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Compact SUVs dominate Detroit concepts

Among the concept cars shown at the Detroit auto show, many were compact SUVs.

Hyundai HCD-12 Curb concept
At the 2011 Detroit auto show, Hyundai showed off its latest concept, the HCD-12 Curb, an on-roader that is built to handle beat-up city streets while treating the passengers to an interesting cabin tech package. The Curb is a very compact package, only about 4 inches longer than Hyundai's smallest Accent model.
Josh Miller/CNET
Hyundai Curb
Hyundai unveiled its Curb concept under multicolored lights. Josh Miller/CNET

DETROIT--At this year's Detroit auto show, the concept cars looked like serious moves toward a production vehicle rather than a designer's fever dreams. And telling among this crop was the predominance of compact SUVs, a segment that automakers expect to grow.

We started off with a new Civic concept, and in Honda style this car was a mere preview of a production vehicle. Toyota also had a small hatchback concept in its Prius line.

More exciting concepts came from Ford, Hyundai, Kia, and Mini. This crop of compact SUVs featured upright seating positions and raised rooflines. Among these, the Ford Vertrek, a concept intended to demonstrate the future direction of the Escape (a vehicle in serious need of an update), was the closest to production.

Kia and Hyundai's entrants were a little more futuristic, but we found both very desirable. Kia also claimed a track record of bringing its concepts to production, so we shall see if the KV7 appears in anything like its auto show form.

Mini showed a car based on its new Countryman all-wheel-drive platform that could easily be produced. The company would merely need to decide if there is a market for its Paceman concept.