The 12 Most Significant Concepts of the Detroit Auto Show

Infiniti Kuraza

Front Right View

Infiniti hopes to use the Kuraza in the same manner as the Triant, a past concept: as a look into the future. Just as the Triant presaged the production FX, the Kuraza is a nod toward future Infiniti SUV interiors. This includes a philosophy that offers all six occupants equal space and amenities and a combination of "traditional Japanese design cues, extensive use of natural materials, and modern technology" in one environment. A look at the passenger compartment reveals some interesting tidbits: a center console/tunnel running the entire length of the vehicle, an abbreviated, semi-circle steering wheel, and enough wood to deforest a small national park. Six doors--the rearmost two open suicide-style--finally bring easy third-row access to reality.

Saturn Aura

Front Left View

The current Saturn product line is not made up of the clever vehicles that once defined the hip young brand. They are instead dull, awkward blobs of plastic. But Saturn is now ready to win back a customer base with Opel-like cars such as the Sky sports car and this beautiful sedan called the Aura. Jill Lajdziak calls this a "sneak peek at a new generation of emotionally compelling Saturn vehicles," and we hope that claim lives to be true. This stylish sedan, which shows the future of the Saturn L-Series, rides on 19-inch wheels, features a panoramic roof, and uses Cadillac's excellent 250-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing, as well as a six-speed automatic transmission. What this car shows is that Saturn and General Motors are finally making an effort to gain global recognition as GM's loyal customers are disappearing faster than Yankees fans after a failed season.

Mercedes-Benz Vision B

Rear Left View

The "Vision B" concept, first unveiled last Fall in Paris, shows the styling of the production B-class range that we'll see later in 2005. Designed as a competitor to the BMW X3, the B-class is the smaller of two Mercedes-Benz sport tourers destined for production. Given the X3's tepid reception in the U.S., we're surprised that Mercedes is planning to bring this premium-cute-ute to our shores. The B-class will be the cheapest Mercedes-Benz in the U.S., and it will move the brand ever further downmarket than the M-class did when it was introduced. With quality and satisfaction scores in the toilet, it will be a stretch for Mercedes to market a small people mover like this at a premium price.

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