The Breakdown

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Photos: LA Auto Show highlights include Ford's new Fiesta, concepts from Honda and Nissan, the improved GT-R

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Earlier  Wednesday, I blogged about how the 2012 L.A. Auto Show is less about green cars and concept cars than it is about cars as rolling platforms for smartphones and apps. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of save-the-world and see-the-future cars in the mix (as well as one or two rides designed to frighten small animals)! It wouldn't be the L.A. Auto Show without them!

Flip through the slide show for some highlights of the good, the bad, and the high-concept.

THE GOOD

2014 Ford Fiesta

The redesign of Ford's popular subcompact comes with an interesting new wrinkle: a 1-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged version. That's just one more cylinder than a lot of motorcycles. The turbo — Ford calls it EcoBoost — squeezes more power of of engines that are highly fuel-efficient. The styling may be a bit too Euro-hatchback for a lot of Americans, but the trend of smaller engines delivering the same power, performance, and comfort of their larger siblings isn't just a trend a this year's auto show. It's a trend in the entire auto industry.

2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid

Not a tough call here for Honda. Take one of the world's most popular sedans, hybridize it, and then throw in plug-in capability, so that short-hop drivers can recharge at night and burn as little actual gas as possible. Plug-in hybrids usually don't look a lot different from their gas or straight hybrid cousins, and the Accord is no different. It's a sedan. It's a four-door car with wheels and windows and seats. It gets the job done. And now you can plug it into the electrical grid.

THE HIGH-CONCEPT

Nissan Hi-Cross Concept

Nissan, a carmaker that was early to the crossover SUV segment with its Murano in the early 2000s, pulled the cover off this concept crossover at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year. It's a compact crossover, with a pair of proposed engines and drivetrains, both small 4-cylinder powerplants. One gets a turbocharger for extra oomph. It has three rows of seating and so theoretically can accommodate seven passengers. And the way things go with Nissan and its bold designs, something similar to this concept could actually soon be spotted on the freeway.

Honda EV-Ster Concept

It looks like something a sci-fi obsessed teen would think up, but it also represents a daring mashup of several different automotive ideas: compact, electric, and convertible. Effectively, it's a high-concept electric roadster, with all the usual "you'll never see this in the real world" concept car flourishes, such as the twin-lever steering system replacing the traditional steering wheel. Don't expect to see it on a real road, but also envision future small Hondas borrowing the styling cues.

RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! (THE BAD)

2014 Nissan GT-R

Nissan has updated its bad, bad, oh-so bad snarling supercar, nicknamed (aptly) "Godzilla," with a few performance modifications intended to tide GT-R lovers over until a full redesign lands in a couple of years. 500-plus horsepower from a V6 engine sporting twin turbochargers continues to be nothing to scoff at. So don't. Or you'll make it mad. And you don't want to make the GT-R mad.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter. And ask Matt questions at Quora.

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