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More cars in less time!
You’re a busy person. Some say you patented the famous “10-Minute Breakfast Burrito and Abs” workout/breakfast routine. So for your convenience, we created a highlight gallery in the same vein that covers pretty much every car we covered. Don’t like a car? Skip it. Drooling on your keyboard? Read a little more.
We’ve kicked things off with our favorite photo from the show, we’ll let you take it from there.
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2008 BMW 1 Series Convertible
At BMW’s rather busy press conference, they saved the best for last: the 1 Series Convertible. Everything that is wonderful about the coupe is here, except in place of a fixed metal roof, there’s a folding cloth top. The 128i version will arrive first, sometime in the spring, with the 135i showing up later in the year. Drivetrains on both models are identical to the hardtop versions. Roll-over sensors keep track of the car’s position and can raise the behind-seat roll bars and activate the front seat belt tensioners and head airbags.
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BMW, not content to let rival Mercedes-Benz bask in the diesel spotlight, is bringing a twin-turbo, diesel-powered 3 Series sedan to all 50 of these United States late in 2008. Like Mercedes-Benz, BMW uses urea injection to turn nitric oxides into nitrogen and water vapor, and thereby meeting emissions regulations. The system also doesn’t need to be refilled any more often than when owners have the engine oil changed, a move by both automakers to lessen any inconvenience. At the press conference, BMW frequently emphasized how important diesel power is to its plans to reduce carbon emissions. The 335d goes on sale in the fall.
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2009 BMW X5 xDrive35d
Despite the cumbersome moniker, the xDrive35d is a turbo-diesel powered X5, and it’s going to be a 50-state vehicle when it arrives late this year. This is the same engine offered in the previous page’s 335d. The return of diesel passenger cars to all 50 states comes after a long absence, and without the noise, soot and stench that turned off buyers two decades ago. The remaining hurdle for many drivers is higher vehicle price for a diesel vs. a gasoline car. Extended engine life can make up for that if buyers keep their diesel vehicles long enough.
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2008 BMW X6
In BMW lingo, it’s a Sport Activity Coupe, but most people will probably call it a funny looking SUV. The idea is to combine the driving dynamics of a 6 Series with the X Series-styled body done as a coupe with four doors. It comes in two models, xDrive50i and the xDrive35i, both of which are all-wheel drive. The X6 introduces a new driving system that the automaker calls Dynamic Performance Control. The X6 is scheduled to go on sale in the spring.
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Buick Riviera Concept
When General Motors unveiled the Buick Riviera Concept at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2007, it was saying two things. First, it was saying that it sells a LOT of Buicks in China, and intends to solidify its commitment to the country with this China-designed coupe. Second, it was telling the world that Buick is back, baby, and it's going to be the source of some beautiful cars. It did not say when or even whether the Concept would become a reality any time soon, but if it does, we hope it comes to our side of the Pacific, and doesn't stay a Chinese plaything.
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If there ever were doubts that Cadillac was shooting for the top, this should erase them. The numbers here are simple: 550 horsepower, 550 lb.-ft. of torque, and a six-speed manual transmission. Were these numbers for a special edition Corvette, we’d be happy enough. But when they’re specs for the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V – a freakin’ 550-horsepower Cadillac! – well, we start to wonder if it’s time to dust off that old “Standard of the World” moniker.
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Cadillac CTS Coupe
Okay, okay, we get the whole Cadillac is red hot thing. But come on. Where’s the duck? If the General debuts many more cars that look like the CTS Coupe Concept, we may start quacking ourselves. Production plans were not announced, beyond a stifled grin and the muttered “we’re really serious about this car.” Quack. Not mentioned was the commitment to build the thing at the Lansing, Michigan plant for 2009. Quack, Quack.
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Cadillac Provoq Concept
We’ve heard a lot about GM’s E-Flex platform, the series hybrid that underpins the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Flextreme concept cars shown last year in Detroit and Frankfurt. Today at the Detroit Auto Show, GM unveiled another version of the platform, and quite possibly the best one yet: The Cadillac Provoq. The Provoq is one of the most production-ready concepts we've seen, and with all the rumors of a BRX small crossover, we're guessing that this is a close preview of that vehicle. Whether it winds up with an E-Flex drivetrain right off the bat is debatable, and unlikely, but we'd be surprised if a production version of this car doesn't show up sometime relatively soon.
