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Personal Reflections on 2016’s Cars and Events

Now that we’re in the last week of 2016, not much more can happen before the start of a new calendar year. Other than Carrie Fisher dying, of course. But 2016 was a year that deserves personal reflection. That’s what I’m here to do.

The Detroit Auto Show back in January was cold and snowy. It’s always cold and snowy for the show. It could be sunny and 60 degrees out the Saturday before the show. By the time the pre-show happens on Sunday, it’s the planet Hoth.

Raptors Showing Off

This year’s show we saw the production version of the Ford Raptor. On sale a few weeks ago, it was one of the biggest vehicle launches this year.

The Detroit show also saw the launch of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Who would’ve thought a minivan would woo over people who hate minivans? It did.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Speaking of surprises, Honda introduced the next version of their unibody pickup truck. The “Honda of pickup trucks” as they described it turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year.

I like the Ridgeline. Journalists like the Ridgeline. Customers seem to like the Ridgeline, but we’re not sure yet if people will gravitate to it over others.

The Chicago Auto Show brought the TRD Pro Tacoma. It wasn’t a surprise that it was happening. It also wasn’t a surprise that it’d be good.

The new Ram Trucks Power Wagon debuted with a cool presentation. The truck itself is fun to drive, and is the most-capable pickup truck you can buy. Why? Because it has a winch.

The New York Auto Show brought some interesting vehicles. A tamer Nissan GTR showed up. Lincoln had a Navigator concept with gull-wing doors.

Matthew McConaughey even showed up, but didn’t say “alright, alright, alright.”

via GIPHY

I joined the southern wave for the Hyundai Elantra launch towards the beginning of the year. The Elantra is a good value with a good warranty that performs the job of being a car quite well.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

There were some fun drives and events over the summer. The Fiat 124 Spider launch in Los Angeles was a blast. It’s a great car that we experienced on some great roads. What was surprising is how different of a character the 124 Spider had over the similar MX-5 Miata.

Over the July 4th holiday weekend, Alfa Romeo bestowed me with a 4C Spider loan. It was one of the best cars I’ve driven all year, and it lived up to my expectations as a sports car.

It’s flawed. It’s uncomfortable on long trips. The fuel tank is the size of a thimble.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

I still loved it.

I covered the Infiniti QX30 program for Be Car Chic in Seattle. It was my first time to the city, and we actually had excellent weather for the event. The QX30 is the better-looking Mercedes-Benz GLA, that drives better, and costs less.

To get my truck fix, I attended the Ford Super Duty launch in Denver. It’s a major improvement over the previous version, and it moved the bar forward for the segment.

I also joined my friends at Gunaxin to drive the new Volvo S90 sedan in Montauk. It’s an impressive car. It’s like a XC90 not lifted into the air. All the luxury appointments are there.

I also turned the Ohio Assembly Plant where Ford builds the F-650 and F-750 medium-duty commercial trucks. During my tour, I drove the F-650, equipped with a V10 gasoline engine, dump truck. It’s a life-changing experience if you’ve never driven something that size.

Later, Ben Collins gave me a hot lap around Ford’s proving grounds in a Focus RS. My inner-Top Gear nerd was happy.

Photo Credit: Andrew Krok
Photo Credit: Andrew Krok

Nissan and Mazda consumed a week of my life in late September to drive the Sentra SR Turbo, Rogue (and hybrid), and full line of Mazda products. Any chance to drive a Miata in the sun in the fall is an opportunity I’d take, if you have the chance.

LYNK & CO had their company and product reveal in Berlin, Germany that I was able to attend. While it was one of the weirdest product introductions I’ve been to, the business model interests me.

Plus, it’s hard to argue for a cheaper Volvo that shares most of the parts with Volvo.

Before the LA Auto Show, Hyundai briefed the press on their amazing powertrains in their Ioniq line. The fuel economy numbers will rival what Toyota can do, which should propel sales.

Nissan Rogue: Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition

Product announcements at the LA Auto Show included the Nissan Rogue: Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition. Along with that geeky special, Nissan showed off the NISMO Sentra.

A new CX-5 from Mazda will be on sale, and the new color of Soul Red it was wearing in LA was stunning.

Ford showed off the new-to-the-United States EcoSport at a concert with DJ Khaled.

Finally, on an even more personal note, this site launched at the beginning of December along with the podcast.

What will 2017 bring for me and the coverage you’ll see here on Future Motoring? If the past year was any sign, there’ll be many more exciting announcements to come.

About Chad Kirchner

Chad Kirchner is the Editor-in-Chief of Future Motoring, along with the main host and producer of the Future Motoring podcast. In addition to his work here, he’s a freelance automotive journalist for outlets around the world.

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