The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of CES Cars

LAS VEGAS — CES is a never-ending grind, a dehumanizing slog through one booth after another, an aural and visual assault on the senses. It’s hell, actually.

Nowhere is this more true than the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, where anyone and everyone who makes anything and everything for cars was packed into a room two sizes too small. Getting your attention is tough at CES, where there were literally tens of thousands of gadgets. Given the competition for your eyeballs, many of these companies rolled out show cars, and spared no expense making sure they were perfect for a place like Vegas. They were loud, they were garish and we’re pretty sure one featured a buffet.

Here are the good, the bad and the ugly cars we saw at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.

Ford Evos
What’s better than a pair of gullwing doors? Four gullwing doors, of course. The Evos has been around the block once or twice already, but we never get tired of seeing Ford’s fabulous cloud-connected concept sedan. Memo to Ford: Build this car. As is. We’ll buy two.

Diamond Audio Chevrolet Camaro SS
Diamond Audio’s take on the modern muscle car featured matte black paint, a 1,600-watt stereo system, 24-inch wheels and a weird body kit with a rear end like Kim Kardashian. It was black as night, loud as hell and looked like something Mad Max might drive.

Tesla Motors Model S
The Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset is cool and all, but don’t be fooled. Most of the people who squeezed into Nvidia’s booth were there to see the Tesla Model S. The gorgeous electric sedan uses Nvidia tech in its tablet-like dashboard. We’d have given you a clear shot of the car, but we couldn’t clear the crowd. Sorry.

Scosche 1959 Chevrolet Apache
This tasty resto-mod was by far the coolest car at CES, and we racked our brains trying to figure out how to sneak it out of the show. It was loaded with details, like Frenched door handles, shaved drip rails and tucked bumpers. We weren’t at all wild about the absurdly oversized wheels, but it’s hard to argue with the 5.7-liter LS1 under the hood. Of course it’s got a booming stereo if you’re into that sort of thing. We aren’t.

Mixtrax Toyota Sienna
The vaguely Kubrickian 1960’s-era futuristic interior — with its sleek pod-like seats, deep white shag carpet and funky mushroom-like pedestal — almost made up for the outrageously ugly vinyl wrap, slammed stance and obligatory oversized wheels. Almost.

Memphis Car Audio Smart ForTwo
The most surprising thing about this car isn’t that Memphis managed to shoehorn a 2,000-watt stereo system into something the size of a washing machine. What’s surprising is how good the Smart ForTwo looks in orange.

Kenwood Lamborghini Murcielago LP 650-4 Roadster
The Murcie is hot, no two ways about it. It looks great in gray. It looks great in orange. But it does not look great in gray and orange. And we have no idea why anyone thought it needs a 1,200-watt sound system. The wail of its V12 is all the music we need.

Kia Naimo concept
Kia’s cloud-connected car channels the coolest Scandinavian-inspired interior — sleek, organic and minimalist — through a body that looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss. Oddly, it works.

PowerBass Toyota Prius
We hate to say it, but this works surprisingly well. The Prius’ normally ungainly almond shape melts into the ground when slammed, waking up an otherwise somnolent sedan. If the styling doesn’t get your attention, the 2,000-watt audio system will. Ditch the ridiculous side curtains and the 35 — yes, 35, we counted — stickers slathered all over it and we’d actually drive this.

Photo: PowerBass

Don’t get too excited, folks. It’s a one-off, built for NRG Energy. Still, it’s a tasty bit of kit packed with lithium iron phosphate battery and an electric motor good for 260 horsepower and 360 pound-feet. Mash the go-pedal hard enough and you’ll (supposedly) hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Range is said to be 100 miles, and the pack recharges in 3.5 hours at 240 volts. Spare us your jokes about flux capacitors and a top speed of 88 mph. We’ve heard them all. Twice.

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