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Once in a while, a car comes along that, even before the first one is sold, is automatically a classic. Coincidentally, a lot of these cars happen to have been Corvettes: the 1958 roadster; the 1963 split rear window coupe; the 1967 L88...the list goes on and on. Well, add another, as the official wraps have just been removed from the 2009 Corvette ZR1. Touted as being the most powerful and fastest Corvette ever – indeed, the fastest production car ever produced by GM – the ZR1 doesn’t just
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Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept
Chrysler is anxious to remind us all that it's still in the game. It also wants us all to know that it knows the game has changed from big honkin' Hemis to environmentally friendly fare. Thus, the ovoid Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept. This four-door car is what Chrysler calls a "one box" design, with a continuous flow from nose to tail. But the big news isn't just styling, but the powertrain. Using a lithium-ion battery pack – the kind all the cool kids use these days – and a hydrogen fuel cell, the ecoVoyager promises 300 mile range with only water vapor emissions.
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2009 Dodge RAM pickup
Dodge introduced its fourth generation of the ram pickup with a herd ambling around Cobo Hall. In addition to the assembled throng of media, Dodge also paraded a bunch of cows by the outdoor press conference. What exactly do cattle have to do with a truck named for a male sheep? We don’t know, and don’t care. The new Ram is something we care about, and the pickup was due for a new go-round. The automaker says this is the first Ram with a crew cab, but the truck has come with something akin to that for several years. Regular and Quad Cab models are also in the range, which goes on sale this fall.
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2010 Fisker Karma
Just this morning we attended a press conference held by a well-known Italian luxury car company, one that sells fewer than 10,000 cars annually and employs executives who tout the brand’s exclusivity. Maybe they haven’t heard about Fisker Automotive, and in particular, the 2010 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid. Despite a projected annual production run of approximately 15,000 units, the Karma comes much closer to the true definition of exclusive thanks the plug-in’s first-to-market status, relatively affordable $80,000 base price, lithium ion battery technology, full-electric range of 50 miles, and a gas/electric fuel economy rating of 100 mpg. That kind of exclusivity will be available from Fisker in late 2009.
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Ford Explorer America Concept
It’s now official: Body-on-frame SUVs have lost the fight to crossovers. This news comes not from an announcement from the International Federation of Sport Utility Manufacturers or something, but from a new Ford concept car, the Explorer America. Hear the name “Explorer,” and you think of the original SUV, a body-on frame truck that transformed the definition of a family hauler. The Explorer America is a very futuristic look at what the next iteration of the vehicle could be and – surprise – it’s a crossover.
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When you’re the best at something, especially for multiple decades, there’s a lot of motivation and pressure to maintain that ranking. That mentality keeps Ford continuously improving its most important vehicle, the F-150 pickup. Taking center stage at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the redesigned 2009 model will debut style that’s “a touch more civilized” than the Super Duty and features designed to keep competitors at bay, such as a new side step for the tall bed, added safety features, and a top-of-the-line Platinum trim. Look for the complete package to hit lots later this year.
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Ford Verve Sedan Concept
Adaptation is the key to survival, whether you’re coping with life after divorce or playing in one of the most competitive markets on the planet. As car buyers faced with new environmental concerns and higher gas prices, we’ve had to change our perception about the vehicles we drive, with many of us opting for smaller, fuel-efficient alternatives. In turn, manufacturers such as Ford have had to adapt, which has lead to the development of the European-styled Verve Sedan Concept, a sub-Focus four-door the Blue Oval brand promises will deliver much more than fuel efficiency when it arrives for the 2010 model year.
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Honda Pilot Prototype Preview
Oh, what a problem Honda has. On one hand, the current-generation Pilot still sells well. It’s also well-regarded, garnering accolades and awards a full six years after its introduction. Yet on the other hand even Hondas get old, and if the Pilot stays the same, well, the competition isn’t sitting still. The Honda Pilot Prototype concept the company showed off in Detroit is a thinly-veiled version of the production car, in fact, a production car that has been turned into a prototype. Just replace the grille, headlights and maybe a few other pieces here and there and you've got the production version.
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Deafening silence. Microsoft Works. Compact Hummer. All oxymorons, yet making its debut in Detroit is the Hummer HX Concept, an off-road vehicle smaller than the H3, and designed to go head-to-head with the likes of the Jeep Wrangler. The HX boasts a 3.6-liter V-6 E85-ready flex-fuel engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and, of course, an off-road ready full-time four-wheel drive system with locking front and rear differentials. The 35-inch tall tires are mounted on custom bead-lock rims, and a complete underbody protection kit includes a front skid plate and drivetrain plates to protect the HX from the rigors of off-road duty.
