Every major auto show has its winners and losers.
Certain cars, like the Buick Avista Concept or the new Lexus LC500 are such showstoppers that they soak up most of the media attention. On the flip side, some cars are either so mediocre or eye-roll-inducing that people just walk right by.
The 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit had plenty of home runs, but there were definitely some moments where car companies struck out. These had many of us from the media mob -- me, for instance -- shaking or scratching our heads.
Kia Optima Convertible Concept
Yes, this car was first revealed at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas back in October 2015, not at the Detroit Auto Show, but KIA was proud enough to bring it with them. Not many of the thousands of people who attended the show gathered around to gawk. Those who did probably weren't appreciating beauty.
The KIA Optima Convertible Concept pairs a vibrant light-blue paint job with a beige leather interior reminiscent of a '57 Ford Thunderbird. This color scheme is matched with a pair of highly polished chrome 20-inch wheels by HRE, which -- while good wheels in their own right -- do not pair well with the rest of the car. I don't know how they did it, but somehow KIA made 20-inch wheels look tiny.
The car is also lowered to peculiar effect. Instead of evoking sportiness, it looks like its suspension collapsed. Add to this the way the trim pieces have been replaced with chrome and the taillights have been smoked out, and the Optima Convertible looks like the effort of an 17-year-old with an AutoZone gift card trying to make his car stand out in the high school parking lot.
The car has suicide doors, too, because apparently you can't make a concept without including suicide doors.
Here's the thing: Four-door convertibles just don't work. If you lop the top off a coupe to make it a convertible, you have to add extra support to the chassis underneath to make sure it doesn't drive like a wet noodle. This adds extra weight to the car, which means it will be sluggish. When you do this to a four-door sedan like the Optima, you can expect the car to be about as spry as a slug.
Can you believe that is a 20" rim? Why does it look so small?
Product Specialist Knowledge
Most product specialists are very good at what they do. They're pretty knowledgeable about the cars their automaker has on display. Yet, I found a few who may need to study their products a bit more.
One Porsche product specialist tried hard to convince us that the biggest new feature of the new Porsche 911 Turbo was that it was no longer naturally aspirated. The Porsche 911 Turbo has never been naturally aspirated, hence the moniker "Turbo."
Another product specialist, when asked a question about the new Toyota Mirai loaded with Kymeta satellite technology that she was standing beside, simply told us, "I have no idea, just look it up online," and walked away.
I'm not sure that's the best way to show off your brand.
SCION C-HR Concept
Scion released the super-angular C-HR concept at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show and brought it to Detroit to show off as well. The car's design is said to have been inspired by diamonds, with "elegant, chiseled features up top and a sleeker, more sensual lower body." We aren't so sure that we see it.
When we spoke with the Scion product specialist, she insisted the Scion C-HR concept will become an actual car, and that actual car will look a lot like the concept. "See what we did with the iM?" she said. She proudly showed me a picture of the Scion iM concept on her phone, then pointed at the admittedly similar-looking iM production car on the floor. "The new C-HR will look just like this concept!"
My reaction to her is best summed up by a certain anchorman:
That's why the C-HR is such a miss: the fact that Scion is adamant that this is what the new car will look like. Automakers do this a lot. They show us something that looks crazy, tell us that's what to expect, and then release another boring small crossover. Prediction: Scion will make a new C-HR, but it will end up looking more like a smaller Toyota RAV-4 or -- at best -- something like a Nissan Juke.
Prove us wrong, Scion.
I am still boiling about this. Look at that sticker on this Jeep Wrangler. It has such a hard edge. The edge is so visible that people I've shown this picture to think it's a giant scratch. This might be acceptable on a SnapTite model kit built by an 8-year-old, but not on a vehicle you plan to show off at the biggest auto show in the nation.
The same level of effort went into their Willys tribute Jeep. Maybe Jeep was just trying to make faithful reproductions of the GI Joe and Barbie Jeeps millennials played with as kids, down to the shoddy stickers? If so, Jeep hit this ball well out of the park.
Jeep, you can do better than this bush-league effort. You're the best-selling division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US -- one of the biggest car companies in the world -- and you should be able to put a decal on a vehicle that looks like it was painted on.
Now I've vented. Otherwise, the auto show was great!
What did you like or not like? Leave a comment below.
About the writer: Will Kinton thinks life is too short to drive boring cars, and enjoys sharing his passion for them. For more, follow him on Twitter:@willkinton247.