are the best.

10) Volkwagen BlueSport Concept


Starting at the No. 10 spot, the BlueSport made this list because it is an honest effort to make a sporty car by a company whose most engaging vehicle to date is the Golf GT1 (no, the Bugatti Veyron does not count). It’s not the sexiest roadster available, as the Saturn Sky debatably holds that spot (key word: debatably. Check out the comments at the link above, and add your own opinion). While not terribly exciting to the eyes, it does feature that solid, reliable look that has come to define VW’s “German Engineering”. 57 miles to each gallon of diesel just adds to the charm.

9) Lincoln MKT


The Lincoln MKT is the production version of the concept shown at last year’s Detroit show, and as expected, the production version is toned down, meaning that it’s not nearly as sexy. That doesn’t mean the 2010 MKT is bad though. To the contrary, the MKT is visually interesting and shows that Ford is committed to its flagship brand.

8) Honda Insight


Watch out Prius: Honda is gunning for the hybrid top spot in their own halo enviro-car. It’s smaller than yours, cheaper than yours, and hey! it even looks like yours. But don’t worry Toyota, it only gets an EPA estimated 40 city/43 highway, while your revised eco baby can boast 50 mpg combined. Jokes aside, though, Toyota had better sweat all the details on the new Prius, because from what we’ve heard, the Insight is more spacious, comfortable, dynamic, and insightful (heh heh, see what we did there?)

7) Audi Sportback Concept


Audi is known for their good, clean design, and while the Sportback Concept isn’t very exciting, it is a reassuringly familiar vehicle. Previewing the design of the new A7, this “five-door hatchback” is another spin off the “four-door coupe” idea, probably designed to combat the phenomenal sales success of the Mercedes CLS. Due to its clean turbodiesel V-6, the car can get 37 miles to the gallon, while hitting 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. Not bad. But what we really wanna see is the beastly V-10 used in the S8, though Audi says that a supercharged V-6 is a more likely option.

6) Chrysler 200C Concept


We here at Automoblog.net have been worried about Chrysler. Always the most anemic of the Big Three, recent economic turmoils have hit them the hardest. Rumors of bankruptcy have often surfaced, followed by their shameless begging from the governments. Here to show us that they might have a bright future is the 200C, a hybrid from Chrysler that actually makes sense and could feasibly make a difference. The car is a standard plug-in hybrid, with a small gasoline engine supplementing an electric drivetrain. The 200C can travel up to 40 miles on an electric charge alone (oooh, doesn’t that sound familiar), and is about the size of a 5-Series Bimmer. The interior is astonishingly high-tech and futuristic, which hopefully hints at the future of Chrysler interior design and ergonomics. Overall, the car is gorgeous, and we can only hope that it will get the green light for production.

5) Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss


If we were not so accustomed to the “normal” SLR, then the Stirling Moss would have made numero uno on our list. But since it’s really no more than a resculpted SLR, we couldn’t score it too high. But what a resculpting! Looking far more exotic and expensive and unattainable than the original, this was no doubt the coolest supercar on display. Power comes from the same 650 horsepower supercharged V-8 in the Roadster, and this baby can blast to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and it won’t stop till it hits 217 mph. And you’ll be feeling it the whole way: if you haven’t noticed yet, the Stirling has no windshield, and no roof.

4) 2010 Toyota Prius


Placing the Prius above the awesome Stirling Moss may seem like we’ve lost our marbles, but we haven’t. True, the Prius is no cooler than a box of tumbleweed compared to the Stirling, but it is far more significant to this industry. Exterior changes are minor, the most interesting being a new moonroof with solar panels that power a fan to cool the car while parked. The cabin has been redesigned, with more intuitive controls. The biggest news, however, is better fuel economy. 50 mpg combined ain’t shabby at all, but it could be doing a lot better. The absence of the promised plug-in feature is disappointing, but no matter. We are confident that this new Prius can hold its own and remain the definition of the word “hybrid”.

Update: 2010 Toyota Prius Review

3) Ford Taurus


Quite possibly the most important product launch in Ford’s illustrious history, the Taurus could very feasibly re-empower Ford. Far removed from the previous Taurus that had us all yawning, this new baby is impressive. Clear effort was made at design and quality, as the whole car gives off a very upscale feeling. Quieter and more refined, overall fit and finish set a new standard for the Ford Motor Company. With a cockpit inspired by the ’10 Mustang the Taurus imparts a sporty feel as well. “Family sedan” will be the last description to come to your mind, if it comes at all, yet the Taurus excels at it’s practical application as a family car. The Taurus will be available 2010 with a 3.5 liter V-6, and a performance SHO version will follow in 2010.

2) Fisker Karma Sedan/ Karma S Concept


The Fisker Karma and Karma S Concept are the second best cars of the Detroit Auto Show because they are sex on wheels. That is the only way to succintly sum it up. The Karma S Concept is even sexier than the production Karma sedan, due to its two-door convertible nature and the fact that concepts aren’t hampered by such things like real life practicality. Both are luxury hybrids that offer respectable performance numbers and excellent mileage, all in a package that is the most environmentally friendly that we’ve seen. If the only car to edge it out for the title of Best of Show wasn’t so damn cool, then the Karma would have had an easy win.

1) Cadillac Converj Concept


Here it is, our pick for the Best of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Cadillac’s version of the Volt is gorgeous, exotic, and so desirable it makes me wonder how the brand ever fell behind foreign competitors. In what is probably the best rendition of Cadillac’s “Art & Science” slogan, the Converj hints at the future of Cadillac design and engineering, and boy, is that future lookin’ good. Do the folks on Capitol Hill still think that Detroit produces nothing but crude, obese gas guzzlers? Since it shares the same basic drivetrain as the Volt, this angular sex-bomb can travel 40 miles without using a single drop of gas, with a small gasoline engine to prevent what Bob Lutz has termed “range anxiety”. It can be recharged from a home outlet. If we were running GM, this baby would be starting production tomorrow, but since we’re not, the future of this car is uncertain. We sure do hope that the Converj doesn’t follow in the footsteps of such concepts as the Cien and Sixteen, that is, marvels of design that unfortunately remain just a design.

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