• It's winter outside, but it's spring in the Detroit show.
  • Workweek machines rub fenders with upscale contenders.
  • Emboldened by better sales, carmakers get conceptual again.

More than 50 launches are set for the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. And we should probably feel sorry for 49 of them.

The big news at this year's North American International Auto Show (also known as NAIAS, or just plain Detroit) is the official introduction of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. Few cars have been so well loved over the years, especially by citizens of these United States. The 2014 model heralds the seventh generation, code named (predictably) C7, and it looks like it's playing just as big a part in American car culture as the Corvette nameplate has for the past six decades.

Luckily for the rest of the auto world, not everyone is in the market for a powerful 2-seater sports machine. So this event -- held early every year in what is often nicknamed Motor City -- still holds plenty of interest for families, luxury buyers, young drivers and the eco-conscious.

Meat, Potatoes ... and Caviar

Truck fans should be especially excited, since the 2015 Ford F-150 is expected to show up, along with the revised 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and 2014 GMC Sierra. A diesel version of the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee could surprise some traditionalists, but perhaps it signals that diesel's day has arrived at last. Another new sibling, the 2014 Jeep Liberty, is scheduled to make an appearance.

Despite the bread-and-butter models that domestic makers typically rely on, Detroit 2013 will see a large number of high-end rides. The new Infiniti Q50, replacing the G series, is already creating a buzz. But rivals won't be left in the dust. A new version of the Lexus IS executive sedan is set to debut, while the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA 4-door coupe (a scaled-down riff on the sleek CLS) joins a face-lifted 2014 E-Class range.

A powerful (320 horsepower) M iteration of the BMW Z4 competes for enthusiasts' attention with the updated 2014 Audi R8 (one of the finest sports cars available) and the 2014 Audi RS 5 Cabriolet. On a slightly more modest note, a John Cooper Works treatment of the relatively new 2013 MINI Paceman compact crossover/coupe is primed for its Motown moment.

Using Detroit as its launching pad is the 2014 Cadillac ELR coupe. It works on the same drivetrain principles as the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid.

Concept Confidence

There's no delicate way to put this, but things got pretty scary for a few years. Now it seems that vehicle sales in general are looking healthy (14.5 million cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. in 2012 -- the best figure since 2007, according to Autodata) and companies are ready to be a little brave once again. In terms of car shows, bravery means concepts.

Enter the Toyota Furia concept. This might, just might, point toward how the next generation of Corolla compact sedan might look. BMW is bringing its X4 concept. You know how an X6 is virtually an X5 with a more sloping roof? That's the kind of relationship the X4 has with the X3. And it's close to production. As is the BMW 4 Series, which takes over from where the 3 Series coupe left off.

Hyundai has its HCD-14. It sounds like a spy plane, but the company says it's really "a glimpse into future Hyundai premium vehicle design." This probably means that the next version of the Genesis will look something like this.

VW is displaying a 7-seater SUV project, while Lincoln has a compact crossover idea called the MKC. Wraps will be pulled from a prototype of the next-generation 2014 Acura MDX as well as a crossover design study based on the Honda Fit subcompact, called the Urban SUV Concept.

We'll have more details and comprehensive coverage when the press days, Jan. 14 and 15, roll around. The 2013 Detroit Auto Show is open to the public from Jan. 19 to 27.

What it means to you: The next car to grace your garage or driveway might well make its debut at Detroit 2013.

See all Detroit Show news

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Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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