2014 Detroit Auto Show Preview

January 13, 2014
It's that time of the year when winter storms threaten and temperatures plunge; and if you're in one of many regions of the country with gray skies and slick roads, you're probably better off staying at home if you can.

You'll have plenty to read about, because as you keep warm, we're headed to the Motor City and its Cobo Hall, where the press preview at the North American International Auto Show—the Detroit Auto Show, as we call it—serves as the venue for dozens of world debuts for production vehicles soon arriving, as well as concept cars that test design ideas or preview what might be years ahead.

In addition to more details on these debuts, we'll be bringing you all the latest news, pictures, and video coverage as it happens—as well as, here at The Car Connection, more overview pieces on what matters; a sense of when vehicles are going on sale; what makes them noteworthy; and whether or not they're worth waiting for. Be sure to check back here for that; while serious auto enthusiasts will want to head over to our Motor Authority Detroit show hub page for all the up-to-the-minute details as we dive into Detroit coverage beginning this next weekend, and then in earnest on Monday, January 13.

Read on to see what we expect as some of the most important production-vehicle debuts for the 2014 Detroit Auto Show:

9 Must See Cars from the Detroit Auto Show infographic

9 Must See Cars from the Detroit Auto Show infographic

2015 Ford F-150. Without a doubt, the next-generation 2015 Ford F-150 is expected to be the biggest debut at this year's Detroit show. But it's also the show's biggest wild card; Ford has thus far done a great job keeping actual details and information about these trucks tightly under wraps. What we do know at this point is that the next-generation F-150—presaged by the Ford Atlas Concept shown at Detroit last year—will turn to a futuristic aluminum and high-strength steel construction that will lower its weight by hundreds of pounds—while maintaining the towing and payload numbers that the full-size truck crowd now expects.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Another one of this year's better-kept secrets is the upcoming high-performance Z06 version of the 'C7' Corvette Stingray. GM has confirmed that it's going to take a bow at Detroit, and we have a feeling it's going to be a great platform for the Performance Data Recorder (PDR) Chevy already announced. As for power, performance numbers, and possibly lap times? We're waiting anxiously for those—as well as a first look of the entire car.

2015 Ford Mustang. Details are out for the sixth-generation 2015 Mustang; and unless you were practicing a media blackout before the holidays you're unlikely to have missed the coverage of this new Mustang, with more modern styling, an independent rear suspension, and an available turbo four-cylinder engine (yes the V-6 and V-8 engines are still there too). But we're still waiting for all the details on the new 'Stang, and you can bet more of the Mustang story will unfold at Detroit.

2015 Chrysler 200. Chrysler's been falling behind in what has, the past couple of model years, been one of the fastest moving segments of the auto industry—mid-size sedans. And for 2015 that's expected to change with a completely new model, based on an expanded version of the platform underpinning the Dodge Dart. While full details haven't yet been confirmed, this model should offer a lot more style and refinement to take on the likes of the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Volkswagen Passat, and Hyundai Sonata, among many others.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG. We're already big fans of the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG—so big that it's one of our 2014 Best Cars To Buy at our companion luxury and performance site Motor Authority. Now the high-performance AMG version of Mercedes' other upcoming compact model is in the works, and it's showing its face for the first time at the Detroit Auto Show before going on sale later this year. Look for the same 355 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque from the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, as well as the AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It also gets a stiffer suspension and a special version of Mercedes' all-wheel drive system. Acceleration to 60 mph takes just 4.8 seconds, and the GLA45 should, as the CLA45, be surprisingly fuel-efficient. It's sharper and bolder on the outside, more exclusive in look and feel inside. Stay tuned for an assessment from the show floor and plenty of live photos over at Motor Authority.

2015 Subaru WRX STI. The next-generation, 2015-model-year version of the top-performance Subaru WRX STI is expected at dealerships later this spring, and Subaru has confirmed that it'll make its debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. While we can't see the STI's power rating falling much below the outgoing model's 305 horsepower, or the WRX's continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) fitting in here (the current version remains manual-gearbox-only), we're betting on a car that's sharper, quicker, and more aggressively styled than ever.

