GM, Ford have potential best-sellers ready for Detroit show

McClatchy Newspapers

DETROIT — In the auto industry’s hour of darkness, General Motors and Ford will unveil promising new models vital to their survival at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

A stylish, European-bred new Ford Taurus aims to repeat the original 1986 Taurus’ feat of saving the company and raising the bar for midsize sedan style and handling.

Chevrolet’s roomy Cruze compact promises 40-plus miles per gallon highway fuel economy in a small car that’s infinitely more refined and attractive than any previous small car from what was America’s best-selling brand in 2007.

Those two potential best-sellers will be complemented by other automakers’ crossovers, luxury models, performance cars, hybrids and concept vehicles. Show organizers expect a total of about 50 vehicle debuts.


Ford will also pull the wraps off the 2010 Mustang GT 500 performance model and a stylish three-row luxury crossover for its Lincoln luxury brand. The new Lincoln, which will go on sale midyear, borrows from the styling of the excellent MKT concept vehicle. Ford designers call the MKT the fullest expression yet of Lincoln’s new look.

Chrysler is expected to show several concept vehicles that demonstrate the potential of the hybrid and electric powertrains it is developing.

The production version of the Honda Insight hybrid that debuts at the show and goes on sale in the spring promises to be nearly identical to the concept hatchback already seen. Among other features, the Insight has a system that combines electronic controls and driver feedback to help maximize miles per gallon. Expect fuel economy to be higher and pricing lower than Honda’s $23,550 Civic hybrid, which rates 40 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway in EPA tests.

An all-new Toyota Prius and as yet unnamed Lexus hybrid car are among the most eagerly anticipated vehicles coming to the show. The new Prius keeps the current car’s wedgy profile, but the front styling resembles mainstream Toyota models like the Yaris and Matrix.

Toyota, which hasn’t said when the new Prius will go on sale, has pushed back plans to build it in the United States until 2011 at the earliest, but the new model promises to build on the Prius’ reputation as the leader among compact hybrids.

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