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Motoring in Motown

2007 North American International Auto Show

A view of the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan

There's arguably no bigger stage in the world for new production and concept cars than Detroit's North American International Auto Show. Each year, car companies show what will be coming soon to a dealership near you and with their concepts, provide a snap shot of what could be in your garage in the years to come.

While the Los Angeles auto show had a clear emphasis on alternative fuel vehicles, Detroit seems to be showing the opposite with a full array of high-performance vehicles.

Production Cars A - K

BMW 3-Series Convertible

The retractable hard top found on the new 2007 3-Series Convertible represents BMW’s first foray into the popular coupe-convertible market. The three-piece roof design allows the convertible to mimic the new 3-Series Coupe’s good looks and visibility with the top up. The same engines found in the Coupe will be available on the convertible.

Read more on the 3-Series Convertible

Cadillac CTS

The first-generation CTS established an entirely different design language for Cadillac and an equally different emphasis on performance. The all-new second generation builds on both of those aspects, while overhauling the often-criticized interior with better, more luxurious materials. The stance is now wider, which should improve the rear-wheel-drive car's handling, along with an all-wheel drive system borrowed from the SRX. The top-of-the-line V6 now makes 300 horses.

Our 2005 Cadillac CTS-V review

Chevrolet Malibu

Following on the successful heals of the Saturn Aura comes another General Motors attack on the mid-size sedan market. With aggressively elegant styling, the new Malibu is reminiscent of the Infiniti M35 and Acura TL from the rear, with a stylish front end similar to Australia's Holden Caprice. GM is particularly proud of the interior, though, previewing it much earlier than the exterior. Materials and overall design look vastly better than the outgoing model.

Our 2006 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ review

Chrysler Town & Country / Dodge Caravan
Minivans might be going the way of the dodo and Britney Spears' career, but the company that invented them is staying the course. Styling of both vans has been updated to mimic the boxy shapes found throughout the Chrysler group, but thankfully foregoes any attempt to resemble an SUV. Novelty is key with minivans, and the Caravan and T&C offer the unique and very nifty "Swivel 'n Go" seating system that allows you to turn the middle row captain's chairs around like in a train. Playing gin rummy on road trips will never be the same again.

Dodge Avenger
First shown in Paris in quasi-concept form, the Avenger will be Dodge's second serious effort (after the Caliber) to wedge itself into the European market. It is based on the same platform that underpins the new Chrysler Sebring and takes obvious styling cues from the full-size Charger. The base engine is a 173-horsepower four-cylinder, with two optional V6s; the latter of which makes 235 horses. The Avenger probably won't challenge the Camry and Accord for mid-size supremacy, but it will certainly offer a macho-looking alternative.

Ford Focus
While Europe enjoys the thoroughly modern second-generation Focus that underpins the Volvo S40 and Mazda 3, here in North America we get a third take on the first Focus that showed up in 1998. The hatchback and wagon models are now dead, with the sedan and new coupe the lone Foci available. The radically freshened exterior's shape still looks dated, while the edgy-looking new interior doesn't seem to have the Euro Focus' top-notch fit and finish. The Bluetooth-based Sync system should please technophiles, though, by controlling cell phones and iPods with voice commands.

Hyundai Veracruz
Hyundai continues its automotive blitzkrieg with what looks like yet another quality product: a seven-passenger SUV aimed at the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Powered by the Azera's beefy 260-horsepower V6, the Veracruz out-muscles both of those models while falling slightly short of the Mazda CX-9. Hyundai claims an interior volume greater than the Mercedes-Benz GL450. The interior's design and materials seem to have taken another step forward, looking as if they were pulled straight from a Lexus.

See our coverage of the 2008 Detroit Auto Show

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* Photos by their respective manufacturers. Top photo by General Motors of the Chevrolet Volt unveiling.

(Updated 01/16/09 SCV)

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