Just in time to chase away those post-holiday blues, itâ€™s auto-show season. Detroit was first this week, with 59 vehicles making glitzy debuts.
Many start rolling into dealer showrooms the next few months, when pricing and mpg numbers will be announced.
Until then, hereâ€™s a preview of some of the best rides of the year.
Sports car: Chevy C7 Corvette Stingray
Yes, the new Corvette is finally here. Despite all the spy photos and drawn-out hype, thereâ€™s nothing like seeing the real deal. There have only been seven redesigns for this car in six decades, which is why Vettes tend to fall off wish lists after awhile (most other vehicles get refreshed in four or five years). But the C7 was worth the wait, with yowza styling somewhere between the devilish Dodge Viper and a Bond-like Aston Martin. All the lightweight aluminum and carbon fiber and a whopping 450-hp V8 help blast this Corvette from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds. And the interior is a stunner, too: well-bolstered seats, Chevyâ€™s smallest steering wheel ever and a head-up display (in hi-resolution color, no less) that projects data on the windshield.
Sedan: Infiniti Q50
The Q50 replaces the compact G37, one of Infinitiâ€™s best-selling cars. Bulging bumpers and a large, in-your-face grille make things muscular, while wrap-around headlights and a raised rear add sex appeal. With the Q50, Infiniti is targeting the BMW 3 Series. Thatâ€™s why thereâ€™s a punchy 328-hp V6 in the gas-engine model and a hybrid that also gets impressive power. Thereâ€™s also choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. High-tech gizmos include a â€śdrive-by-wireâ€ť adaptive steering system (for better handling), active lane control (which uses cameras to keep you centered in the driving lane) and two touchscreens for the infotainment center.
Crossover: Audi SQ5
The SQ5 â€” part of Audiâ€™s high-performance â€śSâ€ť line â€” retains the glitzy DNA of the popular Q5 but throws a supercharged V6 into the mix. A stiffer suspension, lower chassis and beefier tires add to the sportiness of this five-seat compact. So do the sleeker front-end fascia and grille, along with new colors like Estoril Blue and Panther Black. Inside, there are gussied up trim options, and to enhance the race-car effect, faux-metal finishes on paddle shifters and pedals.
Green machine: Cadillac ELR coupe
To help jump-start EV sales, Cadillac is hoping the ELR will succeed where the Chevy Volt has, well, lost its spark. That may be easier said than done. Hybrid, EV and other such green machines are less than five percent of the new-vehicle market. Yet the Voltâ€™s $39,000 sticker may resonate better on a Cadillac, which is based on the Voltâ€™s powertrain and can go 35 miles on the battery before the gas engine kicks in. Plus, the ELR has a snazzy, sharp-edged design, more akin to an exotic Fisker or Tesla than the more mundane Volt or Nissan Leaf.