2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan

Odometer (ILX):  190,267


Aloha from 35,000 feet.  As I generate these thoughts, I’m midway through Delta’s 4-hour flight #2021 with service from Detroit to Phoenix, and luckily a sweet old woman swapped me into her window seat way back here in row 31 so I can at least enjoy the scenery a little.


The North American International Otto Show.  Wait – Otto?   Yes.  Did you know that the Detroit Auto Show was originally named for Otto Shaw, a German Immigrant who opened Detroit’s first used car dealership on Woodward Avenue?  The show was named the Detroit Auto Show until 1989 when it finally took on the “international” flavor when organizers decided it was only fair to recognize the fact that more than just the United States produced cars.  This factoid comes from “autoblopnik” with tongue in cheek, but one fact holds true with definite certainty:  This show is the country’s most extravagant display of automaker fanfare related to new model releases each year.


This year marked the 5th anniversary of my first trip to the show, back in January 2012.  At that time, I was attending the Media Days as a guest of Acura along with a group of a half-dozen or so automotive bloggers.  The main event of interest for me was the unveil of two cars that year: The ILX Concept and the NSX Concept.  Oddly enough it has taken Acura almost these entire last 5 years to fully bring the NSX to market (it sold between 60 and 70 units in December 2016) but the ILX is already in its 5th model year and has had a light refresh as of two years ago.  Heck, by the time the fully-redesigned second-gen ILX comes around (maybe for the 2018 model year?) I’ll probably have 200,000 miles on mine.


Redline Reviews, hopefully by now one of your favorite YouTube car review channel subscriptions, invited me to be part of the team.  I worked with Editor-in-Chief Sofyan Bey, along with his support staff members Peace and Rob, who together produce some of the most thorough and timely video segments in the industry on automotive reviews, new vehicle reveals, and other industry news.  We stayed at a ruggedly industrial repurposed bottling plant from the 1930s on Fort Street, just a mile away from Cobo Center which is the convention hall that becomes the epicenter of all NAIAS activity for the week.


On Monday, January 9th, we staked out our spot in the Media Center by 6:30 a.m. (remember, that’s 4:30 in the morning for this Arizona guy!) and hit the show floor running by the time the first press conference, Chevy’s, kicked off at 7:30.  In all, the day involved walking some 14,000 steps totaling out to over 8 miles.  Each automaker’s booth more impressive than the last, many of which offering up food and beverages in attempt to woo the journalists.  It worked for me.  I’ve never met a finger food I didn’t like.


A productive day it was.  In all, Sofyan and crew – myself included – captured footage for 10 videos.  Noteworthy subject matter included the new Subaru WRX, Chevy Traverse, GMC Terrain, Honda Odyssey, Ford F-150, Kia Stinger, Lexus LS500, and Toyota Camry – all of which are either brand new or very substantially revised models for the 2018 model years and beyond.


The crazy thing is just how far the bar continues to be raised.  Almost every press conference transcript includes the words “safer, stronger, more fuel efficient, faster.”  Every year we seem to be creeping ever-closer to automotive perfection.  Where a few years ago it was revolutionary for an automaker to have a 7 or 8 speed automatic transmission, some (Odyssey, F-150) are now getting 10 speeds.


Going by the wayside are large displacement V8 engines.  Even the 2018 Lexus LS series (above), which debuted 28 years ago in 1989 as the company’s flagship sedan, for the first time will now only be offered with a twin-turbo V6 motor.  That’s not to say it’s taking a step back in power, since the V6 still pushes out over 400 horsepower.  And the “electrification” of the automobile industry expands with each year.  Honda announced that half of its new models in the next 3 years will be “electrified” in some way.  Gas pumps are inevitably being replaced by power plugs.


A full day of work by me and the rest of the Redline team was followed by an evening at the charming home of Motor Trend Editor, Frank Markus, and his husband Michael in the suburb of Royal Oak about 25 minutes north of downtown.  I picked up a friend from the airport and we headed to the festivities.  There, I was able to rub shoulders with the automotive elite like auto reviewer Jason Cammisa who hosts Motor Trend’s “Ignition” segment and garners tens of thousands of views, as well as Steve Siler and Brian Gurney, pictured above.


