If there's a single event that offers a clear idea of what's happening in the auto industry, it's the Detroit Auto Show, now called the North American International Auto Show. Celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the 2007 Detroit Show played host to 47 automotive manufacturers looking to show off their latest futuristic design concepts, as well as current models.

If you love all things automotive, this is the Mecca of the car universe. However, one of the most unfortunate things about this year's auto show is that it really was all about cars; there was very little news in the form of pickup trucks or traditional SUVs. Clearly, fashion trends are shifting. Most of the highlighted vehicles pushed some sort of alternative fuel or mode of transportation to get attention.

In addition, with Ford leading the way, technology was the name of the game this year. Ford made a big splash, linking up with Bill Gates from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to announce that in the very near future, your car (and probably all cars soon enough) will be able to download songs to your ipod, hook into your cell phone, and give your dealership diagnostic information before you ever feel a cylinder sputter--all very impressive, if not a little scary. Even General Motors showed their high-tech Chevy Volt electric vehicle that uses the next generation Lithium-Ion batteries and is reported to get as much as 500 mpg (we're guessing there is some provision for keeping the gasoline or diesel fuel fresh) by using a small fuel engine to charge the battery pack.

We can only assume there will be more truck and SUV news coming at the Chicago (February) and New York (April) auto shows, but don't hold your breath. Will all the attention crossovers and fuel prices are getting, it's going to be very difficult to get any momentum behind a big-dog, functional, work-duty product . . . just not sexy right now. Which means eventually the pendulum will be swinging back. Still, there was plenty to gawk and admire. We even found a few really good looking spokes-models who sure talked like they were "truck guys". That was refreshing. For more details on what happened each day, check out our Truck Perspective blog here and/or at MotorTrend.com. For now, we'll just have to wait and see. Thank goodness the new heavy-duty Ford, Chevy, and Dodge pickup trucks are coming soon.

2007 Toyota Tundra CrewMax
Toyota made an even bigger truck splash at the 2007 Detroit auto show with the world premiere of its top-of-the-line 2007 Tundra CrewMax full-size pickup. Toyota says the four-door CrewMax variant offers the most room, versatility and storage in its all-new, second-generation Tundra lineup.




2008 Chevrolet Equinox Sport
The Chevrolet Equinox Sport is one of two Theta platform crossover vehicles that benefits from GM's increasing 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 production capacity. Combined with the six-speed automatic, the Equinox Sport and platformmate Pontiac Torrent GXP can hit 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and boast a 78-horsepower advantage over the 3.4-liter models. They have stiffer suspensions, lowered one inch, plus 18-inch wheels and sportier interiors with nicely bolstered front buckets. Both are available in front- or all-wheel-drive forms,with or without a roof rack. The Torrent gets Pontiac's proliferating GXO badge, while the Equinox, which doesn't make the cut for Chevy's upgraded standard for the SS monicker, is called "Sport."



2007 Hyundai Veracruz
"A crossover for every purse and purpose," seems Hyundai's current mantra, so it put the Santa Fe into a taffy puller, stretching the wheelbase 4.1 inches, length 6.5 inches overall, width by 2.2 inches and height by an inch. The payoff is Honda-Pilot passenger room with more cargo capacity than the SUOTY-winning Mercedes GL-Class. Power comes from a 3.8-liter V-6 that makes over 250 horses and reportedly does so more quietly than Lexus's 3.5-liter. Keyless starting, a power liftgate, and all the latest mod-cons will be offered.



2008 Chrysler Town & Country
Chrysler is touting its 2008 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans as "family rooms on wheels" by the automaker, and predictably the most innovative features are saved for the inside. Both vehicles, which share the same platform, feature Chrysler's new Swivel 'n Go seating option. The second row seats can now rotate 180 degrees to face the third row, yet still fold flat when extra storage space is required. A removable table can also be installed between the rows and an integrated child booster seat in the second-row quad chair and a one-touch power-folding third-row 60/40 bench seat are available options. Powering the all-new minivans will be a choice of three V-6s: a 240 horsepower, 4.0-liter version, a 3.8-liter, or a 3.3-liter E85 capable version. The E85 engine receives a four-speed transaxle while the larger displacement engines are given six-speed gearboxes.



