Detroit: The North American International Auto Show begins this week in Detroit with media and industry previews. It opens to the public Jan. 17.
Here are some of the new cars and experimental concept vehicles unveiled at the show:
•VOLKSWAGEN CROSS COUPE GTE CONCEPT: It's Volkswagen's third concept previewing a seven-passenger midsize SUV. The goal is to start producing it in the U.S. at the end of 2016. Volkswagen says the five-passenger plug-in hybrid Crosse Coupe GTE, with its upscale, muscular design gives the clearest idea yet of the SUV's styling SUV. Among its most prominent features is a wide, aluminum-framed air inlet below a narrow, two-bar grille. With four doors, it's not a true coupe, but does have a slanted, coupe-like roofline. Under the hood is a 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 and two electric motors, which can power the car in electric mode for up to 20 miles or can combine with the gas engine for a total of 355 horsepower.
•MERCEDES GLE450 AMG SPORT COUPE/ AMG GLE63 COUPE: Mercedes takes on the BMW X6 SUV with its four-door GLE Coupe, a crossover version of the midsize E-Class sedan. It has a coupe-like roofline and a wide, tough stance. In the U.S., the GLE 450 AMG 4Matic Coupe will go on sale with a 362-horsepower V6, a nine-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. It's Mercedes' first AMG sports model, a new designation promising lots of driving features—like variable controls depending on road conditions—at a lower price point than the traditional AMG. At the top of the line is the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe, powered by a 577-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8 that accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Look for both versions in the U.S. in August.
•RANGE ROVER HSE Td6: For the first time, Land Rover buyers in North America are getting a diesel engine. The British SUV brand—owned by India's Tata Motors—will offer an optional diesel in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport starting this fall. It's part of a plan to eventually offer diesels on most of the vehicles in the Jaguar and Land Rover lineups. (The first diesel Jaguar, the XE, will go on sale in the U.S. in 2016.) The Range Rover's 3.0-liter Td6 turbocharged V6 gets 254 horsepower and improved towing capability. The diesel-equipped Range Rovers will get 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving, a 32 percent improvement over the supercharged V6 gas engine. Land Rover expects 15 to 20 percent of its customers to opt for the diesel; the company says around 5 percent of U.S. luxury SUV buyers are now choosing diesels overall. Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC and the BMW X5 xDrive35d.
•INFINITI Q60 CONCEPT: Infiniti is previewing the design of its upcoming Q60 coupe with a concept car. It's got sharper, more precise styling than the current Q60, along with a more aggressive grille and narrowed headlights. Under the hood will be Infiniti's new turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. This is no design study; Infinit says the Q60 that will go on sale next year will be strongly influenced by the Q60 concept. Nissan's luxury brand could use the boost. U.S. Infiniti sales have fallen over the last two years as the brand announced plans to revamp and rename its models and struggled with low quality rankings.
•BUICK CASCADA: General Motors is introducing the Cascada, a Buick version of a stylish Opel convertible from Europe. The four-seat Buick is the brand's first convertible in 25 years. It has an insulated soft top that can be opened in 17 seconds with the car traveling at up to 31 miles per hour. It also has a turbocharged 200 horsepower engine and a safety system that deploys rollover protection bars behind the rear seats if the car detects that a crash is possible.