From hybrids to big pickups, from luxury cars to thrifty compacts, a handful of new vehicles that debut over the next 12 months may shape the future of automakers around the world. Some break new ground for their manufacturers; others aim to reassert companies' dominance in market segments they created.


Chevy's new family hauler just hit the market with seating for up to eight, a $28,225 base price and a graceful design. If the Traverse gets the same rave reviews as GM's other recent midsize crossovers, it could outsell the other three put together.

Available: Now


Radically reengineered, the new Ram offers improved fuel economy and several unique features for its coming-out this fall. A switch to car-type coil springs promises to make the Ram the smoothest-riding pickup on the market.

Available: Now

2009 FORD F-150

The F-150 is expected to lose weight and gain visual appeal. High-strength steel reduces weight and improves cargo and towing capability, while the crew cab model will offer 6 inches more space for rear leg room and storage.

Available: Late this year


Lincoln promises that its eight-seat crossover will resemble the dramatic MKT concept car from 2007. The production MKT will have a more traditional squared-off roofline to provide room for three rows of seats, but it will also be the first car to fully embody Lincoln's new design theme.

Available: Mid-2009


The five-passenger gasoline-electric Insight is Honda's attempt to remind buyers that it's a leader in hybrid cars. Honda was the first automaker to sell a hybrid in the United States in 1999, but the flashy Toyota Prius quickly eclipsed Honda's Civic and Accord hybrids. Honda promises a base price "significantly below'' other hybrids.

Available: Next spring


The 422-horsepower V8 may dominate headlines, but the V6 model of Chevrolet's reincarnated sport coupe will probably determine the car's success. The 300-horsepower V6 has enough grunt to make the modern and beautiful Camaro a true sports car.

Available: Early 2009

2009 AUDI A4

Bigger, better and radically restyled, Audi's new sport sedan offers more room than the competition and an elegant new design. A base price of $32,700 should make competitors from Acura to Lexus nervous.

Available: Now


Designed and engineered largely in the United States, the five-passenger Venza crossover is Toyota's attempt to combine the appeal of sporty crossovers such as the Nissan Murano with the practicality of a midsize station wagon.

Availability: This fall


Arguably the most eagerly anticipated car that will debut at the Detroit auto show next January, the Prius is an all-new replacement for the car that's become the icon for all gasoline-electric hybrids. Fuel economy should top the current model's EPA rating of 48 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway.

Available: Next year

2009 MAZDA 6

This elegant midsize sedan aims to build on Mazda's reputation for making sporty alternatives to other automakers' mainstream models. Roomier than the car it replaces, the Mazda 6 also offers high-end features such as blind-spot alert.

Available: Now