It's often taken a back seat to other major auto shows, but New York hosted a number of significant new-model debuts in April.

The '05 Cadillac STS led a parade of at least 20 other production vehicles and concepts that debuted at the 2004 New York International Auto Show.

Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group used New York to tout new fuel-efficient powertrains: a gasoline-electric hybrid Escape and a diesel Jeep Liberty. General Motors Corp. was prolific, showing the new STS, the Saab Automobile 9-7X SUV and the Buick Velite 4-passenger convertible concept.

The STS, which goes on sale in September, will be offered in rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations and shares its Sigma platform with the Cadillac CTS and SRX. Pricing starts at $40,995 for the V-6 and 47,495 for the V-8. GM expects to sell 30,000 of the new rear-drive flagship sedans annually.

Saab's first truck is based on Chevy TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy. The AWD 9-7X will be priced from $37,000 to $45,000 and have two engine choices: The standard 4.2L inline 6-cyl. is rated at 275 hp. A high-performance version incorporates GM's new Gen IV 5.3L V-8 engine producing an estimated 300 hp. Purists gag at the idea of a Saab SUV, but utility vehicles have proved to be pivotal to the growth of most upscale marques.

GM's Buick Div. also rolls out the Velite, a sleek 4-passenger convertible concept based on an all-new fullsize rear-drive platform in the works at GM. Although it's shown off a number of interesting concepts, staid Buick hasn't offered a 4-seat ragtop since the '85 Riviera. However, some say this car will get the green light.

Ford's Lincoln Div. shows off the Zephyr, which will be based on the Mazda6's CD3 platform and will share parts and capacity at Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant with Ford- and Mercury-badged derivatives — all set for market in second-half 2005.

Ford is under fire for basing a luxury car on a platform used for high-volume cars, but Phil Martens, group vice president-product creation, says the Zephyr is benchmarked against the Lexus ES 330 sedan — which is based on a Toyota Camry platform and carries a drivetrain used widely across Toyota Motor Corp.'s product line. Zephyr will not replace Lincoln's LS but instead will be slotted below it.

Ford also shows a Mustang concept based on the upcoming '05 model and a production-ready Escape Hybrid.

Chrysler's revamped '05 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a freshened Jeep Liberty with a diesel engine option also debut. Grand Cherokee disappoints some critics who wanted more macho restyling of Jeep's flagship. On the bright side, the truck gets the Hemi V-8 with Chrysler's fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation feature.

Other intros:

  • Land Rover's 7-seat LR3 SUV that features Range Rover styling in a more compact package.
  • Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s new Infiniti M45 concept, a “refined” '05 Q45, the new '05 Xterra SUV and the first SE-R version of the Altima.
  • Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s Acura RL sedan concept. Most notable is the focus on AWD in the RL Prototype — current RLs are front drive. Honda says its AWD system, dubbed SH-AWD, is the first that distributes optimum torque side to side as well as front to back.