The 10+ must-see cars at the 2017 Philadelphia Auto Show

A large Lexus display draws crowds at the 2015 Philadelphia Auto Show, at the Philadelphia Convention Center, on January 31, 2015.

When the curtain rises on the Philadelphia Auto Show, visitors can expect another event filled with the latest and greatest in automotive features. 

But touring the Auto Show can make for a long day, with plenty of ground to cover, so choices must be made. Among the more interesting pieces are some radical new offerings by familiar makes and some (almost) entirely new brands to the United States. Here are 10 must-sees for visitors during the auto show’s nine-day run, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

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The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt beats Tesla to the under-$40,000 fully electric vehicle with 200-plus miles of range.

The first electric car with more than 200 miles of range and a price tag under $40,000, Chevrolet seems to have beaten Tesla to the jolt with this one.

Sure, electrics are a minuscule portion of the market, and this may end up a money-losing marketing expense for General Motors, but it’s a close-up look at the technology of the future.

2018 Lexus LC500

Camera icon Sebastien Mauroy
The 2018 Lexus LC500 emphasizes the Toyota premium brand's sportier side. Its starting price is expected to be $92,000 — $96,000 for the hybrid version. Credit: Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse.

For years, the Toyota-built Lexus was the luxuriously boring brand you bought to have a luxury car that held together better than a Mercedes or a Cadillac. Lexus is working hard to add high-performance to that perception, and this sports coupe should really do the trick upon its arrival in dealerships in May.

Priced at “below $100,000,” it’s the four-seater coupe most of us are not going to get to drive. But we can marvel at the 5.0-liter V8, direct shift 10-speed automatic transmission, and the 471 horsepower.

2018 VW Atlas

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The 2018 Atlas: A three-row SUV filling a niche for VW's American customers.

After years of importing a rebadged Dodge Caravan minivan and selling us the Volkswagen-downed version of the Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen finally gets into the three-row SUV game. The company has started gearing up production at the Chattanooga plant, alongside the stellar Passat sedan, so hope springs eternal. The Atlas will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged and four-cylinder with 238 horsepower, or a 3.6-liter VR6 engine with 280. Either engine routes power through an eight-speed transmission, and the Atlas can be front- or all-wheel-drive.

2018 Kia Stinger

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The 2018 Kia Stinger will offer forward collision assistance with integrated autonomous emergency braking to detect a potential collision with another vehicle or pedestrian and help bring the car to a stop.

Kia calls this a grand touring sport sedan. It’s definitely pretty and sportier than one thinks of when hearing the name Kia.

The standard 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder produces an estimated 255 horsepower; a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 is anticipated to produce 365.  Kia is targeting 5.1 seconds to 62 m.p.h., and a top speed of 167 m.p.h. with the twin turbocharged V6. These are mated to an eight-speed rear-drive automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is also available.

2018 Toyota Camry

Yeah, right, we’re going to the auto show to see the new Camry.

Don’t knock the Camry; it’s the best-selling car in the United States. And Toyota is giving its buyers a taste of Lexus without the price — and without the deformed grilles.

The roof and the hood get lowered, giving drivers a sportier feel and improving visibility and driving dynamics. It will be moved by a 3.5-liter V6 or a 2.5-liter inline-4 gasoline engine, and it's paired to an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission or Toyota Hybrid System.

2018 Genesis G80

With its last two rounds of redesigns and model introductions, the Korean carmaker Hyundai and cousin Kia have moved well into the realm of seriousness. They look pretty, drive well, and hold together.

But Americans are more brand sensitive than much of the rest of the world. So Hyundai has spun off the Genesis name as a separate brand and offers this luxurious sedan as the G80. 

The sedan even offers a 5.0-liter V-8 for people who like plenty of power. It comes in rear- or all-wheel-drive.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

This pretty Italian sedan starting at just under $40,000 definitely adds to the automaker’s portfolio in the United States.

Sure, the performance matches everything in its class: a 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbocharged engine making 280 horsepower, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and available in all-wheel-drive. But plenty of standard features add value: leather seats, 10-way power front, remote proximity sensor with push button start, remote start, and seven-inch full-color display.

A $72,000 Quadrifoglio version gets a little nutty as well, with a 505-horsepower, 2.9-liter bi-turbo V-6 engine and  zero-to-60-m.p.h. time of 3.8 seconds, carbon fiber hood and other pieces, high-performance leather seats with 14-way power front seats, including four-way lumbar, and leather-wrapped dash and doors.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

FiatChrysler may have finally found the perfect match of practicality by fitting a hybrid to a minivan. This is ideal for the belt-and-suspenders crowd.

But the pretty Pacifica design has actually delivered. Its driving dynamics and remarkable 24 m.p.g. in a week of real-world testing give it even more cred.

Now, a plug-in hybrid version aims to offer up to 33 miles of driving before accessing the fuel tank, furthering stretching the family budget.

What you can drive 

For the serious tire-kickers, BMWs, Kias, Mazdas, Nissans, and Toyotas will offer Ride and Drives, where visitors (with proof of driver’s license and insurance) can take one (or maybe more) of these cars out on the streets of Center City. Check www.phillyautoshow.com for exact test-drive hours.

Dream cars

Camera icon Dukai
The Ferrari GTC4Lusso offer luxurious sportiness and four seats.

Where else might most of us get reasonably up close to a four-seater Ferrari GTC4Lusso, or a two-seat California T? A Mercedes AMG GLA45 or Aston Marton DB1? Or the Bentley Bentayga SUV?

Sure, the exotics are generally roped off, but here’s a chance to admire them from kinda close — without fear of a call to the police. 


2017 Philadelphia Auto Show, Saturday to Feb. 5, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. both Saturdays;
 
 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
 Sunday; noon to 10 p.m. weekdays; and 9 a.m. to  6 p.m. next Sunday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 
1101 Arch St. $14 (13 and older); $11 (military); $7 (62-plus); $7 (kids 7-12); 
6 & under free.