Once again the Montreal International Auto Show brought excitement with the latest and greatest in technology and innovation for this year.
The 2012 edition saw integrated electronics and computer-controlled systems in almost all models. Blue-tooth systems for hands-free calls were also a common feature in all categories. As in previous years the rare vintage models on display attracted the crowds; the 1964 Austin- Healey 3000 MK111 was magical.
Kia’s Optima Hybrid car came with a decently styled exterior and interior. This hybrid also boasts a Guinness world record for the lowest fuel consumption by a hybrid car. The Premium model includes a navigation system, rear-view camera, heated front and rear seats and retails for $35,495.
Mid-range SUVs were in a tough competition as more companies lined up their models with a 4X4 or AWD option for North American drivers. Their compact design for comfortable city driving without compromising interior space and off-road capabilities was impressive. Generally, Japanese cars are known for the quality of their engineering.
The fully loaded Mitsubishi Outlander is no exception. The 3-litre, V6, 230 horsepower engine, 7-seat option came with an impressive price tag of $39,000. With a well-designed interior, navigation system, 40-GB hard drive for music storage, Sirius radio, rear camera, and super all-wheel control with three-drive modes, Mitsubishi showed an aggressive attempt to come high in this category. The impressive styling, technology features and the 160000KM/10 year manufacturer’s power-train warranty were unbeatable. Honda CRV, Subaru Forester and Toyota’s RAV also got attention in this category.
In the North American off-roader class, Jeep, as usual, showed a wide range of models with off-road gadgets. The Jeep Laredo X, with a wood-trim interior, parking-assistance system and a 28 GB hard drive started at $43,195.
For the bigger-the-better buyer, the 8-seater Honda Pilot SUV was very attractive. The interior space and quality of materials were remarkable. The fully loaded Touring model comes with front- and second-row heated seats, navigation system, XM radio and entertainment system for $48,420. In contrast, the Lincoln MKT, V6, 3.5L with 6-seat capacity is $62,650.
Among the trucks, the Ford F150 4X4 Cabin SuperCrew with Harley-Davidson trim starts at $66,199 with a basic warranty of 36 months. The GMC Sierra models start at $38,605 and their high-end Denali is loaded with chrome handles, rear-view camera, park assist and heated steering wheel, and comes in at $62,610. The Honda’s Ridgeline 4X4 appealed to me more, with the fully loaded Touring model at $41,990.
In the high-end luxury line-up, the Bugatti, Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, Range Rover and BMW brands showcased some of their top-of-the-line sports cars. Even Rolls Royce came up with their convertible “Phantom Drop Head Coupe” with a price tag of $501,470.
The LED head- and tail-lamp lighting I saw on some models is undoubtedly sexy and sharp. I hope car-makers will not forget to add this into their design basket for the future. Even though today’s manufacturing cost of electronics is drastically low, the integrated DVD entertainment and navigation systems are still not an affordable choice for the mid-range customer.
It is surprising that car manufacturers are not ready to produce an efficient hybrid design. While NGOs and government agencies are continuously preaching about environmental issues, it is unclear why the Canadian government is reluctant to provide incentives for makers and buyers of hybrid cars. I hope to see more efficient and environmentally friendly cars and SUVs on roads in the coming years.