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Hot Wheels: Best Rides from Detroit Auto Show



The North American International Auto Show kicked off Monday in Detroit, and if Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, had to choose a word to describe this year’s show, it would be “optimism.”

“It’s almost frivolous in terms of a lot of the cars you are seeing at the show,” Brauer says. I am not sure I have ever seen a show with so many two-door coup cars. Some are concept cars, some are in production. It’s like auto makers have taken care of the hard work and are ready to have some fun.”

Car spectators and analysts are also buzzing about incoming CEO of General Motors (NYSE:GM) Mary Barra who takes over the auto giant on Wednesday. She told FOX Business “the focus should be on the cars. The cars are the stars” at this year’s show.”

Here are Brauer’s six favorites from this year’s offerings:

  • 1Ford F-150


    Price: Not yet announced

    When: Late 2014, fourth quarter

    This the first full-size truck to have an aluminum composite, which was formerly and exotic car feature, Brauer says. “Ford knows how to do aluminum body panels. No one has done this for a full-size pickup yet.”

  • 2Chrysler 200 C


    Price: Mid- $20,000s

    When: Spring 2014

    Brauer says Chrysler hasn’t had a competitive offering in the mid-sized sedan category in quite some time. “This is a hybrid-Fiat platform, a nice collaboration between Chrysler and Fiat.”

  • 3Honda Fit


    Price: Around $15,000

    When: Mid-2014

    Honda is defending its market segment in the small-entry sub-compact car category, according to Brauer. “This market has been challenged by the Koreans and U.S. Toyota used to own that market. “

  • 4Toyota FT-1 Concept Car


    Price: Likely at least $50,000 or more

    When: No release date

    This model is a “spiritual successor” to the Surpa, the last performance coup Toyota sold in the U.S., Brauer says.

    “It’s incredibly sleek, two-door, two-seater performance sports car. It looks like a Ferrari from Toyota. It represents Toyota wanting to have a more passionate and emotional image.”

  • 5Ford Mustang


    Price: Mid- $20,000s

    When: Late 2014

    While this isn’t the car’s debut, Brauer has picked it because it’s the car’s 50th anniversary this April.

    “It’s an all-new vehicle from the ground up. It has independent rear suspension and is becoming a real sophisticated performance car. It’s the heart and soul of Ford’s line.”

  • 6GMC Canyon


    Price: Low-to-mid-$20,000s

    When: Fall 2014

    This is the GMC (NYSE: GM) version of the Chevy Colorado, Brauer says, which will likely give the automaker more traction in the small truck market.

    “There isn’t a domestic offering in there yet.  There are truck buyers that tend to want to go domestic.”


Follow Kate Rogers on Twitter at @KateRogersNews