Ah, spring is in the air, and one of the surest signs the season of renewal is upon us is the opening of the annual New York Auto Show, the last major international extravaganza to bloom during first half of the year.

The 2007 New York show is shaping up to be one of the biggest and most action packed in years, with major debuts breaking all over the place. We've already seen snippets and more from numerous automakers, including multiple offerings from Nissan/Infiniti in the form of the G37 Coupe, EX Concept and Nismo 350 Z. Hyundai has made some big time waves with its coming rear-drive Genesis Concept, as is Subaru with the next-generation of the Impreza and its vaunted WRX variant. Mercedes is also checking in with its fire-breathing CL 65 AMG and Honda's got a special S2000 coming.

On the domestic front, General Motors seems determined to take over the Jacob Javits Center and is coming strong with one of its most impressive showings in some time, fronted by the updated Cadillac STS, Super Buicks, hopped-up Hummers and Korean designed minicars among its formidable New York arsenal.

What would a recent domestic auto show be without yet another Mustang to drool over, this time a Carroll Shelby inspired creation drawing from a legendary Pony Car, the Shelby GT500KR. In addition, the Blue Oval is bringing its latest crossover, the Flex, along, and we hear they may have another surprise in store. Even embattled Chrysler is getting in on the act with a couple of Jeep updates.

Vehicles:

2008 Ford F-150 Foose Edition
2008 Ford Expedition Funkmaster Flex Edition
2008 Hummer H2
2008 Hummer H3 Alpha
2008 Jeep Liberty
2008 Lexus LX 570
2008 Subaru Impreza WRX
2008 Subaru Tribeca
2009 Ford Flex
Chevrolet Minicar Concepts
Infiniti EX Concept

To check our the full coverage of all the highlighted vehicles mentioned in this write-up, go to MotorTrend.com!

2008 Ford Expedition Funkmaster Flex Edition
Colorfully low-key, the Ex Flex heralds in Ford's rediscovery of niche marketing customization. Available in rear-wheel-drive or 4x4 versions, the SUV features a 340-watt Audiophile Sound System, MP3 player audio input jack. Exterior mods include a 3d Carbon body kit with custom front and rear fascia and side skirts, two-tone black and Colorado red (a Ford GT color) paint with orange pinstriping, Funkmaster Flex badges, trailer hitch cover and 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels.

Inside, there's black leather with Colorado red stitching, Colorado red shifter, center stack and door appliqus, Funkmaster Flex stitched logo headrests, limited edition numbered dash plaque, second-row captain's chairs and Sirius satellite radio.

The Expedition Funkmaster Flex Edition launches this fall.


2008 Ford F-150 Foose Edition
SVT says it will build a hot truck, but this isn't it. In fact, look for an F-150 SVT no earlier than the '09 model year, when an all-new truck is due.

Meanwhile, this truck designed by hot rod impresario Chip Foose is the closest thing, benefiting from an intercooled, supercharged 5.4-liter Triton V-8, pumping out 450 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. It comes only with a four-speed automatic tranny.

Suspension mods include Eibach coil springs front, Eibach leaf springs rear, with Sachs dampers and jounce bumpers. Forged, polished 22-inch Foose wheels are shod with P275/45R22 Pirellis. There's a Ford Racing exhaust system, Foose designed and fabricated wheel flares, lower side and front rocker moldings, unique front fender badges, a Foose stripe package and upper and lower grilles.

Inside, there's embroidered headrests with Foose's autograph, "Foose" embroidered floormats and a leather-wrapped center console with personalized build sequence badge.

The F-150 Foose Edition launches this fall.


2008 Hummer H2
For 2008, the H2 receives a 393 horsepower 6.2-liter V8 and a new six-speed automatic, both of which offer increased efficiency along with a 20 percent increase in power. As a result, towing capacity is up by 1,500 pounds to a total of 8,000 pounds. Inside, the interior has been completely redesigned with a revised blue-backlit instrument panel, center console with silver trim, seats, controls, and door panels. A third row has been added that seats two people, as opposed to the old model's single-seat. Improvements have also been made to the heating and ventilation systems, as well as the stereo - a Bose unit is now standard. Exterior styling is updated with a larger front grille and silver-painted lower bumper.


