The Best Cars From Detroit 2011: An Energetic, Right-Sized Auto Show

The crowds were back and the sense of impending doom was gone. But the proliferation of safe designs and shortage of insane concepts shows an industry playing it safe.

For the first time since the auto industry raced off a cliff two years ago, the Detroit auto show was mobbed. Back were the sold-out hotels, the lavish parties, the teeming masses of reporters. The sensible plans that carmakers—particularly those from Detroit—had been talking about for the past three years had finally yielded fleets of solidly built, attractive, efficient production cars. In the absence of a few more stunning concepts and surprising debuts, however, the confidence felt a little tentative.

Click to launch our gallery of the most noteworthy cars at this year’s Detroit Auto Show