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With more than 500 cars and trucks on display at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, this is the American consumer’s first glimpse at what next year will look like for the automotive industry. This year, 40 new models are expected to be unveiled, ranging from concept cars to hybrids.
U.S. auto sales are at their highest since 2008 — before sky-high gasoline prices and the financial crisis spooked consumers — but are nevertheless expected to continue climbing over the next couple years. With an estimated 750,000 visitors expected at this year’s show, companies will be vying for their attention and gauging whether their newest offerings will satisfy consumer demands.
To see some of the most impressive models from this year’s event, click ahead. Be sure to check back for updates as the show continues.
By Paul Toscano
Posted 9 Jan 2012
Toyota’s Generation Y-focused Scion division impressed at this year’s auto show when it revealed its new FR-S model, a sports car competing in the 2012 Formula DRIFTseries.
The car delivers 600 horsepower and features a front-engine, rear-wheel configuration. Drivers of the FR-S will experience the BeSpoke infotainment system, which offers a high level of connectivity and personalization. Scion has also responded to consumer interest in the FR-S with their “First 86” program, which will give 86 people the opportunity to be among the first to own the Scion FR-S.
A major reveal for Toyota this year was the NS4 plug-in hybrid concept, which “signifies Toyota’s vision for future mobility with a focus on connectivity and a human interface,” separate from the company’s already popular Prius line.
Toyota foresees vehicles becoming a “communication hub” where connected drivers increasingly look to integrate their devices. The carmaker has formed alliances with tech companies such as Microsoft and Intel to advance the hub concept.
The concept also includes Human-Machine Interface (HMI), which builds the car’s interface around a smartphone-like touch screen, capable of “learning” driver preferences and habits to anticipate driver responses. The car will also feature inner and outer rearview mirrors to give the driver a panoramic view of the road and specially coated glass that makes it easier to see when driving in the rain.
The NS4 could be available in 2015.
Ford’s Lincoln division has been struggling in recent years and the new MKZ concept is an attempt to revive the brand. The reaction to the vehicle was positive at this year’s show, where it was praised for both its exterior and interior design.
One of the most notable features of the MKZ concept is a panoramic glass roof that extends through the back of the vehicle, offering views unmatched by most hard-top cars. The Lincoln MKZ was presented as a “bespoke” automobile, with the promise that the car will be more customized for owners.
One of the most popular cars in the U.S. is the Honda Accord, and at this year’s Detroit Auto show consumers are getting a glimpse of its future. This design marks the ninth generation of the Accord, which is set to include new powertrain and safety technologies, as well as a sportier look, especially in the sedan version.
The Accord will also be offered as a plug-in hybrid, which will afford drivers an all-electric range of between 9 to 15 miles that can be recharged with a 240-volt outlet in about 90 minutes. The new safety features include side-curtain airbags, lane departure warnings and forward collision warning technology.
At this year's auto show, Buick released an all-new luxury crossover called the Encore. Built to develop a “new audience of Buick customers” who are looking for a luxury alternative to other top-selling brands, Buick hopes to build on two consecutive years of increased sales for the brand. The company is quick to make comparisons between its new model and the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3.
The designers of the Encore focused on a “contemporary” design and a spacious interior. The entire line features a “one-tire” philosophy, where the entire vehicle’s design is optimized on an 18-inch tire specification, refining the handling and suspension. The Encore is Buick’s third all-new sedan introduced in the past three years.
The redesigned 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show, although photos of the car were leaked on the Internetnearly a month before, giving fans of the car line a sneak preview.
The new model builds upon the 2012 version in several ways, including a reduced weight from a nearly complete aluminum construction and a more powerful direct injection engine. The weight reduction amounts to 242 pounds, compared to the car’s steel-constructed predecessor, while the V8 engine in the 2013 SL generates about 12 percent more power than the previous year’s model, according to the company.
One of the most popular vehicles at the show is Ford’s redesigned Fusion, which not only offers a new look but a range of attractive features, including gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid power trains and what the company calls seven “must-have technologies.”
One of them is a “Lane Keeping System” that uses camera technology to warn a driver if the car begins to drift. It can even correct the steering when drifting begins, whether from drowsiness or erratic driving. The car also features active park assist, adaptive cruise control and a blind spot information system. The plug-in hybrid version, which should hit the market in the fall of 2013, is expected to deliver 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalency for electric vehicles).
