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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Jan 19, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE BEAT GOES ON The 2010 North American International Auto Show Words by Christopher Merlo Pictures by Mark Dapoz

LA Car

The 2010 North American International Auto Show is underway and proof that despite the economic tsunami that has rocked the automotive industry, America's love affair with the car must go on - even it means driving a smaller, more fuel efficient car. Before we cover the new models at this year's NAIAS, there are a number of trends worth noting: · The "new normalcy" takes hold with less glitz and glamour complements of the recession and the steep downturn in the automotive market that sent Chrysler and General Motors into bankruptcy. Automotive manufacturers are cutting back on all fronts. Most press kits were distributed via jump drives. And continuing a trend from last year, there were a number of "no-shows" again this year including Aston Martin, Infiniti, Nissan (the company displayed a single token vehicle - the electric-powered Leaf) Rolls Royce and Suzuki. In addition, Acura, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Mazda, Volvo did not hold press conferences. This year's press preview stretched over two days compared to three in years past. · With the elimination of the Hummer, Pontiac, Saturn and Saab brands from the General Motors portfolio along with the absence of the above-mentioned manufacturers, Ford expanded its display while other niche manufacturers and suppliers like Dow, Denso and Michelin established a presence on the main floor of the show. · A new dialogue is taking shape as nearly every manufacturer addressed the issues of sustainability, fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. Consequently, the trend towards developing small vehicles powered by hybrid and electric powertrains continues. Now for the fun stuff... Audi e-tron Concept

Very cool and why not? When you have an awesome super car in the form of the R8 in your stable, it makes sense, if purely from a politically correct perspective to showcase your muscle and design prowess in the form of an electric vehicle that is equally exciting. There's a lot to like in this mid-engine compact, two-seater sports sedan with its eye-catching design. 2010 BMW Z4 sDrive35is Roadster (Production Vehicle)

BMW continue to fine-tune the Z4 line up with the addition of this 3.0L DOHC 24-valve twin turbo engine that delivers 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a 7-speed double clutch transmission it accelerates from zero to sixty in 4.8 seconds. Available this Spring. BMW Concept Active E

This rear-wheel drive, full electric vehicle, based on the 1 Series, is powered by a lithium-ion battery that delivers 170 horsepower and a 100-mile range. Buick Regal GS Concept

With the "retirement" of the Pontiac brand, General Motors needs to fill the performance gap. Based on the Opel Insignia platform, the GS hints at the production of a new performance flagship for the Buick line. With European styling and handling, a 2.0L turbo engine that delivers 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque, the AWD GS sports sedan goes from 0 to 60 in under six seconds. Nice! 2011 Cadillac CTS -V Coupe (Production Vehicle)

Cadillac clearly takes aim at the performance luxury market with its V-Series available on this well-groomed coupe. Powered by a supercharged 6.2L V-8 that delivers 556 horsepower, the CTS accelerates from zero to sixty in 3.9 seconds. Available this summer. Cadillac XTS Platinum Hybrid Concept

While the CTS-V offers a dose of reality, the stunning XTS is a welcome fantasy of the future. As an alternative to the V-Series performance package, Cadillac is introducing the Platinum series with its emphasis on luxury and technological features. This attractive 4-door sedan is a personal headquarters on wheels with a bevy of infotainment and connectivity options including touchscreen controls, 12-inch LED cluster and illuminated door handles all powered by a plug-in, 2-mode hybrid system paired with a 3.6L V6 engine and AWD. 2010 Chevrolet Aveo RS Concept

We liked the menacing, aggressive look of this concept that is wider and longer than the current Aveo. And while it might be a tad late to get into a segment already crowded with the likes of the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube and Scion xB, we hope to see this concept make it to the end of the production line, out onto the street and into the hands of tuners. Chrysler Concept

Chrysler passed on the press conference and instead quietly displayed this concept. Details were scarce but according to a Chrysler spokesperson this hatchback is a design study based on the Lancia Delta. Fiat 500 elettra Concept

Again, no press conference. Few details. Here an all-electric concept sits beside a high-performance version of the Fiat 500 subcompact rumored to be heading to these shores. 2012 Ford Focus (Production vehicle)

