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Honda, Toyota strut their concept stuff

Published: January 18, 2013 | 8:26 am
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Honda, Toyota strut their concept stuff
The Acura NSX Concept is shown at media previews Tuesday for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Photograph by: The Associated Press , Postmedia News

Japanese auto manufacturers were unusually circumspect at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Smaller companies such as Mazda and Subaru did not debut anything, having launched new products at the Los Angeles Auto Show in late November. And Mitsubishi wasn’t even present at the show. Neither was Suzuki, having recently announced it was pulling out of the U.S. market.

That left the larger manufacturers – Toyota, Nissan and Honda – to strut their stuff. But, instead of overtly touting green technologies such as hybrids and electric vehicles – though still championing greater fuel efficiency – Toyota and Honda mostly chose to focus on new concepts and near-production-ready vehicles for popular and profitable market segments.

2014 ACURA MDX PROTOTYPE
Acura’s debut of the 2014 MDX prototype offers a “strong indication” of the styling and design direction for the third-generation, seven-passenger SUV.

“Our goal is to advance on MDX’s already great dynamic performance while improving fuel economy and luxury comfort,” said Mike Accavitti, vice-president of national marketing operations for Acura U.S.

The “Aero Sculpture” styling of the prototype reflects significant gains in aerodynamic efficiency, up 16 per cent, compared with the 2013 MDX, said Jon Ikeda, chief designer at Acura Design Studio.

“While we aren’t showcasing the interior today, I can assure you it will further improve the already great functionality in the cabin and cargo area while really amping up luxury, comfort and quiet,” said Ikeda.

The 2014 MDX will also feature a new, more rigid and lightweight chassis, including new front and rear suspensions. A direct-injected 3.5L i-VTEC SOHC V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management will, says Honda, deliver improved torque and more spirited performance while reducing fuel consumption “to class-leading levels.”

Unfortunately, the new model will lose its Canadian connection. Production is moving from Al-liston, Ont., to its manufacturing facility in Lincoln, Ala.

ACURA NSX CONCEPT
Acura also provided a teaser, showing a more updated version of the NSX Concept, showcasing further evolution of the upcoming supercar’s styling and design, including a first look at one “possible” direction for the interior design.

This newest concept is still based on the expected underpinnings of the car Acura will bring to market. It maintains the low and wide stance and proportions of the original NSX Concept, which first debuted at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.

When it makes its entrance in approximately two years, the production NSX will be powered by a mid-mounted, direct-injected V6 mated to Acura’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) system.

HONDA URBAN SUV CONCEPT
Based on the next-generation Fit platform, Honda’s Urban SUV Concept looks as though it will compete with smaller compact crossovers such Buick’s new Encore when the production version comes to market in mid-2014. It will be manufactured along with the new Fit at Honda’s newest North American plant in Celaya, Mexico.

While Honda would not disclose any information regarding the Urban Concept’s drivetrain, the company said that the production version – part of Honda’s Global Compact Series – will feature the company’s Earth Dreams technology. (Earth Dreams involves Honda’s latest-generation fuel-efficient engines with low environmental impact.)

According to John Mendel, executive vice-president of sales at American Honda, the Concept is intended to provide the basis for a fun-to-drive and fuel-efficient small SUV with “aspirational design, flexible packaging and next-generation connectivity targeting active lifestyle customers.”

TOYOTA COROLLA FURIA CONCEPT
Calling 2012 the Year of the Hybrid for Toyota, executives from Toyota Canada proclaimed 2013 the year when the automaker becomes the “inspired” choice for consumers, courtesy of products that will appeal to their hearts and minds.

Toyota kicked off the Detroit Auto Show with the Corolla Furia concept, a sporty compact sedan.

“It blends a heightened emphasis on dramatic design and modern elements of high technology to generate curb appeal that will surprise a lot of people,” said Bill Fay, group vice-president and general manager of Toyota’s U.S. division.

The design includes a swept windshield, sloped roofline and pronounced fender flares. The aggressively styled front fascia, with a blacked-out grille treatment, also highlights a pair of sculpted front LED headlamps that combine with the rear composite LED tail light assemblies.

2014 LEXUS IS
Lexus unveiled an all-new, longer and far more aggressive IS model range consisting of the IS 250, IS 350 and F Sport in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drivetrains.

“The IS has always been precise and fun to drive,” said Mark Templin, Lexus U.S. group vice-president and general manager.

The engine lineup is unchanged with the IS 250 powered by a 204-hp 2.5-litre V-6 and the IS 350 featuring a 306-hp 3.5L V-6.

Toyota says the 2014 IS is the first Lexus model to adopt G force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) control in Sport mode. It automatically selects the optimal gear and downshift pattern and maintains the selected gear through a corner.

IS F Sport models are the recipient of dynamic enhancements, in addition to exclusive exterior and interior design features. The IS goes on sale this summer.

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