A new year rolls in to Motor City bringing a diverse collection of near-future production models and stimulating concept vehicles. News is being made at every corner of Cobo Hall, the annual home to North America's most significant auto show. Ford is unveiling three times more cars and trucks than usual, Lexus attempts to recapture and redefine the entry-lux sport/utility "crossover" market, Nissan continues to gain momentum with an aggressive model roll out, and both Audi and Porsche demonstrate the German interpretation of the American standard, the SUV. And that just skims the surface for day one.
Read on and join us for a guided tour of the Detroit auto show.
Tune in to our growing video collection offering looks at the Chevrolet SS, Ford Mustang GT, and many other concept vehicles.
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With the TSX, Acura has plugged the hole left by the departed Integra sedan. Serving as the four-door compliment to the RSX coupe, the TSX boasts a 200-horsepower four-cylinder engine with an available six-speed manual or five-speed Sequential SportShift transmission. Handling is maximized through a four-corner double-wishbone independent suspension, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), and 17-inch all-season performance tires. Lux features befitting an Acura include perforated leather seats, moonroof, dual-zone climate control system, 360-watt audio system with six-disc CD changer, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, and essential power amenities. Look for the TSX to be on sale in April 2003, priced between the RSX and TL.
Preparing to add a larger crossover vehicle to its line, augmenting the well-executed allroad, Audi explores design ideas with its aggressive-yet-elegant Pikes Peak concept. Inspired by the famed 14,110-foot mountain, known for a grueling annual hill climb race, the Audi crossover combines the proven quattro all-wheel-system with a variable-height adaptive air suspension to provide the traction and clearance needed to tackle tough terrain, or hunker down for sure-footed road handling. The twin-turbo V-8 powerplant, plucked from the RS6, produces 500 horsepower and Audi claims a Porsche Cayenne-challenging 4.7-second 0-60 mph time. More than a Teutonic powerhouse, the six-place concept vehicle features DVD, mini disc player, and Internet access for mobile entertainment in the pampering, leather-lined interior.
If automakers are to be believed, luxurious crossover vehicles promise to be the next hot segment to emerge. Enter the all-wheel-drive Centieme concept, an elegant, well-trimmed wagon with interior versatility to rival a sport/utility vehicle. Three rows offer seating for six, with leather-trimmed captains chairs for front and middle passengers. Interior details such as leather-enshrouded dash, olive ash burl wood accents, and DVD entertainment system lend a true premium character. Power for this show machine comes from a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V-6 producing a heady 400-horsepower with 400 lb-ft of torque. Beyond the general concept of the vehicle, the Centieme furthers the Buick design language to appear on future production models.
Detroit's showstopper, Cadillac's Sixteen has the super-sleek, nearly over-the-top Cruella DeVille styling that had us reeling. The concept showcases a 13.6-liter, 90-degree V-16, an all-aluminum pushrod engine with 16-8-4 cylinder cutoff. General Motors says it's good for 1000 horses, 1000 lb-ft. and 20 mpg on the highway cycle. The hood opens gullwing-style, like the hood on Caddy's first V-16 in 1930. Rear seats recline. and the speedometer dial moves around the fixed speedo needle. And yet, it's not an outrageous concept with wacky interior or trunk ideas that would never see production -- there are real sideview mirrors instead of the cameras so fashionable on concepts. Think Maybach/Rolls-Royce/Bugatti-beater, and you're talking Standard of the World redux, the kind of car GM might just do if it has the cajones to take on the acknowledged leaders of the elite segment. At 223.3-in. long, with a 140-in. wheelbase and an overall height of less than 54 in., this car has the looks and proportions (along with the power) to put Maybach et. al. back on the boat. We're not saying they're building it... but it could happen.
The young-gun designer behind the head-turning Chrysler PT Cruiser, Bryan Nesbitt, introduced the Chevrolet SS to hearty applause. Now serving as GM executive director of design, Nesbitt explained how the five-seater embodies the Super Sport heritage in a modern sports sedan, with the 21- and 22-inch wheels pushed out to the corners for a muscular stance. Seeming to draw design influence from Ferrari, the SS is all-American underhood with a 6.0-liter/430-horsepower V-8 touting GM's imminent Displacement On Demand technology scheduled to appear in some 2004 models. The independent suspension features driver-adjustable shock damping. "It all adds up to an aspirational vehicle performance car for Main Street America, and it points toward the next-generation of Chevy SS vehicles," said Nesbitt.
