5 Top Cars at the New York Auto Show

Tickers in this article: F GM HMC TM

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The automobile industry is at the start of a big year for new product introductions, making the opening day of the New York Auto Show an important one for the industry.

The Cadillac CTS (pictured), which was unveiled Wednesday, is an early candidate to be car of the year, just one year after its little cousin the Cadillac ATS won the honor for GM . The new Jeep Cherokee represents Chrysler's effort to assume what ought to be its rightful place in the compact SUV market, where it really ought to play a bigger role. The new Toyota Highlander shows that Toyota has the muscle to maintain a strong position among the mid-sized SUVS.

About 20 new vehicles are being rolled out at the New York Auto Show. It's hard to escape the view that GM is dominating here, just as it did at the Detroit Auto Show, in the midst of a period when it plans to roll out 13 new vehicles over 13 months and to have refreshed or re-introduced 70% of its lineup by the end of 2013.

"The CTS will be a strong product," said Jack Nerad, executive editor and senior analyst at KBB.com. "It is one of the vehicles that has launched the Cadillac resurgence, which is leaving Lincoln behind. Cadillac wants to compete-head-to-head with Mercedes and BMS. They've done a good job with the ATS and they want to keep it up with the CTS."

Nerad is a member of the jury, composed of automotive journalists, who select the car of the year. He thinks CTS is an early favorite for the 2014 winner. "It would be unprecedented for Cadillac to win, given that Cadillac won last year, but right now CTS is the frontrunner," he said.

At the same time, he said, "There are a lot of contenders and this is still early in the game. We probably have 20-plus on the car side and 10-plus on the truck and crossover side. This is such a hotly competitive industry and the products keep getting better."

It is also probably wise to remember that even into the late summer of 2012, Ford Fusion looked like a likely car of the car.

In any case, we are still in the first quarter of 2013, and here are our choices for top five cars being introduced at the New York Auto Show.