Detroit got its fair share of overnight snow on Monday – so much, in fact, that my rental Chevy Sonic LTZ was nearly stuck a few times while I navigated my way around town.  I’m a noob when it comes to snow driving.  I’ll remind you, it’s been 11 years since I moved to Phoenix.  I made a few visits to local friends and made my way back to the McNamara terminal at Detroit’s international airport.  And with that concluded an action-packed 48 hours in Motor City.  It was worth every second, and every air-mile.  Thanks for reading!

Here’s a 13-minute video of some ramblings Sofyan and I shared after the first day of the show.

Dollar rent-a-car gave me the choice of any compact in this lineup.  I just picked the Sonic at the far end.


Press conference lineup for Monday morning, January 9th.   Each automaker gets 25 minutes to wow and impress us.


Visiting my friend Waseem who just recently bought a place in Grosse Pointe, about 10 mi north of downtown.


Waseem’s 1990 Legend LS tucked away.


Dinner with other local friends Hass and his lovely wife.


This was an amazing fish taco from a place called Batch Brewery.


Our AirBNB accommodations in downtown Detroit.


The crowd goes wild over the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.


Still one of my favorite designs ever:  The Genesis G80 rear.


Nissan is bringing out a Rogue Sport model that looks pretty snazzy.


A run-in with none other than the famous “HondaPro” Jason Richmond, who has built a career out of being a Honda brand advocate.  You go Jason!


Toyota’s new 2018 Camry is trying pretty hard to look sporty.  This “XSE” version even includes quad exhaust tips.


Big in the news is Kia’s latest offering, the “Stinger” GT.  Complete with Brembo brakes and the whole 9!



Sweet car in Motor Trend Editor Frank’s garage.  1985 Town & Country!


Snowy Tuesday morning in downtown Detroit.  I got to use the ice scraper on my Sonic.


BONUS MATERIAL!  My friend Scott is storing a 1977 Honda Civic CVCC in my garage for about a week until it gets auctioned off.



And my roommate James is testing a 2017 Honda Ridgeline this week.  That means there are a lot of Hondas around this house right now!


Finally, my long-time friend Chris stopped by this evening to show me his latest ride:  a 1999 Mitsubishi 3000GT SL 5-speed.  It only has 97,000 miles on it.  I’ve loved these cars since they first came out.


Those seats were in remarkable shape for being 18 years old.  Congrats, Chris!


24 Responses to “2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan”

  1. Some nice cars there Tyson! That Kia does look pretty slick! Didn’t think I’ve ever say that :). And the Genesis sport sedan also looks sharp. Love the old 77 CVCC. What a classic. Friend in HS had a red one

    • Yeah I’m tempted to take the old Civic out of the garage and do a spin around the block but I don’t want to have anything happen to it before it heads to the auction in a few days. Plus it’s immaculately clean, and I don’t know if I understand exactly how to operate its manual choke 🙂

  2. Tyson, did I hear right? Is there a 1981 Honda Prelude in your future? I also had a first generation Prelude. It was either an 80 or 81 with a five speed stick shift. Great car!!! I loved that little car.

    • Yes! My friend Spencer has one in his collection that I have had my eye on for a bit. Navy blue exterior, tan interior, 5-speed with 160,000 miles and working factory a/c. It doesn’t really “fit” with the rest of my car collection so that’s the only drawback I’m seeing at this point. But I’ve definitely always liked the first generation Prelude.

      • Perhaps it’s time for a new garage dedicated to Honda’s only… why limit yourself to only Acuras 😉

  3. autoscribe1974 Says:

    Great pics! Which auction is Scott’s Civic running through?

  4. Brad Heffran Says:

    I guess it’s a sign I’m getting on in years, but I like the new Odyssey!

    • Haha, you’re a family man at heart! I’ll be honest, too – I’d rock it. Maybe not in that odd color, but a Nighthawk Black Pearl with some optional larger diameter wheels and whatever top of the line entertainment system is being offered. Uber driver’s dream car! I want to get out to the Chicago show one of these years. Maybe you can show me around.

  5. The Aussie version of the Honda Odyssey would be a hit here with the younger crowd. The lower roofline and sportier front-end I think makes it a little more appealing. I’m with you on the Genesis . . . priced well also.

