2007 Detroit Auto Show: TCC's Top Picks

January 10, 2007

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TCC Team



2007 Chevrolet Volt Concept

2007 Chevrolet Volt Concept

Best concept vehicle: The Chevrolet Volt. Over the years, I've seen General Motors roll out a variety of creative concepts, often with supposedly super-clean powertrain technology. But with the Volt, it's clear the automaker now sees this as a serious mission, and plug-in hybrid technology could very well become a reality in the near-term.


Best production vehicle: Jaguar C-XF. Now wait, I hear folks shrieking, that's a concept vehicle. Yeah, sort of, but it’s just a thinly-disguised version of the production Jaguar XF that will replace the aging S-Type and likely determine the long-term viability of a seriously troubled brand. How many other make-it-or-break-it cars were there at this year's Detroit Auto Show?


Most significant: I'm going to go with another GM car here, the Cadillac CTS. The second-generation sedan shows that Caddy's nascent renaissance isn't the proverbial flash-in-the-pan. The original CTS was visually striking, but still not quite up to the best-in-class. From its refined exterior to the lavish interior, it will be hard to ignore the '08.


Predictions for 2007: It's hard to imagine the competitive situation getting any worse, but 2007 is likely to bring a battle royale, especially if sales slump to the 16-million mark, like many predict. That could prove especially troubling for Detroit , whose buyers are more likely to be hurt by a weak economy. On the other hand, luxury makers like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz could set new records as Wall Street reaps huge gains.



Bengt Halvorson

West Coast editor


2008 Dodge Grand Caravan

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan

Best concept: Jaguar C-XF. This concept alone summoned me back into the hall a final time for yet another glimpse. If the production car is nearly as beautiful as the concept, Jaguar will have a major hit on its hands and could really start attracting affluent performance-minded buyers, and younger ones, as the S-Type was supposed to. Let’s hope Ford doesn’t hold on to the purse strings too tightly.


Best production vehicle: Two of them: Toyota Tundra CrewMax, and the new Chrysler minivans. As the truck market hiccups, Toyota will continue to chip into traditional domestic makers’ sacred territory with this very well designed and executed product, especially with the attractive, six-person CrewMax. Meanwhile, Chrysler looks back on track to take a lead in the still-lucrative minivan market, with segment trend-setting features like a six-speed automatic and the Swivel ‘N Go seating.


Most significant: Chevrolet Volt. People on the show floor were getting charged up over the Volt, a car that if produced would be revolutionary, with the potential to be the next ‘it car’ for green-conscious commuters. Although, as with the Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid, the technology is contingent to improved battery technology and reduced cost, let’s hope GM builds on its electric car expertise, and builds the Volt.


Predictions for 2007: The auto industry will continue to see hard times, as the market seems to be in the middle of a major segment shift, not just an adjustment. The small-car market may not explode, but as gas prices inflame again come summer, full-size SUVs will see a lasting slump.



Henny Hemmes

Euro bureau chief


2007 Hyundai Veracruz

2007 Hyundai Veracruz

Best concept: The Toyota TF-HS looks good and shows that fuel saving hybrid technology will also be applied to sexy sports cars in the not too distant future. The open top system is innovative but very realistic and we should see it on a production car soon -- not the case with the carbon wheels.


Best production vehicle: The Hyundai Veracruz. It hits the growing segment of the crossovers spot on, looks good, is well executed, has a roomy interior and extended standard equipment. This crossover has the Honda Pilot squarely in its sights, at a base price well below $30,000.


Most significant vehicle:  With the availability of low-sulfur diesel fuel now in 50 states, America will get more seriously involved with very fuel efficient and torquey dieses, such as the Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec. Other DaimlerChrysler models will also get this technology, while Audi and Volkswagen also announced they would bring similar Bluetec clean diesel engines.


Prediction for 2007: The trend away from SUVs and toward station wagon-like crossover vehicles will continue. Sales of cars in the smaller midsize segment will grow gradually.



Richard Yarrow

Very Tall Brit


2007 Volvo XC60 Concept

2007 Volvo XC60 Concept

Best concept vehicle: Volvo XC60. It takes the company's styling in a new and exciting direction, looks great and has a clever rear hatchback arrangement.


Best production vehicle: Nissan Rogue. It shows that smaller SUVs can still be practical, and the pop-up storage system in the trunk should be a feature of all cars.


Most significant: Jaguar CX-F. If the company is given the time to pull it off by owner Ford, it could be one of the great motoring comebacks.


Prediction for 2007: The rise of bioethanol as a gasoline alternative. America is showing the way and Europe has to now get on board.


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