Gone are the days when cars designed and engineered for the North American market were believed to be inferior to those from Europe and thus would not hit the sweet spot with buyers in Australia.
That’s ancient history and for some years North American automotive products rival the best from any other location.
Here are just a few of the new models unveiled this week at the Detroit Auto Show which disappointingly won’t be seen in right-hand-drive form Downunder.
Firstly the updated Ford F-150 pickup which TMR recently detailed - at last with a diesel engine (a 3.5-litre V6 turbo-diesel to be precise), updates for the turbocharged V6 and naturally-aspirated V8 petrol engines and new technology including adaptive cruise control plus segment-best payload and towing capacities. Remember this generation F-150 debuted new weight-saving aluminium bodies.
With the F-Series range not built in-right-hand-drive, the only way you can buy one in Australia is from a private importer who manages the left-right conversion.
Rumours have been circulating for some time that, as part of its new fully-imported model range, the F-150 was back on the radar of Ford Australia. “Not so,” spokesman Damion Smy told TMR... so, sadly we can include the excellent full-size pickup on our list of Detroit stars not coming to Australia - at least in this generation (an all-new generation is due for the 2019 model year).
GM is on the list with this handsome all-new 2018 Chevrolet Traverse mid-size SUV which is claimed to offer segment-best dimensions for both cargo space (2,798-litres) and third-row legroom (seven and eight-seat configurations).
The Traverse pictured is the luxurious High Country model grade - an addition to the range for 2018 along with the sporty RS model. Chevrolet Traverse High Country runs a twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system as well as a sumptuous Loft Brown leather and suede interior with electric-folding third row seats, 20-inch polished alloy wheels and D-Optic headlights.
Thinking about cleaver features for your medium SUV? Consider these inclusions in the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.
Here’s one families can relate to: the second row seat split-folds and the section closest to the curb can be tipped and folded even with a forward-facing child seat installed (for access to the third row).
And the Chevrolet Traverse has a "soccer-kick" remote opening tailgate - like many SUVs - but a light displaying the Chevrolet logo shines on the ground under the rear bumper in the area where your ‘kick’ must be positioned. So no more frantic repeated kicking as you embarrassingly search for the right spot to activate the tailgate function.
Inside is GM’s latest version of the MyLink infotainment system which supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot (screens are 7-inch or 8-inch depending on model grade). All three seating rows run USB charging ports.
Power comes from either a new naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre V6 engine or a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder (the latter exclusive on the new RS variant). Both drive via a nine-speed automatic transmission.
GMC makes our list with the 2018 Terrain SUV. Sold as a compact SUV in North America, the latest Terrain marks new ground for GMC by offering petrol engines in the form of a 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder units to join the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.
On the technology front, four-wheel-drive models will be offered with a front-wheel-drive mode which disconnects drive to the rear wheels for fuel-saving front-drive operation when appropriate.
Also included are a surround-view camera system, forward collision alert, low-speed autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot alert and rear cross-traffic alert.
And here’s a new technology with particular relevance given Australia’s summer blight of children being locked in cars: Rear Seat Reminder. As the name suggests, when the vehicle detects the rear seat is occupied, a reminder/alert is issued when the driver’s door is opened.
Styling sees a bolder look - which GMC says heralds the next chapter of its design language - highlighted by new LED head-lights and tail-lights.
The model range of SL, SLE and SLT models is buoyed by the return of the top-specification Denali version which, amongst its extras, scores trim enhancements inside and out including a heated steering wheel, power tailgate, a seven-speaker Bose audio system and 19-inch alloy wheels. Across GMC’s entire model range, Denali models rack-up 25 per-cent of total sales.
From Honda comes the unique North American version of the Odyssey minivan which is designed, engineered and manufactured by Honda in Lincoln, Alabama. Australia gets the totally different Asian variety.
The 2018 Honda Odyssey picks-up 29kW extra (now 210kW in total) from the 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine which (depending on the model grade) drives through either a nine-speed automatic transmission or a new 10-speed auto developed in-house by Honda.
Inside, like the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Odyssey’s split-fold second-row seat can be folded and slid even with forward-facing child seats installed.
Another family-friendly feature is a camera system to allow the driver to monitor action in the second and third rows (it automatically adjusts to provide a clear image day or night).
Extra technology includes LED headlights, heated/ventilated, front seats, auto headlights and wipers, blind-spot information, rear cross traffic monitor, wireless device charging and the in-built Honda vacuum cleaner.
Upscale model grades add new driver and front passenger knee airbags, collision mitigation braking, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control. Honda expects the all-new Odyssey will again be rated five-stars by NCAP and be awarded the IIHS ‘top Safety Pick+’ rating.
Big news for the new-look bodyshell which - thanks to a new mix of ultra-high-strength steel, aluminium and magnesium - contributes to an all-up weight-saving over the previous generation of up to 45kgs and torsional rigidity which is 44 per-cent higher.
For the seventh consecutive year the Honda Odyssey was North America’s best-selling minivan in 2016.