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Brawny pickups, futuristic SUVs star at Detroit auto show

Associated Press

DETROIT ó Itís the year of the pickup truck at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford unveil new trucks in a fast-growing and highly competitive U.S. auto market.

Fiat Chrysler will roll out a redesigned Ram truck, while GMís Chevrolet brand is showing off the new Silverado. Itís the first time in at least 29 years that show organizers can remember two Detroit automakers unveiling new full-size trucks at the same Detroit event. Also, Ford is re-entering the small pickup market with a new version of the Ranger.

Itís all happening in a U.S. auto market thatís shrinking but still expected to remain at healthy levels. Last year sales fell 2 percent to 17.2 million, still near record highs. Analysts expect sales to be just under 17 million in 2018.

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Here are some of the vehicles being unveiled at the show, which opens to the public on Friday:

FORD EDGE

Ford Motor Co. is introducing a high-performance version of its midsize Edge SUV this summer. The Edge ST is the first Ford SUV to be specially tuned by Fordís performance team. It has a 2.7-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine that puts out 335 horsepower ó nearly as much as the base model of the Porsche Cayenne ó and 380 pound-feet of torque. Thatís paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission; drivers can also manually shift using the wheel-mounted paddle shifters. All-wheel-drive comes standard, and thereís a specially tuned sport suspension.

The Edge ST also has special design cues, including a wide mesh grille, 21-inch wheels and "performance blue" paint. The regular Edge also gets an update this summer, with a more efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 250 horsepower and new safety features, including "evasive steering assist," which uses cameras and radar to detect slower-moving vehicles and helps the driver steer around them. Pricing on the Edge and Edge ST hasnít yet been released.

FORD MUSTANG BULLITT

Ford Motor Co. is making a special edition Mustang to commemorate the 50th anniversary of "Bullitt," whose unforgettable car chase scene helped turn the sports car into an icon.

The 2019 Mustang Bullitt ó due out this summer ó will have an upgraded 5.0-liter V8 engine that puts out 475 horsepower. It has a top speed of 163 miles per hour (262 kilometers per hour) and a manual transmission with a white cue-ball shift knob. Itís available in dark highland green, the color "Bullitt" made famous. Itís also offered in black.

This is the first Mustang Bullitt Ford has produced since 2008. Molly McQueen ó granddaughter of "Bullitt" star Steve McQueen ó introduced the 2019 Mustang Bullitt on Sunday at the Detroit auto show. She said McQueen had his pick of cars for the film, but chose a Mustang GT fastback because it was affordable so audiences could imagine driving it themselves.

Ford didnít say how much the special edition Bullitt will cost.

VOLKSWAGEN JETTA

Volkswagenís redesigned Jetta offers more room ó and a shot at redemption as the automaker tries to recover from a 2015 emissions-cheating scandal. Already considered roomy for a compact car, the German automaker says the 2019 Jetta "grows outside in every direction" ó longer, wider and taller than previous models. VW also aims for a sportier look, with a large front grille, higher chrome quotient and LED lighting. The 1.4-liter engine remains, but the car has a new standard six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic transmission is optional on the base model. The Jettaís revamped interior includes a new storage console large enough to fit a standard iPad.

The car is among the first of two new models planned this year ó and every year for the foreseeable future. Nearly all of the new models, including the Jetta, will come with a six-year, 72,000-mile warranty ó double what it has been. The new Jetta goes on sale in the second quarter.

MERCEDES G-CLASS

Mercedesí boxy-looking G-Class SUV gets a facelift that the company says will boost performance both on and off the road.

The company readily admits that its appearance hasnít changed much in almost four decades. But the 2019 version gets numerous changes including 2 additional inches (5 additional centimeters) of length and 4.8 inches (12 centimeters) of width. That gives the SUV more leg, shoulder and elbow room in the front and rear seats.

The G-Class gets a new independent front suspension as well as a new nine-speed automatic transmission. Itís still powered by a 4-liter V8 with 416 horsepower. It also gets new LED headlamps.

The new G-Class will go on sale in the U.S. by late 2018, but no specific date was announced, nor pricing or fuel mileage.

TOYOTA AVALON

Toyota has taken the wraps off its revamped Avalon, which features a longer, lower and wider exterior and a rear cabin extends another 7 inches (17.8 centimeters), yet overall height measurements have been trimmed by about an inch (2.5 centimeters).

Toyota credits innovative stamping methods that have allowed for shaping complex surfaces, such as door handles designed to coincide with body lines. Inside, the automaker boasts of a "neater" steering wheel, with a smaller switch cluster, enlarged hand grips and cruise control now accessible on the right spoke.

The touch screen can be "pinched" or "flicked" like a smartphone. The new Avalon also can connect with a smart watch or Amazon Alexa-enabled device, giving drivers the ability to remotely start the engines, lock or unlock doors or check fuel levels. The car has two new powertrains: a 3.5-liter V6 and 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid system. Toyota says both will provide more power with less gas consumption.

The Michigan-designed Avalon will arrive in showrooms in late spring.

 
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