We’re back from the auto shows, where we spend time every year taking in the newest technologies and designs automakers are introducing in their latest offerings. From artificial intelligence to beautiful bends in metal, as product designers and developers, this is the red carpet we love to watch.


After you read through our observations, we invite you share your thoughts on the show with us on social media.




Looking at the many faces of Chevy juxtaposed with the strong Lexus design language, we asked ourselves if Chevy is missing the boat when it comes to a consistent design language. Perhaps; but perhaps because Chevy’s market is so diverse that designing with each auto’s narrow target in mind trumps the company’s desire to have autos that include elements that make them recognizable as Chevys at a glance.


The many faces of



The instantly recognizable faces of



Much of the technology seen at the 2017 auto shows enables drivers and passengers to keep doing more. The drive is no longer about the joy of the journey, but about how much of your regular life can continue while you spend time in the car. Auto makers are weaving in autonomy, novel interaction elements and even artificial intelligence into their market-ready and concept vehicles.


Volvo had their crash avoidance front end camera system on display.

Volvo introduced the family that will be testing their autonomous vehicle during their “Drive Me” program.

BMW showed off gesture controls. This driver is gesturing to control the sound level.

Google’s Waymo revealed a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica, announcing they’ve cut the cost of critical sensors by 90%.

This Volvo has multiple microphones in the front, likely to improve sound quality for all important phone calls.

Your turn

Are you ready for a fully autonomous vehicle?
Yes, I'd love to take my eyes off the road.
Yes, but I'm still worried about safety.
No, I would feel unsafe.
No, I enjoy driving.

Toyota concept cars showed future integrated technology ideas. This Toyota FCV+ is a hydrogen fuel call vehicle.

The Toyota FV2 bonds emotionally and physically with the driver, and is controlled by the driver shifting his or her body to intuitively shift the vehicle.

Toyota’s i-Road is powered by two electric motors that share a lithium ion battery.

The FCV+ also shares power with other things, like your home.

As manufacturers add more and more new technology, auto designers look for ways to inform users of its availability and how  to use it.



patterns & textures

We love autos that leverage patterns and textures on diverse materials to enhance the beauty of the interior.


As electric vehicle prices come down and ranges go up, consumers are starting to expect this option as a standard brand offering. Charging infrastructure has to grow to support this determined movement.



The Chevy Bolt, 2017 Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, takes on Tesla with a 238 mile range per charge.

BMW’s i3 competes with the Chevy Volt for ‘city vehicle’ buyers.

Mercedes-Benz’s new corporate strategy for future success is entitled CASE:“Connected”, “Autonomous”, “Shared” and “Electric Drive”.

BMW’s i8 concept serves as a showcase of their new tech, including electric power.

Cadillac hybrid powertrain

Your turn

If you don't have an electric vehicle, what's stopping you?
The vast majority don't have a long enough range per charge.
The cost.
I'm used to a gas vehicle and am more comfortable with the technology.
There just aren't any EVs out there I like.
There's no convenient charger available where I drive most.


Car enthusiasts don’t just want to check out the outside package; they want a peek at what’s powering the ride. One stand out trend are hybrid electric powertrains, which are not just becoming more efficient and smaller, but also a standard package.




Choices in powertrain

Dodge gave those looking for a tough work vehicle a unique view.

Ford’s Fox Raptor shocks make trucks ready for tough terrain.




Once an area that designers tried to blend into auto exteriors, c-pillars are having their moment as notable design details.


Color choices ran the gamut this year, from muted pastels to nearly neon palettes, there were plenty of options for drivers to express themselves with color.






Your turn

If you were buying a car today, what color would you choose?
Something muted.
Bright and bold.
The color-of-the-moment: graphite.


For the wide-eyed children just beginning to experience the beauty of the automobile, the rush of the power and the intricacies of the mechanics, the auto show solidified their passion. And for their elders, who’ve moved their car posters from their childhood bedrooms to their suburban garages, that same thrill of seeing the newest, the sleekest, the most breathtaking is what they return to the auto show to experience year after year.




Ford’s interactive station allowed kids of all ages to experiment with energy and motion.

Acura’s NSX interactive virtual reality enabled non drivers to experience the behind the wheel thrill.

