The Detroit show starts in a few hours with the reveal of Ford's latest and best special Ford Mustang, the Bullitt, which commemorates the famous film made 50 (yes, 50) years ago. They'll sell versions in Europe, I'm told.

Tuned in to the Ford way of doing things with drives on rough but dry roads around the Blue Oval's Dearborn HQ, first in a double-cab F-150 pick-up, then in the mighty, just updated Expedition SUV. Both were instructive for one thing above all - for showing how well such vast vehicles work in the the US. You pass someone in an Volvo XC90 or a Volkswagen VW Touareg and are sincerely shocked how small and low to the ground they look. It's because freeway lanes and parking slots are all F-150 sized, so life's easy.

Though my F150 'only' had the cheapest 2.7 Ecoboost (325bhp at 5000rpm) it also had Ford's new electronic 10-speed auto, which is a real revelation. The big beast still had all the mechanical refinement you could want - always an amazing trait for a machine as apparently crude as this big pick-up, with its cart-sprung live rear axle, but it worked brilliantly. Hard to see why you wouldn't own one of these if living around here

The Expedition had similar traits - hugeness, a seamless and silent power train, this time the 375bhp, 3.5-litre V6 Ecoboost - to which you could now add a surprisingly stylish exterior and interior. 

US designers manage to cope brilliantly with size when they create a new car. Only stumbling block for me was the $63,000 fully equipped price - £46,000 in the old money - which didn't represent the US market bargain I've been used to. But in US you never pay the price anyway. Just the rental.

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