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2009 Hyundai Genesis Sedan Preview
Duing its unveiling, executives from the Korean automaker stressed that they were looking to disrupt what car buyers' perceptions were when it comes to luxury vs. price. Genesis is aimed squarely at Lexus, Infiniti and BMW and includes some truly luxo features -- radar smart cruised control, self-leveling and cornering HID head lamps, eight airbags, heated and cooled seats and the usual bevy of Bluetooth, satellite and HD radio. Reports indicate three engines: a V-8 engine that generates a reported 375 horsepower and two existing V-6 engines, Hyundai's 3.3-liter and 3.8-liter powerplants mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
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Jeep Renegade Concept
Like the Wrangler, but want something with a little more sport? Then check out the Renegade. A resurrected name, but no, this isn’t just an option package for the current Wrangler. Instead, this Renegade Concept is a compact “B-segment” two seater with a cut-down speedster-style windshield, roll bar, a hose-out interior and eco-friendly Bluetec diesel/hybrid engine.
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Large sport utilities with V-8 engines are nothing new. In fact, some might even say that their day has passed as gas prices continue to rise. That hasn’t deterred some buyers, and Kia wants a slice of that pie. The Borrego is a production version of the Mesa concept we saw a couple of years ago, and its debut marks a further expansion of Kia’s model lineup and image to consumers.
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Land Rover LRX Concept
Land Rover says its LRX Concept is a very different vehicle than it has made before because it’s lighter, more compact and more “sustainable,” but is still in keeping with the brand’s off-road strengths. Translation: It’s a crossover, which Land Rover acknowledges. The three-door vehicle is smaller than the LR2 and is being touted by Land Rover as a “cross-coupe.” While the LRX Concept is a long way from a production model, it is also a litmus test for this kind of vehicle.
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Mazda Furai Concept
If Mazda were ever to build a super car, this would be it. Based on the factory-backed American Le Mans Series race car, the Furai is built with carbon composites and uses a three-rotor engine that produces 450 horsepower and runs on ethanol fuel (E100) developed by BP. The name means “sound of the wind,” which we’re guessing is what spectators would hear as the car went by.
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Mazda5 Hydrogen RE Hybrid Concept
Sure, it may look like your run-of-the-mill Mazda5 mini minivan, albeit dressed up with some unique graphics, but in reality the vehicle you’re looking at is all about the future. Marking the second generation of Mazda’s hydrogen technology, the Mazda5 Hydrogen RE (HRE) replaces the brand’s original hydrogen project, the RX-8 HRE. The new variant adds a hybrid system and a larger hydrogen fuel tank, granting the Mazda5 HRE more power and a greater travel range. It will undergo real-world testing when examples are leased in Japan later this year...for about $4,000 per month.
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Nissan has its Z. Toyota had its Supra. Chevrolet has its Corvette. Mazda has its RX-8. All represent the pinnacle of performance for their respective brands as nameplates that are well-established and immediately recognizable. In the case of Mazda, the entire product lineup is smattered with turbo-this and sport tuned-that, but all of these lesser models owe their existence to the RX-8’s respected history. For 2009, Mazda’s halo sports car gets a gentle massage that leaves it with a fresh face and a mildly enhanced interior, while the familiar Renesis rotary engine manages all things under the hood.
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Mazda Taiki Concept
Since its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, one of our editors has had the Mazda Taiki Concept in regular rotation on his computer’s desktop. Mazda challenged it’s designers to come up with "a design that visually expresses the flow of air" to help blend performance and environmental balance. The automaker says the Mazda Taiki Concept “reflects one possible direction for a future generation of Mazda sports cars aimed at helping create a sustainable society.” The goal is to maximize efficiency through flow design while still maintaining automotive excitement.
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Humph. Some concept. And another thing: if the GLK is good enough for the girls on Sex in the City, it's good enough for us poor ink-stained wretches, by golly. Debuted on the movie lot of the upcoming SITC movie (oops), the GLK showed up at Cobo Center in Detroit for a little thing called the Auto Show. In fact, two of 'em showed up, though only one will be on sale in January of 2009.. Pricing has not been not announced, but you can expect the C-Class derivative to compete with the BMW X3 and new Land Rover LR2.
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2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK
With a new SLK three years away, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK needs only to hold serve, tweak interest and keep the plate warm for the real update. Thanks to a bump in horsepower, a very SLR-esqe snout and a new rear, the SLK should do exactly that, though Mercedes fans will soon be clamoring for more.
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Remember the Mitsubishi Eclipse? No, not the oversized, overstuffed two-door Galant boulevard cruiser that it’s turned into in recent years. We mean the original all-wheel drive turbocharged coupe that combined a low price with high performance in a way buyers hadn’t seen in decades. Apparently, Mitsubishi remembers it too, because the Concept-RA reminds us a lot of that old Eclipse: All-wheel drive, a turbo engine, and killer looks.