2008 Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
Chrysler is touting its 2008 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans as "family rooms on wheels" by the automaker, and predictably the most innovative features are saved for the inside. Both vehicles, which share the same platform, feature Chrysler's new Swivel 'n Go seating option. The second row seats can now rotate 180 degrees to face the third row, yet still fold flat when extra storage space is required. A removable table can also be installed between the rows and an integrated child booster seat in the second-row quad chair and a one-touch power-folding third-row 60/40 bench seat are available options. Powering the all-new minivans will be a choice of three V-6s: a 240 horsepower, 4.0-liter version, a 3.8-liter, or a 3.3-liter E85 capable version. The E85 engine receives a four-speed transaxle while the larger displacement engines are given six-speed gearboxes.




2008 Ford F350 Super Duty



2008 Infiniti QX56
Infiniti freshened up its QX56 SUV for 2008 with slight interior and exterior redesigns. The vehicle's exterior features redesigned front and rear fascias, standard 20-in chrome wheels, new fog lights, and a new roof rack design. The interior is enhanced with new features including illuminated steering wheel controls, power folding third row seats, and a Burr-Brown audio system equipped with a 9.5 gigabyte hard drive.



2008 Madza Tribute Hybrid



2008 Nissan Rogue
Like VW, Nissan is joining the compact crossover market late. The Rogue is already on sale in Europe as the Quashqi with a variety of engines, while we have one choice, the 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four with a continuously variable transmission. On sale this fall, the Rogue is eight inches shorter than a Murano and at 63.4 inches tall, very carlike. The Murano is due for its own major makeover for 2008. It'll remain a two-row-seat vehicle only.


2008 Pontiac Torrent GXP
The Pontiac Torrent GXP, like its Chevrolet Equinox Sport platformmate, benefits from GM's increasing 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 production capacity. Combined with the six-speed automatic, the Equinox Sport Torrent GXP can hit 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and boast a 78-horsepower advantage over the 3.4-liter models. They have stiffer suspensions, lowered one inch, plus 18-inch wheels and sportier interiors with nicely bolstered front buckets. Both are available in front- or all-wheel-drive forms,with or without a roof rack. Chevy is upgrading its standard for SS packages, which is why the Equinox is called "Sport," while the Torrent gets Pontiac's proliferating GXP badge.



2008 Porsche Cayenne
It's been four years since high-rise Porsches first veered off-road, so it's time for a face-lift. Front styling is aerodynamically tweaked with squintier eyes and a gapier mouth that drop drags from 0.38 to 0.35. Under that slipperier nose lies a choice of three larger, direct-injected engines. The base V-6 jumps to 3.6 liters and 290 horsepower, the V-8s bump up to 4.8 liters and 385 naturally aspirated or 500 twin-turbocharged horses. Air-suspension models get new hydraulic active anti-roll bars to eliminate body roll.






Audi Q7 TDI V12 Concept
The Audi Q7 V12 TDI concept is an impressive demonstration of the capability of diesel engine technology, a one-off flagship for Audi's upcoming introduction of passenger diesels to the US market in 2008. The Q7 V12 TDI's 6-liter engine puts out 500 horsepower and 750 lb-ft of tire-shredding torque that propels the SUV from 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds. While this high-powered SUV is unlikely to reach production, its 3.0-liter TDI V-6 little brother is already in production on the other side of the Atlantic and will spearhead Audi's 2008 diesel push.




Changfeng Motor
This is the second year a Chinese automaker presented at the Detroit show. It's a different brand than last year, Changfeng Group's Liebao Motor. The company used the Detroit show to show off its Pininfarina-designed Liebao CS6 SUV and Feibao CT5 pickup. The company also displayed its Liebao CS7 SUV and Rhombus concept.



