Detroit Auto Show is Here

I have, once again, survived the three intense and long media-only press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. As an auto enthusiast, there is no other place on the world to be during that first part of January. This was the 10th year at the show for me.

 

I had the best of intentions when I planned to update this space during the three days, but I simply never had the time.

 

So now that I am on my way home from the Motor City, I thought I’d pass along some of the highlights and my favorites from the most important auto show in the country where more than 50 brand new vehicles were shown for the first time ever in the world.

 

Often times this show has one vehicle that stands out as the obvious star, however this year it seemed that there were two that attracted the most attention – the Dodge Challenger Concept and Chevrolet Camaro Concept.

 

Challenger concept is an amazing rendition of the original muscle car, complete with a powerful HEMI engine under the hood. In eye-catching orange, Challenger has all of the styling of the model from decades ago, but with plenty of modern touches. The automaker hasn’t said if they’ll put it into production, but Chrysler has a reputation for putting concepts into production with little changes, so the odds are good.

 

Continuing the muscle car revival, Chevrolet brought back the recently retired Camaro name on a great looking concept vehicle. Unlike the Challenger, which is designed to be a modern car that looks like an old car, the Camaro Concept is a completely modern design based on the original Camaros from the 1960s. I wasn’t crazy about it when I first saw it – thought the front end looked like a Cadillac XLR- but the more I’ve seen it, the more its grown on me.  

 

Of course, there were plenty of other noteworthy cars. One I thought looked like it would be great fun to drive is the new Volvo C30. Still a concept, but looking ready for production, it just looks like it would hug the curves and drive like a little go cart.

 

Lincoln showed a concept luxury sedan that looked great. That company could really use a home run – there hasn’t been a new high-end luxury car from Lincoln in years.

 

For a bit more money – not sure how much – there’s the Aston Martin Rapide. Basically a stretched DB9 with four doors, this 450-plus horsepower sport sedan would really attract attention.

 

A bit more subtle but ultra luxurious is the new Lexus LS460. Moving upscale with a new long-wheel base version, the new flagship from Toyota’s luxury marque boasts rear seats with recliners, massagers, foot rests, DVD players and a refrigerator to keep the champagne cold.

 

Speaking of Toyota, the Camry gets completely redesigned for 2006. This bestselling passenger car will also be available as a hybrid later in the year.

 

The small SUV market continues to grow with the new Dodge Caliber. Replacing the Neon, the small crossover SUV will become Dodge’s entry-level passenger car. Hyundai also showed a crossover concept called the HCD9. Sleek lines and a beautiful interior, hopefully it will reach production in some form.

 

Other noteworthy unveils:

  • Geely – first Chinese car to ever be shown in North America
  • Ferrari FXX – costs more than $1 million, has more than 800 horsepower, and sales are by invitation only.
  • Ford Reflex Concept – stylish sports car with diesel-hybrid powertrain
  • Ford Super Chief – a truck about the size of a locomotive engine
  • Honda Fit – new well-equipped small car from Honda
  • Nissan Sentra – not sure if I like the styling, but should be fun to drive
  • Mazda Kabura – one of the best looking sports-car concepts on the show floor

You can find coverage of these and every other vehicle that made its debut in Detroit at http://autoshow.msn.com. MSN has been the official Web Site for the show of the last nine years, and it’s the only place to see video of every exciting unveiling, which included a car driving through a window and a manmade snow storm.

 

Next stop on the show circuit – Chicago in February.

 

Perry Stern