DETROIT--As the automotive test director for Consumer Reports, Jake Fisher drives hundreds of cars a year and is known as one of the toughest critics in the auto industry. The Times took a cruise with Fisher at the North American International Auto Show on Tuesday asked for a list of his favorites and dogs among the dozens of new models automakers introduced at the Detroit event.
Ford F-150 pickup truck
The aluminum body – that's a game changer in my opinion. Ford would not have taken such a big risk if it did not think it would be successful.
Substituting aluminum for steel makes the vehicle lighter and fuel-efficient. Doing this on a mainstream model will change the market and open the door for a lot more aluminum bodies. It is making the vehicle lighter without sacrificing size and safety.
The Fit is just a great package. It offers a lot of room, good fuel economy and a small size. Also what is significant is that Honda is offering a lot more technology on the Fit now, and that is what customers are demanding.
Since it will be made in Mexico they will offer it in a lot more numbers and that has the potential to lower the transaction price. The Fit has been a Consumer Reports favorite but a bit expensive because the supply was limited.
This becomes more important after Mercedes brought out the CLA as the entry-level car. The CLA looks good but underneath doesn't drive like a Mercedes. It is a sheep in wolf's clothing. It looks aggressive but it is not.
However, the new C-Class gives you a great look with the goods to match. It has room, good looks and it drives like a traditional Mercedes-Benz. It could be really good. It is significant that it will be made in America, but the German automaker's reputation for transplant factories has not been stellar.
The car entries from Acura are not very competitive. Acura does well on SUVs but is still for the large part putting Acura names on Honda vehicles. That doesn't provide a good value. It doesn't bring anything to the table. It looks like a vanilla mid-size sedan. It might as well be a Ford Fusion.
Nissan Sports Sedan Concept
This is a concept that shows where they are going with the next Maxima. They are trying to bring some energy back. There is a lot of styling but I am not convinced any of it was very good. It looks like a sedan that someone stepped on – a lot of lines going places but nothing coherent.