The best cars at the auto show
The Detroit show’s best in class

The “granddaddy” of all auto shows, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, offered plenty of sheet metal for spectators to drool over this year.

Even with all the cars on the show floor and the plentiful new cars being introduced, only a handful can take credit for being best-in-class cars.

From compacts to full-size luxury, here’s a look at the “best-in-class” cars from the Detroit auto show on display from Jan. 13 to 26.

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Compact car: Honda Fit

Honda Fit

Honda showed off its redesigned Fit at the Detroit auto show. It offers more passenger space, a more powerful engine and better fuel economy than the previous model. The redesigned 2015 Honda Fit has a more aggressive front end with larger 16-inch tires and rear LED taillights. The wheelbase is slightly longer, resulting in improved handling as well as 4.9 cubic feet more passenger space and 4.8 inches more legroom in the rear seat compared to the current model.

The 2015 model also gets a new 130-horsepower direct-injected 1.5-liter engine (a 13-horsepower increase over the current model) and a choice of two new transmissions: a six-speed manual or a sporty, yet fuel-efficient continuously variable transmission with available paddle shifters. Honda expects the new Fit to get 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway on CVT-equipped models by Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

New, class-leading standard features include a multi-angle rearview camera, expanded view driver’s mirror and Bluetooth connectivity. For the first time, leather seating will be available. The 2015 Honda Fit will go on sale this spring. It will be manufactured in North America for the first time at Honda’s new Celaya, Mexico plant. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Mid-size sedan: Chrysler 200

Chrysler 200

Chrysler has redesigned its mid-size sedan with the company’s new front-end styling direction, a host of new features and improved fuel economy.

For the first time, the grille and headlights are integrated, featuring LED fog lights and LED taillights. A choice of two engines is available, with both mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, which improves fuel economy. There is a new 184-horsepower 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2 four-cylinder engine, which, compared to the current version, improves fuel economy by 13 percent, torque by 10 percent and horsepower by 6 percent.

The 295-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, the most powerful engine offered in the segment, continues to be offered. New for 2015 is an available all-wheel-drive model with sport mode, paddle shifters and adaptive cruise control.

The redesigned interior with more upscale fabrics and materials also features a rotary shift knob and a new center console with a unique pass-through storage feature that both the driver and front passenger can access. The center console also offers sliding cup holders and allows the space to be customized to best suit the driver and front passenger’s needs. The 2015 Chrysler 200 will go on sale in the second quarter of 2014. It will start at $21,700.

Premium sedan: Hyundai Genesis

Hyundai Genesis

Hyundai took the wraps off the second generation of its Genesis sedan at the Detroit auto show.

The redesigned model is the first Hyundai to feature the company’s new styling theme called Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, which uses flowing lines to convey a luxurious, dramatic look.

Inside there is 123 cubic feet of passenger space, which results in best-in-class front seat headroom and rear shoulder room. The redesigned interior features an ergonomically improved steering wheel design, while many of the switches on the center console were reshaped and relocated for ease of use.

Two engines are available: a 311-horsepower 3.8-liter or a 420-horsepower 5-liter V-8. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which features manual shift capability with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Base models of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis are rear-wheel drive, while an all-wheel-drive version will be offered for the first time. New for 2015 is the Intelligent Drive Mode, which lets drivers choose one of four drive modes (eco, normal, sport and snow) to suit road conditions and their driving styles. Standard safety features include electronic stability control, nine air bags and anti-whiplash front head restraints. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis will go on sale this spring. Pricing has not been announced.

Luxury car: Audi A8

Audi A8

Audi’s flagship sedan, the A8, and its sporty counterpart, the S8, received a mild makeover for 2015. The all-aluminum body has a wider, more dynamic stance and a new front end with a redesigned hood and new LED headlights as well as new taillights and tailpipes in the rear to give it a sportier look.

As with the current model, there are four engines available in the A8 — the base 3-liter V-8; a 4-liter V-8 with power increasing from 420 horsepower to 435 horsepower; a clean diesel; and a 12-cylinder engine that now features Cylinder On Demand technology, which automatically shuts down cylinders when extra power is not needed to improve fuel efficiency. The S8, which features a 520-horsepower engine, has a new front end with larger air intakes in the lower bumper, fewer chrome accents, new sport exhaust and rear diffuser to give it a sportier look than the current model.

Inside, the 2015 Audi S8 is now available with Vermont brown leather with carbon twill copper inlays. The 2015 Audi A8 and S8 will arrive in summer 2014. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Pickup truck: Ford F-150

Ford F-150 © Ford Motor Company

Ford has thoroughly redesigned its full-size F-150 pickup truck for the 2015 model year. The truck has more power and towing capability as well as better fuel economy due to several engine technologies and an innovative use of a new high-strength aluminum-alloy body that reduces the truck’s weight by up to 700 pounds.

The 2015 Ford F-150 comes in a choice of five models and four engine options. There is a new 2.7-liter V-6 engine with EcoBoost, automatic start/stop technology and active grille shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag — all of which improve fuel efficiency. There are also two 3.5-liter V-6 engines, with EcoBoost and without, as well as a powerful 5-liter V-8.

The new pickup has 11 class-exclusive features, including a 360-degree camera view, integrated loading ramps that are stowed in the pickup bed, 400-watt power outlets inside the cab, LED headlights and sideview mirror spotlights as well as a remote tailgate release.

Those drivers who tow will appreciate the trailer hitch-assist camera that helps line up the truck and trailer and the smart trailer tow module that notifies the driver of trailer connectivity issues or electrical problems. The 2015 Ford F-150 will go on sale late this year. Pricing has not been announced.

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