Even as GM prepares to roll out its new midsize pickups, Chevrolet unveiled a four-door pickup concept exploring a potential direction for full-size pickups. The smooth-skinned truck employs an independent rear suspension and Quadrasteer-derived rear-steering system, and it pushes its 22-inch wheels, shod with 35-inch tires, far out to the corners. Like the exterior, the cabin strives for a functional elegance, pushing the boundaries for truck interiors. Under the short, sloped hood is a mighty 6.0-liter/500-horsepower V-8 producing 580 lb-ft of torque. Like many engines in GM's 2003 concept vehicles, the Cheyenne powerplant boasts the Displacement on Demand (DOD) technology that effectively turns off unneeded cylinders for fuel economy.
While the Chrysler Crossfire benefits directly from the parts-sharing opportunities proffered by the Chrysler/Daimler merger, no product has taken more advantage of the corporate portfolio than the Dodge Sprinter van. A direct transplant from Europe, the Sprinter offers Dodge a rather unique vehicle for the U.S. commercial market. The big box will be sold in three wheelbases (118, 140, and 158 inches) with two available roof heights, offering from 247 to 473 square feet of storage space. Motivation comes from an efficient five-cylinder Mercedes-Benz 2.7-liter turbodiesel engine, producing 154 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. Pricing starts at $26,765 for the cargo van and $28,260 for the passenger van.
Termed a concept, this muscular, midsize sport/utility vehicle gives a clear picture of the second-generation 2004 Durango. Dodge admits the exterior is 85-percent production correct. Brash fender flares, Ram-inspired cross-hair grille, and snarling hood nostrils declare that "sport" is at the heart of this SUV in the form of a 345-horsepower V-8. The suspension features an independent front setup and solid axle with coil springs in the rear, with a Watts link system. Larger than the current Durango, the "concept" is three inches longer and taller, offering increased passenger space and the ability to fit a 48-inch wide sheet of plywood inside. Interior treats include a navigation system, integrated cell-phone with Blue Tooth, and DVD entertainment system.
Looking even more Audi-like than previous iterations of the upcoming station wagon/SUV/crossover from Ford, the Volvo V70-platformed car will have flat-folding second- and third-row seats, the automaker says. "FX" refers to this mildly disguised concept version, which features a top that folds forward from the D-pillar into the C-pillar to create a unique family pickup-truck, most similar to the GMC Envoy XUV in function. This concept trick has been making the rounds lately, and even appeared on Hyundai's OLV concept at Detroit. Ford Motor design chief J Mays describes the FX as "sort of an automotive Swiss Army Knife."
The ultimate recyclable car. You can eat it, uh, purge it and use the fertilizer to grow it again. Inspired by Henry the First's soybean-based car body of the early '40s, this basic, small F-150-styled urban utility vehicle is powered by a hydrogen-fuel 2.3L internal combustion I-4 with the same electric-hybrid system that will find itself into the 2004 Escape. The interior features a "slot" system that lets you remove and replace seats and part of the instrument panel. The interior is made of a recyclable polyester, with soybean-based seat-foam and tailgate, a sunflower seed motor oil, and a corn-based canvas sunroof. Yum.
Seemingly the opposite of the politically correct Model U, the 427 is designed to recall big Galaxie 500s and LTDs of the 1960s, in four-door sedan form. It's a direct competitor for Chevrolet's Super Sport concept, featuring a 7.0-read (aka 427 cu. in.), 590-horsepower truck-based V-10 and a six-speed manual gearbox. Chrome trim ties the otherwise black exterior with the high-tech-look interior. Still, we can't help think its design would make a better Lincoln (it's about the length of an LS), although the taillamps are straight off of a '79 Ford LTD. Look for this to be the basis of a big rear-drive sedan slotting between the 500 and the Crown Vic, by 2005.
