It's big, it's crowded, it's frantic. Still, Detroit's annual auto show is the one that most people in the car business, as well as consumers within driving distance, don't want to miss.
At the end of each year's North American International Auto Show, growing numbers of journalists say they won't go back next time. Too crowded, too exhausting, too taxing, they say. During the three-day Press period, prior to the show's opening to the public, thousands of media and industry people vie for spots to see the latest models being unveiled. Yet, a lot of those who say "never again" wind up back in Detroit a year later, ready for another automotive ordeal that's almost worth the effort.
This year, show promoters promise at least 15 world premieres of production vehicles - cars and trucks that have not appeared anywhere before, and are certain or likely to go on sale sometime soon. Another 11 concept vehicles will get their world premieres. Additional cars will be seen for the first time in North America.
In the past, Detroit has hosted the first major auto show of the season. Not anymore, now that Los Angeles moved its own show from early January to the previous month. At the Los Angeles show, Audi unveiled its 2008 TT roadster, Buick showed the 2008 Enclave, and Cadillac debuted an extended-length version of its DTS sedan. Nissan revealed the Altima coupe that will soon join the redesigned Altima sedan. Also at Nissan's unveiling: the Sentra SE-R with a 177- or 200-horsepower engine.
Los Angeles also was the site for the debut of the 2008 Saturn Vue, which is related to the European Opel Antara. A hybrid-powertrain Saturn Aura Green Line also appeared for the first time, ready for sale next spring. Chrysler showed the next-generation Sebring convertible, which will come with either a soft top or a retractable metal hardtop. Ford unveiled its 2008 Escape SUV, and BMW brought a Hydrogen 7 sedan.
At Detroit, Nissan plans to unveil its new Rogue crossover vehicle, which goes on sale during 2007. Nissan also will reveal a new Bevel concept multi-purpose vehicle, billed as small in size but big in utility. Mitsubishi will bring its redesigned 2008 Lancer. Lexus is set to reveal the next-generation IS, and Porsche has the latest version of its Cayenne sport-utility vehicle. Toyota will have a CrewMax edition of its newly redesigned, American-built Tundra.
Chevrolet intends to unveil its next-generation Malibu, which will be a 2008 model. Cadillac will show the 2008 CTS sedan. General Motors also will showcase four global concept vehicles, which have previously appeared elsewhere in the world.
BMW will reveal its latest 3-Series four-passenger convertible, with a three-piece steel retractable hardtop. Second-generation Mini Coopers will debut at Detroit, including the world debut of a new Convertible Sidewalk edition - a $4,000 option package that will give the soft-top model a unique look when it becomes available this spring.
Hyundai will unveil its new Veracruz midsize crossover SUV, which will compete against such rivals as the Honda Pilot and Nissan Murano. High up on the price scale, Rolls-Royce will host the world debut of its Phantom Drophead Coupe, a Phantom-based convertible that goes into production in summer 2007.
DaimlerChrysler has several concept vehicles ready to show in Detroit, including the curvaceous Chrysler Nassau four-door luxury coupe, and the Jeep Trailhawk - derived from the redesigned 2007 Wrangler. Also on tap will be the smartfortwo minicar, seen for the first time in the U.S. Before too long, the "smart" will finally be going on official sale in the U.S., but the example seen in Detroit will be a European version.
Jaguar will unveil its C-XF concept for the first time anywhere. Blending the contemporary with the classic and equipped with a supercharged V-8, the four-door sport sedan is said to signal the design direction for Jaguar's next-generation sedans.
Ford Motor Company has a pair of concepts on tap. The Mustang-based Ford Interceptor, built to "celebrate" the American muscle car, holds a flex-fuel 5.0-liter Cammer V-8. Lincoln's MKR is called a premium four-door coupe.
Honda will take the wraps off an Accord Coupe concept. Kia has a Kue concept ready for the show, and Mitsubishi intends to bring a Lancer Evolution Prototype. Volvo's concept model is the XC60, an early look at a vehicle that is expected to reach dealerships early in 2009.
Journalists will be in Detroit's Cobo Hall for Press Days on January 7-9, 2007. The North American International Auto Show opens to the public on January 13, and runs through the 21st. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for senior citizens (65-plus), and $6 for children ages 7-12. Auto-show organizers have taken steps to make parking easier for showgoers, including shuttle services from the Detroit Zoo, and from Greenfield Village in Dearborn. Detailed show information is available at www.naias.com.