Chrysler set the mood for 2016’s Detroit auto show by unveiling a new minivan. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Pacifica (it’s a fine vehicle as minivans go), but it doesn’t elicit the pulse-pounding, visceral response that 2015’s Ford GT supercar generated. There were a few head-turning designs, but most of the show focused on practical cars that need to do well for automakers to profit, not the vehicles that lead 10-year-olds to put posters on their bedroom walls.

General Motors Chief Engineer Jeff Yanssens calls the more subdued atmosphere of the show a result of timing. Throwing together a cool, low- volume supercar is fairly easy to do for automakers. Designing high-volume production cars takes more time.

“Coming out of the downturn, all of the automakers realized they needed to revitalize their brands, so we started re-engineering our most important vehicles. That’s what you’re seeing at these launches,” Yanssens says.

During the show, top designers from Ford, GM, Honda, and Chrysler talked to about their new offerings.

North American International Auto Show

www.naias.com

The plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica has enough battery capacity for most drivers to go electric-only in typical daily driving, saving the gasoline engine for road trips.
Buick’s Avista concept car is a two-door, four-seat coupe. General Motors has no plans to build the car, but it received positive reviews in Detroit.
Door handles on the 2017 Lincoln Continental have no moving parts. A switch in the handle activates electric motors that open the doors.
While the Continental includes high-tech features, designers say they didn’t want to inundate drivers with bells and whistles.
The rear glass on the Acura Precision curves to follow design lines from the car’s roof and sides.
Acura’s Precision concept features suicide doors to create a wide opening for rear-seat passengers.