You can see tomorrow's cars today in Detroit
The North American International Auto Show is going on in Detroit with media and industry previews. It opens to the public Saturday, Jan. 17.
Here are some of the new cars and experimental concept vehicles unveiled at the show:
HYUNDAI SANTA CRUZ CONCEPT: It's a crossover in front. And a pickup truck in back. Hyundai surprised the auto show with the Santa Cruz. It brought to mind niche vehicles of the past like the Subaru Baja. The Korean automaker thinks the Santa Cruz will appeal to "urban adventurers." And women who occasionally haul stuff but don't need the capability of a pickup truck. The four-door concept seats five. The bed can expand to the size of a midsize pickup if needed. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel with 190 horsepower. Hyundai's U.S. chief says the Santa Cruz could be on the road in three years. That's if the company decides to make it.
FORD GT: Ford stunned the crowd with its new GT, a high-performance supercar. The lightweight, carbon fiber GT has a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. It produces more than 600 horsepower. The two-seater has deep, dramatic scoops in the hood and the sides. It also has advanced aerodynamics. They include a deployable rear spoiler. It's Ford's first GT in more than a decade. It's also one of 12 new Ford performance vehicles coming to market by 2020. The GT honors the 50th anniversary of the original GT40's 1966 victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Pricing will be announced later. But Executive Chairman Bill Ford says it will be in the range of other exotic supercars like the $200,000 Lamborghini Gallardo.
ACURA NSX: The production version of Acura's NSX got a boost from Jerry Seinfeld. The comedian was in Detroit promoting the supercar. The car features a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine and a three-electric motor hybrid system. It promises total power output of more than 550 horsepower. The NSX can run in four modes that offer different performances. It provides variations in the engine's sound level. A team of 100 workers will build the car in Marysville, Ohio. Acura plans to start accepting orders starting this summer. The starting price is seen in the mid-$150,000 range.
ALFA ROMEO 4C SPIDER: It's a convertible version of the 4C coupe with a removable carbon-fiber hard top. It has a 1.75-liter turbocharged engine. It puts out 237 horsepower mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Spider and the 4C will be difficult to get. FiatChrysler says only 3,000 will be built by hand in Italy. Fewer than half of those will be convertibles. Pricing hasn't been announced. But expect the Spider to run between $60,000 and $85,000.
PORSCHE 911 TARGA 4 GTS and CAYENNE TURBO S: Porsche unveiled a pair of new offerings. They include the 911 Targa 4 GTS that packs 430 horsepower. It promises zero-to-60 mph acceleration in 4.1 seconds. That is a hair faster than the current Targa S model. The sports car maker also showed off a Turbo S version of its Cayenne. Porsche says this completes the new range of SUV offerings, bringing 507 horsepower to the table.
VOLKSWAGEN CROSS COUPE GTE CONCEPT: It's Volkswagen's third concept previewing a seven-passenger midsize SUV. The goal is to start producing it in the U.S. at the end of 2016. Volkswagen says the five-passenger plug-in hybrid Crosse Coupe GTE, with its upscale, muscular design, gives the clearest idea yet of the SUV's styling. Among its most prominent features is a wide, aluminum-framed air inlet below a narrow, two-bar grille.
MERCEDES-BENZ F015 CONCEPT: Mercedes is taking the idea of a self-driving car to a new, luxurious level. The car resembles a silver capsule. Dieter Zetsche, the leader of Mercedes-Benz, calls autonomous cars "the hottest next wave" in the auto industry. The roomy, lounge-like interior is loaded with high-resolution touch screens. It offers an adjustable seating system with four rotating chairs.
INFINITI Q60 CONCEPT: Infiniti previewed the design of its upcoming Q60 coupe with a concept car. It's got sharper, more precise styling than the current Q60. It also has a more aggressive grille and narrowed headlights. Infiniti says the Q60 that will go on sale next year. With sales lagging, Nissan's luxury brand could use the boost.
GAC's GS4 SUV and WITSTAR CONCEPT: Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile is showing a fuel-efficient small SUV. It's close to going on the market. The company also showed off a self-driving Witstar concept car. The GS4 SUV will be offered with a 1.3- or 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. Also known as GAC, the company markets its cars under the Trumpchi brand. It said it plans to sell the SUV in China starting in April. The car will be sold in parts of the Middle East, Africa, South America and eastern Europe in late 2015. The WitStar concept is designed to go more than 60 miles in electric-only mode. That's about 360 miles with use of a gasoline-powered engine. It will rely on lasers, radar, cameras and GPS for autonomous driving.
Critical thinking challenge: Why does the auto industry show its cars to reporters before showing them to the general public?