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Detroit Auto Show opens with splashy debuts

Day one of the North American International Auto Show kicked off Monday in Detroit with a blast of new vehicle news and some high-grade auto awards.

Honda's refreshed Civic Coupe and Volvo's XC90 SUV were named by the NAIAS as 2016's North American Car and North American Truck of the year.

Unwrapped or announced already, as the annual car show opened, were a new pickup trick from Honda, new details on the much-anticipated Chevy Bolt all-electric sedan, a hydrogen fuel-cell concept car from Audi, and a new crossover from Kia.

Honda got plenty of spotlight for the Civic's prestigious award, and for the unveiling of its 2017 Ridgeline. The midsize truck, out of circulation for two years, will return this fall as a more standard design.

The four-door pickup, powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, will mark Honda's return to a vibrant and growing U.S. midsize truck market, competing for attention with Chevy's Colorado, GMC's Canyon, Toyota's Tacoma and Nissan's Frontier.

In other truck news, Nissan announced it will add another iteration to its growing Titan truck line. The Warrior is a concept vehicle that could join the other beasts in the Titan menagerie. If it does, it will be the biggest one -- featuring a 5-liter, 8-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine and offering what Nissan called "new extremes with unapologetic, aggressive, athletic styling features that declare the concept’s offroad adventure intent."

The award for the Volvo XC90, the auto industry's first seven-seat plug-in hybrid SUV, is a validation. The vehicle was among the first to hit the market after the Swedish company's change of ownership. The company is now under Chinese control, after being sold by Ford Motor Co. in 2010 to the Chinese automaker Geely.

Chevrolet has earned a lot of automotive attention for its planned 2017 Bolt, an all-electric, five-seat sedan planned to be priced at $30,000 -- after federal rebates -- and capable of 200 miles on a single charge.

Chevy showed off the battery and power train at the just-opening show, which runs through Jan. 24, and revealed new details about its capabilities. The company said the grown-up version of its current Volt will be be powered by an engine that makes 200 horsepower and 266 pound feet of torque, capable of a top speed of 91 miles per hour and a zero-to-60 rate of less than seven seconds.

Costing about a third of the MSRP for the luxurious, long-range electric Tesla Model S -- the only electric car on the market with range approaching 300 miles -- the Bolt will enter a market already occupied by the Nissan Leaf, VW eGolf, Kia Soul EV, Ford Focus Electric, BMW i3 and Mercedes-Benz B-class electric cars.

Stodgy Buick announced it would add the Chinese-built Envision to its line of midsize SUVs, but got more attention for unveiling an ambitious sports car concept with the 400-horsepower, rear wheel drive, 2+2 coupe known as the Avista. 

Infiniti had a 400-horsepower coupe at the show, too, but it's no concept. The refreshed Q60 sports car will be a 2017 offering, and will come with several engine options. The top of the line Q60 will be driven by a twin-turbo V6 power plant.

BMW, coming off a year of record-setting sales, unveiled new versions of its M2 sports car and X4 M40i SUV.

Audi took the covers off its h-Tron, a concept vehicle featuring a hydrogen fuel-cell drive train. The sleek-looking SUV, Audi said at the show, can run 372 miles on a single tank of fuel, and can rush from zero to 62 mph in under seven seconds.

Kia, which has already had some U.S. success with its perky Soul and more stately Sorento, unwrapped a new crossover concept offering in the premium SUV market. The unnamed vehicle is larger in stature than the Sorento, and appears to feature so-called "suicide" doors -- front and rear doors that open facing each other, a rarity in the car-design world.

Twitter: @misterfleming

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