North American International Auto Show 2018: Asian OEMs

Concepts and prototypes from Honda, Toyota and Nissan preview future vehicles



Infiniti Q Inspiration concept

 The 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) was held from January 14 through January 28, 2018, with the show opening to the public starting January 20. The 2018 show had a total attendance of 809,161 visitors, surpassing the 800,000 visitor milestone for the fifth consecutive year.

 A trend at the 2018 North American International Auto Show was the large number of concept vehicles shown by Asian automakers. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and GAC all unveiled concepts and prototypes in Detroit. While production models of the Honda Insight and Acura RDX are expected later in 2018, the two models showcased were described as prototypes. Toyota and Nissan unveiled concepts that emphasized styling and technology in the Lexus LF-1 Limitless, Nissan Xmotion, and Infiniti Q Inspiration, while GAC highlighted unique features in the Enverge concept.

 Other notable models on display spanned a variety of segments. Kia and GAC unveiled compact cars with the Forte and GA4, respectively. Hyundai showcased its Veloster compact sports car, while Toyota revealed the next-generation Avalon full-size car. In contrast, Subaru showcased the Ascent mid-size SUV that debuted at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.

 This report is the third of three reports which focuses on the vehicles displayed at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. This report will focus on key models showcased by Asian OEMs, specifically Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai-Kia, GAC and Subaru. Previously released reports focused on notable vehicles displayed by U.S. and European automakers.

Related Reports:
CES 2018: Growing prevalence of electric vehicles (Jan. 2018)
CES 2018: Autonomous and HMI technology applications and examples (Jan. 2018)
Nissan: Connected strategy in the age of autonomous cars (Jan. 2018)
North American International Auto Show 2018
U.S. OEMs: Automakers focus on pickup truck and SUV segments due to regional demand
European OEMs: Variety of models underline Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen strategies in U.S.

Honda Insight and Acura RDX Prototypes preview upcoming production models

 While the models unveiled by Honda were described as prototypes, both the Honda Insight and Acura RDX will be launched in 2018, indicating that the production models will have few, if any, changes to the models that were shown. The Honda Insight hybrid sedan expands Honda's portfolio of electrified vehicles while the Acura RDX showcases technology and the brand's new design language.

Honda Insight Prototype Compact Hybrid Sedan

Honda Insight Prototype

 The debuting Honda Insight Prototype provided a preview of the production model expected to launch later in 2018. The 2019 Insight will join the Accord Hybrid and the Clarity series as the fifth electrified vehicle in Honda's lineup. With a low and wide stance enhanced by a long wheelbase platform, the Insight Prototype features a sleek design accented by Honda's signature "flying wing" grille, low-profile LED headlights and taillights, and a long sweeping roofline.

 The Insight will be powered by a third-generation system of Honda's two-motor hybrid system, featuring a 1.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine, two electric motors, and a lithium-ion battery pack. While specific figures are not available, the Insight is expected to provide segment-leading power while maintaining a combined fuel economy rating of over 50 mpg. In most situations, the Insight will run only on electric power from the engine acting as a generator or the battery pack. The batteries are located under the rear seats, enabling the Insight to have a full-size trunk and 60/40 split-folding seats.

 Due to its long wheelbase, the 2019 Insight will provide segment-leading passenger space for up to five passengers. Available interior features include leather seating, a seven-inch LCD instrument panel, an eight-inch Display Audio touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and over-the-air system updates. Higher trim levels will include a standard Honda LaneWatch blind spot camera system. The Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assistance systems will also be available and includes the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and Traffic Sign Recognition.

 The 2019 Honda Insight will be manufactured at Honda's plant in Greensburg, Indiana, U.S. and will be available in the summer of 2018.

Acura RDX Prototype Luxury Crossover SUV

 Previewing the production model set to launch in 2018, the 2019 Acura RDX Prototype, showcased Acura's new design language and a number of luxury features. Built on an Acura-exclusive platform, the RDX Prototype draws inspiration from the Acura Precision Concept by applying a low and wide stance to an SUV. The RDX Prototype has a 1.2-inch wider track, 2.5-inch longer wheelbase, and shorter front overhangs compared to its predecessor. A redesigned diamond pentagon grille serves as the front's centerpiece, highlighted by Acura Jewel Eye LED headlights. Character lines further emphasize a dynamic appearance.

