Last week I drove a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT over 2,000 km’s from Montreal, Quebec to Detroit, Michigan on my way to attending the 2012 North American International Auto Show. The Sonic was on loan from General Motors Canada, who provided it to me for a week-long test drive and evaluation. My review is now live on Autobytel.com.
It had been quite a while since I was last in Detroit, and the weather was far more hospitable than would be expected in January near the water. The atmosphere at the Cobo Center, where the NAIAS was held, was also more upbeat than in previous years given the economically healthy year enjoyed by most automakers compared to the darker days of the recent recession. Hospitality abounded throughout the event, with chili trucks, sushi bars and breakfast spreads adorning almost every booth and product announcements being made with an elevated level of pomp and circumstances. The industry parties that dominated the evenings – the Cadillac ATS reveal, the Hyundai all-you-can-eat festivities at Slow’s, my favorite BBQ restaurant in the known universe, and Nissan’s somewhat surreal buffet and cigar lounge hosted at Chris Chelios’ downtown bar – were also vibrant and seemingly endless, leading to bleary eyes in the media room the next day.
What were some of the cars that caught my attention in Detroit? The 2013 Ford Fusion is far and away one of the most attractive mid-size family cars out there, especially with its revised interior and Aston Martin-inspired face. The Acura NSX Concept indicates that yes, there might still be a spark of life left at the slumbering luxury car company, and the Subaru BRZ is much nicer on the inside than either the Subaru WRX or the WRX STI – actually, much nicer than an entry-level rear-wheel drive sedan has any right to be.
The best part of the entire event, however, was meeting other journalists and industry professionals – as well as the members of the Autobytel.com team whom I have worked with for years but never actually got the chance to speak with face-to-face. It can be somewhat isolating to survey the automotive universe from my icy Montreal HQ, and Detroit provided a welcome reality check and a chance to touch base, make new friends and laugh for hours with a crowd of people equally as obsessed about automobiles as I am.