If Not for the Detroit Big Three, NAIAS 2023 Would Have Been Dead on Arrival!

I am sorely disappointed by global automakers' interest (or lack thereof) concerning Europe's IAA Mobility 2023 and America's NAIAS 2023. I understand that schools kick off in September, but weren't we supposed to reap some benefits once autumn kicked off?
NAIAS 2023 opinion 6 photos
Photo: GM / Ford / Jeep
NAIAS 2023 opinionNAIAS 2023 opinionNAIAS 2023 opinionNAIAS 2023 opinionNAIAS 2023 opinion
Sure, anyone can say that September was destined for doom because August 2023 was such an incredible month. Everything started with the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser global launch and subsequent return to America as the J250 Lexus GX's sibling. Then we continued with the boxy 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe's global launch taking place – where else? – in Santa Fe, New Mexico, followed by GM taking over New York's Times Square to launch the 2025 Cadillac Escalade IQ.

But wait, as these three significant introductions were only the appetizer – the 2023 Monterey Car Week was so brimming with novelties from all around the world and across all ages that it's probably one of the main reasons IAA Mobility 2023 and NAIAS 2023 felt so barren and deserted. There's no point in itemizing all of them because I would fall in love with the California event all over again, and I had just gotten read of the smitten-like feeling.

Moving to Europe to attend IAA Mobility 2023 would have been ill-advised at the beginning of the month as the former Frankfurt Motor Show only counted on the help of German carmakers – the BMW Vision Neue Klasse sedan came out as an updated i Vision Dee boasting major promises and big bets. Mercedes-Benz also showcased a concept car – the CLA prototype featured a star-studded front end plus promises of 466-mile ranges for the upcoming electric compact car.

Volkswagen didn't want to feel left out of the concept car booth, so they presented the ID. GTI Concept, which previews an electric GTI based on the affordable ID. 2 that's due for 2027 with hotly electrified specs. Interestingly, Renault decided to stand out in the German crowd and brought the Renault Scenic electric SUV to IAA Mobility 2023. And that was all if we don't also count the Polestar Synergy – the prototype came out of the company's 2022 design contest and will never see the light of day as a production version.

Well, I beat around the bush more than enough. Now, let us tackle the disappointing 2023 edition of the North American International Auto Show held in Detroit at the Huntington Place Convention Center between September 13-25. Frankly, if it weren't for the Big Detroit Three automakers, this would have been nothing more than a local show where automakers presented their latest models to the crowds. In fact, dare I say that the single most exciting thing that happened at NAIAS 2023 was someone's screw-up who accidentally posted the 2024 Toyota Tacoma's MSRP (which isn't official just yet) with the same value as the 2023 model year.

Most likely, that was a simple error – no one in their right mind at Toyota North America would dare to allow the all-new fourth-generation N400 with the same price as the predecessor when everyone around them is giving us hike after hike even for incremental model year updates. Anyway, back to the astonishingly few novelties at this year's Detroit Auto Show, the headline event, of course, was the pre-show presentation of the 2024 Ford F-150. And the refreshed full-size truck doesn't disappoint, especially if you like to spot the differences between the trim levels, which have their own individual identity. Hopefully, the rumors will pan out, and the Raptor R will finally take over the crown as the most potent production pickup truck. Otherwise, it's just another missed opportunity to dethrone the TRX.

Mopar enthusiasts also got their pickup truck share – the mid-size 2024 Jeep Gladiator got its refresh, too, and the company even showcased a bunch of accessories, including Jeep-approved hiking shoes! Oh, and Stellantis also dropped the diesel engine from the portfolio as the Gladiator 4xe plug-in hybrid is diligently preparing to come out to play. Well, the only automaker that had more than one major novelty at the show was General Motors – thanks to the arrival of the facelifted 2025 Cadillac CT5 and the all-new, third-generation GMC Acadia to make sure the Chevy Traverse won't feel alone when battling the Ford Explorer or Jeep Grand Cherokee.

If I were to choose just one of the novelties from NAIAS 2023 to go home with, it would be a little hard to select either the 2023 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid, which now has the same MSRP as the gasoline-only version but better features overall, or the stylish Cadillac CT5. Yep, call me old, but I still think that American sedans deserve a better fate than going into retirement and turning the segment into an endangered species. Hopefully, Cadillac will give us the 2025 CT5-V and Blackwing as soon as possible – or maybe they will even flaunt a surprising twist and morph the cool four-door into a member of the zero-emissions IQ family. What do you think, will that save it from impending doom?

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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
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Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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