2014 Detroit Auto Show: Winners and Losers

2015 Audi Q3

This year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit had a little bit of everything, from high-performance sports cars to luxury models to a radically revamped full-size pickup truck. Our editors saw it all; here are their winners and losers of the show.

2014 Detroit Auto Show: Concept Cars Winners and Losers

2015 Audi Q3 (above)

Aaron Bragman: Winner

Formulaic, but the formula is tasty. Audi does the whole similarly styled lineup thing better than just about anyone. The vehicles are all attractive, well-proportioned and very clean. The Q3 just continues that tradition.

Joe Wiesenfelder: Winner

I was a little disappointed in the hard center console plastic, but the door panels are soft, the moonroof large and the visibility good. It's roomy enough, too. If this is what it takes for Americans to embrace small wagons — and that's all these wee crossovers really are — I'm all for it.

Mike Hanley: Winner

A hatchback in disguise as a small crossover, the Q3 offers more passenger room than you might expect. Limited cargo room and some low-grade cabin trim detract, but on the whole it's more appealing than Mercedes-Benz's GLA-Class, one of its main competitors.

Joe Bruzek: Loser

If the Q3 were taken off the turntable and added to the main show floor, it would be hard to tell this was an all-new Audi SUV. The Q3's price and value will be a bigger part of its appeal, but we don't know that info just yet.

2015 BMW M3 and M4 2015 BMW M3

AB: Winner

These things are sexy. The evolutionary styling of the 3 and 4 Series looks even better with fat fenders, thick wheels and big scoops. No surprises here, just the latest version of an iconic sports car that is likely to continue its successful run.

JW: Winner

Just enough hood bulge to hint at the power but not enough to be as awkward as the previous generation. I think all I'll miss of the V-8 is the sound. The specs on the dual-turbo inline six-cylinder are better; paradoxically, the V-8 always seemed too torque shy at low revs.

MH: Winner

Compared to what Audi and Lexus are up to with their high-performance luxury cars, the M3 and M4's styling seems a little tame. I like it, though, especially the new coupe's fastback roofline, which is fantastic.

JB: Winner

A black M4 coupe also made an appearance alongside the blue and yellow M3 and M4 predominantly shown in BMW's release photos. That black M4 with black wheels completely upstaged the other two cars. The M coupe and sedan's widened rear fenders are more noticeable in person than in photos, but still mild enough to be classy high-performance without the boy racer look.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe ATSWL

AB: Loser

Sorry, but what a snoozer. After being teased with designs like the Elmiraj Concept and the last CTS coupe, Cadillac plays it safe and delivers a two-door ATS sedan. Yes, it would be easier to do a convertible, but I hear that program is on hold pending further financial study. Here's hoping a CTS coupe arrives soon that makes me forget how underwhelming this is.

JW: Loser

I struggled with this one. I know the CTS coupe's styling is widely lauded and it definitely looks distinct from the CTS sedan, but I never cared for it myself. It's slab-sided and the boat tail is exaggerated. And can those electronic door releases be retired? Please? The ATS coupe has normal door handles and a toned-down rear end, but even so I have to agree with Bragman on this one. Zzzz.

MH: Winner

I never liked the CTS coupe's design for the reasons Wiesenfelder describes. That's probably why I like the ATS coupe, because it's nothing like that car with its more traditional lines and tidy tail. The design isn't especially daring, sure, but that's not always a good thing. See Acura.

JB: Loser

In addition to lacking flash like my colleagues mentioned, the ATS coupe didn't exhibit the most cohesive design. To me, the wheel wells are too small and the rear bodywork behind the door is disproportionately bulky compared to the front.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

AB: Winner

Good lord, what a beast. Chevrolet has turned the Corvette up to 11, and the result is almost indistinguishable from the C7.R racecar. It's faster than the old ZR1, looks like it wants to eat your house pets and is going to cost roughly what the old Z06 cost. Outstanding.

JW: Winner

Honestly, at the Detroit show, if I say any version of the Vette is anything but a winner, a late-middle-aged man with neatly trimmed white hair will discreetly garrote me before I leave the grounds. Anyway, it's good on paper; I always liked the ZR1, and that's what this has become.