2008 Hummer H3 Alpha
With the new Alpha, the H3 finally gets a long-awaited V-8 engine in addition to the somewhat underpowerd inline-five. With the 5.3-liter V8 that produces 295 horses and 317 lb-ft of torque (that's an increase of 53 and 75 respectively) the H3 finally feels like one of the family. Towing capacity is uprated to 6,000 pounds, but cosmetically not much has changed. The styling remains largely the same, save an Alpha badge here and there and the new silver-painted lower bumper that is found on the H2. The Luxury Equipment package is standard on the Alpha variant as is the Chrome Appearance package and 16-inch chrome wheels.


The 2008 Liberty is a full two inches longer and half an inch wider than the outgoing model, which helps contribute to the 1.5 inches of legroom that the rear passengers gain and provides for additional cargo space, two areas where the Liberty could previously have been said to be lacking in light of its competition.

It isn't just measurably bigger, it actually looks bigger - more so than the actual dimensions would suggest. And it looks serious. Gone is the somewhat-cutesy front end with its rounded headlights and relatively curvy appearance; in its place, a bold, squared off profile with rectangular headlamps and sharper edges. A subtle hood bulge hints at the 3.7-liter V6 lurking just underneath. While the traditional Jeep seven-slat grille remains, it is slightly larger and more upright for the new model year, adding to the Liberty's agressive look.




2008 Lexus LX 570





2008 Subaru Impreza WRX
The standard Impreza 2.5i and the WRX are on an all-new platform with a 3.7-inch-longer wheelbase. The front subframe is gone, allowing Subaru to mount the engine 10 mm lower than in the old model. An unequal-length control arm suspension replaces the multilink in back, in part to reduce the wheelwell intrusion and buy more trunk space.Or hatch space. The WRX hereby becomes a five-door hatchback worldwide. You'll be able to buy a 2008 WRX sedan, based on the new Impreza four-door, as long as you buy it in North America, a concession to lingering distaste here toward hatchbacks. The STI will be available globally only as a five-door hatchback when it goes on sale next year.


2008 Subaru Tribeca





2009 Ford Flex
Ford is looking to make some additional noise in the crossover segment with the 2009 Ford Flex, which will join the Edge and Taurus X (formerly Freestyle) in the automaker's lineup next summer. Flex is powered by Ford's 3.5-liter V-6 with an estimated 260 horsepower on tap, mated to a six speed tranny and available all-wheel-drive. The seven-passenger seating is multi-configurable, and Flex features a lot of neat options on the inside, including an interior refrigerator, the Ford Sync communications and entertainment system, ambient mood lighting and a multi-panel skylight roof.

On the outside, Ford's signature three-bar grille and what the automakers calls an all-black greenhouse, defined by the windshield, rear and side windows, and the pillars separating and connecting them to the roof, which can be white, silver or body colored, make for a unique appearance. Flex also comes with a raft of safety features and has standard 18-inch or available 19-inch bright aluminum wheels.





Chevrolet Minicar Concepts
General Motors has turned to Korea for a trio of minicar concepts, and will look to the Web to help them decide which one is the coolest. The three vehicles, built on GM's global mini architecture, are clearly aimed at the younger set, and could be a signal of The General's desire to create a youth-oriented channel along the lines of Scion. Designed by GM's design studio in South Korea, all vehicles are named in a musical theme -- the Beat, Groove and Trax. Beat, a front-drive, three-door hatch, has an import tuner vibe and is powered by a 1.2-liter turbocharged gas engine mated to an automatic tranny. The Groove has a "funkastalgia" (their word, not ours) theme and features bulging fender flares, a short hood and is powered by a 1-liter diesel. Trax is a crossover with all-wheel-drive and its one piece bumper and fender system lends it a bigger appearance. It also features a rear-mounted spare tire, roof rack and 1-liter gas engine.

Chevy is looking to the Web to gauge U.S. interest in the cars and to help them decide which one is the coolest at the following site: www.vote4chevrolet.com. Our fave? The Beat.

Groove





Beat




Trax




Infiniti EX Concept
A near-production vehicle which is the likely successor to Infiniti's FX crossover (no word yet if the FX name will survive), the EX Concept looks like a cross between the FX and its new G sedan. The vehicle has an aggressively sloping roofline, what the automaker says is a luxurious interior, and a liquid crystal glass roof that can morph from transparent to translucent.

The EX Concept is also a showcase vehicle for a pair of new and evolving Nissan/Infiniti technologies: Around View Monitor (AVM) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP). AVM uses cameras in the front, side, and rear of the car to minimize blind spots during parking. LDP is an evolution of Infiniti's system that actively helps maintain position in, you guessed it, the lane in which you're traveling.