Real cars dominate at the 2012 Detroit auto show

This year's North American International Auto Show features few wild concepts and more new production cars, showing the automakers' focus on offering new products.

Cadillac ATS
Cadillac's ATS seems a serious competitor to the BMW 3-series. Timothy Hornyak/CNET

Some years, automakers show off fanciful design concepts never meant for the road at the Detroit auto show, but 2012 features significant new launches people can actually buy.

The big three came loaded for showrooms, each showing off impressive new models or updates. Cadillac came out ready to seriously take on the BMW 3-series with its all new ATS. This small sport luxury sedan sounds like it's got the right stuff to compete with the eternal champion from Munich.

The new Dodge Dart is less ambitious, but looks like a credible revival of a popular nameplate. And it aims at the compact economy sedan market, making it a car for a wider audience. Ford also gave its Fusion a major update, drastically changing the looks, adding a new range of engines, and employing the latest versions of Sync and MyFord Touch, not to mention giving it a host of advanced driver assistance features.

For those seeking more artistic inspiration, Acura showed a concept version of a new NSX, a sleek looking sports car with a very advanced drivetrain that should give it top handling. But even though a concept, Acura has promised to produce this car.

More purely conceptual is the Lexus LF-LC, a coupe design exploration that could point the way toward new Lexus styling, and possibly a new model in the line-up. Toyota also showed what a next-generation Prius might look like.

Get a taste of the entire show in our highlights gallery, or go in-depth with our 2012 Detroit auto show package.

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