One of two Chevrolet concept cars at this year’s event, the 130R, is a four-seat coupe with rear-wheel drive. Both the Code 130R and the company’s other concept, Tru 140S, are aimed at buyers under age 30. Chevrolet designed both cars using feedback from young consumers, integrating preferences for styling and functionality. The idea, says Chevrolet, is to inspire “next-generation buyers to take the wheel and suggest ideas for a car they can co-create.”
The 130R features a turbo-charged engine that's designed to work with eAssist technology, which shuts off the engine at stops, recaptures breaking energy, and smoothes torque during acceleration. Along with interior connectivity and an estimated 40 mpg, young consumers might also like the car for its price tag, expected to be in the low $20,000 range, according to the company.
A concept car from Volkswagen making its world debut at the Detroit auto show, the E-Bugster is an electric vehicle based on the company’s ever-popular Beetle. The car is powered by a 114-horsepower electric motor and lithium-ion battery, which the company says could get up to 100 miles per charge. The car allows for three levels of charger — 120 volt, 240 volt and 400 volt — the last of which can charge the car to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes, according to the company.
The name “E-Bugster” is a combination of “E” for electric, “Bug” after the American nickname for the car and “speedster” for its profile as an open-top two-seater, although it is not a convertible. (Pictured here, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stands near the Volkswagen E-Bugster moments after it was unveiled in Detroit.)
A perennial favorite of car enthusiasts, two Bentley Continental models were unveiled at the show. The Bentley Continental GT and GTC offer a 40 percent improvement in fuel efficiency — to about 18 mpg — and carbon emissions from their predecessors and include technologies such as high pressure direct injection, variable displacement and a close-ratio 8-speed transmission.
The models will be offered with Bentley’s flagship 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder engine, along with an all-wheel drive system that delivers a 40/60 power split for more effective handling in all road conditions. At the time of the car’s debut, U.S. pricing had not been announced, but in continental Europe, the price ranges from €136,000 to €149,600 before tax ($172,700 to $190,000).
The 2013 Cadillac ATS is considered by many in the industry as a challenger to BMW’s popular 3 series. According to GM, the Cadillac ATS is “intended to challenge the world’s best premium cars.”
Cadillac tested the car on Germany’s famed Nürburgring, along with other roads, racetracks and laboratories around the world. The car features a nearly 50/50 weight balance, five-link independent rear suspension, underbody aerodynamic shields and weighs in at 3,400 pounds, slightly more than the BMW 328i sedan. The car will also feature Cadillac’s CUE system, which allows connectivity of up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled devices and an entertainment system that pairs voice commands with easy-to-use command keys.
Porsche’s new 911 Carrera Cabriolet also comes in a more powerful S Cabriolet, which adds an additional 50 hp on the base model. The S Cabriolet can go from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has a top speed of about 180 mph.
Porsche purists will be happy to know that the car features a new lightweight top technology that for the first time retains the typical 911 roofline, even with the roof closed. According to the Porsche, “the Cabriolet reveals the unmistakable 911 silhouette — never before were Cabrio and Coupé so similar.”
Another concept car on display this year is the distinctive ‘Smart For-Us,” a compact pickup truck that could turn heads. From the same division that manufactures the ubiquitous Smart microcar, the Smart For-Us is geared toward urban drivers and the young-at-heart.
The car features a 75-horsepower electric, zero emissions motor that can reach 75 mph. It has enough room for two passengers and a cargo area for additional storage, although it’s much smaller than your traditional pickup, measuring at about 3 feet in length.
The 2013 Dodge Dart was unveiled at the 2012 Detroit Auto show, but this new model harkens back to a car of the same namesake, which was popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The car is also noteworthy for being the first model to be designed from the bottom up by both Fiat and Chrysler teams.
The new Dart is expected to price at $15,995, has been certified for 40 mpg highway travel and offers three engine choices (although it is unclear whether they will all have similar fuel efficiency). As the newest compact car from Dodge, the Dart is expected to replace the unsuccessful Dodge Caliber.
If you’re looking for a hybrid that was proven on Germany’s Autobahn, Volkswagen may have the car for you. According to the company, this Jetta has a class-leading performance, enabling acceleration of 0-60 mph in under 9 seconds with a fuel economy of 45 mpg. The car also offers a pure electric mode for short drives of up to 1.2 miles.
The car features regenerative breaking, efficient dual-clutch transmission and “stop and go” technology that shuts down the engine when the car comes to a stop. The car also allows drivers to disengage the engine to reduce drag, effectively “coasting” at speeds under 84 mph when the accelerator is released, further adding to its efficiency. The car is expected to be released to the North American market at the end of 2012.