Lexus defined the emerging near-lux SUV segment with the launch of the successful RX 300 almost five years ago. Now, Lexus threatens to shake up the market with the longer, wider, taller, more powerful, and more luxurious RX 330. The numerical designation stems from the engine displacement, now 3.3-liters with a 10-horsepower gain over the 2003 RX 300. This V-6 is matched with a five-speed automatic transmission, enabling improved fuel economy and swifter 0-60 mph times. Numerous measures were taken to deliver a smoother, quieter ride, plus an optional air suspension can adjust ride-height based on speed and provide a "low" mode to ease access. Luxury features abound, with available Mark Levinson audio system, rear back up camera, adaptive headlight system, and adaptive cruise control. The RX 330 will be the first Lexus vehicle built in North America.
The Ford Motor joint-venture (Mercury Villager) is a distantmemory, and Nissan has reworked the Quest minivan with a vengeance. This latest attempt to shed the segment's soccer mom image from the Franco-Japanese automaker has more than a bit of Renault in its styling, but with a distinctive two-step shoulder line. Inside, the gear shift is on an instrument cluster pod at the center of the dash. Supple-looking red leather seats are in a 2+2+3 position, and the second and third rows fold flat. An optional sunroof splits the top into four glassed sections. Nissan says it has the longest wheelbase in its class, and sliding doors that are at least four-inches longer than the competitions'. Power is from a 3.5-liter/230-hp V-6. The Quest goes on sale this summer.
Like the Quest, the Maxima has more than a bit of Saturn styling in its tail, we think (the Quest reminds of Vue, the Maxima of Ion). Whatever you think, Nissan's take is that it marks the end of conservative styling for what's an exciting car. The new one features a double wishbone independent rear suspension (finally) and a 3.5-liter/265-horsepower V-6 powering the front wheels. An odd optional "skyview" roof is longer, longitudinally, than it is wide. There's an optional 2+2 "Elite" package with buckets in back. A six-speed close-ratio manual will be available when Maxima hits showrooms in March, with pricing of about $28,000 to $34,000.
As Pontiac prepares to launch the all-new 2004 Grand Prix, the excitement division looks to the future potential for sport sedans with the G6 concept. Targeting the look and feel of a coupe, the G6 has a very clean design for a vehicle spawned by a brand known for body cladding. The European, and likely Bob Lutz, influence reportedly plays out in the performance, as the engineering team focused on an engaging driving experience. The all-wheel-drive sedan is powered by a supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 producing 285 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque. The 4T65-E transmission features a manumatic function, allowing plus/minus shifting. Like the crowd-pleasing Solstice coupe from last year's show, the G6 signals a more sophisticated direction for Pontiac styling and driving character that we hope to see in future product.
In car crazy, import-dominated Southern California, it should come as no surprise that the launch of Toyota's youth oriented Scion brand would be big news. The Scion brand launched to the American public with two models, the smaller of which is the xA model, based on the home market Ist. The xA is powered by a 1.5-liter/108-horsepower engine that is offered with a choice of either a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission. The hallmark of the Scion brand will be the level of personalization that will be offered within the confines of the dedicated Scion showrooms set up adjacent to existing Toyota facilities as part of the company's effort to appeal to younger buyers whose hearts, minds and dollars have been won by Honda and Acura.
The xB, the second Scion model expected to reach showrooms in June (starting in Southern California), is based on the cubist bbX compact minivan shown last year and already in production for the domestic Japanese market. Like the xA it will be powered by the same 1.5-liter/108-horsepower engine and will offer a choice of the five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmissions. While the base price is expected to start at under $16,000 for a well-equipped vehicle, Scion officials expect that most owners will personalize the Scions with appearance options and massive sound systems, something we saw at the 2002 SEMA Show where most Scions were outfitted with powerful aftermarket Pioneer audio and video systems.
After its high profile introduction to the U.S. press on Wall Street and its gala launch in Paris last fall, Maybach used its public introduction to the American public to give a look into its commissioning process that will begin later this spring. Well-heeled customers will get personal attention from Mercedes-Benz dealerships that have elected to offer the brand, in a separate studio (which was duplicated on the floor of the show) where owners commission, rather than simply buy a car, much like it was in the 1930s. Like yachts, the model numbers 57 and 62, refer to the length, in meters, of each model.
