Introducing more than 40 new or improved models, the Detroit motor show has given the industry the best possible start to 2012. New products and technology drive the motor industry forward, and carmakers have continued - even increased - their R&D.
The recognition of new models at motor shows is different though - intangible appeal is often more important than sales volumes, and these are the cars Autocar readers have been most interested in from Detroit.
Scratch off the Ford Fusion badges, and the car pictured here is the all-new Ford Mondeo. It's the most important debut in Detroit for British buyers, not only because it will sell in the tens of thousands in the UK alone, but it is also the first to use the company's new design language.
The Mondeo is the fourth 'One Ford' car, which means it will sell, virtually unchanged, in all markets around the world. But unlike other 'world cars' that offer anodyne looks, the Mondeo is a truly handsome machine. A range of petrol and diesel engines will be available, including units from the acclaimed EcoBoost family, as well as a hybrid.
Although officially a concept, a production version of the stunning Honda NSX supercar will go on sale within three years. It is the replacement for the much-missed supercar Honda launched in 1990, but the new car will use the latest technology.
It will retain the mid-engined layout of the old car, but will be constructed from aluminium and other lightweight materials, possibly carbonfibre-reinforced plastic. Power will come from a 3.5-litre V6 engine driving the rear wheels while one electric motor powers each front wheel.
The Mercedes SL is among the most iconic roadsters, and the new model doesn’t stray far from the path. It retains the front engine, rear drive layout of all previous SLs, but is based on an all-new platform.
Mercedes say the new SL - codenamed R231 - is lighter, more efficient and offers more performance than the outgoing model, and features world-first audio and windscreen wiper technology. It also comes with the option of the electro-chromatic roof from the SLK.
It's hard to underestimate the importance of the Dodge Dart. Based on a modified version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta's platform, the Dart’s fuel economy was a key part of Fiat's deal to buy more shares in Chrysler. Engine options include Fiat-supplied turbocharged 1.4-litre MultiAir and two new 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre 'Tigershark' units, the latter supplied with a MultiAir head.
The Dart is unlikely to make it to the UK, but its four-door saloon styling will appeal to the American market. It carries Dodge's trademark 'crosshair' grille and 'race track' tail-lamps, as well as a dual exhaust system borrowed from the bigger Charger saloon.
The Cadillac ATS marks the brand's latest - and most promising - assault on European sales. It will compete directly with the BMW 3-series, but will be hampered without a diesel engine in the line-up for launch. Previous attempts to crack Europe haven't worked, but the ingredients appear to be here for success.
Cadillac has developed the car at the Nurburgring and it features multi-link independent rear suspension, a multilink double-pivot MacPherson strut set-up at the front and Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping. It will be priced competitively against the 3-series, C-class and A4.