Ford Airstream Concept
Beneath the Airstream's retro-futuristic monospace mosh-pit trappings lies Ford's interpretation of the drivetrain of the future. Like the system in Chevy's Volt, it uses fully electric drive, with front and rear motors boasting 174 peak horses each for bodacious giddy-up. The electrons can come out of either a big battery or a smaller one recharged by an engine or a fuel cell. The Airstream concept carries 14 pounds of hydrogen at 10,000 psi (10 pounds at 5000 psi is more likely for the nearer term) to power a conventional fuel cell. It also carries a plug-in 16-kW-hour lithium-ion battery pack good for 25 miles before the fuel cell stack comes on and runs at peak efficiency, maintaining the battery at between maybe 30- and 60-percent charge-that's lower than the current hybrids to allow space in the batteries to juice up on cheaper plug power at home. Range should extend well beyond the hydrogen-hybrid Explorer's 350 miles.


Jeep Trailhawk Concept
Jeep's Trailhawk concept uses the new Wrangler Unlimited's underpinnings, with a Grand Cherokee design theme. It serves as a concept for a more rationally priced Range Rover Sport competitor and could potentially morph into a production version. Trailhawk is powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 Bluetec turbodiesel borrowed from Mercedes and rides on the requisite 22-inch concept-style wheels featuring a handsome five-spoke design. Ground clearance is 4.6 inches higher than a Grand Cherokee and approach/departure angles equal the Wrangler Unlimited.

The vehicle's hawklike nose, with vertically stacked lamps, is set between big, wide fenders and the seven-slot grille. The removable T-tops are a neat touch, and the center console is a big, open trough that runs through to the back seat.



Kia Kue Concept
The Kia Kue concept is a crossover (why not, everyone else has one now) vehicle that the Korean automaker says possesses the characteristics and capabilities of an SUV while giving the driver something to smile about on the way back from Home Depot. The Kue is underpinned by a monocoque structure riding on 22-inch wheels. Approximately the size of a Mazda CX-7, the Kue has a 114 inch-long wheelbase with a total vehicle length of 186 inches. The Kue is strictly a concept, but Kia did say that it hints at the automaker's future design direction (a familiar line from automakers when it comes to concept vehicles). We don't have a clue if the Kue will make it to production, but if the current crossover mania is any indication, expect Kia to roll out a vehicle along the lines of the Kue in the near future.


Nissan Bevel Concept
At first blush, the Nissan Bevel concept looks like a next-generation Cube concept. But Nissan describes the Bevel as a "dynamic, multi-purpose vehicle" designed for "male empty-nesters actively engaged in hobbies, recreation and community service." Talk about your market niche. If the Rouge is a smaller, RAV4-fighting Murano, the Bevel looks like a smaller, sub-Xterra, albeit more a crossover than hard-core SUV.

Nissan North America in La Jolla, California, designed the Bevel with asymmetric styling (coincidentally, like the Japanese-market Cube), high-utility three-zone interior and glass roof-mounted solar panels and drive-by-wire steering, throttle and brakes. The Bevel is substantially larger than the Cube (which Nissan/Renault chief Carlos Ghosn promised would be built for left-hand-drive markets in its next iteration, and is expected to launch in the U.S. for the 2009 model year). The Bevel's engine compartment is designed for a V-6/electric hybrid drivetrain, Nissan says. To sum up, Nissan has an intriguing design for a potential future product.



Volkswagen Tiguan




Volvo XC60 Concept
You say you like the size and shape of Land Rover's LR2, but your style is more Ikea than Abercrombie? Well Volvo has the perfect C1-platform-based crossover for you, if you can delay purchase until early 2009, when the production XC60 is slated to hit U.S. showrooms. Expect inline-five or six-cylinder engines and entry pricing in the high $20s, and pray that the production car maintains the concept's styling and cool three-way tailgate (the lower half opens independently or swings up with the gate) and iPod-like center console. The CitySafe crash-avoidance concept (it can stop the car automatically from 19 mph or below) also seems likely for production.