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Detroit Auto Show 2009 -- a look behind the curtain

December 30, 2008 | 11:54 am

autos cars Los Angeles Times Toyota Prius 2010 Honda Insight Ford Taurus Audi R8 V10 Lamborghini Gallardo Detroit Auto Show 2009 Chevrolet Equinox Lexus HS250h new Mercedes-Benz E-Class lithium ion batteries nickel metal hydride Much as one might love the Los Angeles Auto Show and feel gratified to see it grow in significance over the last few years, Detroit in January is still The Big One -- for North America, at least. And Motown 2009 will see several major launches, such as the next generations of Toyota Prius (pictured) and an all-new Ford Taurus.

Before we get to those, however, let’s take a quick look at what Audi has to offer. Even in these rocky economic times, our inner gearhead is always pleased to see a faster, more powerful sports car. The all-wheel-drive R8 has been lauded and applauded -- even with just a 420-horsepower 4.2-liter V-8 and a top speed of 187 mph. So that must have emboldened Audi to come up with a version that uses the same 5.2-liter V-10 from the Lamborghini Gallardo, tune it to produce 525 hp and give the car a top speed of 196 mph. All for around $180,000.Latr8v10

The compact SUV crossover that time and everyone else forgot, the Chevrolet Equinox, gets a fresh set of duds for the new year, plus a new 182-hp four-cylinder engine. Lexus will unveil a new dedicated hybrid model, called the HS250h. A new generation of Mercedes-Benz E-Class is also expected to make its world debut.

Ford’s new Taurus family sedan is slated to be more like the Mondeo, a car that has been perennially popular in Europe for its price and poise. This 2010 model’s styling comes from Ford’s design studios across the pond. No official images have been released yet, so keep an eye on this site.

Lattoyoev Only a teaser shot of a badge signals an interesting product from Toyota. It bears the initials EV and is said to be a subcompact electric vehicle concept. Toyota is considering the production of something along these lines with a target price of around $20,000. Otherwise, it’s the 2010 Prius that will probably cause the biggest stir on the Toyota stand, although generation three doesn’t differ that much from generation two. The engine gets a mild hike from 1.5 to 1.6 liters, and although the car will start off with nickel metal hydride batteries, these may be replaced by lithium ion packs around 2011.

This model had better be good. Honda’s new Insight hybrid will be coming out about the same time and is set to cost about $2,000 less.

-- Colin Ryan

Photos: Audi, Toyota