Impressions on the Veloster, Civic, Verano, 300, and Passat

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.
Here's a few quick first impressions from the Detroit auto show on Monday.

• Watch out Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus. The Hyundai Veloster is a very stylish, sporty hatchback that will start around $17,000 when sales begin this summer. The car has three doors! A wide door is located on the driver's side and two conventional doors are on the passenger side.

Seems odd, right? It works. From the driver's side it looks like a coupe and from the passenger side it looks like a sedan. The door handle for the passenger door is hidden in the upper left hand corner of the door. Nice touch.

• Ditto for the Honda Civic concept: The new Civic looks nearly like luxury car material, at least from the outside. Honda didn't show us the redesigned interior, though. The sheet metal features very expressive body lines. The car is a little smaller on the outside but it retains the current interior space. It's a winner.

• Buick Verano: It's a three-quarters version of the stylish Regal. Nicely designed, upscale-like interior. Not a bad line on the car. Price is the only thing that could hurt sales. Sales begin this fall but Buick won't reveal the base price. At $20,500 it's winner. At $22,500, forget about it.

• Chrysler 300: Mixed feelings on this sedan. The 300 receives its first styling change since 2005. Every piece of sheet metal is new, but the car's silhouette still looks too much like 2005. Might not be the head turner Chrysler needs in the showroom. The interior is a solid winner.

• Volkswagen Passat: The VW CC sedan was introduced a few years ago and the car's aerodynamic styling still turns heads.

So there was the expectation that the Passat would draw on the CC's styling cues. Not so.

The kindest words were from a General Motors staffer: It looks like an Impala.

Others said the styling reminds them of cars from the 1990s.