After teasing us for years, Mitsubishi is finally bringing an official version of its world-beating Lancer Evolution to the U.S market, giving it a credible rival to Subaru's successful WRX. Although slightly de-tuned from home market version, U.S. enthusiasts have little to complain about, especially given Mitsubishi's aggressive plans to price the Lancer Evolution at $28,987. The first Lancer Evolution will mate full-time all-wheel-drive to a 271-horsepower turbocharged engine along will rally-inspired Brembo brakes. Backing up the launch of the Lancer Evolution will be additional factory tuner models on the Eclipse platform from Ralliart, Mitsubishi's in-house performance arm.
This Porsche 911 Turbo competitor (pricewise) obviously shares much of its styling with the stunning new Vanquish. But its shorter length actually makes the V8 Vantage look more muscular, with beefy fenders and short overhangs, versus the Vanquish. Ford Motor's Premier Automotive Group says it sits on a dedicated platform.
Power-to-weight ratio, along with shock factor serve as the impetus for this concept. What's the lightest possible vessel for the Viper engine? How about a four-wheel motorcycle? This sex-on-wheels features a 500-hp, 505 cu. in. Viper V-10, a two-speed gearbox, and four tires. We don't think it's going to corner so well, but Dodge estimates a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 sec. and a "theoretical" top speed of about 300 mph. Will they build it? Ask your lawyer.
And the message is, Mercury is here to stay. That's been a constant protest as divisions like Plymouth and Oldsmobile disappear. The Messenger is yet another iteration of Mercury's modernist design direction, led by this car's designer, Gerry McGovern. Based loosely on the upcoming '05 Mustang platform, this could be a hint of a new Cougar. But Ford Motor design chief J Mays says it still needs some work. We say it looks much like the Marcos GT sports car of the late-'60s. Mays concedes there's some '63 Corvette in the design, as well. Altogether, not a bad pedigree, even if not Mercury's.
The all-new F-150 draws design influence from the Super Duty and Expedition to create a tough, modern truck that makes a marked advance over the current best-selling pickup. The basic configurations include Regular Cab with rear-swinging cargo access doors; SuperCab with second seating row; and SuperCrew with four full-size doors. The cargo box will be offered in Styleside and Flareside forms with three bed lengths: 8, 6.5, and 5.5 feet. The interior transformation is equally as dramatic as the exterior, raising the standard for truck dash design. Most every element is bigger and better, with a nine-times stiffer frame, deeper cargo box, larger cabins, and more potent powertrains. Two engines will be offered, a 4.6-liter/231-horsepower V-8 and a three-valve 5.4-liter/300-horsepower V-8.
For those who find the Honda Element's contrasting sheetmetal and protective plastic resembles an oversized Fisher Price toy, the monochrome Studio E concept may bring more street appeal to the innovative sport/cute. Given the "panel" treatment, the Element takes on a whole new, sinister persona, complete with ghost flames, aero kit, and 19-inch wheels. Out Scioning the bX at its own game, the concept vehicle is a rolling studio for a club DJ, complete with retracting 42-inch plasma screen, personal computer for mixing, and 800-watt Eclipse sound system. Revealing Element's performance potential, this enhanced project vehicle boasts 190-horsepower (versus 160 hp stock) I-4 engine matched to a six-speed manual transmission. Word from the inside is that Honda is seeking a couple Element variants to offer, and this is just one of the ideas being floated.
Hyundai looks to satisfy the needs of recreation seekers with its Outdoor Lifestyle Vehicle (OLV), a versatile sport/utility that exists for weekends. Rather than construct an extension of the Sante Fe, Hyundai started with a blank slate to explore how to satisfy the demands of active drivers. A trick "convertible trunk" takes a fresh look at cargo flexibility by allowing the rear glass to hinge up, the decklid to be removed, and a tailgate to be lowered, forming a short bed. Another clever element is the versatile top, with three removable roof panels. The unibody sport/ute is powered by a supercharged, intercooled four-cylinder engine, and it rides on a fully independent suspension.
