DETROIT - More than 30 production and concept vehicles will debut here this week at the North American International Auto Show.
Nissan could make the biggest splash with a new Z car and a full-sized pickup, and Ford will create a buzz with a retro coupe meant to stir memories of 1949. General Motors will offer five concepts, with two vehicles showing how the automaker's global alliances could be used to create vehicles for North America.
Toyota will unveil a sport-activity vehicle aimed at the low-end sport wagon crowd, and BMW will head in the other direction with a high-performance version of the X5.
The vehicles shown in Detroit reflect the good economic times of the past several years, with the emphasis on fun, horsepower, sport wagons and convertibles.
The press events started Sunday, Jan. 7, and continue through Thursday, Jan. 11. Daily coverage of press events will be featured on the Automotive News Web site, automotivenews.com.
The show opens to the public Saturday, Jan. 13.
The rebirth of the legendary Nissan Z will be a show highlight. The automaker will show the final design concept for the Z sports car that is scheduled to arrive in spring 2002.
Here's what the major manufacturers will be showing in Detroit:
BMW has scheduled three world debuts: two production vehicles and one concept. The automaker expands the performance M3 range with the introduction of a convertible and adds a high-performance model to its sport-utility line, the X5 4.6si, BMW's response to the Mercedes-Benz ML55 AMG.
A BMW spokesman said the automaker also will unveil a new concept vehicle, but provided no details.
The Chrysler group will unveil the 2002 Jeep Liberty, the eventual replacement for the Cherokee, plus Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep concepts at the Detroit show. In addition, the automaker plans to unveil a second production vehicle; no details were announced.
Ford will create a buzz with the Forty-Nine, a retro coupe. The concept has the appearance of a two-door hardtop and draws on styling themes from 1949-1956 Fords. The Forty-Nine sits on the rear-wheel platform shared with the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type. A business case is being made for the retro-looking custom coupe concept, says J Mays, Ford Motor Co. vice president of design.
Another Ford concept likely destined for dealerships is the Thunderbird Sports Roadster, which turns the four-passenger 2002 T-bird into a two-seater. It features a sloped rear deck with a molded fiberglass tonneau cover and integrated white leather headrests.
Since the redesigned 2002 Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Oldsmobile Bravada were unveiled earlier by GM, the automaker will concentrate on five concepts, a second model in the 2003 Pontiac Vibe lineup and the 2002 Cadillac EXT.
The Vibe and the Cadillac EXT were unveiled last week at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. The EXT is the sister vehicle of the Chevrolet Avalanche. Both the Avalanche and EXT borrow the Chevrolet Suburban platform and feature two rows of seats, an open pickup bed and a door, called a midgate, behind the second seat that opens into the cargo bed to extend cargo capacity.
The Pontiac Vibe is directed at the youth market. The Vibe will be built at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., in Fremont, Calif., and will be based on the next-generation front-wheel-drive Toyota Corolla platform. The Vibe will be positioned as an alternative to the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, though the Vibe does not look like a typical sport wagon.
GM's five concepts will highlight the Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile brands. The Oldsmobile concept was created before the automaker's decision to discontinue the brand in the next few years.
The Cadillac Vizon suggests that in the near future Cadillac won't be ignoring buyers who favor all-wheel-drive Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo models. The awd Cadillac Vizon concept has the nimbleness of a high-performance sedan and the security and functionality of a sport-utility, says Tom Kearns, brand character chief designer for Cadillac. The Vizon also gives the styling direction for the next generation of Cadillac vehicles.
The five-passenger GMC Terracross concept is a little bit sport-utility, a little bit pickup truck and a little bit van, yet it is 11 inches shorter than a four-door 2001 GMC Jimmy. The Terracross features a three-panel roof that is electronically operated and can be moved to several positions. The panels can be stacked, opening up two-thirds of the roof's length, creating room, for example, to carry a refrigerator upright.
The Buick Bengal concept is a sleek roadster that features a supercharged powertrain and state-of-the-art voice-activated controls. At first glance, the Bengal looks like a two-seat roadster. But a small third door behind the driver's door and a retractable tonneau cover reveal storage space for golf bags or seating for two additional passengers.
