The Detroit Auto Dealers Association knows how to put on a heck of an auto show.
Its North American International Auto Show in Detroit has become one of the biggest and most extravagant events of its kind. It's also the oldest continually running show, dating to 1907.
Automakers compete to put up the fanciest and biggest displays. General Motors elaborate new "GM Experience" display won this year.
More than 40 manufacturers exhibited about 700 vehicles. About 6,000 journalists from around the world covered 50 vehicle premieres. A black-tie $300-a-ticket Charity Preview is one of the top Detroit social events of the year.
The show is moving on up - literally - to create more space.
"We had 17 two-story displays," says Rod Alberts, DADA executive director. "Those add 106,000 sq. ft. to the 750,000-sq.-ft. of floor space."
Some of the elaborate displays are shows within the show, says show co-chairman Russell M. Shelton of Shelton Pontiac-GMC, Rochester, MI.
But the vehicles are the main attractions, and the DADA's January extravaganza is unparalleled in pointing to the future of the industry.
For example, a new breed of crossover vehicles include the Pontiac Aztek and the Chevrolet Avalanche, which are targeted at Generation Xers. Both vehicles stress an active lifestyle and express individualism.
Avalanche, which will go on sale in early 2001, combines the elements of a Suburban SUV and Silverado pickup - four doors, a six-passenger cabin and a cargo bed that is 5-ft., 3-ins. long, extending to 8-ft of interior/exterior cargo space with the bulkhead folded down.
Aztek, scheduled to reach dealerships this summer, aims to combine the key attributes of small and midsize SUVs, namely fuel economy and maneuverability, with roominess and towing capability. It's based on the Pontiac Montana minivan platform.
News from the Detroit show:
* Toyota Motor Corp. unveils its Sequoia full-size SUV. It seats eight in three rows of seating and is comparable in size to the Ford Expedition. It will debut as a 2001 model late this year.
* Volkswagen AG's activities at the Detroit show hint at its first-ever SUV, expected to debut in 2002. VW introduced a concept pickup truck. Company executives say look for its technology and styling in VW's initial SUV. They wouldn't say if VW will produce the pickup itself.
* The Ford Escape marks Ford's first sortie into the compact SUV field, which has been dominated by the domestic Chevrolet Blazer, GMC Jimmy and Jeep Cherokee, and imports Toyota RAV-4 and Honda CR-V. About 3 million SUVs were sold in the U.S. last year, more than triple 1990's total.
* American Honda's Acura luxury division debuts the completely redesigned 2001 3.2CL Acura coupe and the all-new high-performance Type S version. The two models are expected to go head-to-head with luxury segment busters Mercedes and Lexus, among others.
* Daewoo Motor America Inc. unveils its fourth model, the Korando small SUV. It will sell for around $20,000. It will arrive for retail in May or June.
* DaimlerChrysler AG announces that base models of its new PT Cruiser would go out the door - including the $550 destination charge - for an even $16,000. Top-of-the-line Limited models will base at $19,995 (including destination) and sport just about every option available, DC Co-Chairman Robert Eaton says.
* DC shows its crop of all-new 2001 minivan models. They will offer a more powerful V6 and a plethora of new features. The vans feature more of a wedge shape, with belt and roof lines that rise toward the rear, large grille openings and an integrated rear spoiler that houses the center brake light.
* Lincoln buyers will soon be able to access information over the Internet in specially equipped vehicles beginning later this year.
* Hyundai Motor America, the South Korean manufacturer known for its compact and modestly priced cars, will attempt to change its image in 2000 with two new vehicle offerings: a mid-size SUV and a five-passenger sedan. The Santa Fe is Hyundai's first foray into the SUV market.
* Kia Motors America takes the wraps off its fourth model - the first of three new products slated for debut in 2000. The Spectra, a sporty hatchback, is slated to be in dealerships this spring. The automaker also plans to debut its subcompact Rio model in July. In fall comes a Kia midsize sedan, currently code-named the MS.
* Toyota Motor Corp.'s luxury Lexus division moves further upscale with LS 430. Its designers studied high-end jewelry, private jets and five-star hotels. The new vehicle will hit showrooms this fall.
* Saab Automobile AB unveiled a high-performance 2000 model 9-5 Aero Wagon due to arrive in the U.S. in early April.
* Volvo Car Corp. comes a long way from its "boxy but good" campaign of the 1980s with the arrival of its new V70 station wagon, a stylish and sporty entry into a luxury wagon market made more competitive with recent offerings from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
* A new ThinkCity brand will be established among Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers for the new two-seater electric car made in an Oslo, Norway, plant and other "green" vehicles using methanol and fuel cells.