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The highlights and lowlights of the 2014 Detroit auto show

January 15, 2014

After spending two days running, talking and typing around Detroit's Cobo Hall for the 2014 North American International Auto Show, us writers and editors of Yahoo Autos compiled this list of our favorite new vehicles and those we were glad to leave behind:

Aki Sugawara:
BEST Toyota FT-1 Concept
The Toyota Supra is one of those Japanese bubble-era cars that everyone says they loved—but nobody bought. And you could sense Toyota’s cautious enthusiasm for the FT-1 concept in how sparse it was in providing specs. Would it spawn a production car, and would that have a turbo inline-six, or a V-8? Undoubtedly, Toyota’s deciphering the buzz and whether people would fork over $40k+ for a RWD sports car. Nonetheless, the F1-inspired snout, Lexus LFA-esque tail and front air intakes straight out of an F-35 fighter sparked fantasies of a beefier, more powerful sibling to the Scion FR-S.

WORST Nissan Sports Sedan Concept
While not a hideous design, the over-styled creases, flares and flamed surfaces portend yet another Nissan Maxima that misses the mark. Here’s hoping the garish touches gets toned down for production — especially those LED headlights that look like a furrowed brow.

Alex Lloyd:
BEST Equus Bass770
To say I was surprised to see the Equus Bass770 at this year's show is an understatement; I'd have been more surprised if a meteor flew through the gates of Cobo and smacked me on the head. It's a car that, when we first heard about its rumored existence from the company itself, screamed faker than Wayne Newton's face. A car like this doesn't just appear out of nowhere. And yet there it was, in all its retro glory. For me, it was the star of a well-represented show.

There were truly no stinkers this year, nor any major misses. I'm disappointed that the Subaru WRX STI remains so very nondescript when compared to the WRX concept from last year, and yet having seen the new production WRX in L.A., it came as no surprise. While a big wing, blue paint and gold wheels causes youths to seek cold water, for me, it's just not enough. However, from a performance perspective, the new WRX is supposed to rather special. I expect the WRX STI to be even more so, at least from behind the wheel.

Justin Hyde:
BEST 2015 Ford F-150
I'm reluctant to call the F-150 the best simply because for a new model we still don't know much about its capabilities; despite holding two days of running seminars in its own ballroom/dining hall/adult day care for reporters, Ford declined to reveal specific data about the F-150's power, towing or fuel economy. But it may be the most important vehicle Ford launches this decade, and while the aluminum body dominated the news, Ford's designers managed to move its styling forward and add a few features — like a remote-drop tailgate — that make you wonder why no one had thought of them earlier. In a convention hall full of show ponies, the F-150 had the muscle of a thoroughbred.

WORST Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept
The Beetle Dune concept was supposed to be the modern update of the classic Baja Bug, with bigger tires on a slightly raised suspension, and instead looks like something Rick and Chumley bought after the last SEMA convention blew through Vegas. It's the latest in several retro-revival Beetle concepts that too often highlight how large and stoic the new Beetle has become compared to its iconic forbear. And why does a desert-themed buggy need a ski rack?

Steve Siler:
Best Kia GT4 Stinger Concept
I would say Kia’s GT4 Stinger sports car concept is surprisingly sexy, but frankly, I’m not surprised; Kia has been designing slick sedans and coupes for years now. Still, when the GT4 Stinger rolled on stage at the Detroit Auto Show and I came face to face with those prismic vertical headlamps, that sculptural, seamless body that looked like liquid honey, and peered into its simple, back-to-basics interior, I knew immediately that it had my Best in Show vote. Build a head-turning 2+2 sports car seems like a no-brainer, especially considering it would fill one of the last remaining holes in the Kia lineup.

Worst Toyota FCV Concept
I’m all about fuel cells. I love how they drive, love the water vapor that comes out the tailpipes, and especially love the packaging possibilities. And so I cannot understand what is going on with Toyota’s ghastly FCV Concept sedan that was first shown in Tokyo and which is making its U.S. auto show debut in Detroit. Blame the under-floor location of its fuel cell components for the FCV’s gawky proportions — it’s some three inches taller and nine inches longer than a Corolla — but we’re not sure who to blame for its bulbous body contours, weird “floating” hood and ridiculous air intakes that together make the Prius look like an Audi R8 by comparison. The bad news is that the FCV previews an actual production fuel cell vehicle that will go on sale for 2015. The good news is that the hydrogen infrastructure is still in its infancy, so you probably won’t see too many on the road.