The Los Angeles auto show is finally emerging out of the long shadow of Detroit's North American International Auto Show, to the unbridled joy of hundreds of war weary automotive journalists around the globe.

In essence, this is the second L.A. show this year, the first being in January, right before the Detroit show where it used to languish. It's arguably the biggest in the events's long history dating back to 1907. It's also the first year the show has earned an international designation, giving show organizers the extra clout to attract more world unveilings when the show lands in its permanent slot next year in early November.

This year's show definitely has a green sheen to it, which is certainly appropriate for a city where you can literally see a Toyota Prius every 50 feet or so. General Motors and Ford are both locked and loaded with double barrels of hybrid and hydrogen offerings, while BMW is bringing its Hydrogen 7 to the party.

Call them crossovers, SUVs, people movers, four-wheeled boxes, whatever, they keep on coming, and L.A. will have plenty on the show floor. Buick's long-awaited Enclave, the new Saturn Vue and Ford's next-gen Escape are all making their bows.

Concepts are also always a part of the auto show experience. Ford's hot Mustang by Giugiaro and the Mazda Nagare are among a of handful future-think vehicles that will be on hand.

Be sure to check back early and often during the show press days, Nov. 29-30, for all the latest unveilings and more direct from the L.A. show floor.

With X5 version 2.0, BMW has addressed the utility shortcomings--a third row is now optional, second- and third-row seats can be folded flat, and interior volume has grown by 4.8 cubic feet and cargo volume by 2.8. At the same time, there's more standard power, a load of innovative technology, and sharper handling, thanks to an all-new control-arm front suspension.

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Available in two trim levels, the Enclave will be powered by GM's 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 275 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Both trims have available all-wheel-drive. According to Buick, the Enclave is capable of towing as much as 4,500 lbs when equipped with a towing package. CX models come standard with 18-inch wheels, while CXL models ride on 19-inchers. 20-inch wheels are available as an accessory.

Notable features include xenon headlights with an articulating headlight system that turns the headlights with the front wheels is offered as an option, Bose 10-speaker stereo, power rear liftgate, ultrasonic rear parking assist system, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power mirrors with integrated turn signals, and rear-seat DVD entertrainment system.

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The Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell is one of the latest displays of the progress that GM has made with fuel cell technology in recent years. Early next year, General Motors will be releasing 100 of the street-legal cars to pre-selected individuals with Over 50 of the vehicles coming to Los Angeles. The rest of the fleet will be divided up between New York City and Washington, D.C.

With this endeavor, called "Project Driveway," the automaker hopes to receive feedback on the performance of these advanced vehicles in the hands of regular people in the real world. GM will then use this feedback to further refine future fuel cell vehicles as the technology continues to mature.

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Going along with the green is in theme that seems to be big for this year's Los Angeles auto show is GM's Chevrolet Sequel fuel cell vehicle. It first made its appearance in 2005 at the Detroit Auto Show as a concept vehicle. In September, GM unveiled a driveable version of the high-tech auto.

About the size of a Cadillac SRX crossover, the Sequel has a range of 300 miles and is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 in about 10 seconds. Other advanced technologies found in the Sequel include an electric brake-by-wire system that replaces traditional hydraulic brake lines, electric steer-by-wire in place of a rack-and-pinion setup, wheel hub motors, and an aluminum frame.

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After six years as the nation's best-selling compact utility (except for a few months this year when RAV4 beat it), the Escape finally gets a new design, inside and out. It's made to remind you of big brothers Explorer and Expedition, which may not be such a good thing for a crossover these days. There's more chrome and less body-colored molding, and "the industry's first," according to Ford, 100-percent recycled material fabric seating (take that, Toyota greenies). Engines: 153-horsepower 2.3-liter four, 200-horse 3.0-liter V-6 or the four-cylinder/electric hybrid powertrain.

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When it goes on sale in the waning months of 2007, the GMC Yukon hybrid will be the first two-mode hybrid SUV on the market. Using a system developed by GM with BMW and DaimlerChrysler, the GMC Yukon Hybrid will offer fuel savings of nearly 25% over a standard gasoline model.This hybrid system operates in two modes, one for driving through cities and traffic, and one for highway speeds. In city mode, the vehicle will shut off the gasoline engine for extended periods of time, using only electric power to move at low speeds. In highway mode, the vehicle's computer uses engine features like Active Fuel Management to maximize efficiency in addition to using the electric motors to power the vehicle along. The system saves the full power of the gasoline engine for when its needed, such as accelerating or towing.Like the regular Yukon, the Yukon Hybrid is powered by a 6-liter V8 engine. It also features a slightly redesigned hood, front and rear fascias, and a new grille that help offset the extra weight added to the vehicle by the hybrid system. GM says that the hybrid system will not compromise the full-size SUVs towing and hauling capabilities.

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Kia's new Rondo small crossover is the Korean automaker's latest model. The vehicle is available in two trim levels with a choice of two engines. The standard 2.4-liter four puts out 162 hp and 164 lb-ft of torque, while the optional 2.7-liter V6 puts out 182 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. The Rondo LX comes with a four-speed automatic, while the EX gets a five-speed.