Ford’s GT Le Mans racing simulator dared ‘drivers’ to try to set the fastest pace on a virtual course.

People lined up to race the Nissan GT R to try to get the fastest lap time and land on the leader board.

Show me a kid who doesn’t want to be Batman... Chevy invited lego lovers to build their own Lego Batmobile

Alfred makes Batman buckle up too.

Taking a cue from Disney’s Test Track, Chevy invites future car designers (or adult dreamers) to trace Chevy designs and share on social media... do you admit you traced?



waves in the dashboard

Curves are beautiful. These autos like to show theirs off in the dashboard.


For many, a vehicle is an extension of who they are; it has to perform under the stresses they put it through, whether at work or at play.  Many automakers used the auto show to illustrate their vehicles are built to withstand the rigors of diverse user groups.



Besides tools of the trade, there is probably no more important machine to some than their truck. Robust details, aggressive design languages and utility were prevalent in trucks aimed at serving their working class market.


Dodge’s Ram lineup delivered on its promise of durable and reliable work machines. Elegant and inventive features impressed.

Toyota featured its Tacoma TRD, which is positioned to serve those looking for a vehicle that can handle extreme conditions.

Revived in 2016, Toyota’s Tacoma TRD was displayed as a rugged work machine and an off-road ready vehicle for fun too.


Kia might not be the first vehicle to come to mind when you’re thinking of outdoor adventures, but they’re trying to change that here...

The Toyota 4 Runner Trail Edition is one of the few remaining frame on body SUVs. Rugged construction meets reliability.

Volvo’s V90 Cross Country is a modern wagon positioned as an adventure crossover.

Your turn

How much does your lifestyle factor in to your vehicle purchase?
100%. It has to perform in the situations I'm in everyday.
Somewhat. Function is about equal to form.
Not so much. I may have kids, but I need my sportscar.


Vehicles targeting Millennials feature spaces that enable a more social and hands-off experience than a vehicle-interaction one. As this group starts families, auto manufacturers are integrating abundant infotainment options intended to serve everyone from the drivers to the not yet walking and talking.





VW’s Microbus concept is fully autonomous, integrates augmented reality and a tablet-driven infotainment system.

Dubbed a ‘garden plot on wheels’, the Rinspeed ‘Oasis’ concept vehicle is packed with next gen tech... and a garden.

Chrysler’s Portal Concept boasts a 250-mile all electric driving range and gives a future peek into the family minivan.



heritage elements

As more and more high tech elements are integrated into our autos, some throwback details are rather charming.


Screens abound in new autos, but what’s interesting is seeing how they’re integrated. Many vehicles pair screens with physical buttons, others have multiple screens for varying functions, some screens are standard aspect ratios, while others stretch beautifully across the dashboard. What’s next? Time will tell.





Are there not enough screens integrated for you? Add more!


Sometimes one screen is not enough... but why not better marry the screens together more effectively in both their physical placement and user interface?

While we understand that physical button controls for touch screen functionality is likely a safety feature, enabling control without taking eyes off the road... don’t you still have to look at the screen as things change? Are these screens just getting us ready for more automomous driving?



Since buyers want more infotainment and connectivity, are automakers integrating both screens and many physical controls to make it look like there is a lot to control? Where’s the intuitiveness?


As screens are integrated into more autos every year, the user interfaces and experiences with the information on the screens is becoming a vital piece of the overall experience puzzle. Unfortunately, many auto makers aren’t leveraging this opportunity to further their brand on the screen, by marrying long-established physical brand elements with new digital ones.




The vast majority of automakers are missing the opportunity to push their branding on their screens... why?

Dodge started to integrate the UI more by bringing the hexagon design detail onto the screen, mimicking the speaker grates.

Are the majority of screens integrated in autos today making infotainment control intuitive and simple?
Yes, I love interacting with the screen(s) in my vehicle.
It's ok. There's room for improvement.
No. There's either too much to control or it's just not simple enough to interact with while driving.



alternative gear shifters

These aren’t your daddy’s gear shifters... will new buyers like it or be confused?

Your turn



What are your thoughts on the auto shows this year? What did you like? What is falling short? What do you hope to see in the future? Let us know!



Left to right: Nicole Byer, Qian Hamel, Erik Moses, Tom O’Connor, Gil Cavada, George Guffey




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