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Hot models debuting at this year's New York Auto Show

NEW YORK, N.Y. - With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the U.S. auto industry. Here are some of the vehicles debuting this year. The show opens to the public Friday.

NISSAN MURANO: Nissan has given the third generation of the Murano midsize crossover SUV a more modern design, nicer interior and better fuel economy than the previous version. The company says the exterior runs counter to the typical "heaviness and chunkiness" of SUVs, with sculpted sides, new lighting and a jet-inspired roof. Inside, the 2015 Murano gets three-cushion seats and a low centre console that makes conversations easier between the front and rear occupants. The SUV, available in the fall, comes with a 3.5-litre V6 engine that will get about 24 mpg in combined city-highway driving. That's 20 per cent better than the current version. Price wasn't announced.

HYUNDAI SONATA: The 2011 Hyundai Sonata, with its curvy, creased sides and upscale interior, elevated Hyundai as a brand and prodded competitors to improve their own designs. Now, the 2015 Sonata ditches the curves in favour of clean, taut lines and a more premium look. The car has a firmer, more responsive feel. The grille is larger, and flanked by narrower, LED running lights. Inside, Hyundai redesigned the centre stack and angled it toward the driver for better ergonomics. Noise inside the car is reduced with more sound deadening materials in the dashboard and elsewhere. New features include a trunk that automatically opens when it senses the driver's key, optional blind spot and lane departure warning systems and, later this year, Apple's CarPlay, which will let drivers use their iPhones through the car. Hyundai made some tweaks to the engines. The SE, Limited and Sport models get the 2.4-litre four-cylinder with 185 horsepower, while the Sport 2.0 gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 245 horsepower. The new Sonata goes on sale this summer.

MERCEDES S63 AMG 4MATIC COUPE: The high performance version of the two-door S63 coupe burns up the road with a 5.5-litre V8 that gets 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The car can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph. Mercedes shaved 140 pounds off the previous model by using more lightweight materials, including a lightweight lithium-ion battery and a composite braking system. That will help fuel economy. For the first time, the S63 AMG will come standard with an all-wheel-drive system. The system sends two-thirds of the engine torque to the rear wheels, for better performance, but gives drivers more control on wet or icy roads. The S63 AMG goes on sale this fall in the U.S. Pricing wasn't announced, but it will top $100,000.

The Canadian Press

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