Favorite Concept Vehicles of the 2017 Auto Show Season

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know I recently discussed some of the more ridiculous concept vehicles that never quite made it into production. If you haven’t been following the blog, how dare you? How do you think that makes my mom feel? You’ve made things very awkward for me. I’ve spent the last week checking out the concept vehicles to be revealed in 2017, and I’m wondering if maybe I was too hard on auto manufacturers, because now I’m excited.

The latest unveilings announced at Auto Shows around the world represent looking towards the future and reaching into the past. Automakers have offered a wide variety of ideas, and to be honest, it was genuinely difficult to narrow down the list of vehicles to highlight.

VAN: Volkswagen ID Buzz

Volkswagen ID Buzz

Image: Volkswagen ID Buzz via Volkswagen US Media Site

2017 finds Volkswagen in the middle of the process of rebuilding itself as an Electric Vehicle Maker. The Buzz represents the much-teased, much-anticipated return of the iconic VW bus, with a twist. The VW Buzz will be the first microbus to offer the option of a fully autonomous driving mode. Estimates show that the vehicle will get around 270 miles per charge, and includes VW’s augmented reality heads up display, featured in all VW ID concept vehicles to be presented in 2017. This HUD will replace the dashboard of the vehicle, displaying all the most common information relating to the vehicles performance, in addition to providing helpful details regarding the vehicle’s battery status, speed limit updates, and the ability to give directions in real-time, all being displayed on the windshield directly in front of the driver. Beyond boasting several interesting tech updates, the VW Buzz is the perfect spacious-but-compact vehicle for the on-demand ridesharing network that Volkswagen intends to build.

Highlights  

  • Electric
  • Autonomous Driving Mode
  • Telescoping Steering Wheel
  • Seating Arrangements
  • Advanced Connectivity Services

SEDAN: Nissan Vmotion 2.0

Image: Nissan Vmotion 2.0 via Nissan Official Media Newsroom

Nissan also finds itself looking to secure its place within the autonomous market, with the introduction of the Nissan Vmotion 2.0. The sleek sedan features Nissan’s ProPilot automated driving system, initially unveiled with the announcement of their next-generation Leaf vehicle. With the Vmotion 2.0, upon engaging the ProPilot system, the vehicle’s grille and rear diffuser begin to glow, alerting other drivers on the road and letting them know that an autonomous system has been engaged. In addition to its self-piloting function, the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 also showcases some interesting design aesthetics. The top half of the steering wheel has essentially been cut off, allowing both driver and front passenger to take in any information being displayed on the vehicle’s widescreen dashboard display. And when I say it’s wide, I mean it’s really wide. This choice makes sense though, as the vehicle itself is truly spacious, measuring in at 74.4 inches wide. The one detractor for this vehicle, in my opinion, is the inclusion of suicide rear doors. It just seems unnecessary.

Highlights  

  • Nissan Intelligent Mobility
  • Target: Busy Professionals
  • Suicide Doors
  • Cabin-focused
  • Large Dimensions

SUV: Jeep Quicksand

Jeep® Quicksand Concept

image: Jeep® Quicksand Concept via FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Hands down, the Jeep Quicksand is my favorite concept car that I’ve seen this year.  Equal parts Wrangler and hot rod, the Jeep Quicksand represents everything that makes new makes exciting. It’s not so far-fetched that you shrug it off as nothing more than a concept, and not so drab that you’re left wondering what made it different than any current offerings. The Quicksand hangs low to the ground, sitting atop 18-inch mag wheels on the front, and a set of whopping 32-inch BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/ A KM2 tires in the back. This vehicle is the perfect off-road concept, and flexes the necessary muscle under the hood to do it right, being powered by a 392-cubic-inch Hemi V-8 crate engine, and mated to a Getrag six-speed manual transmission.

