Concept cars at the 2011 Detroit auto show (photos)

Concept cars unveiled at Detroit ranged from the futuristic to the pedestrian, some showing outlandish never-to-reach-production elements and others being a mere beta before the model that will roll out of the factory.

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Wayne Cunningham

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Antuan Goodwin

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Honda Civic Coupe

Concept cars unveiled at the Detroit auto show this week ranged from the futuristic to the pedestrian, some showing outlandish never-to-reach-production elements and others being a mere beta before the model that will roll out of the factory.

Honda's Civic sedan and coupe concepts show the way for the next generation of one of its best-selling cars. Both concepts feature profiles that aren't much different from the sedan and coupe currently on the road, but they have more muscular sculpting in the side panels. Glaringly, the 2012 concepts feature more aggressive front ends, with angular headlamps sweeping back from their honeycomb grilles.

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Honda Civic Coupe

Where the sedan features bright chrome work atop its grille--again similar to the current generation--the coupe ditches the chrome in favor of a glossy black strip that makes its lower grille opening look larger and more aggressive. Out back, the coupe features a trapezoidal center exhaust.

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Toyota Prius C

The Prius C concept represents an effort by Toyota to make a compact, sportier Prius hybrid. We saw a version of this car last year with the FT-CH concept.

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Toyota Prius C

Toyota did not specify a hybrid system for the Prius C, but it could use the same power train as the current Prius, the smaller size of the car possibly giving it better fuel economy.

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Mini Paceman

With this concept, Mini took the slightly larger and raised chassis it developed for the Countryman model and fitted it with a two-door body. The roof rakes downward toward the rear, giving the car a sporty profile.

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Mini Paceman

Similar to the Countryman, Mini gave the Paceman all-wheel drive, a compact system that should contribute to better grip when cornering.

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Hyundai HCD-12 Curb

The HCD-12 Curb is an on-roader built to handle beat-up city streets while treating the passengers to an interesting cabin tech package. There are no door handles; drivers simply swipe a touch panel to pop the doors.

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Hyundai HCD-12 Curb

Inside, the Curb features Hyundai's Blue Link connectivity and telematics package and a slick touch-screen interface based on selecting icons by swiping around a globe.

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Ford Vertrek

The Vertrek indicates the design direction for the new Ford Escape, which will be a radical change from the boxy car of past generations. The trapezoidal grille is a newish design element for Ford, seen previously on the Fiesta. Expect this grille treatment to become standard.

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Ford Vertrek

The concept has bucket seats front and rear, but the eventual production Escape based on the Vertrek would probably have a rear bench to accommodate five passengers. Although completely digital, the Vertrek's instrument cluster is surprisingly plain in monochrome. This design should help reduce distraction, as a driver's eyes will not be drawn to it.

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Kia KV7

For the KV7 concept, Kia designers decided to embrace the essential boxiness of minivans, and so gave the vehicle a vertical grille and windshield. Kia refers to this element as bringing SUV qualities to the minivan, or "activity van," as it has dubbed the KV7.

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Kia KV7

The rear features a wood floor, a lounge on the right, and pod seats on the left. The seats are designed to swivel, making for a conversational space. The table is actually a tabletop computer. Kia envisions the car having an Internet connection and working as a Wi-Fi hot spot.

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