Domestics show new car, new attitude in Detroit

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Story and photos by Jim Robinson
Metroland Media

DETROIT, MICH – A notable lack of excess and a re-focusing on smaller, greener, more fuel efficient cars summarized the domestic automakers at this week’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

Huge trucks and full-size luxury sedans were almost non-existent, with compact and mid-sized vehicles taking the forefront, and all because the auto industry is starting to shift its attention to “next-gen” buyers.

Nowhere was this more evident than at Chevrolet, which showed the hot, new sub-compact Sonic RS and two compact concepts. Chevrolet will be inviting younger buyers to have their say during the design phase before the concepts become reality in one or two years time. The idea even has a name: co-creation.

In their research, Chevrolet found that 54 per cent of buyers 30 and under would rather be on social media with their friends than driving.

Code 130R, the first Chevrolet concept, is a four-seat coupe with a simple upright profile. Painted in an all-new red metallic paint with matte anodized gold wheels, Code 130R features heritage performance-inspired styling and rear-wheel drive.
Code 130R’s designers conceived the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine to be tuned to work in tandem with eAssist electric boost technology.

By shutting off the engine at stops, recapturing braking energy and smoothing torque during acceleration, this concept takes automotive electrification to the next level and balances turbocharged performance with fuel economy.

Tru 140S, the second Chevrolet concept, is a front-wheel-drive, “affordable exotic” four-seat sporty coupe.

The three-door hatchback was designed to be an attractive-yet-affordable sports car.

The first tangible result of the Fiat-Chrysler marriage was the world debut of the 2013 Dodge Dart.

The Dodge Dart redefines performance with Alfa Romeo DNA, fuel-efficient powertrains and Dodge's passion for performance that will be available in five trim levels: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited and R/T with 12 exterior colors, 14 interior color and trim options, three powerful, fuel-efficient engines and three transmission choices.

Ford held the world premiere of the 2013 Fusion in Detroit, calling it one of the most significant vehicles in its portfolio.

Fusion isn’t just one mid-size sedan, but a family of three, with Ford claiming it is the first sedan to offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. Fusion will also come with seven leading-edge technologies like Lane Keeping System, adaptive cruise control, active park assist and MyFord Touch.

The all-new Ford Fusion shows how Ford is delivering features customers truly want and value.

Buyers will also have a wide range of fuel-efficient powertrains including EcoBoost, hybrid and plug-in hybrid engines, automatic and manual transmission offerings and auto start stop technology.

The Lincoln MKZ Concept is a styling study that rides on an all-new midsize platform shared with the Ford Fusion. The sedan is capable of utilizing multiple powertrain options in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.
Like the recently introduced MKS and MKT with EcoBoost, the Lincoln MKZ Concept features Lincoln Drive Control and the sophisticated Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) adjustable suspension.

Prior to the official opening of NAIAS, Cadillac held the world debut of the ATS sedan that is designed to go head-to-head with BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

ATS marks the debut of a new rear-wheel-drive-based architecture designed for agile, quick-and-fun driving dynamics and advanced technology.

The Cadillac-tuned, 2.0-litre direct-injected engine will produce an estimated 270 hp. At 135 horsepower-per-litre it is more powerful than the highest-performing engines from luxury competitors such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

The 2013 Buick Encore is an all-new, versatile five-passenger crossover that joins a rapidly expanding family of Buick vehicles that has recently seen the additions of the Verano compact luxury sedan, the Regal GS sport sedan, and fuel-efficient eAssist “light electrification” technology on both LaCrosse and Regal.