Major brands detail SUV plans at NAIAS

13 January 2017 - 10:28 By AFP Relaxnews

New SUVs only accounted for a handful of reveals at this year's Detroit auto show, however, from Ford and Jeep to Mercedes and Audi, they were a major topic of conversation.

Audi Q8 Concept at NAIAS 2017
Audi Q8 Concept at NAIAS 2017
Image: ©Newspress USA

Audi's show concept for Detroit was the Q8, a coupé-influenced flagship SUV that signals the marque's intent to go big and go boldly after customers who would otherwise be considering a Range Rover.

"The Q8 concept is an Audi in peak form. It demonstrates the strengths of our brand in both technology and design while providing a glimpse at a future full-size, production SUV," said Dietmar Voggenreiter, Audi's head of sales and marketing.

Nissan Rogue Sport at NAIAS 2017 ©Newspress USA

Closer to home, FCA also confirmed it wants to use the strength of its Jeep brand to take a bigger share of the premium full-size SUV market. It's planning a new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer plus a pickup truck based on the Jeep Wrangler. Each new model will be built in the US, and they are expected to launch before 2020.

"The expansion of our Jeep lineup has been and continues to be the key pillar of our strategy. Our commitment to internationalize the Jeep brand is unwavering," said company CEO Sergio Marchionne. "In addition, these all-new products will reach new consumers, as well as those that have been part of the Jeep tradition."

At the other end of the spectrum, Mercedes is proving that even the most compact vehicle becomes an object of desire when it is given the premium crossover treatment with the heavily overhauled GLA, the smallest model in its burgeoning SUV portfolio. "[It] will draw even more SUV fans to Mercedes because it offers even greater comfort and functionality -- and a fresh, more distinctive look that emphasizes its off-road capabilities," said Dietmar Exler, President & CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

Mercedes GLA at NAIAS 2017 ©Newspress USA

Nissan also had an eye on those that want something that blends SUV looks with urban car dimensions with its new Rogue Sport, a car based on the ultra-successful Qashqai that has taken Europe by storm.

"With Rogue Sport's slightly smaller dimensions and sporty maneuverability, it's ideal for singles or couples without kids -- or empty nesters -- who want a sportier vehicle and can live with a little less cargo capacity than the current Rogue offers," said Nissan's Chief Creative Officer, Shiro Nakamura.

Ford used this year's show to update its iconic F-150 pickup but during its press conference, the company confirmed that the Bronco, the cult off-roader that used to go toe-to-toe with the Jeep Wrangler, is about to be resurrected. "We've heard our customers loud and clear. They want a new generation of vehicles that are incredibly capable yet fun to drive," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of The Americas. "Bronco will be a no-compromise midsize 4×4 utility for thrill seekers who want to venture way beyond the city."

The re-born Bronco will be hitting the streets in 2019. So expect the model to be unveiled in Detroit next January.