Mitsubishi expands its sport/ute offerings with a midsized crossover vehicle to slot above the car-based Outlander and rugged Montero Sport. Vying against the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, the 190.2-inch Endeavor offers seating for five with 40.7 cubic feet of rear cargo space. The interior has a high-tech feel befitting a company that manufactures home entertainment electronics, complete with a 4.9-inch LCD information display. The Endeavor rides on a four-wheel independent suspension, and it will be offered in two- and all-wheel drive. Motivation comes from a 3.8-liter/215-horsepower V-6 with 250 lb-ft of torque. Three trim levels will be offered when the Endeavor goes on sale in February 2003.
What could be more fun than a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution? Mitsu thinks a small topless four seater sharing the rally legend's drivetrain yet weighing hundreds of pounds less would be a good start. Bonus points to Mitsu for using the Japanese drivetrain, complete with active yaw control and active center differential. Inspired by the CZ-3 Tarmac concept shown at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, the Spyder carries now-familiar design themes to the latest dream machine. Rather than a convertible top, the Spyder utilizes a removable hardtop. Appealing to the video-game generation weened on Gran Turismo, the Spyder features a side-mirror mounted camera that can capture a driver's eye view of the road for replay on an in-car monitor. Other electronic goodies include DVD entertainment system supported by a mega-watt stereo with subwoofer.
With the Camaro vs. Mustang era fast becoming a faded memory, the WRX begins a rivalry for a new generation of car enthusiasts with the Lancer Evolution. Subaru brings its rally car to the battle packing a 2.5-liter/300-horsepower DOHC turbocharged, intercooled boxer four. Its all-wheel-drive system features Driver Control Center Differential (DCCD) with a manual mode to allow the driver to adjust the power distribution front to rear. In addition, front and rear differentials further aid traction. Brembo disc brakes are at each corner, with the front boasting four-piston calipers. Well-featured for a car of its high-performance pedigree, this WRX does have several concessions to weight savings, such as aluminum hood, special rear glass, and no standard sound system. Welcome to the new muscle car era.
Suzuki continues to explore four-wheeled potential for spreading its motorcycle DNA. The high-revving Hayabusa superbike engine has been fitted in the Formula Hayabusa spec racer and the Hot Wheels-like GSX-R/4, but this two-door hatch is the closest flirtation with a production-capable concept. Bred from Suzuki's front-drive rally car program, the S packages a 1.6-liter engine, six-speed sequential transmission, and all-wheel drive in a sporty car the looks like the Mini Cooper's born nemesis. The styling has enough connection with the Aerio to appear ready for introduction into the automaker's limited product line, where it could infuse excitement into the car brand. Show car gee-whiz features include an intelligent keylock system that tailors settings to each driver, including suspension tuning. Insiders tell us that Suzuki is looking hard at how to best rub off their motorcycle sportiness on to their four-wheeled products, and this is an enticing step in that direction.
Volkswagen elevates the Golf's sport compact status with the sizzling R32, offering more performance and prestige than any GTI. At the core of this special model is a 3.2-liter/241-horse V-6, routing its power through a six-speed manual, and ultimately putting it to the ground through an 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The German automaker claims a 0-60 mph time for this tautly sprung model of under 6.6 seconds with a 153 mph top speed. Beyond gusto, the two-door R32 touts an extensive array of standard equipment, including automatic climate control system, premium sound system, rain sensor, heated seats, and Xenon headlamps. Ample leather and aluminum trim complete the upscale interior treatment.
Built on GM's new Epsilon platform (shared with Saab 9-3), the all-new Chevy Malibu makes significant advances over the current model, with bold styling, increased creature comforts, and more refinement. The mission remains unchanged: offer an affordable, midsize alternative to import sedans. To appeal to consumers of all sizes, the Malibu drivers seat configuration can be personalized through myriad adjustments, including seat height, steering wheel tilt/telescope, and pedal placement. Built in three trim levels, the five-place sedan will be offered with both cloth and leather interiors. Powertrains include 2.2-liter/140-horsepower I-4 and 3.4-liter/200-horsepower V-6. Produced in Kansas, this American sedan will go on sale third quarter 2003.