2015 Porsche 911 Targa. Porsche's iconic sports car ticks along in its product cycles quite predictably, with important variants rolling out each year. And it's time for an all-new 911 Targa. Long the sweetheart of the 911 lineup for those who want the precise sports-car performance provided by a fixed roll-bar—and combining some of the benefits of a convertible and coupe—the Targa will again attract a loyal group of Porschephiles. Expect the same engines as the 911, ranging up to a 400-hp, 3.8-liter Targa S, but check back for show pictures and a preview.

2014 Lexus RC F. Lexus has teased that it will introduce an all-new member of its F line of performance cars at Detroit, and it's almost certainly the top-performance version of its 2015 RX coupe—called the RC F. Expect this M4-fighter to be powered by a 455-hp V-8. But how will it look, and what other upgrades will it pack? We'll bring you the details from the show floor.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It seems that Mercedes-Benz just gave its C-Class a significant refresh; but now, an all-new 2015 C-Class is already waiting in the wings. We've already been shown the interior of this upcoming luxury sport sedan, and we know that it will be more than 200 pounds lighter than its predecessor. But to see how it all fits together, Detroit will provide our first glimpse.

2015 BMW M3 and M4. Full details for the 2015 BMW M3 sedan and M4 coupe are already out, but these high-performance, track-worthy machines will make their auto-show debut at Detroit. They're lighter than their predecessors, which means that they can get to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds (preliminary) with their 425-horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged six. Expect a new Active M Differential in back to help traction and control, and multi-mode settings for steering and suspension—plus some gear like a new BMW M Laptimer app for smartphones and an M-specific head-up display.

2015 Acura TLX. The Detroit show is expected to be the venue for a first glimpse (in prototype form) of the 2015 TLX, which will replace both the current TL and TSX sedans. Look for a design that's more exciting than either of those other vehicles—likely with greater availability of all-wheel drive, yet without the wagon version this time around.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe. Cadillac's superb ATS small sport sedan has been a resounding success so far; and the first two-door variant of the ATS will hit the market later this year. So far, we know that the new model will verge somewhat from the chiseled, wedgelike profile of the CTS Coupe, and it won't echo the look of the Volt-based ELR either. As for powertrains and a full look, check back for our full Detroit coverage.

2015 Hyundai Genesis. The first-generation Genesis has gone a long way toward establishing Hyundai as a company that does more than offer high value cars at a low price. Coordinated with a move upscale in style, features, and performance for all of its vehicles, the Genesis set the pace for an aspirational end of the lineup—and it's been relatively successful in attracting those owning other rear-wheel-drive luxury models. For the second-generation model that''s making its U.S. debut at Detroit, expect refined V-6 and V-8 engines, another dramatic interior upgrade, and an even more compelling package for the money.

2014 BMW 2-Series. You might have seen our preview of the 2014 BMW 2-Series already, as details and pricing on this replacement for the 1-Series Coupe and Convertible have been out for a couple of months. Yet this recast model, which some have already called a spiritual successor to the BMW 2002 of the 1960s and '70s, will be making its auto-show debut.

2015 Nissan Maxima. It'll still be called the Nissan Sport Sedan Concept at Detroit, but keep in mind that it's a thinly veiled preview of the 2015 Maxima. Nissan has tried to resuscitate the 'four-door sports car' moniker in the Maxima's current generation, but next to the smartly updated Altima sedan it's lost some luster. With a little inspiration from the GT-R, look for this model to regain some its flagship status.

Kia GT4 Stinger concept, 2014 Detroit Auto Show

Kia GT4 Stinger concept, 2014 Detroit Auto Show

Concept cars have long been an important part of the Detroit show, too, and here are some of the ones we expect at this point:

Kia GT4 Stinger

Infiniti Eau Rouge Concept.

MINI John Cooper Works Concept

Volvo Concept XC Coupe

Toyota Vision Gran Turismo Concept

Audi concept

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