What to expect from this year's Detroit auto show

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From brawny pickups and growling high-performance cars to economical subcompacts, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit likely will have something that appeals to every driver.

Show organizers expect more than 50 new model introductions when the show kicks off today. What the automakers introduce is crucial because sales growth is starting to slow and new models tend to capture more buyers than older ones.

Here’s a look at what’s expected from the show, which opens to the public Jan. 18:

FORD: Likely to make the biggest splash of the show with the expected release of the revamped F-150 pickup. The best-selling vehicle in America, the F-150 faces a challenge from GM’s recently redesigned Chevrolet Silverado pickup, the No. 2 selling vehicle. The last major update for the F-150 came in 2008. There have been reports that Ford will make widespread use of aluminum so that the new truck is lighter and gets better gas mileage.

GENERAL MOTORS: Its biggest unveiling of the show will be a person, not a car. Mary Barra is expected to make her first public appearance since being named CEO last month. She officially replaces Dan Akerson on Wednesday. As for vehicles, GM is showing off the new GMC Canyon, one of two small pickups it hopes will win back buyers who’ve shunned the segment in favor of bigger trucks and SUVs. It also has some high-performance Corvettes on the schedule.

CHRYSLER: Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups have helped Chrysler return to profitability, but the company’s aging midsize cars have trouble competing in the biggest piece of the market. Today, it unveils a revamped Chrysler 200, with hopes of going grille to grille with the segment’s top-sellers, the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.

HONDA: Honda is expected to unveil a redesigned Fit subcompact. The new model will cure some of the Fit’s few deficiencies with a new powertrain that keeps it quieter on the road and gives it better mileage. Critics had complained about freeway noise from the outdated five-speed automatic transmission, and the 35 mpg highway fuel economy was lower than most competitors.

NISSAN: Will unveil a Maxima concept car with hints of what the next generation full-size sedan will look like.

TOYOTA: Expected to roll out a new sports car as it tries to show that its cars are fun to drive. Also likely: a new sporty Lexus F car.

SUBARU: A souped-up version of the WRX pocket rocket small car is a possibility.

MERCEDES: Fresh off taking the crown as the best-selling luxury brand in the U.S. for 2013, Mercedes unwraps a new C-Class, the company’s lowest level of luxury car.

BMW: Finished a close second to Mercedes in luxury sales. Debuts the 2 Series, a small sports coupe.

VOLKSWAGEN: Unveils a Beetle Dune Buggy concept car, a high-mileage concept car version of the midsize Passat, and the high-performance Golf R.

PORSCHE: Rolls out the 911Targa sports car, and upscale and diesel versions of the Cayenne SUV.

VOLVO: A concept version of the XC 90 large SUV is expected. Could give hints of new model to come.

HYUNDAI: The company best known for the midsize Sonata and compact Elantra will unveil a new version of the Genesis luxury car.

KIA: GT4 Stinger concept sports car that likely will find its way into production. Company describes it as a “low wedge” with a 315 horsepower engine.


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