Three big redesigns unveiled at North American International Auto Show 2017

North American International Auto Show 2017 sign
The 2017 North American International Auto Show, held in downtown Detroit’s Cobo Center, runs from Jan. 8 to 22. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

This year at the Motor City’s premier automotive event, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), aside from the usual assortment of concepts and future tech teasers, the big news was focused around the next generation of a group of well-established models from Honda, Toyota and Lexus. Let’s take a look.

2018 Honda Odyssey front

2018 Honda Odyssey

Making its world debut in Detroit, Honda’s best-selling minivan gets a complete redesign. Besides its obviously sleeker profile and addition of the “flying wing” front grille also found on siblings like the Civic and Ridgeline, there are a ton of new features. The Magic Slide second row seats can be configured in countless a ways to allow for different seating positions, easy access to the third row and increased storage capacity.

2018 Honda Odyssey cargo

Drivers no longer have to wonder what’s going on behind them — utilizing a camera, CabinWatch shows rear passenger activity on the eight-inch Display Audio screen, and CabinTalk allows two-way communication via the on-board speaker system and rear entertainment system headphones. And parents of messy children and/or pets can breathe easy, because the HondaVac built-in vacuum returns for 2018.

2018 toyota camry front

2018 Toyota Camry

Including the latest version that was just revealed in Detroit, there have now been eight generations of the Toyota Camry. And it shows no signs of slowing down. Based upon the Toyota New Global Architecture platform, the family sedan — offered in gasoline or hybrid form — takes on a, dare I say, sporty appearance, expressed through a two-piece grille, stylized front and rear bumpers and lower hood and roofline.

2018 Toyota Camry XSE

At the top of the five-grade lineup are the SE and XSE, both wearing even more aggressive front and rear fascias, larger wheels, lip spoilers and black accents. Inside, all Camrys are available with “futuristic” equipment such as three interlinked displays consisting of a 10-inch HUD, seven-inch multi-information instrument cluster display and an eight-inch screen responsible for audio, navigation and climate control readouts.

2018 lexus ls 500

2018 Lexus LS 500

When the Japanese luxury nameplate launched in North America nearly 28 years ago, everything was riding on one vehicle: the LS 400. It set all kinds of benchmarks in terms of comfort, value, quality, etc., and Lexus is hoping to do it all again with the 2018 LS 500. Like the original, this flagship is rear-wheel drive and embodies the latest signature Lexus design language.

2018 lexus ls 500 side

Resting under the hood is a powerplant developed using the company’s ties with F1 racing. Perfectly balancing performance and efficiency, a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 produces 415 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, tuned to deliver quick acceleration and a throaty yet refined exhaust note. As a first for a premium passenger car, the engine is mated to an advanced electronically controlled 10-speed automatic transmission capable of anticipating driver input.

Lexus IS receives new look for 2017

2017 Lexus IS pair
The new face of the Lexus IS luxury sports sedan.

Late last month at the Beijing Auto Show, Lexus introduced the 2017 Lexus IS complete with a new look. Still built upon the existing-gen’s platform, the entry-level luxury sports sedan receives a refresh to give it a closer resemblance to the rest of the current family that includes the mid-size GS and athletic RC coupe.

2017 Lexus IS spindle grille

The boldest feature is centred on the face of the vehicle, the IS now sporting a continued evolution of the aggressive spindle grille available in either slatted or 3-D mesh form depending on the trim level. On either side of the grille are monstrous sculpted air intakes blending into the front fenders. The hood has also been reshaped to give a sleeker, more aerodynamic appearance.

2017 lexus is side

Elsewhere on the car, the machined 17-inch wheels have been redesigned, and the rear LED taillights have the signature checkmark shape embedded within the housing in a triple stacked fashion. Instead of round muffler tips, the 2017 utilizes rectangular chrome exhaust exits. And, two additional colour choices are offered: Deep Blue Mica and Graphite Black Glass Flake.

2017 Lexus IS interior

Turning our attention inside the IS, Lexus has made some big strides in the area of infotainment. The previous seven-inch display has grown to a massive 10.3 inches and provides a sharper image than before due to the high-resolution screen. Other enhancements include a leather-wrapped armrest and stitching on the instrument cluster hood, both of which lend an increased premium feel to the interior.

2017 lexus is rear

Finally, the Lexus Safety System+ — comprised of pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control — makes it way onto the entire IS lineup.

Engine choices remain the same, with buyers being able to select from either a turbocharged four cylinder or two different V6s.  The 2017 Lexus IS will be released later this year.