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2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart
With a starting price of $32,999, the 2008 Lancer Evolution GSR is expensive, no doubt. In fact, it comes in considerably more than the car it replaces, and leaves a gaping hole between it and the non-turbo Lancer GSR in terms of price and performance. Thus, the Lancer Ralliart is born, with a price in the mid-$20,000 range and an on-sale date of this summer. The Ralliart promises to knock the socks off the Subaru WRX, its primary competitor.
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Saab 9-4X BioPower
Rumors of a new Saab crossover have abounded for months now, so much so that one company executive even quipped that it would be named the 9-4X just to meet public expectation. Turns out, he wasn’t joking. The 9-4X BioPower Concept, to be officially unveiled in Detroit, features all-wheel drive, a 300-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, and a specially designed ski storage compartment.
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2009 Saturn VUE Two-Mode Hybrid
Wait, doesn’t Saturn already have a Vue hybrid? Yes, it does, and it’s called the Green Line. However, the current hybrid is barely worthy of the name, using a system that provides very little assistance to the car’s overall fuel economy. Things will change at the end of the year when the Two-Mode goes on sale, with Saturn promising the new hybrid will be the most fuel efficient V-6 powered SUV of any sort on the market, with fuel economy improvements of about 50 percent over the current XR.
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Saturn Flextreme Concept
If you grew up with siblings, you were probably constantly admonished by your parents to share your toys. It’s a lesson learned at General Motors, and the company’s North American and European operations have been sharing all manner of goodies lately: the Saturn Vue is an Opel Antera; the Saturn Aura is a stretched Opel Vectra, and the Opel GT is a rebadged Saturn Sky. So we’re not too surprised that Opel’s Frankfurt E-Flex platform concept, the Flextreme, is appearing in Detroit badged as a Saturn.
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Saturn Vue Green Line Plug-in Hybrid
It ain’t easy bein’ green, especially when you’re trying to change your image from a purveyor of gas guzzling trucks and SUVs. GM’s tactic is multifold, and includes alternative fuels, fuel cells, and various hybrid technologies. One of the newest buzzwords in hybrids is the plug-in, and GM promises to be the first out of the gate with a production version in 2010 with the Saturn Vue Green Line Plug-in Hybrid.
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In a society ruled so strongly by visual appeal, it should come as little surprise that the current Subaru Forester hasn’t exactly shattered all sales records. It’s a respected, safe, and affordably-priced utility vehicle, but by no means is it a looker. To appease a greater percentage of the masses, Subaru is releasing the new and improved 2009 Forester featuring the familiar powertrains, though enhanced with an upgraded all-wheel-drive system, added conveniences such as a navigation system, and not surprisingly, a bolder look that will compete head-to-head with leading competitors from Honda and Toyota when it hits lots this Spring.
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Suzuki X-Head Concept
The Japanese automaker calls this model a “cross-utility vehicle.” Engineered with 4-wheel drive, it’s been built with the outdoor’s set and rough terrain in mind, although one version has been designed to boost street cred. Its most appealing feature is that it can be upfitted with extra modules, like the Camper, which sleeps two adults; the Rescue, designed to convert this people and good’s carrier into a rescue and safety workhorse; and the Fashion, which adds urban style.
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Toyota A-BAT Concept
Toyota made quite a name for itself with its small pickup truck in the 1980s, and the company describes the A-BAT as a return to those humble beginnings. With a modern Honda Ridgeline/Chevy Avalanche profile, and a four-cylinder gasoline engine combined with Toyota’s hybrid system, the concept targets suburban dwellers who commute to work and need to haul things from big-box stores or their weekend warrior toys. The A-BAT parts ways with its pickup truck kin by being built on a unit-body platform. Toyota places the concept below the Tacoma.
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2009 Toyota Venza Crossover Sedan
As if having three crossovers already wasn’t enough, and obviously it isn’t for Toyota, the automaker is bringing out the Venza Crossover Sedan in Detroit. Yes, you read the word “crossover” followed by the word “sedan.” Toyota says it “will be a unique blend of sedan and sport utility vehicle, offering seating for five, easy ingress and egress, a car-like ride and functional utility.”
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Next thing you know, they’ll be telling us that black is white and up is down. There are few certainties in life, but one has always been this simple premise – sedans have four doors, coupes have two. Mercedes-Benz started the unraveling with the CLS, and now the baton has been passed with the introduction of the 2009 Volkswagen Passat Coupe, or as VW sometimes calls it, the Passat CC. Artfully sculpted, this vehicle attempts to alter the definition of what constitutes a sedan and, more importantly, what constitutes a Volkswagen.
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