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US Automakers Coming on Strong Against Overseas Competitors

Tuesday, 10 Jan 2012 | 6:54 PM ET

Walk around the Detroit Auto Show and one thing stands out: America's automakers are coming on strong when it comes to cars.

Ford Fusion
Getty Images
Ford Fusion

Gone are the days when Detroit's cars lagged the sedans you saw from overseas.

: Big improvement on a car that was already holding it's own for Ford. Last year, Fusion sales were up 13 percent (industry car sales up 9 percent) as Ford sold nearly a quarter million.

The new Fusion is a step up across the board. Need proof: one Japanese auto exec told me, "The Fusion will take off when it hits showrooms."

The Dodge Dart: Finally, a reason from small car buyers to visit a Dodge showroom. It replaces the Caliber which epitomized the lean, forgettable years of Chrysler under its former owner.

Not only is this a small car that will compete with the best from Japan and South Korea, its starting price point of $16,000 makes it a great value.

Cadillac ATS: The baby Caddy addresses a huge gap for Cadillac. For years, as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class racked up big sales, Cadillac tried to counter by saying the CTS was a worthy competitor.

Truth is, the CTS never quite could catch its German competitors. With demand for entry level luxury cars growing, the ATS not only fills a need for GM , it's solid entry.

Bottom line: Detroit has closed the gap (on most levels) with its foreign competitors when it comes to cars. These models will grow sales for their brands.


Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com and Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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