Top 5 trends that will shape 2017

AUTO SHOW The auto in­dus­try, like any other, is vul­ner­a­ble to trends that in­flu­ence cur­rent and fu­ture prod­ucts. As the auto show sea­son kicks into high gear, here are five de­vel­op­ments to keep an eye on.

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1.The re­turn of colos­sal SUVs

Re­mem­ber the Hum­mer? Gi­ant SUVs are mak­ing a re­turn but in the form of colos­sal crossovers. The pop­u­lar­ity of crossovers con­tinue to reach new heights and larger-than-life ver­sions are set to be­come even more preva­lent. From the Subaru Viziv-7 and Audi Q8, two con­cepts pref­ac­ing pro­duc­tion mod­els from their re­spec­tive brands, to the 2018 Chevro­let Tra­verse and all-new Volk­swa­gen At­las, look for full-sized three-row crossovers to con­tinue their as­cent in an in­creas­ingly anti-mini­van mar­ket­place.

2. Ex­or­bi­tantly ex­pen­sive ones are com­ing, too

It’s not just main­stream au­tomak­ers look­ing to cash in on the mar­ket’s hunger for all things cross­over, with pre­mium brands hot on their heels. Porsche got the ball rolling al­most 15 years ago with the Cayenne, and it con­tin­ued last year with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Bent­ley Ben­tayga. Next up is Rolls-Royce, As­ton Martin and Lam­borgh­ini, all of which are ex­pected to in­tro­duce crossovers of their own within the cal­en­dar year.

3. More power to the peo­ple

The trend to­ward squeez­ing the most power pos­si­ble from an en­gine isn’t new for 2017. It’s also not go­ing away any­time soon. Teach­ing old dogs new tricks - think dual in­jec­tion, tur­bocharg­ing and higher com­pres­sion ra­tios, among oth­ers - has al­lowed en­gi­neers to eke all kinds of ex­tra power from en­gines in every­thing from pickup trucks to per­for­mance cars with­out sac­ri­fic­ing fuel econ­omy in many cases.

How­ever, we might be get­ting close to hit­ting peak car, where it’s not im­pres­sive un­less a hy­per­car has four-digit horse­power or torque fig­ures. With the As­ton Martin RMB 001, Mercedes-AMG Pro­ject One hy­per­car and Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron com­ing out this year all boast­ing more than 1,000 horse­power, we’re not sure how much fur­ther we can go from here.

4. Dab­bling in diesel

Mazda and Ford have both stepped for­ward with diesel plans. Mazda plans to bring a diesel to North Amer­ica in the 2017 CX-5, while Ford is shoe­horn­ing a diesel en­gine un­der the hood of the 2018 F-150 pickup. Those two join Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar, which all con­tinue to of­fer diesel en­gines in their ve­hi­cles here. The Chevro­let Cruze will also be avail­able with a diesel.

5.Tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to trickle down

It’s hard to imag­ine a time when hav­ing a stan­dard CD player in a com­muter car was a big deal. Now the com­pact disc is old hat, with Blue­tooth au­dio stream­ing be­com­ing the new norm. In fact, some new cars, in­clud­ing the Chevro­let Spark, don’t have CD play­ers at all, in­stead re­ly­ing on touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems to mir­ror smart­phones to ac­cess music and more on the go. But it’s not just con­ve­nience fea­tures once re­served for pre­mium ve­hi­cles that have made their way into rudi­men­tary rides. The mar­ket has now reached a point where ac­tive safety fea­tures such as lane-keep as­sist can be found in cars like the com­pact Chevro­let Cruze and au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing with pedes­trian de­tec­tion is avail­able in a Kia Rio. You can ex­pect more and more high-tech fea­tures to make their way into econ­omy cars.

Saul Loeb/ AFP/ Getty Images From left, 1. Look for full-sized three-row crossovers to con­tinue their as­cent in an in­creas­ingly anti-mini­van mar­ket. 2. Lam­borgh­ini, which showed off the Urus in 2012, is one of a few lux­ury au­tomak­ers ex­pected to in­tro­duce crossovers. 3. The Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron will boast more than 1,000 hp. 4. Ford is shoe­horn­ing a diesel en­gine un­der the hood of the 2018 F-150 pickup. 5. Au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing with pedes­trian de­tec­tion is avail­able in a Kia Rio.

Toronto Star file photo

Ford

Kia Canada

Mar­tial Trezzini/the associated press

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