I just got back from the 2019 Detroit auto show - here's all the cool stuff I saw

DeBord bearMatthew DeBord/BI

  • The 2019 Detroit auto show was the final January installment of this gathering - in 2020, the show moves to June.
  • I saw some big trucks, some cool concepts, some race cars, drank some delicious coffee, and hung out with the Michelin Man.
  • I was also chased by a bear!


The 2019 North American International Auto Show took place in freezing-cold January for the final time this year. Next year, the Detroit auto show, as it's colloquially known, moves to June.

Thankfully! I've been a chilly journalist on my jaunts to Motown for the annual event. Everyone is happy that the schedule has shifted to late spring.

The 2019 show was actually pretty low-key. Several major carmakers sat out, leaving more open floor space at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit than I've ever witnessed before.

That said, there was still plenty of exciting stuff to see.

Here's my rundown:

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The show is held at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, on the banks of the mighty Detroit River.

The show is held at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, on the banks of the mighty Detroit River.

The year 2019 marks that last time the North American International Auto Show, as it's officially and modestly named, will happen in frigid January. In 2020, it's moving to June.

The year 2019 marks that last time the North American International Auto Show, as it's officially and modestly named, will happen in frigid January. In 2020, it's moving to June.

I arrived pretty early — just in time to see ice flowing in the river and the sunrise over Canada.

I arrived pretty early — just in time to see ice flowing in the river and the sunrise over Canada.

Michelin is a major sponsor of the show, so Bibendum — the Michelin Man — is everywhere.

Michelin is a major sponsor of the show, so Bibendum — the Michelin Man — is everywhere.

Good to see you again, Bibendum!

Good to see you again, Bibendum!

First stop: Great Lakes Coffee! This is one of the best cups I've ever had — I look forward to it every year.

First stop: Great Lakes Coffee! This is one of the best cups I've ever had — I look forward to it every year.

The media center at the Detroit auto show takes over Cobo's grand ballroom. It's the best setup on the car-show circuit.

The media center at the Detroit auto show takes over Cobo's grand ballroom. It's the best setup on the car-show circuit.

Bibendum sees all!

Bibendum sees all!

Heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis was from Detroit, and this statue of him at Cobo welcomes visitors to Motown with pugilistic determination.

Heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis was from Detroit, and this statue of him at Cobo welcomes visitors to Motown with pugilistic determination.

To be honest, because this was the final winter show, the scene was fairly low-key. Cadillac made much of the news and brought a gorgeous and iconic car to its booth.

To be honest, because this was the final winter show, the scene was fairly low-key. Cadillac made much of the news and brought a gorgeous and iconic car to its booth.

"Eldorado Biarritz" — I challenge any modern carmaker to come up with such a stunning name.

"Eldorado Biarritz" — I challenge any modern carmaker to come up with such a stunning name.

I also challenge Caddy to bring back tailfins!

I also challenge Caddy to bring back tailfins!

Cadillac's big reveal was its all-new XT6 SUV.

Cadillac's big reveal was its all-new XT6 SUV.

But Caddy also announced that it would become General Motors' lead electric brand, debuting a new EV platform.

But Caddy also announced that it would become General Motors' lead electric brand, debuting a new EV platform.

GM already has some serious skin in the EV game. Here's the Chevy Bolt, the only true mass-market EV you can currently buy that delivers 200-plus miles of range.

GM already has some serious skin in the EV game. Here's the Chevy Bolt, the only true mass-market EV you can currently buy that delivers 200-plus miles of range.

The Chevy Malibu sedan is a fantastic four-door. But sadly, sedans have fallen out of favor with consumers, and the Chevy booth was more about crossovers and pickup trucks.

The Chevy Malibu sedan is a fantastic four-door. But sadly, sedans have fallen out of favor with consumers, and the Chevy booth was more about crossovers and pickup trucks.

That said, Chevy did show off the 750-horsepower Corvette ZR1.

That said, Chevy did show off the 750-horsepower Corvette ZR1.

That's the ZR1's absurdly powerful supercharged V8 engine.

That's the ZR1's absurdly powerful supercharged V8 engine.

But really, for Chevy, a point of pride was the all-new Silverado full-size pickup truck. Chevy turned the display stand into a conference room!

But really, for Chevy, a point of pride was the all-new Silverado full-size pickup truck. Chevy turned the display stand into a conference room!

It was kinda quiet at the Buick booth. It was also kinda dark at the 2018 Detroit auto show. Most automakers decided to keep it low-key.

It was kinda quiet at the Buick booth. It was also kinda dark at the 2018 Detroit auto show. Most automakers decided to keep it low-key.

There's always a lot of race cars at the Detroit show. Here's an F1 machine from the Alfa Romeo Sauber team.

There's always a lot of race cars at the Detroit show. Here's an F1 machine from the Alfa Romeo Sauber team.

Here's an IndyCar from PNC Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here's an IndyCar from PNC Chip Ganassi Racing.

Nissan brought its all-electric Formula E car.

Nissan brought its all-electric Formula E car.

Acura brought not one but two racers.

Acura brought not one but two racers.

The Konica Minolta Cadillac competes in IMSA endurance racing.

The Konica Minolta Cadillac competes in IMSA endurance racing.