Bigger, tougher, more refined, and more powerful, the Colorado will push the compact S-10 pickup into retirement when it goes on sale late next fall. The Colorado will be offered in nine model configurations, with three cab styles (standard, extended, and crew) and three suspension packages. The powertrain belongs to the Atlas engine family, first introduced with the inline six found in the TrailBlazer. The Colorado will offer an engine choice of 2.8-liter/175-horsepower inline four and 3.5-liter/220-horsepower inline five. The rugged-looking pickup will be offered in two- and four-wheel drive, with a shift-on-the-fly system. Upscale offerings will include roof rail side airbags, heated seats, OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, and standard anti-lock brakes.
Stripped of unnecessary cladding, styled with an aggressive coke-bottle shape evoking memories of its classic 1960s grandfather, and endowed with a contemporary cockpit, Pontiac introduced the 9th generation Grand Prix. While base Grand Prix models will compete against the likes of Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, of more interest to enthusiasts will be the Comp G (Competition Group) package, optional on the GTP model, that boasts an advanced suspension system promising cornering capabilities (.83 g) on a par with well-known German sports sedans. This works in tandem with the 260-horsepower Eaton Supercharged 3.8-liter V-6 featuring an advanced Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) that employs a speed-based response mechanism.
Emerging from a storm of pyrotechnics at the F-150 unveil event, Ford surprised us with the introduction of the SVT Lightning concept. Clearly not willing to leave the Dodge Ram performance truck threat unanswered, SVT rolled out a bold, hard-edged sport truck that exudes street dominance from every notched vent. Beneath the nostriled hood lurks a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 producing 500 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. The engine augments the intercooler with a special SuperCooler system that uses the air conditioning system to chill a small coolant tank, allowing the intercooler to dissipate 20 percent more heat. The SuperCooler is triggered automatically during wide open throttle, in the spirit of a nitrous system. Shared with the Mustang Cobra, a Tremec T-56 six-speed manual transmission tackles the shifting chores. The independent rear suspension is adapted from the Ford Expedition and tuned for optimum handling.
Flanked by tree-hugging alternative propulsion vehicles on the Toyota stage, the FJ Cruiser concept stood as the modern reinterpretation of the original FJ 40 and early Land Cruisers that inspired pioneering off-roaders to explore. The concept vehicle was developed Stateside to tap into both the youth market and light-truck segment. Penned by a 25-year-old designer, the FJ Cruiser features a two-piece retracting rear glass panel and convenient rear-access doors. Other interesting details include spotlights mounted on the side mirrors, and integrated (yet removable) dash-mounted GPS unit. The affordable sport/ute rides on a modified Tacoma pickup platform fitted with a supercharged 3.4-liter/250-horsepower V-6. The TRD-enhanced engine is matched with a four-speed automatic transmission and essential four-wheel-drive, complete with low range. Insiders suggest that the FJ will see production for the 2006 model year if reaction is strong on the auto show circuit.
Toyota announced that it will offer an electric/gasoline hybrid version of the Lexus RX 330 in two years, expanding the reach of its advanced powertrain technology. Looking further down the road, Toyota presented a slippery hydrogen fuel-cell hybrid-electric concept car. Though technically feasible, the Fine-S is geek tech wrapped in raw sex appeal. With proportions unlikely to be found with a traditional combustion engined car, the Fine-S illustrates the packaging benefits of a fuel-cell system. This sci-fi dream machine was revealed just one month after Toyota leased Highlander fuel-cell vehicles to the Japanese government and two California universities.
Chevy offered an early look at the 2005 Equinox, an overgrown sport/cute based on the Theta platform shared by the Saturn Vue. Significantly larger and roomier than the current Tracker, the Slotting beneath the TrailBlazer, the Equinox will be competitive with newcomers like the Kia Sorento and Mitsubishi Outlander, and mainstays like the Ford Escape. To be offered in front and all-wheel drive configurations, the Equinox is powered by a 3.4-liter/185-horsepower V-6 with a five-speed automatic transmission. The soft-roader uses a McPherson strut front suspension with a four-link independent rear tuned for handling and comfort. The 187.3-inch Equinox will feature a litany of Chevy goodies, including traction control, roof rail curtain air bags, MP3 player, XM satellite radio, OnStar, and myriad power amenities. When the Equinox goes on sale in early 2004, it looks prepared to thrive in this developing market segment with an attractive combination of styling, versatility, power, and content.
