The year gets its big kick-off with the upcoming Detroit Auto Show - where Ford is expected to reveal a new F-150, the production version of this Atlas "aluminum intensive" pickup.

We’ve already gotten some momentum for the New Year thanks to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with automakers rolling out an array of new high-tech features and even a few concept vehicles, such as the Toyota FCV hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and the Ford Solar Energi, a version of the C-Max plug-in hybrid that can recharge using just the sun’s rays.

But the season’s – arguably the year’s – biggest automotive event is still days away, work crews putting the final touches on the displays down at Detroit’s Cobo Hall for the opening of the 2014 North American International Auto Show.

Don’t be surprised to hear that more than 5,000 automotive journalists from around the world, along with more than 700,000 consumers, will stream through the turnstiles once the show begins.

But whether you get down to the Detroit riverfront or keep track of events from afar, you‘ll have lots to check out, at least 50 new cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts making their debuts. Here are 10 we will be particularly keen to check out:

  • So far, we've gotten just a tease of the new Honda Fit.

    The 2015 Ford F-150. This all-new full-size pickup will shift from time-tested steel to an “aluminum-intensive” design that should shave at least 500 pounds off its mass – yielding perhaps 5 mpg or better in improved fuel economy. But will traditional truck buyers accept this new approach? That could be Ford’s biggest challenge. (Click Here for a preview of the new F-150.)

  • At the other end of the automotive spectrum is the 2015 Honda Fit. The Japanese maker promises this top-rated subcompact will get even better – meaning it will be slightly larger, roomier, quicker and more fuel-efficient. It will also be assembled in a new factory in Mexico rather than being imported from Japan. (Click Here to learn more.)
  • The Chrysler 200 helped rebuild the Detroit maker’s momentum after its 2009 bankruptcy – especially with a helping hand from rapper Eminem’s breakthrough Super Bowl commercial. The new sedan will be based on a modified Fiat platform and boasts a much more stylish design, upgraded features, improved performance and better fuel economy.
  • Hyundai has put a premium on improving steering feel and driving dynamics with the new Genesis.

    The original Hyundai Genesis was a real game-changer for the Korean carmaker, proving it could build more than just boring econoboxes. Now, it’s box with a much more striking and upscale re-make that trades in me-too styling for the next take on Hyundai’s popular Fluidic Sculpture design language.  It could pose even more of a challenge to the established luxury order. (Click Here for our preview.)

  • We have to admit we’ve yet to receive formal confirmation that the Toyota Supra will make its debut in Detroit but all signs point in that direction – which could be a good thing for a Japanese maker that readily acknowledges it needs to put more “passion” into a brand best known for building reliable appliances. The original Supra had a run from 1979 to 2002. (For more on the possible Supra resurrection, Click Here.)
  • Lexus RC F. Toyota’s up-market brand has been losing momentum lately, falling behind its German rivals and “passion” is something it’s also out to amp up with a new design language featuring the distinctive “spindle grille,” and more performance-oriented products. The RC is the new name for the old Lexus IS coupe. And F is the Lexus performance line, here packing a V-8 with muscle car power under the hood. (Click Here for more.)
  • The next-generation Mercedes C-Class is no longer the plebian "Baby Benz."

    This Baby has grown up. The original “Baby Benz” proved small could be beautiful to luxury buyers, but with the German maker now offering an even smaller CLA model and debuting the new GLA in Detroit, Mercedes-Benz is moving a bit up-market with an all-new version of the C-Class debuting in Detroit. Expect features even an S-Class owners would have appreciated a few years ago. (Click Here for a closer look.)

  • Following up on the debut of the Chevrolet Colorado pickup at the recent LA Auto Show, look for the new GMC Canyon to firmly root General Motors in the once-robust midsize pickup segment – a significant move considering Ford and Chrysler have dropped out and only Toyota and Nissan remain in the market. GMC is betting its more upscale take will help lure in all-new buyers and also conquest some import owners. (For more on GM’s truck strategy, Click Here.)
  • The debut of the C7 Stingray was the big story at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show and Chevrolet hopes to score again with the even more muscular Corvette Z06 which, we learned due to an odd leak from inside GM, should deliver more than 620 horsepower to the pavement thanks to a new high-performance V-8. (Click Here for a preview.)
  • The CrossBlue Concept features a spacious and high-tech interior with individual seating for six.

    It was a tough year for Volkswagen, the maker’s sales slipping even as the U.S. market fast recovered. Blame, in part, some gaping holes in its line-up. A production version of the popular CrossBlue Concept is on the docket in Detroit and should fill that yawning gap between the entry-level Volkswagen Tiguan and the top-line Touareg. Better yet, it is likely to be built in the U.S.  (Click Here for more.)

We could readily continue our list considering all the significant products set to debut at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, including the likes of the new Subaru WRX Sti pocket rocket, the Audi Q3 compact crossover, the Nissan Sport Sedan Concept expected to become the next Maxima, a pair of new BMW performance models, the M3 and M4, and the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz GLA coming to Detroit in muscular GLA 45 AMG trim.

The reality is that whatever your taste and needs might be, there’ll be something new for everyone at this year’s NAIAS.

Don't miss out!
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