The 12 Most Significant New Production Cars of the Detroit Auto Show

Dodge Charger

Front Right View

Seen in profile, the Charger's sloping windowline and kicked-up rear fender recall the iconic, late '60s Chargers. But while muscle-car era Chargers were always coupes, the new one is a four-door only--something that has fans of the early Chargers crying foul on the internet. Their protests are unlikely to get anywhere, however, as Chrysler design chief Trevor Creed says, "We had to ignore the screaming and shouting from people who said, 'Don't you know a Charger is a two-door.' The new Charger comes as either an SXT, with a 3.5-liter V-6, or an RT, with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8; both have a five-speed automatic sending power to the rear wheels. Unlike Chrysler, Dodge won't offer the 2.7-liter V-6 to retail customers, only fleet buyers. The Charger features a sportier suspension tune than the 300, and although it casts a similar shadow, it's an inch lower. It arrives in showrooms in early summer.

Saturn Sky

Front Left View

Saturn's version of the Pontiac Solstice, the Sky exhibits the new face of Saturn, which will add a mid-size sedan and a large crossover sport-utility to its lineup over the next two years. Aimed at the Mazda Miata in price with dimensions close to the pricier and slightly bigger Honda S2000, the sub-$25,000 Sky gets a 170-hp, 2.4-liter Ecotec four mated to manual or automatic five-speed transmissions and near 50/50 weight distribution. The Sky comes in early 2006, and we expect a supercharged Red Line version to follow. We're wondering what sister division Pontiac thinks of the of the Sky, as it seeks the same market as its forthcoming Solstice and marks supposed budget-brand Saturn as becoming more performance-oriented.

Dodge Viper Coupe

Rear Side View

This great-looking successor to the previous-generation Viper GTS was not originally part of the plan for the new Viper. The first Viper coupe was done only because the roadster's top was so pathetic; with a real convertible top engineered for the second-generation Viper, Dodge planners thought they didn't need a hardtop. The very vocal Viper owners' club disagreed, pointing out that many race tracks don't allow convertibles to participate in track events without adding roll bars. Dodge saw the light and crafted this sexy coupe. Underhood is the same 500-hp 8.3-liter V-10 as in the roadster, and this time the coupe even retains the roadster's side pipes. You won't find the spare tire under the long back glass, however, as Vipers now roll on run-flat tires. The coupe arrives at dealerships this fall, priced close to the roadster's $82,295.

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