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2011 Detroit Auto Show: Observations from the show floor

Consumer Reports News: January 11, 2011 01:38 PM

It’s Tuesday morning and the auto show is like a ghost town. After the marathon of press conferences yesterday, it seems that both journalists and industry types are in need of physical and psychological rehab. Even one of my more energy-infused colleagues told me “It took me all of about two seconds to fall asleep last night.” Perhaps to combat yesterday’s 12-hour full-court press, Hyundai was giving out those small bottles of 5-Hour Energy. Of course, that would mean you’d have to pound more than one to make the math work. But the only thing worse than feeling dead on your feet is finally getting the chance to go to bed but being too hopped up on caffeine to fall asleep.

During the VW press conference announcing the new Passat, I grew concerned when the words “affordable” and “cheaper than its predecessor” were used to describe it. Later, a CR writer mentioned that he saw a basic metal prop holding up the hood (instead of using hydraulic rods). We’ve noticed how VW cheapened the current Jetta. Which brings up something the company said yesterday about the new Passat: the company’s goal, it seems, is “German engineering for all.” We can only hope they aren’t taking the same path for the Passat they used for the Jetta.

Getting consistent Wi-Fi on the show floor is nearly impossible – maybe the worst it’s ever been. Hence, finding a manufacturer with its own connection is key. Otherwise, you have to work from the press room, two floors up from where the action is. Some manufacturers are very generous giving out passwords to tap in to their connection. And some, for whatever reason are not. Unfortunately, Acura wouldn’t give me its Wi-Fi password, making it harder to write anything about its products.

And what DID Ford get out of owning Land Rover? Strolling through the expansive Ford display, I couldn’t help but notice that the front end of the Flex looked strikingly like past and current generation Land Rovers. Obviously, Ford didn’t own the then-British company back when the iconic truck was first sold here, but if you close, you can see a resemblance. The Flex on display at the show has a flat hood, horizontal bars across the grill, and round headlights in mostly square outlying frames. Plus the “FLEX” lettering across the front also has a strange familiarity. Take a look at a Land Rover and tell me if you think these two weren’t separated at birth.

Mike Quincy

See our complete 2011 Detroit Auto Show coverage and follow our live updates on Twitter @CRCars.

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