Top 10 Most Significant Vehicles at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show


The North American International Car Show — or Detroit Auto Show, as it's more widely known — is often stop No. 1 for manufacturers seeking to unveil their latest and greatest models. This year's show featured 53 vehicle debuts, with 32 of those being worldwide introductions.

There were obviously quite a few models competing for the spotlight, but the 10 picks listed below had no problem standing apart from the pack. These are the models that we think will have the biggest impact on the market in the months and years ahead, and the list includes everything from economy models to hybrids to a sexy new version of a classic sports car. Our picks are shown in alphabetical order.

  1. 2012 Acura NSX Concept

    1. 2012 Acura NSX Concept:

    This year's show saw the return of the NSX and it was an unqualified hit, swarmed by crowds of goggle-eyed admirers. The sleek sports car was unveiled as a concept, but Acura says it's bound for production within the next three years. Acura has confirmed that the production model will be a midengine two-seater like the original NSX, but this model breaks with tradition via its V6 hybrid powertrain.

  2. 2013 Cadillac ATS

    2. 2013 Cadillac ATS:

    The ATS represents Cadillac's effort to woo shoppers in the entry-luxury segment who have a yen for performance. Three different engines will be offered: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 200 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque; a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 270 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque; and a V6 that kicks up 318 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque.

  3. Chevrolet Code 130R Concept

    3. Chevrolet Code 130R Concept:

    Aimed at younger buyers, the Code 130R is a four-passenger hybrid coupe that features a turbocharged Ecotec 1.4-liter four-cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine paired with General Motors' eAssist hybrid technology. Output from the powertrain is 150 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque and it delivers 40 mpg in highway driving. The Code 130R is currently just a concept, but it's being considered for production, with an estimated price tag in the low $20Ks.

  4. Chevrolet Tru 140S Concept

    4. Chevrolet Tru 140S Concept:

    GM takes a walk on the sporty side with the Tru 140S, a four-passenger hatchback that shares its platform with the Chevy Cruze and Volt. Under the hood is a 150-hp Ecotec 1.4; stop-start technology and other fuel-saving systems help the car achieve a 40-mpg fuel economy rating on the highway. Like the Code 130R, the Tru 140S is a concept being eyed for production, with a starting price in the low $20Ks.

  5. 2013 Dodge Dart

    5. 2013 Dodge Dart:

    Based on a longer, wider platform of the one that underpins the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the Dart is a compact car that has, touts Chrysler, the interior room of a midsize sedan. Three engines are offered: a 160-hp Tigershark 2.0-liter, a 160-hp turbocharged 1.4-liter Multiair and a 184-hp Tigershark 2.4-liter. Buyers can choose from a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic and a six-speed dual dry-clutch (DDCT) transmission.

  6. 2013 Ford Escape

    6. 2013 Ford Escape:

    The Escape grows more frugal for 2013, thanks to two optional EcoBoost engine offerings; Ford says that these engines deliver mpg that's up to 5 mpg better than that of the current Escape. Standard on all 2013 Ford Escapes is an updated version of the current 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, good for 168 hp.

  7. 2013 Ford Fusion

    7. 2013 Ford Fusion:

    With suave sheet metal that calls to mind that of a certain British supercar, the Ford Fusion has been impressively redesigned for 2013. The changes are more than skin-deep; the 2.5-liter, 170-hp four-cylinder used in the current Fusion returns, but it's joined by some interesting new arrivals. There's a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 179 hp and 26 city/37 highway mpg; there's also a performance-oriented 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, expected to deliver 237 hp and 250 pound-feet of torque. The standard Fusion Hybrid gets a 2.0-liter, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with an electric motor powered by a new lithium-ion battery pack; the powertrain is expected to get 47 city and 44 highway mpg. Finally, the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid joins the lineup, armed with more than 100 MPGe.

  8. Lexus LF-LC Concept

    8. Lexus LF-LC Concept:

    Take a good look at the LF-LC; though Lexus doesn't seem to have any immediate plans to bring the concept to production, the manufacturer has indicated that the model offers a sneak peek at what's to come in the Lexus design vocabulary. Much bolder than your typical Lexus, the LF-LC features glass galore and flat, sleek planes that call to mind a Frank Gehry masterpiece.

  9. 2013 Scion FR-S

    9. 2013 Scion FR-S:

    Perhaps the most conventionally attractive model ever created by Scion, the FR-S pleases the eye with supple, sporty lines. This new Scion is motivated by a Subaru-based 2.0-liter direct-injected flat-4 engine rated at 200 hp and 151 pound-feet of torque; the engine can be paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

  10. 2012 Toyota Prius C

    10. 2012 Toyota Prius C:

    The Prius C subcompact hybrid aims to reach those buyers who want a smaller version of the popular Prius; it's 19 inches shorter and 542 pounds lighter than its larger sibling. Base price rings in at around $19,000 and projected EPA fuel economy is 53 mpg in city driving and 46 mpg on the highway.

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