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Ford and Cadillac SUVs, Toyota sports car star at the Detroit auto show

2019-01-14 09:22
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A worker cleans around a KIA truck at the Cobo Center in Detroit Michigan January 13, 2019 as preparations are underway one day before the start of the North American International Auto Show.

SUVs and a big bakkie will receive top billing at Detroit's auto show this year, but there are some surprise sports cars and electric vehicles on the agenda.

Press days for the show begin Monday, although there are a couple of unveils set for before the show starts

The most popular vehicle of the bunch is the Ford Explorer, revealed ahead of the show Wednesday night at Ford Field, the home of the National Football League's Detroit Lions.

Cadillac will show off its XT6, a smaller-than-a-truck, three-row family hauler at an event Sunday night. Toyota brings back the high-performance Supra on Monday. The sports car developed a cult following when it was on the market from 1978 to 2002. Nissan and its Infiniti luxury brand plan to show two concept electric vehicles on Monday as well.

This year's North American International Auto Show will take place in January for the final time. In 2020, it switches to June to escape the cold weather and show off more products outside, including autonomous vehicles.

Here are the big unveils coming up for the show, which opens to the public from January 19 through 27:

Cadillac XT6

The marketing folks at General Motors' Cadillac brand are hoping the new XT6 big SUV will carve out a niche in the crowded market for utilities with three rows of seats but aren't so huge they're considered trucks. The six- to seven-passenger XT6 has a chiselled Caddy look and unique premium luxury materials to set it apart, but it's going against well-appointed luxury versions of the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, as well as entries from BMW, Audi and other automakers. It's also got the same engine as the other brands, a 3.6-litre V6 that puts out 230kW, and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The XT6 has a suite of standard safety features including automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert. It goes on sale in the summer as a 2020 model in the US Price and gas mileage weren't announced.

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Image: AFP 

Ford Explorer 

Ford's aging Explorer big SUV is getting a major revamp as it faces growing competition in the market for family haulers with three rows of seats. The company unveiled the new version last week at Ford Field, and will display it again at the auto show. The Explorer, last reworked for the 2011 model year, gets a top-to-bottom update that includes a switch from front- to rear-wheel-drive, as well as updated engines and transmissions, some nice standard safety features and even high-performance and gas-electric hybrid versions.

The SUV's appearance doesn't change much, but the roof line does slope more from front to back. Ford also added more interior space and second-row seats that tip and slide forward with the touch of a button. The base engine is an updated turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder with 223kW. There's also a 272kW 3-litre turbocharged V6. The base price will rise $400 from the current $32 365 excluding shipping. Fuel economy wasn't announced.

The Chicago-built Explorer goes on sale in the summer in the US.

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Image: AFP 

Volkswagen Passat

Rather than exiting the sinking US midsize sedan business like two of its Detroit competitors, Volkswagen is staying in by updating the Passat for 2020. But it's not spending huge dollars developing a new chassis or replacing engines and transmissions. VW did give the car new sheet metal (except for the roof) to make it look sportier and tweaked the existing 130kW 2-Litre turbocharged engine. It also revamped the electrical system to handle more advanced driver assist features such as now-standard automatic emergency braking and blind spot detection.

Passat US sales were down 32% last year but could get a boost because Fiat Chrysler got out of the midsize car market and Ford will exit soon. The new Passat arrives in dealerships in mid- to late-summer in the US. Price wasn't announced, but VW is trying to keep it close to the current base of $25 295 excluding shipping.

Lexus RC F

For those who want to race at the track on weekends and drive to work on Monday, there's the 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition. The bulked up track version of the freshened RC F performance coupe gets better aerodynamics due a fixed rear wing and lower front spoiler, both made of carbon-fibre.

The RC F refresh helped the car lose 176 pounds over the previous version, and the track edition loses another 25kg due to lighter wheels and brakes and a titanium exhaust system. Yet the brakes are bigger to handle the heat of the track. Both versions share a 350kW 5-litre V8. But the RC F Track is slightly faster from zero to 98km/h at 3.96 seconds. The new versions will get to showrooms around April in the US. Price and gas mileage weren't announced.

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