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author photo by Autotrader December 2006

With the buzz from the media, the activity from the shoppers, and the campaigning by the manufacturers, we can expect to see more mixing, blurring, and innovation in the upcoming years. Auto shows and manufacturer unveilings are great places to see the concept cars and the next generations that the concepts inspire.

Upcoming / Recent Models:

Here are a few of the new releases and some others we can expect to see in the near future:

Dodge Nitro
Although the Nitro falls into the “box” category, it is anything but just a plain cube. With an aggressive stance, an optional performance package, and a mug that looks like it might be growling at you, this well-equipped and affordable offering from Daimler Chrysler gives the ”boxy” segment some teeth.

Ford Edge
After a few years of testing the waters with its Freestyle wagon, Ford jumps in with both feet and introduces the Edge. With many of the same features and the benefits of being a crossover, many feel that this model could give close cousin the Explorer a run for its money in the “soccer Mom” segment.

Honda Ridgeline
Far be it for Honda to enter the truck segment without adding their own flair. Attention-getters such as a multi-directionally opening tailgate and a locking trunk in the floor of the bed set this blend of truck and SUV apart from the tradition faire.

Jeep Compass
Jeep takes its first step off the trail by offering a more street-based vehicle. Although a “Trail Rated” version is available, the majority of this new tall mini-wagon are being equipped for road, if not specifically urban, lifestyles.

Mercedes-Benz R-Class
Continuing to apply luxury to various body types, Mercedes has introduced a line of models in their new R-Class. Utilizing a uniquely spacious SUV-like body, smooth-riding underpinnings based on those from the Chrysler Town & Country minivan, and adding a variety of performance engines and suspensions, the R-Class makes it a lot easier to move the family in style.

Concepts:

Some strange, some exciting, all bend the rules:

Ford SYN’US
Designed with urban protection in mind, the SYN’US was modeled after a mix of armored car and vault. It has narrow windows that have a protective shield, a box-shaped design that emits a feeling of security, and a rear door that opens like the money room at your neighborhood bank. Inside all of this security, you find a flat-panel TV installed in the rear door with reverse facing seating.

GMC Sequel Hydrogen
A new design from the ground up, GM took the task of starting fresh when developing their latest hydrogen-burning vehicle. The aluminum frame and aerodynamic design help in reducing fuel consumption, and the full front-to-back sunroof makes the ride enjoyable for everyone.

Jeep Gladiator
Jeep takes one of the original SUV designs, the Wrangler, and applies the features of a truck. Unlike the more refined look of the previous Jeep truck, the Comanche, the Gladiator embraces the rough tumble image of this brand with knobby tires, fender flares and an externally mounted spare tire.

Kia Mesa
Kia drew upon their heritage of building military vehicles to design a safer passenger vehicle. Utilizing features like a wrap-around windshield, wider stance, and thick roof pillars, the Mesa (a.k.a. KCD-II) shows that Kia is focusing on the needs of their consumers.

Volkswagen Concept-T
Although many have tried before, many also think VW may have succeeded in combining a sports car with an off-road vehicle. With 421 horsepower, gull-wing doors, and the stance of a true “rock-hopper," this concept has generated a good deal of excitement and has many asking VW to make it a reality.

 ©2006 AutoTrader.com L.L.C.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Future Automotive Trends - Autotrader