LA Auto Show 2011

Associated Press
The 2013 Lincoln MKT is seen after its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

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There’s no better illustration of the gulf between auto enthusiasts and everyday car buyers than this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Few automakers rolled out the hybrids and electric vehicles that dominated past shows; those that did were overshadowed by 180-mph sports cars and hot hatchbacks. But the new stars with the best box-office prospects were a trio of boxy small SUVs: the Honda CR-V, the Ford Escape and the Mazda CX-5. Americans demand for tall wagons with all-wheel-drive — the cross-training sneakers of the auto world — has never been more fervent, and for their makers, high stakes.

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