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

Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Front Left View

Developed in conjunction with the C6-R race car, the new Corvette Z06 is the fastest and most powerful Chevrolet ever. Actually, it is the fastest and most powerful car in all of General Motors history. What exactly does that mean? Expect 0-60 times under four seconds, quarter mile times under twelve seconds, and a top speed of over 190 mph. This is the kind of stuff that keeps us from sleeping at night. Under the hood of the 2006 Corvette Z06 is a 500-hp 427 cubic inch V-8, or seven liters of displacement. Based on the C6-R engine, it redlines at a shocking 7000 rpm, a speed unheard of in the Chevrolet community. Helping the engine to breathe is a sonorous three-inch dual-exhaust system that is sure to upset the neighbors. With six-figure performance and a five-figure price tag, the Z06 is a sure winner. Watch out, Ford GT and Dodge Viper. Get the full story of the fastest-ever Corvette in the February issue of Automobile Magazine.

Honda Ridgeline

Front Right View

This spring the all-new Ridgeline pickup will land at Honda dealerships across the country, further complicating the decision of truck buyers who in simpler days would have listed Chevy, Dodge, Ford, and maybe GMC as their only options. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda once built nothing even close to a real truck for the American market. Times have changed. Honda's 4-door, 5-passenger, 4WD entry will set itself apart from the growing slew of others by virtue of its first-in-class unibody frame. A 3.5-liter V-6 transfers power to the wheels through a 5-speed automatic. Its appearance vaguely resembles Honda's current Pilot and Element models.

Mercedes-Benz ML-Class

Front Left View

Surprise, surprise: the new Mercedes ML is longer and wider than the outgoing model-by 5.9 and 3.8 inches respectively. It is also a unibody, whereas the outgoing model was body-on-frame. All MLs have a permanent all-wheel-drive system with start assist and a downhill driving aid, but there is now an optional off-road package that incorporates air springs, a two-speed transfer case, and diffs that can lock up to 100 percent between the front and rear axles and between the back wheels. There will be two engines: a 268-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and a 302-hp 5.0-liter V-8, both of which are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. There is a full panoply of available safety equipment, including the PRE-SAFE anticipatory occupant protection system. The interior is noticeably higher quality than the outgoing vehicle's, and noticeably bigger, too: the trunk, especially, is cavernous. The new vehicle is due to go on sale late this Spring.

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