GM will unveil the Oldsmobile 04 concept, which suggests how GM could use its global alliances to create a car for the North American market. The Oldsmobile design studio worked in conjunction with Bertone Design studio in Turin, Italy, and borrowed a front-wheel-drive platform from GM's Adam Opel AG in Germany to create the 04. It was developed before GM decided to kill Oldsmobile.
GM also will show the Chevrolet Sabia, an Opel-based concept vehicle built by GM do Brasil. The vehicle is based on the Corsa's new platform, code-named Gamma, and is almost a four-door utility coupe.
Honda will unveil a small four-door sport wagon concept, called the Model X, derived from the Civic platform. The concept has a moveable roof over the cargo area, which creates an open area similar to that of a pickup bed.
The long-awaited replacement for the Integra will be disguised as a concept on the Acura stand. The concept, called RS-X, is derived from the new Civic platform. It should have only slight changes for the production model, sources say.
Infiniti will be aiming for headlines with its entry into the luxury sport-utility market, a car-based crossover concept. A production version of the 2002 Q45 sedan also will be displayed; the Q45 show car was introduced last April at the New York auto show.
Isuzu's concept GBX - short for gear box - takes its inspiration from Old West stage coaches, with short overhangs, massive 21-inch wheels and a large passenger compartment.
Land Rover will announce the North American introduction of the V-6-powered 2002 Freelander. This vehicle will fill a new niche within the hotly contested and rapidly expanding small sport-utility segment. The four-door Freelander will be launched in North America in the fourth quarter of 2001.
Lexus will show two derivatives of the IS 300 sport sedan. The first is the previously announced manual transmission version, which otherwise is identical to the existing IS 300. The other is a five-door hatchback called Sport Cross, already scheduled for Japan and Europe. Lexus is testing the waters. If that car has any chance of coming to America, the reaction has to be something better than the tepid looks usually given to hatchbacks.
Lexus also will unveil the production version of the 2002 SC 430 hardtop convertible, which goes on sale in March. The SC 430 show car was launched last April at the New York auto show.
Mazda will show the most recent evolution of the RX-Evolv concept.
Mercedes-Benz will use the Detroit arena to expand its performance range: World debuts are scheduled for the C32 AMG and the SLK32 AMG roadster. Also, Mercedes will expand the C-class lineup with the world debut of the C-class wagon.
Also appearing will be the Mitsubishi ASX, which hints at the next-generation Montero Sport. ASX stands for Active Sports Crossover, a five-passenger four-wheel-drive vehicle with sedan styling.
Nissan will follow the Z with a full-sized pickup to compete with the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram. The production is expected to bow in 2003.
Porsche will unveil the 2002 911 GT2, the most powerful Porsche offered in North America. The new model will be positioned at the top of the Porsche range.
The 911 GT2 engine, a modified version of the 3.6-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder boxer engine from the 911 Turbo, produces 456 hp, compared with 415 hp for the 911 Turbo. While the 911 Turbo comes with all-wheel drive, the 911 GT2 uses rear-wheel drive to reduce weight.
The U.S. version of the 2002 Impreza WRX is expected to make its public debut at the Detroit show and reach U.S. showrooms in March. The Impreza WRX has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
Suzuki will display Heisman Edition trim levels of the 2001 Grand Vitara and XL-7. Each feature restyled fascias, cladding and interior appointments.
Toyota will unveil the Matrix, which combines features of a sport-utility and a sports car. The Matrix is a crossover vehicle off the next-generation Corolla platform, which will be shared with the 2003 Pontiac Vibe. Toyota calls the Matrix an early prototype of the vehicle it plans to market in about one year.
Volvo will stage the world debut of its first safety car concept in more than 25 years. The vehicle features see-through A-pillars that reduce dangerous blind spots; new designs in seat belts; and an eye sensor that looks at the driver's eyeballs and automatically moves the seat, pedals, steering wheel and center console into a comfortable driving position.
Staff Reporters Jim Henry and Susan Carney contributed to this report