Perhaps the most potentially relevant vehicles introduced at the Detroit Auto Show this year were the Ford 500 and Ford Freestyle.

They look pretty plain, don't they? But they could be very important cars. They're built off a modified Volvo chassis, acquired by Ford when it bought Volvo.



They're very roomy cars inside, but not hulking behemoths on the outside. In fact, the back seat area of the 500 is practically humongous.



They're also somewhat tall-ish, with seat bottoms that sit higher than in the average car. The exterior design looks somewhat European (like a taller VW Passat or Audi A6), with a front grille like the outgoing F150's.



The wagon, which looks like a grown up Subaru Forester, has a large, flexible interior. It seats six or seven. And the third seat is much easier to get into than the comparable-yet larger-Chrysler Pacifica.


The pair also comes with optional all-wheel drive, a collapsible steering column courtesy of Volvo, and a number of other advanced safety features.

It'll be interesting to see how they actually drive and what the quality is like when they arrive this fall. But if Ford can pull it off, they may be able to recreate the arrival of their first Taurus, which went in a European direction, and was a big hit in America.