MH: Winner

With all of its additional aggressive design cues — including an especially vulnerable-looking carbon fiber aero kit, the Corvette Z06 looks the part of a bad-boy racecar. It has the power to back up those looks with a 625-horsepower, supercharged V-8. That sound you hear? It's the competition cursing under its breath.

JB: Winner

High-end Corvette buyers turned off by the previous Z06's lack of automatic transmission and removable roof will flock to the 2015. Plus, throw sponsor stickers on a Z06 with the available aero work and it practically looks like the C7.R race version.

2015 Chrysler 200 200WL

AB: Winner

The exterior styling is derivative, a mishmash of other sedans on the market, but at least it's a mishmash of attractive sedans. And all-wheel drive, a 295-hp V-6, sport suspension and nine-speed transmission for about $28,000, wrapped in a body that looks like a 4/5th-scale Audi A7? That definitely wins in my book.

JW: Winner

I fear the car's backseat headroom will prove a deterrent, and that the presumably excellent chassis will go underappreciated by the likely buyer (like the Dodge Dart). But it looks good and has a high-quality interior with lots of thoughtful touches. It's more than just vastly improved over the previous generation — it's good in its class.

MH: Winner

The front-end styling is forgettable in an era of increasingly distinctive midsize cars, but elegant proportions and a really nice interior in uplevel models transform Chrysler's family sedan into a worthy challenger to the segment leaders.

JB: Winner

The sportier 200S with big wheels and black-painted trim is striking wearing the electric blue paint shown onstage. More than a pretty face, the 200 is smartly laid out on the inside with massive, multitiered front storage for media devices, wallets, keys and more, lots more.

2015 Ford F-150 F150WL

AB: Winner

An extremely impressive effort by Ford, with most of the work coming in places you can't see. The truck is far more aluminum intensive than anyone expected (97 percent of the body and structure is aluminum), and the resulting truck promises to be really impressive to drive. I can't help but think this is the first step in the next generation of the pickup truck.

JW: Winner

There's a lot to like here. Nothing jumps out at me as much as the aluminum construction. There's only so much technology an automaker can throw at a vehicle to improve efficiency; eventually it has to take weight out, and this is an obvious way to do it. In a pickup, the lighter weight also adds to the work capabilities, which is what makes this type of vehicle an excellent place for it.

MH: Winner

The design is an evolution of the current truck and remains distinctly Ford, but like my colleagues mentioned, the big story is its weight-saving construction. Real gas mileage estimates (unavailable right now) will help judge the effectiveness of this radical remake, but Ford has set a high bar for other truck makers with this one.

JB: Winner

Ford's 2015 F-150 has so many new, innovative qualities that not releasing specifications like towing or power did little to reduce the new truck's wow factor.

2015 Ford Mustang 2015 Ford Mustang

AB: Loser

The Chevy Camaro is outselling the Mustang with an older design featuring a lower-quality interior, and Ford responds by making a new Mustang ... that looks like the old one? Ford played it too safe with this new Mustang, softening the design of the current one but breaking no new ground whatsoever. The next Camaro is not far away, and I bet Chevy is smelling blood right about now.

JW: Loser

I expected to like it more than I did. The silhouette is nice, but overall the combination of new cues with its retro substrate looks awkward. It's chunky in front and shrink-wrapped in back. I'm also bummed that the backseat is less accommodating. Is that a shortcoming in this car type? Arguably not. But the larger backseat was a bonus in the previous generation, especially compared with the Camaro.

MH: Winner

I'm not wild about the new front end, particularly how the hood drops at the front of the car, but the fastback roofline looks great, as does the interior. Here's hoping it's at least as fun to drive as the prior generation, which is one of the things that distinguished that car from its competitors.

JB: Loser

I stared at the Mustang for what seemed like an eternity trying to figure out what was wrong. After all, I loved the way it looked in photos. The problem was forward of the cabin where the Mustang is bulky and long, appearing like a different car compared to the windshield rearward.

2015 Honda Fit 2015 Honda Fit

AB: Winner

This may be the most efficiently packaged car on the market, with a Tardis-like interior that makes the car feel bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. Materials are great, seats are comfy and the versatility is amazing.

JW: Winner

The current Fit is still very strong for an older design, and this one is roomier and updated in important ways. Enough said.