Big news in Detroit was Nissan's first foray into the high-stakes full-size pickup market, the Titan. The King Cab version unveiled features rear access doors that swing open nearly 180 degrees; A proper four-door Crew Cab model will also be offered. A new 5.6-liter "Endurance" V-8 produces more than 300 horsepower and greater than 375 lb-ft of torque, routed through a five-speed automatic transmission. This combination boasts a 9400-pound tow capacity. The American-made Titan will be available as a 4x4, featuring shift-on-the-fly electronic controls. A special off-road package will bundled low-ratio Dana 44 axle, locking rear differential, off-road Rancho shocks, large all-terrain tires, fog lights, and skid plates. Clever touches will help distinguish the Nissan truck, such as a car-like interior and exterior bed-mounted storage compartment. Perhaps the biggest news is that the Titan looks to be a serious new threat to the Big 3's entrenched pickups.
The Enzo sat center stage in the Ferrari booth, looking down its long, F1-inspired nose at the ultra-luxury brands that surrounded it. Seeing this supercar in person gave us greater appreciation for its angular styling, which is tempered by artful curves best appreciated in person. Priced at just under $700,000, all 399 of the Enzos expected to be produced have already been spoken for. The 6.0-liter V-12 produces 660-horsepower -- enough to propel the 3000-pound Enzo at speeds well in excess of 200 miles per hour. Ferrari also claims the Enzo can race 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds! Exotic materials, dynamic lines, and pure-blood pedigree make this F1-inspired machine the fuel for 21st-century automotive dreams.
The Kia Slice carves its own interpretation of crossover with its genre-defying design. A modest-sized vehicle with SUV pretensions and car-like dynamics, the Slice brings a high cute factor to the crossover party. The Slice seats six passengers in three rows, using seats that can be folded to accommodate demanding cargo challenges. Solenoid-actuated "suicide" doors ease side loading and present a large entry-way into the vehicle. Inside, the orange and silver dash is equally futuristic and even more attractive than the exterior, with a popup LCD display and cool green instrument glow. The Slice is powered by a 2.7-liter V-6 engine, and it rides on an independent suspension. While no production plans have been announced, Kia will be displaying the Slice at numerous auto shows to gauge public reaction.
For any muscle enthusiast who can recall the gorgeous 1967-1968 Mustangs, the fastback coupe and convertible concepts conjure all the right emotions. Ford insiders confide that these concepts from the Ford Living Legends studio are 90 percent accurate to the production models, specifically the Cobra variant. These show stoppers pack a supercharged 4.6-liter DOHC V-8 producing 400 horsepower, with the coupe featuring a six-speed manual trans and the convertible packing a five-speed automatic. Both V-6 and lower-powered V-8 will also be offered, though output figures were not disclosed. It is expected the SVT model will feature an independent rear suspension, while the mainstream models feature a live axle -- just like the current line up. Sales are expected to begin in April 2004 to coincide with the influential Mustang's original debut.
Lincoln designers and stylists have their own interpretation on the crossover category cooking with the elegant Navicross. Combining elements like the center-open doors of the classic 1961-1963 Continentals with SUV versatility and sedan profile, the all-wheel-drive Navicross may have been one of the most overlooked concepts of this year's NAIAS. With SUV-like approach and departure angles along with generous ground clearance, all combined within a compact 186.6-inch overall length, Lincoln may have a fresh approach (and a direct competitor for Audi) on their hands.
Sir Henry Royce once said, "Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it doesn't exist, design it." And this guided the creation of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom, manufactured at the company's headquarters near Goodwood, West Sussex, on the south coast of England. 'Project Rolls-Royce' began on July 28, 1998, when BMW Group became custodians of the marque. The new Rolls-Royce Phantom is the result of an intense four-year design and engineering program that has not only produced a new motorcar, but it also established the manufacturing plant to build it and a new company market and sell it. The Phantom is powered by a new 6.75-liter V-12 offering 453-horsepower and able to propel the Phantom from 0-60 mph in well under six seconds.