 The RDX utilizes a 2.0-liter DOHC VTEC turbo I4 engine, which provides 40% more low-end torque than the previous RDX. This engine is paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission, the segment's first ten-speed transmission. The RDX is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel-drive through the Acura SH-AWD system. All-wheel-drive versions will feature a new differential that provides a 150% increase in maximum torque capacity over its predecessor. An Integrated Dynamics System is available with four drive modes and is controlled through a center console dial.

Acura RDX Prototype Acura RDX Prototype interior


 Inside, the RDX features a floating center console, punctuated by high-grade materials such as Nappa leather, brushed aluminum, and Olive Ash wood. The new platform enables a larger passenger cabin, with segment-leading cabin space, rear legroom, and rear cargo space. The RDX includes the launch of Acura's all-new True Touchpad Interface, an Android-based 10.2-inch HD display with one-to-one mapping between the screen and touchpad. Available safety features will include a Surround-View Camera System, front and rear parking sensors, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, and Blind Spot Information system.

 Assembly of the 2019 RDX will take place at the Honda plant in East Liberty, Ohio, U.S. Its engine will be manufactured in Anna, Ohio while its 10-speed automatic transmission will be manufactured in Tallapoosa, Georgia. The 2019 RDX will launch in the middle of 2018.

Toyota explores new designs with Avalon and Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept

 Toyota debuted two models at the 2018 North American International Auto Show which highlighted new styling concepts. As with the Camry which debuted in 2017, the 2019 Avalon features a completely redesigned exterior emphasizing the theme of Technical Beauty. The Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept represents a future luxury crossover with advanced technology that showcases future Lexus design.

2019 Toyota Avalon Full-size Sedan

 The fifth-generation 2019 Toyota Avalon showcases a new exterior combined with several Toyota-first milestones. Mounted on the TNGA platform, the Avalon is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor. The wide grille dominates the front and is accented by corner vents. Horizontal character lines across the back, top, center, and lower portions of the Avalon highlight its width. Available slim LED headlamps add a sense of sportiness and elegance, while "aero fin" LED taillamps give the rear a distinct appearance.

 Two powertrains will be available on the 2019 Avalon, a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a hybrid system with a 2.5-liter I4 engine, a 650-volt electric motor, and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Specific power figures have not been released, though similar powertrains on the Camry generate 301 hp and 267 lb-ft with the V6 and 208 hp with the hybrid. The V6 engine is mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid is paired with a CVT. All Avalon versions come with front-wheel drive. An Adaptive Variable Suspension system is available, the first time that Toyota has offered the system.

Toyota Avalon Toyota Avalon interior


 The interior uses the TNGA platform's thin pillars and wide windshield to give the impression of open space. Soft-touch materials are used around the center console, instrument panel, and rear compartment to further the feeling of comfort. The center stack features a nine-inch multimedia system. For the first time, Apple CarPlay integration is standard. Toyota Safety Sense P is also standard on the Avalon and includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist.

 The 2019 Toyota Avalon is constructed at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky in Georgetown, Kentucky, U.S., and will be available in late spring 2018 with four different trim levels.

Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept Luxury Crossover

 Described as a modern interpretation of a luxury crossover, the Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept combines new design features with future technology. The LF-1's appearance is based on a design concept called "molten katana", which combines the forms of liquid metal with sharp lines. The concept's athletic profile is based on an exaggerated dash-to-axle ratio and supplemented by 22-inch wheels. As with current Lexus models, the LF-1 features a spindle grille. However, the spindle grille features a 3-D design accented by LED lighting to emphasize movement.

 A front fender line extends from the hood to the C-pillar contrasts against the surfaces below the line, such as a creased front fender and scalloped front door. In the rear, the LF-1 features a split spoiler and sculpted corner openings for vents. A large window extends over the rear seats, providing a clear view. Inside, the minimalistic cockpit replaces knobs and buttons with motion-activated controls. An unobstructed dashboard creates a sense of openness in the front. By limiting the LF-1 to four passengers, more room is available per passenger. Miniature LEDs within the wood door trim complement overhead lighting to create a warmer environment.

Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept interior


 Powertrain controls are integrated into the steering wheel, with paddles to control acceleration characteristics and buttons to select gears such as park or reverse. A navigation system also acts as a predictive personal assistant, suggesting points of interest and delivering information to the vehicle displays. Control systems include an embedded touchpad in the center console and a haptic controller in the rear seat center console. For added convenience, a Chauffeur mode enables hands-free autonomous driving. Lexus did not commit a specific powertrain to the LF-1, with hybrid, fuel cell, battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and gasoline options all possible.

Nissan Xmotion and Infiniti Q Inspiration concepts fuses future technology and design

 With the unveiling of two concepts at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, Nissan previewed the future integration of technology and design. The Nissan Xmotion concept showcased a compact SUV that blends functionality, Japanese aesthetic-inspired design, and Nissan Intelligent Mobility. The Infiniti Q Inspiration shows how its VC-Turbo powertrain, autonomous technologies and a unique interior can enhance the driving experience.

Nissan Xmotion Concept Compact SUV

 Described by Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President of Global Design at Nissan, as "a study in how seemingly disparate elements can gain power and strength", the Nissan Xmotion concept combines technology, functionality, and Japanese design. The body's design resembles a suit of armor that shields the vehicle's core. Signature Nissan elements such as the V-motion front grille and boomerang headlamps have been updated for the Xmotion. The grille is wider, deeper and features horizontal bars. U-shaped body side highlights add a unique element to the side while connecting the front and rear fenders.

 The interior uses a "4+2" seating layout, consisting of three rows of two individual seats. Meant to evoke imagery of a bridge over a river, the center console extends from the front to the rear passenger area and utilizes traditional Japanese wood working techniques. The seats further develop the river motif, resembling floating ships guided by a current. Red and white is used in the interior to highlight the model's Japanese heritage, while suede elements and carbon fiber accents provide a sense of comfort and peace.

Nissan Xmotion concept Nissan Xmotion concept interior


 A floating command system on the console can sense hand motions to control infotainment, climate control systems, and driving modes. The Xmotion has seven segmented displays which, along with the infotainment system, can also be controlled through gestures, eye movements and voice commands. The Xmotion is started through fingerprint authentication, which also activates the virtual personal assistant. The assistant links to the driver's smartphone and integrates information into the vehicle. In doing so, the assistant can identify points of interest during manual or autonomous driving.

Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept Full-size Luxury Sedan

 The Q Inspiration Concept previews future Infiniti models that utilize technologies such as its new VC-Turbo engine and autonomous driving systems. In terms of exterior design, the Q Inspiration is the first representation of Infiniti's new design language. The new language focuses on straight lines, simple graphics, and clean surfaces. On the front, a large double-arch grille is complemented by sharp louvers on the side of the hood and vents encompassing the wheels. Shoulder lines from the hood blend into the middle of the body, and re-emerge at the vehicle's rear.

Infiniti Q Inspiration concept Infiniti Q Inspiration concept interior


VC-Turbo engine

 The interior of the Q Inspiration is focused on simple, minimalistic design. Each passenger has access to their own floating touchscreen, allowing a variety of media to be played simultaneously. This helps to maximize the amount of legroom and minimize informational clutter on shared displays. Thin ergonomic seats help to reduce fatigue on longer trips. White leather used in the seats, center console and doors promote a clean and inviting environment, while the wood in the dashboard highlight the concept's premium nature.

 First seen on the QX50, the VC-Turbo engine is the world's first variable compression ratio engine. The engine provides improved efficiency at lower compression ratios and increased power and torque at higher ratios. The engine's compact packaging enables the Q Inspiration Concept's short hood and long cabin, and thus provides more space for passengers. ProPILOT autonomous technologies assist the driver in various driving scenarios, while allowing the driver to maintain control of the car. These systems include intersection auto-navigation and autonomous multi-lane highway driving.