The LX rides on 16-inch wheels, while the EX gets 17-inch alloys. The EX comes standard with integrated roof rails and chrome accents on the side moldings, door handles, and front grille crossbars. Both trims can be equipped with an available body kit that includes fender flares, front and rear fascias, side skirts, and a rear spoiler.

Although a third row of seats is optional, those seats are best left reserved for seven year olds. There is no way a full grown adult would be able to sit back there and enjoy any level of comfort.

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The Opelization of Saturn continues with the all-new Vue, which is virtually identical to the Opel Antara.

The Vue will be available in three trim levels and three engines when it goes on sale in the late spring or early summer of 2007. The front-wheel drive Vue XE is powered by a 164 hp 2.4-liter four, while all-wheel drive XEs get a 215 hp 3.5-liter V6. The higher-end Vue XR and Red Line get GM's newer 250 hp 3.6-liter V6 with available with all wheel drive. The four-cylinder engine comes mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with a five-speed manual becoming available later in the year. Both V6 engines come with a new six-speed automatic. A hybrid Green Line model will become available later in the year.

The European styling lends itself well to Saturn and the brand's signature grille. The sloping roof gives the vehicle a sportier look. A particularly interesting styling feature is the gray molding on the fenders that incorporates a turn signal repeater.The interior is also straight out of the Opel and is on par with the quality and refinement bar set for Saturn by the Aura. The "sea of gray" that GM has been infamous for gives way for an attractive two-tone design featuring chrome accents on much of the interior trim, including vents, speakers and gauges. Standard and optional features are plentiful, including an eight-way power seat for the driver, an MP3-capable CD system, navigation system, and electronic climate control.

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Spyker first introduced its Super Sports Utility Vehicle (SSUV) -- the Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris -- to the world at the Geneva Motor Show, and the incredible hand-built vehicle makes its North American debut here at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show. The unique qualities and design features of Spyker's first SUV are directly linked with the racing and aviation heritage of the company, and it takes its name after the famous Spyker that finished second in the most gruelling race of all time, the 1907 Peking-to-Paris.

The Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris is an all-aluminum, permanent four-wheel-drive sports-utility vehicle with rear-hinged coach doors (once called 'suicide doors'). It is powered by the 500-hp/6.0-liter, 12-cylinder, W12 engine from Volkswagen AG and promises to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds. The fuel tank capacity is 26.4 gallons and Spyker says you can drive at a top speed of 185 mph until it is empty.

The six-speed automatic transmission features a multifunctional steering wheel with F1 style shift paddles, a triple dashboard designed in the style of an airplane cockpit, and a sumptuous leather interior. The vehicle has an all aluminum body fitted to an aluminum space frame. It has a length of 194.9 inches, a width of 78.7 inches (excluding mirrors), a minimum height of 66.14 inches, a maximum height of 69.88i and weighs in at just under 4079 lbs. Wheels will be available as both on-road (24 inches) and off-road (22 inches).

The D12 is Spyker's first four-door, four-seater luxury vehicle. The car is Spyker's ultimate combination of a powerful super sports car with exotic looks, a spacious multiple passenger interior, and luxurious cabin with the exquisite Spyker cockpit interior.

Expected date of introduction is December 2007. The expected USA retail price is USD 287,500 excluding tax.

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Volkswagen's Concept Tiguan is a dressed-up prototype, looking a lot like a shrunken Touareg, that is set to hit dealership floors towards the end of next year. Tiguan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine using VW's next-generation clean TDI technology. The vehicle also uses several components of the Bluetec emissions system co-developed by Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen. The automaker expects the diesel to be available in all 50 states when it goes on sale in the US. Volkswagen also plans to offer a gasoline engine for the vehicle.

A key design cue for Concept Tiguan are the trick 19-inch tires developed by Continental that feature an orange stripe beneath the tire profile that matches the paint color of the Concept Tiguan. Other exterior details include a more pronounced grill, aggressive fog lamps and its blinding orange color.

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Hyundai's HCD10 Hellion concept is a compact three-door ute that can tackle hardcore off-roading equally as well on-road duty, at least, that's what the press release says. One thing's for sure, it's not going to win any beauty contests, and even Hyundai seems to be distancing itself a bit from it, calling it the 'black sheep of the Hyundai family.'

Hellion's rally-style hood scoop signals there's something serious going on in the engine bay, and indeed, a 3.0-liter V-6 common-rail diesel engine pumping out 236 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. torque is tucked into the engine bay, more than enough grunt for this compact ute. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with 4WD. Hellion also sports a removable canvas stop-top roof and a host of interesting interior additions including a removable, refillable reservoir inside each headrest with a hose that you can use to drink from that Hyundai is billing as a replacement for the cupholder. We'll probably just keep our cups.

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Honda's Step Bus Concept is another exercise in four-wheeled boxes, featuring a mid-engine design, rear drive and an interior big enough to invite your friends for a sleepover.

The Step Bus' focus is on the configurable interior, featuring modular construction, fold-down seats and ample room for a smallish-vehicle thanks to its tall stance. Step Bus also features huge, sliding front doors. Personally, we're not incredibly fond of the apparent crossbreeding of Honda's own Element and a Chevy Astro Van, but it's a concept, so what the heck, bring on the square fare.

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