Six things to know about the 2016 North American International Auto Show

Detroit remains the single most important show — Detroit is still “Motor City.” Here’s a preview of what’s on tap, along with perhaps a few storm clouds on the horizon for the 2016 North American International Auto Show.

  • 2016 Honda Civic Sedan

The upcoming North American International Auto Show, known as the Detroit auto show to everyone except the organizers, may not be the biggest wheels-related event in the world.

But Detroit remains the single most important show — Detroit is still “Motor City.”

Here’s a preview of what’s on tap, along with perhaps a few storm clouds on the horizon for the North American show.

North American Car of the Year

The winners of the North American Car and Truck of the Year competition will kick things off Monday morning, which is the first press day.

In alphabetical order, the three car finalists are the Chevrolet Malibu, the Honda Civic, and the Mazda MX-5 (still called the Miata in the U.S.).

Unusually, all three cars received support on my first-round ballot. I say unusually because everyone is usually out of step except me.

In the final round of voting, I again went with the Malibu, Civic and MX-5, in that order.

But my guess, having chatted with other jurors, is that the Civic will win. — JK

RELATED: 2015 Honda Civic Coupe EX Review

North American Truck of the Year

The three North American Truck of the Year finalists are, in alphabetical order, the Honda Pilot, the Nissan Titan and the Volvo XC90.

Two of these three trucks received my support on the first round ballot, in which my first pick was the Volvo, followed by the Nissan. I had the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sorento tied for my third pick, in place of the Pilot.

On the final ballot amongst the three finalists, I went with the XC90, the Titan and then the Pilot.

And again chatting with other jurors, I’d be stunned if the Volvo didn’t garner the top prize. — JK

 

Infiniti Q60

The Japanese automaker will unveil the production version of the Q60 sport coupe. We last saw this two-door car in the form of a concept making the rounds at auto shows. You may have seen it at the Toronto show earlier this year.

Similar in profile to BMW’s 6 Series or Audi’s A5, the concept car’s front featured a wide-mouthed grill while the back was shaped off with squinting tail lights. It’ll likely be built with a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6.

When it does finally appear in showrooms as a 2017 model, it’ll slot into Infiniti’s lineup above the Q50 and below the larger Q70. — MC

 

Volvo S90

We’ll finally get to see the production version of Volvos’ flagship sedan when the company shows off the in Detroit.

Behind the elegant curves sits a semi-autonomous system called Pilot Assist. It’s designed to automatically steer for you at speeds of up to 130 km/h. Not like you’ll be going that fast on the 401, of course, but it’s nice to know this car can keep you in line. And because it’s a Volvo, you know it’ll be safe. The Swedes’ City Safety technology will now detect large animals, such as moose, and apply the brakes before the driver reacts. I’m not sure how many moose you’ll encounter in the city, however. — MC

RELATED: Volvo debuts the S90 luxury sedan.

 

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Only official interior photos of the new E-Class have been shared ahead of the production model’s big reveal in Detroit. One reason for that is because there’s a lot going on in the cabin.

In what will be an automotive first, drivers of this new Benz will be able to swipe to the right and double tap while they’re behind the wheel of the mid-size luxury car. Touch controls on the steering wheel that will replace traditional switches and buttons you actually had to press.

The new E-Class also features Active Lane Change Assist, which will automatically change lanes for you on the highway whenever you signal left or right at speeds of up to 180 km/h. I guess this means there’s no excuse for not activating the flicker. — MC

 

Who is not going?

What will be revealed at the Detroit show may not be as interesting as the companies not going there at all.

Jaguar/Land Rover, Tesla, Mini and Bentley are all no-shows (you should pardon the expression). The reasoning is that either their product launch cycles don’t coincide with the Detroit event’s timing or they didn’t want to show their existing product lines. And in Bentley’s case, they’d just rather spend their marketing dollars elsewhere.

That said, Aston Martin is back for the first time since 2009, which should make Mark Richardson happy.

Do these absentees hint that perhaps the auto show as we know it is facing extinction? After all, nearly every debutante has already been unveiled, either officially or via spy pictures. Where’s the drama, where’s the “news,” if everything is old-hat by the time the covers come off?

Time will tell. — JK

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