Kia Forte and Hyundai Veloster demonstrate application range of compact vehicles

 The compact cars unveiled by Hyundai and Kia targeted two different audiences. Kia focused on providing affordable utility and improved convenience in the compact car segment through the debut of the third-generation Forte, while Hyundai focused on combining excitement and utility with the debut of the second-generation Veloster compact sports car.

2019 Kia Forte Compact Sedan

 The global debut of the third-generation 2019 Kia Forte makes several styling changes and improvements over its predecessor in comfort, efficiency, and convenience. Inspired by the Kia Stinger, the new Forte's athletic stance is emphasized by a cowl point that is moved five inches back, elongating the hood and shortening the deck. The length, height and width of the Forte have been increased to 182.7, 56.7, and 70.8 inches, respectively. Hood creases and a modified tiger nose grille add muscularity, while the headlamps are also styled similarly to the Stinger.

 The 2019 Forte is Kia's first model to feature its new Intelligent Variable Transmission, a CVT that uses adaptive style shift logic to provide smooth acceleration. A second-generation 2.0-liter I4 which engine generates 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque is paired with the IVT. Together, the system offers an estimated combined fuel economy of 35 mpg. A six-speed manual transmission is also available. Improvements to the rigidity of the Forte's body-in-white reduces cabin noise and improves handling. The Forte's new subframe design also improves lateral responsiveness.

Kia Forte (EX Launch Edition trim) Kia Forte interior (EX trim)


 Due to increases in size, the Forte features a larger cabin with more legroom and cargo room. Its trunk has a capacity of 15.1 cubic feet, one of the largest in the segment. The dashboard gives a sense of openness through the use of horizontal lines and the reduced number of buttons. An eight-inch color touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard. Available driver assistance functions include Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, and Smart Cruise Control.

 Production of the 2019 Kia Forte will take place at Kia's plant in Pesqueria, Monterrey, Mexico. Sales of the Kia Forte will begin in the fall of 2018.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Compact Sports Coupe

 Hyundai unveiled its second-generation Veloster lineup in Detroit, blending performance and convenience with a unique design. The Veloster features an asymmetrical "2+1" door configuration, with an additional passenger side door for easier rear seat access. A new grille with a 3-D design is flanked by available LED headlights, daytime running lights, and aerodynamic air curtains. The lowered roofline, rearward-shifted cowl point and A-pillar enhance the Veloster's muscular stance. The high-performance Veloster N has a unique fascia and grille with front air ducts, side sills, a larger rear spoiler, rear fascia with integrated diffuser, and dual exhaust system.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo Hyundai Veloster N


 Three engine options are available across the Veloster lineup. The base model uses an efficient 2.0-liter I4 which produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft, paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Veloster Turbo features a 1.6-liter turbo I4 that outputs 201 hp and 195 lb-ft paired with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch transmission. The Veloster N features a larger 2.0-liter direct-inject turbo I4 engine which produces 275 hp and 260 lb-ft mated to a six-speed manual transmission. All three models are front-wheel drive, with the Turbo and N versions featuring unique suspensions for improved control and handling.

Hyundai Veloster N interior

 The Veloster's asymmetry extends to the interior with a driver-focused cockpit. N models feature exclusive cabin trim, including N-design front cloth sport seats, steering wheel, shift knob, and instrument cluster. An infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard on the Veloster. Other features available include a head-up display, HD Radio and wireless charging. Hyundai's available Blue Link connected car system enables functions such as remote start, remote lock/unlock, and enhanced roadside assistance. Standard driver assistance features include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keep Assist, and Driver Attention Warning.

 The 2019 Hyundai Veloster and Veloster Turbo begins production in Ulsan, Korea in March 2018, and will be available in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2018. Production of the Veloster N will take place at the same plant starting September 2018, with a U.S. market launch to take place in the fourth quarter of 2018.

GAC announces U.S. market plans, unveils Enverge concept and GA4

 GAC's exhibit at the 2018 North American International Auto Show represented the third time in four years in which the Chinese automaker had attended the Detroit show. Beyond the unveilings of the Enverge concept and the GA4, GAC announced plans to enter the U.S. market in the fourth quarter of 2019 with the GS8 crossover SUV. In April 2017, GAC established its first R&D center in North America in Silicon Valley, California.

