• Detroit burns bright with bold new machines
  • Expect aluminum trucks and performance coupes
  • Meanwhile, the sensible Honda Fit enters a new phase

The 2014 Detroit Auto Show rings in the new year for the car and truck industry. And there's a lot to look forward to, with more than 50 world premieres in the cards.

Detroit is still the big event for North America. Despite the city itself going into bankruptcy, auto companies are buoyed by healthy order books. Last November was the best November in U.S. car sales history. Industry forecaster LMC Automotive reckons the final tally of 2013 car-buyer spending could be a record high of $370 billion. So everyone's heading to Motor City in a bullish frame of mind.

The Bold

This is still unconfirmed, but it could be the major story of this year's show: the debut of the next-generation Ford F-150 pickup, made with an aluminum body. Aluminum is lighter than steel but harder to work, so it represents serious investment by Ford. The company has pledged to lighten its best-selling truck by 750 pounds -- because weight is the enemy of fuel economy. This switch in materials could mean the difference between 23 miles per gallon and 30 mpg on the highway.

From utility to exclusivity comes a whole new model from Lexus: a performance coupe wearing the company's F badge. But it's already facing competition from BMW's go-faster M4 compact coupe, which shares the Detroit spotlight with a new M3 sedan and an M235i coupe, taking over from the outgoing 1 Series.

A production version of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan is scheduled, while the Cadillac ATS Coupe and Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z06 represent two of the home team's most exciting machines.

MINI is bringing its John Cooper Works concept version of the new hatchback that debuted at the 2013 Los Angeles show. Porsche is expected to unveil its newest 911 Targa model. And Mercedes-Benz should make a splash with an all-new C-Class compact sedan.

The Beautiful

Beauty is subjective, but Kia (yes, Kia) is promising a "stunning new concept" for Detroit. After unveiling the K900 luxury sedan (yes, a luxury sedan -- from Kia) in Los Angeles, the company is obviously on a roll and thinking way outside of its traditional budget car box.

Audi's concept contribution is a compact crossover with a sloping roof. Hardly a new idea, but Audi does tend to come up with pleasant-looking cars.

Not too sure how beautiful these next two might be, but there's always the hope. Acura is showing a prototype of its TLX "performance luxury" sedan, while Infiniti has a concept based on the compact Q50 executive sedan inspired by a successful involvement in Formula One motor racing.

Keep an eye out also for a Toyota concept that may or may not be a successor to the much-loved Supra. And it's possible that Mercedes-Benz could ship over a coupe version of the new S-Class flagship sedan to warm the Michigan winter.

The Basics

A new generation of Honda Fit is anticipated. It doesn't set pulses racing, but the Fit is a fine subcompact.

There's also the chance of a new Chrysler 200 compact sedan, which might appeal to some.

The 2014 Detroit Auto Show is open to the public from January 18 to 26, but AutoTrader.com will be supplying extensive coverage from the press days of Jan. 13 and 14. That's when all the unveilings and other news will be announced.

What it means to you: For car buyers and car enthusiasts alike, Detroit brings plenty of new metal.

See all Detroit Auto Show news.

author photo

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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