Vehicles ranging from a Chevrolet electric car with beefed-up range to a self-driving Chrysler van designed by Google (GOOG) engineers will be on display in Detroit as crowds head to the North American International Auto Show later this week.
The Chevy Bolt won the North American Car of the Year, voted annually by auto writers at the show. It will be the first mass-market electric car able to go more than 200 miles on a single charge. And Google's spun-off self-driving unit, known as Waymo, is displaying the self-driving minivans built in collaboration with Fiat Chrysler (FCUA).
The Detroit show also features redesigns of two perennial strong sellers -- the Toyota Camry sedan and the Honda Odyssey minivan. The Ford F-150 pickup, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., is showing off a refreshed exterior look and is introducing a diesel engine option.
Auto executives speaking at media preview days emphasized their commitment to assembling cars in the U.S. following President-elect Donald Trump's tweets bashing General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Toyota (TM) for plans to open new plants in Mexico.
But for the car-loving public heading to the show, the focus won't be politics but cars.
Read on for a closer look at seven vehicles causing a stir at the Detroit auto show.
The Bolt won the Car of the Year award for being the first affordable all-electric car that can go more than 200 miles on a single battery charge. Chevrolet beats Tesla's (TSLA) planned Model 3 to market at this lower price point. The existing Tesla Model S -- which can range 200 miles -- costs almost twice as much as the Bolt.
Already on sale in some states, the 2017 Bolt lists for $37,495, but a $7,500 federal tax credit brings the real cost to $30,000 -- less than the average new vehicle sold today. Chevrolet says the Bolt can go 238 miles on a single charge.
Test drivers at Car and Driver verified that in leisurely driving and said a highway trip at a steady 75 mph still saw 190 miles of range. These auto critics also praised the Bolt for its swift acceleration (zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds). The EPA rates the Bolt for 119 mpge, the electric-car equivalent of gas mileage.
The best-selling sedan in America is getting a new, sleeker look. The redesign of the 2018 Camry comes as Toyota hopes to lure additional buyers to its flagship sedan instead of the pickups and SUVs that have led sales since gas prices tumbled in recent years.
The new Camry is two inches longer, and the roof is one inch lower than its predecessor. It will have engine options of a 3.5-liter six-cylinder, a four-cylinder and a gas-electric hybrid. Standard safety equipment will include so-called pedestrian detection -- which hits the brakes at low speeds if it senses someone crossing in front of the car -- and lane departure warning.
Frequently praised by critics in the past as the best minivan, the Odyssey faces new competition from the stylish Chrysler Pacifica introduced last year. Honda touts the new 2018 Odyssey as having a sporty design. But probably of more interest to family shoppers will be so-called magic slide second-row seat that makes it easier to install a child seat or to get to the back row of seats.
The new Odyssey will be powered by a 3.5-liter, 280 horsepower V-6. Technology features will include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and streaming video.
Kia has succeeded in convincing auto shoppers that its cars are a good value for a reasonable price. It finished first ahead of luxury brands in the most recent J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey of new owners.
But now the South Korean automaker wants to project a sportier image with a new high-performance sedan. Called the Stinger, the new car was designed in Germany and will offer choice of turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines.
Some analysts thought the sporty look worked well. "The striking design of the Stinger has the potential to attract people to Kia who may never have considered the brand before," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at automotive website Edmunds.
Chrysler Pacifica self-driving minivan
Auto shows increasingly are focusing on self-driving technology along with their traditional fast and beautiful cars. On display in Detroit is a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan designed by Google engineers. The search giant's division for self-driving technology, now spun off as Waymo, entered an agreement with Fiat Chrysler to develop self-driving versions of the Pacifica.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik told reporters at the Detroit show that the company had sharply reduced the cost of producing radar and other equipment used in the driverless car. The minivans -- which look like a regular Pacifica except for bulges on the roof and front fenders for sensors -- will begin testing on public roads later this month.
The best-selling vehicle in America is getting an exterior facelift and a new diesel engine option for its 2018 version. Following up a major redesign that came with the 2015 model, the new F-150 features redesigned headlights, tail lights and grille.
In addition to improvements to its two V-6 gasoline engines, the F-150 also will come with a diesel available in the summer of 2018. To be called the "Power Stroke" engine, the diesel is a 3-liter, twin-turbo V-6.
Volkswagen I.D. Buzz
Amid its continuing problems with its diesel emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen is harking to its past for a vehicle of the future. Looking like the 1960s VW Microbus, the electric I.D. Buzz also is a concept vehicle for a future self-driving van. The I.D. is VW's designation for a series of vehicles using the same electric system.
The Buzz has a steering wheel, but it can retract into the dash in a full self-drive situation. With two electric motors, the Buzz has a maximum output equivalent to 369 mechanical horsepower. It can go from zero to 60 mph in just five seconds, VW says.