We expect to see some pretty wild concepts at auto shows, both inside and out. But two dashboards caught our attention from the 2009 Detroit Auto Show last week. Chrysler showed a dashboard in its 200C EV Concept that borrows touch-screen technology from Apple's iPhone, while Lincoln's C concept featured a future version of Ford Sync. And it's not just the futuristic look of the dashes that are cool, but also what they could do if they ever make it into a production vehicle.

The dash in the Chrysler 200C EV Concept featured a large touch screen in place of the usual gauge cluster, and Chrysler claims that it can be reconfigured and personalized to fit individual drivers. A driver will be able to "customize images, backgrounds, mood, volume and lighting by simply touching the screen itself," as with the iPhone.

And Chrysler says that the dash will be a "portal to the outside world" and an "advanced electronic vehicle information center" for the company's next-generation of uconnect infotainment systems, which include Web access.

The dash in the Lincoln C concept is also configurable and operates via touch screen. Plus, the dash will be the platform for future generations of Sync and will include an on-board avatar that can do everything from cue up music to fit your mood to make a restaurant reservation.

Ford previewed the concept ahead of the Detroit Auto Show at the CES in Las Vegas, as part of CEO Alan Mulally's keynote address at the electronics convention. The avatar, called EVA (for Emotic Voice Activation), "lives" in the dash and "can take on a personalized visual image and personality," according to Lincoln.

Lincoln also says that EVA responds to conversational speech and manages vehicle and Sync functions and information for a driver.

EVA will even be able to sense drivers' moods through their voice and driving style and suggest a favorite song to soothe the savage commuter. And using in-car Internet access, EVA can gather a driver's favorite news and info from the Web, check e-mail or even access Facebook pages.

While we're excited about the direction these concept dashboard point to, we're not thrilled about the prospect of social networking behind the wheel -- and wonder if dashes like these will become a dangerous distraction.


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