MH: Loser

I've always liked the Fit's unique versatility, and that's still here in the 2015 model, but I was underwhelmed by the interior quality of the car on the show floor. I know the Fit is something of an entry-level model, but it's as if this redesign happened under the same watch as the 2012 Civic, a car that was quickly updated the following model year. An all-new car in today's market needs to be better.

JB: Winner

I actually thought the Fit's interior quality was a substantial improvement compared to the outgoing one, though I also only checked out the leather-trimmed version. But, hey, now you can get a Fit with leather!

2015 Hyundai Genesis  GenesisWL

AB: Winner

Hyundai finally starts to find its own design language, and while more conservative than the last Sonata would have led us to expect, the new Genesis is stately and imposing, just what a big luxury sedan should be. The tail end could be more original; it's sporting a look that's becoming common on a lot of other sedans.

JW: Winner

The Genesis was startlingly impressive when it made its debut, and it has remained a bargain luxury car, but all praise has carried a subtext of " ... for a Hyundai," or " ... for the price." The 2015 elevates the experience. It has the no-excuses luxury feel. If you were to hide the badges, a focus group would easily think it was from a top luxury brand.

MH: Winner

The grille is too blocky for me but I like the rest of the car's lines. The cabin's premium finishes and passenger room are sure to please. The Hyundai badge is still going to be a problem for some luxury car-shoppers, but those who don't care will find a very nice car in the new Genesis.

JB: Winner

Buyers in states with front license plate requirements are going to hate what a front plate does to the new Genesis' styling - I don't see any place where it would work well. The new design is attractive and classy in a way that's an appropriate evolution for the Genesis. Plus, the inside is filled with higher-quality materials, and I wish I would have found the supple backseat earlier in the day.

2015 Lexus RC F RcfWL

AB: Loser

This new Lexus "design language" has to stop, because as language goes, this is gibberish. It's certainly daring and swoopy, but it's not in the least bit attractive, and that's disappointing given the car's impressive mechanicals. The gaping grille, the odd taillight shapes, the completely boring dashboard that looks like it was designed with nothing but a straightedge ... just no.

JW: Loser

You wouldn't necessarily know it, but Toyota and Lexus have the know-how to make formidable performance cars. We just haven't seen it in a long time. The RC looks good on paper. Could it be the one? It could, but on the show floor, even with its more dramatic lines, it struck me as "another Lexus." It's a loser until proven a winner.

MH: Winner

I really liked the RC F's low-slung stance; it has a lot more presence than the BMW M4, one of its main rivals. The hourglass grille is massive and imposing, but on a high-performance car like this I can live with it.

JB: Loser

Alongside the RC F sat the RC 350 "pedestrian" version of Lexus' new coupe. Without the high-performance version's bulging hood, offensive grille and dramatic cooling vents, the RC 350 that debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show is the classy coupe I wanted to see more of in Detroit.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

AB: Winner

Really, really nicely done. Features styling and technology straight out of the big flagship S-Class, but the clincher is the absolutely lovely interior. It feels modern, different and should do really well — if Mercedes-Benz doesn't go crazy with the sticker price.

JW: Winner

Very rich inside — appropriately so, as the CLA-Class becomes the new entry level. I'm not crazy about the glossy touch-pad surface; it feels too slippery and gets smudged immediately, but the big, high-mounted display is great. I question its durability, but otherwise the adjustable cargo bag feature in the trunk is brilliant.

MH: Winner

Mercedes' design language has morphed into something that's completely different than that of its German rivals. It's more organic and less severe, and it's on full display in the new C-Class. Like my colleagues said, the interior is quite nice.

JB: Winner

The level of quality inside the C-Class is top-notch for this segment, and though I'm not a fan of the standard gloss black trim, it is replaceable with a different and much more interesting material. I can't wait to drive a C-Class with the newly available air suspension that I hope will be as cushiony and comfortable as it sounds.

2015 Porsche 911 Targa  TargaWL

AB: Loser

I just don't understand this one. It has a convertible top that's not a convertible top, a big and complicated tonneau mechanism that can't do much for the car's weight, and the silver roll hoop messes up the flowing lines of the 911 coupe. Great if you like the retro look. If you just want the open-air experience, why not get a 911 Cabriolet for roughly the same price?

JW: Loser

Baffling. A lot of mechanism for minimal return. Does it look like an old Targa? Yes. But maybe it looked that way back then because it was the best Porsche could do 50 years ago. ...