  6. So I’m not really sure why but after reading this post I’m ready to run out a get a set of Bridgestone Blizzaks…

    I hope I don’t get you in trouble for me saying this but how do you manage to get so much time off to have this much fun!?

    Back in the day I practically “lived” a work… I’m so jealous!

    That said I just watched your YT video and it really looks like you all were having a great time wish I had gone along…

    BTW let me know what you think about the Ridgeline as Linda keeps telling me how nice it would be for me.

    Also which auctions are you planning to attend this month?

    • I don’t know what kind of tires my Sonic had on it, but they were pretty worthless in the white stuff. As for being able to attend auto shows and take time off work, I’m pretty much scraping bottom as far as the PTO balance is concerned at the new job. Pretty much chained to the office now at least until Memorial Day weekend in May. This weekend I have mom & stepdad in town, next weekend my friend Chris from Baltimore. Any chance you’re interested in stopping by the house on the 21st-22nd or the 28th-29th of this month? And text me some updated pics of the 93SE!

    • re: Ridgeline, I’ll report back after I give it a spin. Auction wise: Barrett-Jackson for part of the day on Saturday 1/21 with some of the NSX guys. I’ll leave my checkbook in the car. Can’t afford anything!

  7. Very cool post! While all the cars at the Otto Show (took me a minute to get that joke!) were cool, the best one was that ’77 Civic. Would have loved some more views!

    Did any of the cars you saw in Detroit really stand out, more than the others?

    I’m guessing your Sonic wasn’t equipped with Nokian tires.. 😉

    • Glad you liked that Civic! I actually fired it up last night and it purrs like a kitten. As for cars that stood out in Detroit – I like almost everything in the Audi booth. Their design language over the last few years has just really stolen my heart. But I guess if I had to pick a single car to bring home, it might have to be the Lexus LC. Those lines are just wow. Happy Friday!

  8. Midnight Mystery Says:

    Hey Tyson!!! Seems like a fun show… I’m excited to see your videos with Sofiyn, correct me if I’m wrong….

    I love watching his old channel, if he didn’t like something, he’d say it…

    I put about 340 miles on the RDX yesterday… I’ve been having a few little electrical “glitches”, but all is well… I’m at 191,326!!!

    See you later, well, on the Internet!!!

    • Thanks! Yeah I look forward to doing plenty of future collaborations with Sofyan. I told him he needs to come out here and visit me in the desert sometime when he’s ready to get out of the DC winter in the next couple of months. Sounds like the RDX and my ILX are at about the same miles! Have a great weekend!

      • Midnight Mystery Says:

        Bumping a “somewhat” old post here, I love watching his old channel from 2010-11…. He says when something feel cheap!!!

        Mileage is near 192K on the RDX, it’s at Walker Acura for service… It’s been acting up, electrical, key getting stuck…

        Needed a new ignition…

        I wasn’t there, because I have access to a GMC Yukon in MS, and I’m there now, so the RDX goes back and forth, with the person I share it with, long story…

        Anyway, I’m driving an amazing 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT hatch… 2.0 GDI engine, same basic engine as the old 2007 Kia Sportage we had, but has 30+ more HP, and two more gears in the tranny… It’s fast!!!

        I do love Kia/Hyundai’s steering feel, are Hondas and Acuras always light-ish?

        Well, it’s helping to sooth my constant “new car syndrome” issue…

        Glad to hear you bought a Honda with an “H” on it again…

        Looks like Flagstaff gets cold when Pheonix has decent weather at night… Dang…

  9. Waseem’s Legend looks superb. What were your thoughts on the Kia Stinger GT, Tyson? Got to say, I wasn’t expecting something quite that bold from Kia – but love how aggressive the styling is.

    • I know, I was thinking the same thing about that Kia. Gotta hand it to the Koreans for continually going above and beyond the expectations. Design wise, the Stinger isn’t totally my cup of tea but some of the elements are attractive and I love that they aren’t afraid to push the envelope. Plus the performance specs are impressive and it encourages the competition to step up their own games a notch. It’s a fight for market share out there!

  10. What a trip – lots of action – lots of mingling. That Chevy Sonic though and all that snow.

    • Yes that poor little Sonic went through its paces in the 48 hours I had it. And for me the Detroit show is 60% about the mingling and 40% about the cars 🙂

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