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Urban utility vehicles are the new black--photos

Automakers at the 2009 Geneva auto show seem to think we need a new class of vehicle, a cross between a compact sedan and a small SUV. Three automakers, Nissan, Hyundai, and Dacia, showed off concepts based on this type of vehicle.

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Wayne Cunningham
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Hyundai Ix-onic

Hyundai puts its latest technologies into the Ix-onic, such as a turbo-charged 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine, producing 175 horsepower, mated to a dual-clutch manual transmission. The power train also uses idle-stop technology to save gas and reduce emissions in heavy traffic.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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Hyundai Ix-onic

Ix-onic uses an all-wheel-drive system that intelligently moves torque around to the wheels that need it most. The rear window is made of lexan, allowing its unusual shape. LEDs are used liberally around the concept, in tail lights and daytime running lights.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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Hyundai Ix-onic

In the cabin, the speakers for the audio system are mounted high on the doors, creating a better sound stage than if they were mounted low, as in most cars. The side view mirrors incorporate warnings for the blind spot detection system.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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Dacia Duster

Eastern European automaker Dacia tests a crossover design with the Duster concept. This small, urban SUV uses a 1.5-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 105 horsepower.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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Dacia Duster

The rear window, made of a clear plastic, is inscribed with the Dacia logo. The Duster is only 14 feet long, yet it gets some height from its big, 21-inch wheels.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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Dacia Duster

Although the driver side only has one door, access is enhanced on the passenger side with an extra rear-hinged door. The front passenger seat folds and slides under the driver's seat, allowing room for a mountain bike, of all things.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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Nissan Qazana

Nissan designed the Qazana concept as a smaller brother to its Qashqai urban SUV. Inspired by dune buggies, Nissan separates the headlight and signal light casings on the front. The grille, covered with acrylic, is cosmetic--holes below the bumper serve as air intakes.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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Nissan Qazana

The rear doors are rear-hinged, creating easy access to the cabin. Although the Qazana, as seen here, isn't likely to go into production, Nissan has committed to a car of its dimensions and configuration for 2010.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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Nissan Qazana

The curved display on the stack is a touch screen, letting the driver control climate, audio, and other car functions.

See more coverage of the 2009 Geneva auto show.

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