MH: Winner

The 911 Targa is all about design and the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. It's different, for sure, and thinking of what it would cost to repair the complex powered roof out of warranty makes me shiver, but I'm happy this car exists.

JB: Loser

The 911 Targa is proof Porsche's 911 has, in fact, changed designs over the years; because what worked decades ago doesn't any longer. A 911 is too sleek, wide and low to have the Targa's dorky glass on the back.

2015 Subaru WRX STI 2015 Subaru WRX STI

AB: Loser

This was a hard call. On one hand, the WRX STI's capabilities are extraordinary; there's really nothing else like it on the market. On the other hand, it's not all that different from the last WRX STI — it has the same engine, even. Styling is tepid despite the bookshelf wing, and interior materials and designs are still boring. Should be fun to drive, but just doesn't really go far enough as a redesigned model.

JW: Loser

I'm not seeing a whole lot of evolution here over the previous generation either, from the specs, at least. I know the interior was dolled up some, but it's just not enough. Subaru is going to have to find religion real quick on interior quality and electronics to stay competitive — across its lineup. It seems to fall further behind every month.

MH: Loser

The STI version of the Subaru WRX was the automaker's chance to really make a design and performance statement. However, the car fell flat at the show with styling that's mostly the same as the regular WRX and a carryover powertrain. I'm baffled.

JB: Loser

What's going on Subaru? Previous STIs — all of them — were muscular and attractive enough to wear a big spoiler without anyone second-guessing; even with the weird-nose front styling of the 2006-2007 models. Apparently the modern standard Impreza doesn't want to be a performance car, or at least look like one.

Comments 

Tony

Audi Q3 is a winner because there will be some idiots to buy it

Subaru WRX is a loser? - ha-ha. Go get a Lancer and get Mitsu out of states the next day

Porsche is a loser? That what they say about Panamera. But I have 3 of them parked at my work every day

Lexus RC F is a loser? - you stick that L on a junker and it will sell. That pretty much what they did to ES350 and sold a lot of Camrys for 40K each

Honda Fit - this is real loser. Will be made in Mexico. Will lose half of the assembly quality and eventually the customer.

hellomoto

I hate when Tony comments.

Ben

"Honda Fit - this is real loser. Will be made in Mexico. Will lose half of the assembly quality and eventually the customer."

Doubt it. Honda makes a great product regardless of where it is assembled. Nissan is having some trouble with quality in Mexico these days (transmissions), but that's just them.

JM

the Genesis is an across-the-board winner, despite it being a carbon copy of a BMW 7 series?

the Targa, ATS, and Mustang are losers, but the 200, a car that is still to small and heavy to compete in the family sedan class, is a winner?

it's very clear who is paying the bills for this place. cars.com is losing credibility every year, and 2013 was the worst so far. don't let it keep happening in 2014, guys.

jyd

Audi A3 - Loser. I don't see the appeal here. Too small and the Audi corporate grille is starting to age.

BMW M4 - Winner. More of everything that's good.

Cadillac ATS - Loser. For all the reasons mentioned. This one has no cache.

Chevy Corvette Z06 - Winner. Duh.

Chrysler 200 - Winner. Not hard to improve on the last one but that shouldn't count against it. Lots of styling fixes done right here.

Ford F150 - Winner. Ford continues to outpace it's competition. Everyone else is playing catch up and "me too!"

Ford Mustang - Winner. That yellow isn't it's best color but the redesign is very nice. The Camaro is still f-u-g-l-y!

Honda Fit - Winner. They've hit the right spot here for the class it's in.

Hyundai Genesis - Winner. Though, to be taken seriously, they need to spin it into it's own brand.

Lexus RC F - Loser. Ugh. Who approved the grille on these new Lexus'?

Mercedes C Class - Winner. classic.

Porsche 911 Targa - Loser. The answer to the question no one was asking.

Subaru WRX STi - Loser. A good step forward, but Subaru seems determined to never, ever be popular.

Raf

Lexus RC, that's the car to buy if you like amazing, good looking cars!

Richard Joash Tan

"Subaru WRX STi - Loser. A good step forward, but Subaru seems determined to never, ever be popular."

and you are a B.S. because the STI is a winner for me

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