Highlights  

  • Sand-dune Runner Meets Hot Rod
  • Old School; Retro Style Interior
  • Specialty Style Knob shifter

COUPE: Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e

EXP 12 SPEED 6E CONCEPT

Image: EXP 12 SPEED 6E CONCEPT via Bentley Motors

The big takeaway trend from 2017 auto shows has been that, across the board, auto manufacturers are vying for market domination in the field of electric vehicles. Bentley is no exception with their recent unveiling of the EXP 12 Speed 6E Concept Coupe. Debuting at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show, the EXP is looking to meld their tradition of superior hand craftsmanship with electric performance that boasts superior range. Bentley has stated that the EXP 12 Speed 6e will be built with the capacity to drive from London to Paris or Milan to Monaco on a single charge. The company hopes that the concept vehicle will mark their first step towards a more tech-minded future that, per their site, will introduce ‘rapid charging and fast acceleration to a world of connected lifestyle services, where onboard concierge software responds to complex voice input.’ In addition to using the vehicle to represent the company’s future technological goals, the EXP is intended to showcase the future of Bentley design, combining the natural evolution of Bentley’s trademark style with elements of contemporary architecture, and the geometry of the natural world.

Highlights  

  • Electric
  • Boasts a Superior Range
  • Sports Car Styling; Luxury Mobility
  • High Definition Displays

WAGON: Peugeot Instinct

PEUGEOT INSTINCT CONCEPT

image: PEUGEOT INSTINCT CONCEPT via Peugeot.co.uk

Maybe it’s not technically a wagon, but the Peugeot Instinct deserves to be recognized for what it’s hoping to achieve. If you’ve been reading this article with rapt attention, I’m sure you’re guessing that the vehicle is looking to implement autonomous functions, and you would be right. Give yourself a gold star. However, the Instinct isn’t looking to just take over operating functions in the driving process, it’s aiming to understand you on a personal level. For what Peugeot is calling the first time ever, the Instinct will introduce a functional on-board I.o.T (Internet of Things) platform with the Samsung Artik Cloud system, connecting the vehicle with the user’s cloud. In doing so, the Instinct will be able to learn and adapt to its user’s lifestyle and preconfigure its settings based on the information it collects. Its interior is the stuff of childhood dreams, both sleek and reminiscent of what movies in the 70s thought the future would look like. Aiming to revitalize the passenger cabin of the vehicle, the Instinct is introducing the Responsive I-Cockpit to meet the self-driving needs of the vehicle. Based on the mode selected and the user’s profile, the onboard interfaces can be configured before, during, or after use of the vehicle. This is another one of those new concept vehicles that wants to include rear suicide doors. I think if we are dead set on making these a “thing”, we should rethink the name.

Highlights  

  • Styling – Sharp Angles and Gentle Curves
  • Transition designed for both active driving and full autonomy
  • 4 seater; suicide doors
  • Retractable Steering and Gas Petal

CROSSOVER: Lexus UX 

UX Concept

image: UX Concept via Lexus.com

Comparable to their NX crossover option, the Lexus UX is shorter, lower, and wider than its predecessor.  The UX concept presents the power and 4×4 presence of an off-roader with the low ground clearance of a coupe. Lexus aimed to develop this vehicle from the inside out, in an effort to create a stronger symbiosis between the exterior and interior styling of the UX. Everything about this vehicle is sharp. Both in the sense that it’s sleek, and that it is literally sharp. From its jagged exterior edges to its blade like pedals and distinctly unique seats, (which were so wild they need their own press release), the UX intends to place itself a cut above the rest. Do you see what I did there? With the cut thing? That was a pun. The Lexus Kinect Seat Concept is a project that covers the company’s entire future lineup, and looks to seriously refresh the level of relaxation one can expect when getting behind the wheel. Admittedly, the seats do not look comfortable, at all, but I’m going to hold out on making a judgement call. Made entirely of synthetic spider silk, the web-like design of the seat intends to diffuse your body’s weight to maximize comfort while driving. Or to trap you as an offering to the Lexus Spider God. I guess we’ll find out soon enough?

Pending market confirmations, the Lexus has confirmed the green light to push this vehicle into production.

Highlights  

  • Futuristic design stylings inside and out
  • Four Seater Crossover
  • Younger Buyer Target
  • In Dash Sound bar
  • Smaller than Lexus NX

Conclusion

The vehicles discussed above are such a small fraction of what has been presented at the 2017 auto shows, and I would sincerely recommend that you check out all the unveilings if you’re interested; because there are a LOT of cool ideas being rolled out. If you don’t like reading and you’ve jumped to the final paragraph to find some quick summary of what the future holds for automobiles, here’s your two-word summary: Be excited. It appears the battle for tech-focused automobiles has finally hit its full stride.