Ford continues to rollout its global small car strategy with the debut of the all-new Focus. Competing in the fast-growing C-car segment, Focus comes in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback versions powered by a new 2.0L engine. This is a quantum leap from the previous model on all fronts including design, performance, safety and technology. Thumbs up. 2011 GMC Acadia Denali

GMC is extending its exclusive Denali line to include the Acadia crossover. Signature Denali cues include the honeycomb grille, chrome accents, body-color fascias and fender flares, mahogany wood steering wheel and wood accents, and lighted sill plates. Available in the third quarter of this year. GMC Granite Concept

GMC is synonymous with full-size trucks and utilities. So imagine the surprise when it unveiled this small urban utility vehicle packed in an industrial case. Executives characterized as the automotive equivalent of an urban loft apartment. On the outside, it evokes its "urbanness" through the metallic gray color and by creating the impression of an industrial machine. There is no chrome and all the trim has a satin or brushed metal finish. Power for the Granite concept comes from a 1.4L turbocharged engine that is part of GM's new family of small-displacement, highly efficient four-cylinder engines. It is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission that uses dual-clutch technology. for performance and smoothness. 2010 Honda CR-Z hybrid (Production Vehicle)

Taking its cue from the highly successful pocket rocket, the CR-X, Honda unveiled the CR-Z to demonstrate that fuel efficiency and fun are not mutually exclusive. Targeting the tuner market, the CR-Z is powered by a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine with Honda's compact and lightweight Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid-electric system. The two-passenger CR-Z introduces a new three-mode drive system that allows the driver to select between Sport, Econ (Economy) and Normal driving modes. Expect to see it in showrooms late this summer. 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe

Freshened for the 2010 model year, the Santa Fe is available with two new engines: A 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine. 2011 Lincoln MKX Crossover (Production Vehicle)

A midcycle freshening gives the MKX a new front end with Lincoln's signature split-wing grille and a new back end with redesigned taillights. The big news is an all-new interior that showcases new materials and features the innovative MyLincoln Touch driver connect technology. MyLincoln Touch is the next generation of the SYNC system using both voice and touch activation to control a wide range of digital and vehicle technologies. There's also a new 3.7-liter V-6 engine that delivers 305 horsepower and 280 lb. ft. of torque. . 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible (Production Vehicle)

The fourth member of the all-new E-Class, the convertible was designed to keep four customers in comfort through four seasons. There's a windshield mounted wind deflector that deploys at the touch of a button and reduces turbulence inside the cockpit. The roof can be opened or closed at the touch of button even while driving at speeds up to 25 mph. And finally, there's the optional AIRSCARF® heating system integrated into the front seat backrests, which blows warm air from adjustable vents in the head restraints to warm the neck and shoulder area like an invisible scarf. Mini Beachcomber Concept

This quirky, four-seater dune buggy is based on the Mini crossover vehicle that will be launched later this year in markets outside of North America. Tesla Model S (Production Vehicle)

While the good looks of the Model S, Tesla's second all-electric vehicle, created a lot of buzz, what really got people talking was the announced $49,900 price tag (after federal tax incentives). Maybe the long-awaited electric revolution will arrive after all and in style. The Model S goes on sale in early 2012. Toyota FT-CH Concept

CH as in compact hybrid. Toyota continues to turn up the heat in the alternative powertrain segment of the market. At this year's show Toyota announced that Prius is now a brand name for its growing array of hybrid vehicles. The CH is smaller than the current, 3rd generation Prius and at a lower price point to attract younger, less affluent buyers. Its youthful image is inspired by the 8-bit generation of video games of the Eighties such as Super Mario Bros. and Dragon Quest. Today, 8-bit is considered a specific retro-style that is embraced by such things as 8-bit genre music and 8-bit inspired art and it is this innovative, high-energy and colorful style the designers looked to capture. Volkswagen New Compact Coupe Concept

Positioned between the Scirocco and the CC, the New Compact Coupe is a study in what the future may bring in the form of a small car for the VW brand. This four-seater hybrid is powered by a gasoline-powered TSI engine and an electric motor mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Top speed is rated at 141 mph and its combined fuel rating is 45 mpg. So it's both thrifty and fun to drive. For more scenes by Mark Dapoz from the North American International Auto Show, click here

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