GAC Enverge Concept Compact SUV

GAC Enverge concept

 As GAC's first battery-electric compact SUV concept targeted towards the North American market, the Enverge showcased a variety of innovative features targeted towards younger audiences. The front of the Enverge features an aggressively styled front face with narrow, angled headlights. Instead of conventional exterior side mirrors, the Enverge uses side cameras mounted on its gullwing doors. The front fog lamps are detachable and can be used as high-power floodlights. A storage area on the roof can house drones or other gadgetry.

 The Enverge uses an electric powertrain consisting of four electric motors powered by a 71 kWh battery. The powertrain generates approximately 240 hp and enables a range of approximately 370 miles. Up to 240 miles of range can be charged in ten minutes. A wireless charging module is available as an additional charging option. The Enverge has a top speed of approximately 99 mph and can accelerate to 60 mph in approximately 4.4 seconds.

 Two primary features dominate the interior of the Enverge concept. The front contains a large digital flat-screen display spanning nearly the entire width of the interior which shows speed, navigation, and weather information. Rear seat passengers can use augmented reality glasses provided in the vehicle in conjunction with displays embedded into the side windows to view additional information on nearby points of interest. Thin front seats provide more space and legroom for all passengers.

2018 GAC GA4 Compact Sedan


 GAC unveiled its GA4 compact sedan at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, despite having no plans to introduce it to the U.S. market in the foreseeable future. The GA4 has a length, height and width of 184.7, 59.1, and 71.1 inches, respectively. The trunk provides 17 cubic feet of cargo space. The interior includes power adjustable and heated seats, along with an Android-based connected infotainment system with an eight-inch display. Remote start and locking functionalities are available on the GA4 after installing additional software.

 Two engine options are available on the GA4: a 1.5-liter engine which produces 112 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque, and a 1.3-liter turbo that generates 135 hp and 149 lb-ft of torque. The 1.5-liter engine can be mated to a five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic, while the 1.3-liter engine can be paired with a five-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard on the GA4. The suspension consists of a front independent McPherson strut paired with a rear twist-beam suspension.

 Sales for the GA4 began in China on January 18, 2018.

Subaru showcases versatile Ascent SUV

 While Subaru did not reveal any new vehicles in Detroit, it showcased the Ascent mid-size SUV, which originally debuted at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Ascent is an SUV designed for a range of purposes.

2019 Subaru Ascent Mid-size SUV

Subaru Ascent

 As the largest Subaru vehicle ever produced, the 2019 Ascent mid-size SUV emphasizes versatility for families. The Ascent is available in seven- or eight-passenger configurations. Based on the new Subaru Global Platform, the Ascent's frame has stiffened joints for improved stability and noise reduction. The 113.8-inch wheelbase provides up to 153.5 cubic feet of passenger volume and up to 86.5 cubic feet of cargo space. A three-zone climate control system ensures comfort for passengers. Eight USB charging ports are located throughout the cabin, while a 120-volt outlet in the rear of the center console enables the charging of multiple devices.

Subaru Ascent interior Subaru Ascent cargo area


 All Ascent trim levels feature the same powertrain, a 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four Boxer engine which produces 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, paired with a Lineartronic CVT. A four-wheel independent suspension improves ride comfort. The Ascent has a standard X-Mode off-road system with Hill Descent Control and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, to help navigate low-friction or off-road terrain. Its off-road capabilities are further assisted by its 8.7-inch ground clearance. In addition, the Ascent has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, the largest capacity of any Subaru model.

 A variety of advanced technologies further improve comfort and convenience in the Ascent. A standard 6.5-inch or available 8-inch infotainment system includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Subaru Starlink Connected Services provide additional functionality including remote start; concierge service; geofencing, speed and curfew alerts; and over-the-air updates. The Ascent also has available in-car Wi-Fi connectivity. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is standard on the Ascent and includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, and Pre-Collision Throttle Management.

 Production of the 2019 Subaru Ascent takes place at Subaru's facility in Lafayette, Indiana, U.S. Sales of the Ascent will begin in the spring of 2018, starting at a base price of USD 31,995.

NAIAS2018, Detroit, Auto Show, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, GAC, Subaru

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