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New York Auto Show focuses on future

Subaru unveiled its roomier 2010 Outback, Honda showed off a dog-friendly SUV, VW's refined Golf was named car of the year by journalists and Mitsubishi said it was developing an electric car for sale around the world as the media preview for the New York Auto showed rolled into its second day.

More than 2,700 media are credentialed to cover the show at the Javits Center on Manhattan's West Side

The fourth-generation Outback is an inch shorter overall than the current model, Subaru said, but its wheelbase is increased by 2.8 inches and it's 8 percent roomier inside, including four inches more rear-seat legroom. It has a new six-speed stick and will be available with a new continuously-variable or stepless automatic transmission. Once again, it'll be available with four- and six-cylinder engines, the latter new and delivering 256 hp. The new Outback goes on sale at the end of summer.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi showed off a prototype of a GT version of its Outlander crossover SUV, to be the centerpiece of its display when the show opens to the public Friday.

"The Outlander GT Prototype is packed with technology, performance and premium features that are uncommon in the compact SUV class," John Koenig, executive vice president of Mitsubishi Motors North America, said in a statement. The prototype has an improved all-aluminum 3.0-liter V-6 delivering 230 hp.

Mitsubishi also announced plans to produce its four-passenger i MiEV experimental electric car for sale, including for the United States. Fleet sales will be first, starting in Japan. The car will be tested by the state of Oregon and one of its power companies before sale in the United States, Mitsubishi said.

"Details of the programs are being finalized, but the findings from these real-world, independent tests will play an important role in further advancing the car's development for the U.S. market," the company said. Range between rechargings on a standard 110-volt or 220-volt outlet is about 80 miles. It'll be on display when the show opens to the public Friday.

Land Rover is using the show to introduce three new SUV's, redesigned versions of the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and LR4. Shown at a news conference Wednesday, the 2010 models have all-new engines with as much as 510 hp., the company says, and new interiors with 12-inch virtual instrument displays.

The sixth-generation Golf was named 2009 World Car of the Year by a jury of 59 automotive journalists from 25 countries. The car is due in showrooms in the fall.

Honda's dog-friendly Element SUV has a bed, fan and built-in water bowl. It will be available in the fall, but a price has not been announced.

South Korea's Hyundai showed its Nuvis concept car, hybrid-powered and hinting at a future crossover. It has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and 30 kilowatt electric motor. Company spokesman Miles Johnson said fuel economy is estimated at 34 mpg city and 35 highway.

"The drivetrain is going to be in the next generation Sonata, so we're teasing that," he said. The new Sonata is to be shown in Los Angeles in the fall. The Nuvis still will be at Javits on Friday.

Organizers of the nation's oldest and traditionally best-attended auto show say that, when it opens for its nine-day run, showgoers will find about 1,000 vehicles on display. About 1 million people usually attend the show.

Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association president Mark Schienberg, the show's official host, said 325 truckloads of cars and displays -- about 10.5 million to 11 million pounds of freight -- were delivered to Javits for this year's show.

Only foreign-based brands held news conferences Thursday. On Wednesday, the first day of the media preview, General Motors unveiled its GMC Terrain SUV and Chrysler showed its redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee. New models in Ford Motor Co.'s display area at Javits include the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids just going on sale.

GM said the Terrain will get 30 mpg on the highway. About a foot shorter than the GMC Acadia crossover and sharing basics with the Chevrolet Equinox, it goes on sale this summer, said Susan Docherty, North American vice president for Buick, Pontiac and GMC.

The 2011 Grand Cherokee goes on sale about a year from now.


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