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2011 Ford Explorer (Ford)
2011 Ford Explorer (Ford)

The cars behind the turnaround Add to ...

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler all are showing positive signs in a challenging economy. While the three are at different stages of their turnarounds - with Ford clearly ahead of the pack based on profitability, sales and awards - there is little doubt Detroit-based auto makers have recognized the need to manage costs and build vehicles real customers want to own.

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Here's a look at some of the key vehicles coming from the three later this year. These are the offerings which will play a dramatic role in determining the success or failure of these restructured companies.

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FORD

2011 Ford Fiesta

Fiesta: The first real test of Ford's plan to use global engineering for cars sold in the North America. Style, advanced features and class-leading fuel economy make the Fiesta appealing. The question: how much will Canadians and Americans pay for a subcompact Ford?

2011 Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer: A 21st-century replacement for the SUV behind Ford's profits in the 1990s. Question: Will the new Explorer sell in numbers based on high fuel economy with the room and capability that made the original a hit?

GENERAL MOTORS

2011 Chevrolet Cruze RS

Chevrolet Cruze: GM's latest attempt to make money on a small car. The Cruze promises excellent fuel economy and near-mid-size passenger room in a compact. It could be a hit. GM, however, must sell big numbers without the cut-rate pricing of previous compacts like the Chevy Cobalt and Cavalier.

General Motors is on track for a Volt launch in late 2010.

Chevrolet Volt: The extended-range electric car could revolutionize the industry and change how the public sees GM. If the Volt succeeds, GM is a high-tech winner, and government assistance to save the company was a smart investment. Glitches will disastrously reinforce negative images of the company.

2011 Buick Regal

Buick Regal: This sporty mid-size sedan must appeal to well-educated and affluent Lexus and Acura buyers. If not, Buick's future - and GM's new four-brand strategy - looks shaky.

CHRYSLER

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee: The latest version of Jeep's upscale icon has looks, technology and prestige on its side. It must overcome a sense that SUVs are out of fashion and must generate cash to pay for investment in future Chrysler vehicles.



Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger: Striking new models of two great cars. They promise style, comfort and performance. Their biggest challenges may include fuel economy and consumer concern about Chrysler's survival.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500: The first car Chrysler will build for its Italian partner, the 500 is an early test of the auto makers' alliance. Europeans love the funky little retro car. But buyers on this continent have neither Europe's history with the original post-Second World War Fiat 500, nor its track record of buying cars shorter than a Mini Cooper.

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