| Business

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

New models at Detroit auto show offer more promise than compromise

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

By Mark Phelan
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Compromise, schmompromise. The 2013 North American International Auto Show is about having your cake and eating it, too.

“It's all about increasing efficiency without penalizing performance,” Porsche R&D chief Wolfgang Hatz said at the show this week.

Cars and trucks that offer more power and higher fuel economy are the order of the day on the show floor at Cobo Center in Detroit, where the show opens to the public on Saturday.

It's the future of performance, as automakers embrace the idea that buyers expect their new vehicles to be more efficient and more capable. No trade-offs, thank you very much. We expect it all.

The relentless advancement begins with the beautiful and efficient 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Code-named Y1XX, its 6.2-liter V-8 produces 450 horsepower, accelerates the two-seater to 60 mph in less than 4.0 seconds and will score a higher EPA rating than the outgoing model, thanks to lightweight materials and new technologies.

Ford's hulking Atlas, a concept vehicle pointing the way to the 2015 F-150 that will go on sale next year, sings the same song in a different key.

Ford says aerodynamic tweaks and new technologies will make America's workhorse sleeker and more fuel-efficient.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV adds a long-awaited diesel V-6 — courtesy of Fiat, which specializes in the brawny and frugal engines — to become the first model in the iconic brand's history equipped to conquer the brutal Rubicon trail and break the 30-mpg barrier on the highway.

Some new vehicles at the show offer almost cartoonish levels of power while promising greater efficiency and lower fuel consumption and emissions. The Maserati Quattroporte luxury sedan wrings 532 horsepower out of a mere 3.8 liters of V-8 engine. Needless to say, it also uses 20 percent less fuel than the less powerful car it replaces.

The procession of new high-mpg models isn't just for big spenders. Honda's small crossover — a concept that's nearly identical to a production model coming in 2014 — sneaks a five-passenger interior into an aggressively styled SUV body that promises to score above 40 mpg in highway fuel efficiency tests.

Nissan also promises more features and 40 mpg-plus in its roomy new Versa Note subcompact hatchback.

New hybrids and electric cars abound as well. Volkswagen's CrossBlue concept crossover combines diesel and electric efficiency. Lexus' low-slung new IS becomes the first of the brand's small sport sedans to come with a hybrid, while the Cadillac ELR wraps sumptuous leather and Cadillac style around the drivetrain of the award-winning Chevrolet Volt.

Mark Phelan is the auto critic for the Detroit Free Press; email him at

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Many Black Friday deals not worth the hassle
  2. Take steps to make it harder for holiday hackers
  3. Nutritional supplement makers, led by GNC, want to create voluntary safety standards
  4. Stocks finish flat before Thanksgiving holiday; energy firms give back some gains
  5. Union leaders warn Post-Gazette newsroom of possible layoffs
  6. Covestro leader MacCleary finds stability amid change
  7. Improving economy challenges retailers seeking to boost ranks for holidays
  8. Black Friday loosens its hold on the holiday season
  9. Mall stores required to open for Thanksgiving
  10. Lenders taking more borrowers to court over student loans
  11. Home rental prices rise at slower pace in October