And here we have the Le Mans-winning Ford GT, in historic "Gulf" livery.

And here we have the Le Mans-winning Ford GT, in historic "Gulf" livery.

Ford also brought a tame race-car driver made entirely of Legos.

Ford also brought a tame race-car driver made entirely of Legos.

I can't get away from this guy!

I can't get away from this guy!

The impressive Genesis G70 was ...

The impressive Genesis G70 was ...

... Motor Trend's Car of the Year for 2019.

... Motor Trend's Car of the Year for 2019.

Business Insider's own Car of the Year for 2018, the Kia Stinger, was present — styled by DUB Magazine and presented at the 2018 SEMA show.

Business Insider's own Car of the Year for 2018, the Kia Stinger, was present — styled by DUB Magazine and presented at the 2018 SEMA show.

BI's 2016 Car of the Year, the Acura NSX, was also in the house. The NSX has been updated for the 2019 model year.

BI's 2016 Car of the Year, the Acura NSX, was also in the house. The NSX has been updated for the 2019 model year.

VW announced a sponsorship of both men's and women's USA Soccer.

VW announced a sponsorship of both men's and women's USA Soccer.

USA Soccer thoughtfully provided some men and women who play the game!

USA Soccer thoughtfully provided some men and women who play the game!

VW debuted a rare sedan — the new Passat.

VW debuted a rare sedan — the new Passat.

Meanwhile, I was chased by a bear!

Meanwhile, I was chased by a bear!

I got too close to this Ford pickup.

I got too close to this Ford pickup.

Luckily, I was able to fortify myself and recover with a nice double espresso at the Cadillac booth. For me, the 2019 Detroit auto show was more like the 2019 Cadillac auto show.

Luckily, I was able to fortify myself and recover with a nice double espresso at the Cadillac booth. For me, the 2019 Detroit auto show was more like the 2019 Cadillac auto show.

The new Ford Ranger was elevated to new heights.

The new Ford Ranger was elevated to new heights.

And if you ever wanted to know what the underside of a Ford F-150 looks like, the automaker had you covered.

And if you ever wanted to know what the underside of a Ford F-150 looks like, the automaker had you covered.

Ford made good on its promise to bring a 700-horsepower Mustang Shelby GT500 to Motown.

Ford made good on its promise to bring a 700-horsepower Mustang Shelby GT500 to Motown.

Ford brought a lineup of vintage 'Stangs.

 Ford brought a lineup of vintage 'Stangs.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've seen Mahindra, an Indian carmaker, in the main show floor.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've seen Mahindra, an Indian carmaker, in the main show floor.

Mahindra deployed this incredibly serious offroader.

Mahindra deployed this incredibly serious offroader.

If I'm not mistaken, the Kia Forte GT was the only acid-green machine at the entire show.

If I'm not mistaken, the Kia Forte GT was the only acid-green machine at the entire show.

Can we talk about Kia and the Telluride?

Can we talk about Kia and the Telluride?

The Telluride is a bold new SUV from the South Korean automaker.

The Telluride is a bold new SUV from the South Korean automaker.

And Kia didn't hold back on a sort of new-media obstacle course to promote the Telluride. This is possible because Audi, BMW, and Mercedes thoughtfully provided unused floor space by not actually being at the show.

And Kia didn't hold back on a sort of new-media obstacle course to promote the Telluride. This is possible because Audi, BMW, and Mercedes thoughtfully provided unused floor space by not actually being at the show.

Subaru was at the show, however! The company revealed the S209 take on its long-running WRX STI sport four-door.

Subaru was at the show, however! The company revealed the S209 take on its long-running WRX STI sport four-door.

And Bibendum brought some tires ...

And Bibendum brought some tires ...

... lots of tires.

... lots of tires.

The show wasn't all about cars. For example, here's a giant heli-drone.

The show wasn't all about cars. For example, here's a giant heli-drone.

It was guarded by a loyal bomb dog.

It was guarded by a loyal bomb dog.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia put in a sporty appearance.

The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia put in a sporty appearance.

Infiniti endured some glitches in unveiling its QX Inspiration all-electric concept.

Infiniti endured some glitches in unveiling its QX Inspiration all-electric concept.

But the sleek, futuristic concept eventually made it to the stand.

But the sleek, futuristic concept eventually made it to the stand.

Personally, I liked the "Speed Racer"-y Infiniti Prototype 10 better.

Personally, I liked the "Speed Racer"-y Infiniti Prototype 10 better.

Lexus gave us a self-driving LS 500h from the Toyota's Research Institute, in a sort of high-tech library setting.

Lexus gave us a self-driving LS 500h from the Toyota's Research Institute, in a sort of high-tech library setting.

Lexus also showed its UX subcompact crossover.

Lexus also showed its UX subcompact crossover.

Honda, of course, had an ATV on the floor.

Honda, of course, had an ATV on the floor.

Honda also installed two of these dream canons. I saw this one fire off a perfect smoke ring.

Honda also installed two of these dream canons. I saw this one fire off a perfect smoke ring.

And that's a wrap for me! The bear chased me out into the January cold, where I bid goodbye to Cobo until next year — when it will be WARM!

And that's a wrap for me! The bear chased me out into the January cold, where I bid goodbye to Cobo until next year — when it will be WARM!
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