7 Top Cars at the Detroit Auto Show
Honda Urban SUV Concept
Honda rolled out its compact Urban SUV Concept on Monday, planning to launch it in Japan by the end of 2013 and in the U.S. in 2014.
"No one has had greater success with small cars than Honda, and this Urban SUV Concept will create new value in the growing small-SUV segment," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales at American Honda, in a prepared statement.
Total Car Score CEO Karl Brauer said the Urban SUV could be the most important vehicle at the auto show. "In terms of sales and growth for a brand, that small Honda concept (all the high-volume variants will sit on it) is pretty important to that brand," he said. By the way, that quote is from the first interview we ever conducted by text messaging.
Eric Lyman, vice president of editorial for ALG, a provider of automotive analysis, said the Urban SUV cannot arrive soon enough.
"With gas prices expected to rise over the long term and the subcompact utility segment in its infancy Honda cannot bring their entry into the segment soon enough," Lyman said, in a prepared statement. "With strong brand value and perception of fuel economy, Honda can capitalize on a segment currently populated with polarizing niche products."
Cadillac rolled out the ELR, basically a luxury Volt, on Tuesday, saying "the sleek luxury coupe features the first application of extended range electric vehicle technology by a full-line luxury automotive brand."
"Cadillac ELR is General Motors' second vehicle using plug-in technology and its first luxury model with the powertrain," said TrueCar.com analyst Jesse Toprak, in a prepared statement. "The success of this vehicle will help GM to lower its production costs and introduce more plug-in hybrid models within its lineup of vehicles."
Brandy Schaffels, a TrueCar.com. editor, added: "This elegant sister to the Volt promises all the luxury and prestige one expects from the Cadillac brand."
Lexus IS Sedan
Lexus rolled out the IS on Tuesday and said it will go on sale in June. Design is key.
"One of the guys from our production crew said it looks fast even when it's standing still," said Mark Templin, Lexus Division group VP and general manager.
Hellwig said the IS, like many newly introduced luxury cars, will attempt to compete with the BMW 3 Series. He said Lexus "didn't do anything real dramatic. They went with a very evolutionary tact and tweaked a lot around the edges."
TrueCar's Toprak, in a prepared statement, said that "Lexus has a chance to bring a younger demographic to their brand with the new IS -- This vehicle has a chance to grab market share from competing vehicles in its segment and help Lexus to compete in the share of the luxury crown again."