America's biggest, most significant auto show dominates the motor city for the dawn of the new year, drawing journalists and executives from around the globe. True to Detroit fashion, the show kicked off with large crowds, history-making unveils, and snow flurries.
Chrysler continued the honor of hosting the first conference of the show, bringing out several noteworthy concepts whose diversity ranged from an odd three-seater, to Hummer-threatening Jeep Rescue and even a Ford GT-challenging supercar. General Motors and Ford followed immediately after, each rolling out several production and concept vehicles, with bonus unveils promised for special evening engagements. In rapid-fire delivery, the other manufacturers each rolled out the machines of their imminent and distant futures.
The MT Online staff has completed its postings from the show floor with the 61 cars found here, and is now focusing its efforts on our video coverage. Videos are being added to the 2004 Detroit Auto Show Video Gallery now, including segments on the 2005 Chevy Corvette, Ford Mustang, Shelby Cobra Concept, 2005 Nissan Frontier and Pathfinder, and 2006 Lexus GS Sedan and RX 400h Hybrid SUV, with more coming soon!
After you've had a chance to review all the vehicles here, be sure to vote for your favorites by visiting our Favorite Auto Show Concept Poll, Favorite Auto Show Production Car Poll, and Favorite Auto Show Favorite Production Vehicle Poll.
Click to read our complete 2005 North American International Auto Show (aka Detroit Auto Show) Coverage.
With Oldsmobile retired, premium minivan responsibilities are now being handled by Buick. Here Buick's approach to its new Terraza is to weave in sedan values without compromising utility and functionality, while focusing on four attributes: power, ride, quiet and style. The third entry in Buick's growing truck portfolio, Terraza is powered by a 3.5L/200-hp V-6, and will be offered in front- and all-wheel drive. Attention to safety sees the fitment of 16-inch, anti-lock disc brakes at each corner, traction control, and stability control. A traditional minivan interior is treated to premium trim, with abundant use of wood grain and chrome accents. The third-row folds flat, though not into the floor, leaving a slightly higher than normal load surface.
After an extremely long model span, Chevrolet will soon replace the Cavalier with the all-new Cobalt. Based on GM's Delta architecture, the Cobalt will be offered in coupe and sedan forms, with a total of eight trim levels. The configurations will include base, LS, LT, and SS levels, with the striking coupe also to be offered in SS Supercharged form. Each distinct model includes a specific interior, powertrain, suspension, and wheels, ranging from 15 to 18 inches. Cobalt standard features include A/C, electric rear defogger, AM/FM/CD stereo, and driver information center. Available features include heated leather seats, power sunroof, XM Satellite Radio, MP3 playback, and OnStar. One of 10 new products joining the Chevrolet family over the next 20 months, Chevrolet sees this car as both an opportunity to regain mainstream market share and make inroads into the sport compact enthusiast realm. For a clear hint at the SS Supercharged model, look at the 205-hp Saturn Ion Redline.
Chevrolet unveiled the sixth-generation Corvette offsite at the Detroit Opera House, with a fitting tribute to the car's legacy and solid introduction to the more powerful, more refined C6. The heart of the beast is a Gen IV LS2 small-block producing 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. This 6.0-liter engine is backed by either a four-speed 4L65-E automatic or six-speed Tremec manual gearbox. The independent suspension is entirely new, though familiar options continue: including F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control and aggressive Z51 performance package. Evolutionary styling sees the C6 measure five inches shorter and one inch narrower than the C5. Besides the notable body creases, the C6 is distinguished by the Xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps -- the first fixed units since 1962. A fresh interior design addresses C5 criticisms for feeling cheap for a $50k car; smart application of premium materials and trim bits make a strong impression. The 2005 sees several available cabin technologies, such as a configurable heads-up display with lateral g readout, DVD-based navigation system with voice activation, and XM Satellite Radio. Both the coupe and convertible will be on sale fall 2004. Click here to view downloadable wallpapers and additional photography, or watch the Corvette Video.
Chrysler execs were beaming as they unveiled the company's first-ever mid-engined super car. Conceived as a follow-up to last year's Viper-powered Tomahawk motorcycle, the ME took less than a year to create, from concept to functional show car. The name comes from the powertrain, a quad-turbo V-12 developed by Mercedes' performance arm, AMG. The 6.0-liter engine produces 850 hp @ 5750 rpm and 850 lb-ft of torque, translating to 142 hp per liter. This massive Hemi-embarrassing output is managed by a seven-speed Ricardo double-clutch transmission developed specifically for this car. Weighing just 2880 lbs, the carbon-fiber-bodied ME Four-Twelve reportedly can go 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds and blaze the quarter-mile in 10.6 seconds at 142.0 mph. Calculated top speed is 248 mph.
Dodge's projectile weapon to fend off the growing number of compact hatch concepts is the Sling Shot, a design that shows both Viper and Japanese influences. Intended to be fun, sporty, and affordable, the Sling Shot is powered by a 100-hp three-cylinder engine good for 10-second 0-60 mph times and 45 mpg. The light car rides on a four-wheel independent suspension, with disc brakes at each corner. For open-air entertainment, the roof panel removes, making the car look even more sharp. The interior features the clean design exhibited in the latest Chrysler concepts, with prominent circular shapes and machined contact points, like door handles and shifter. We'd like this concept even more if it returns featuring the Neon SRT-4's powertrain.
While the silhouette reveals design chief J Mays' experience with Volkswagen, it also shows that Ford is preparing to launch a car that will be a stronger global player than the Taurus it will ultimately replace. Ford applies the term "crossover" to the Five Hundred to describe its class-leading interior space, command-like seating position, large trunk, and available all-wheel drive. The 3.0-liter Duratec V-6 engine can be paired with a new six-speed automatic or continuously variable transmission. Destined to become the brand's sedan flagship, the Five Hundred promises a more sophisticated package than either the Taurus or Crown Vic when it goes on sale in the fall.
The crossover segment is about to get as crowded as the "F" section of the Ford product catalog with the Freestyle nearing production. Blending attributes of a wagon, minivan, and sport/utility vehicle, the Freestyle offers command seating, three passenger rows, flexible interior, abundant storage, and Volvo-inspired structure. Cargo capacity rivals many SUVs, with 47.4 cubic feet behind the second-row, measuring 49.7 inches deep. The Freestyle features a single powertrain, a 3.0-liter/200-hp V-6 with a continuously variable transmission offered in choice of front or all-wheel drive. While numerous safety elements are standard, such as ABS, the standout protection can be found in an optional package with side airbags and Safety Canopy to protect all three rows. The Freestyle goes on sale in fall 2004.
Remarkably true to the 2003 Detroit show-stopping concept, the next-generation Ford Mustang successfully borrows styling cues from its rich past and combines then into a musclecar for the future. With this thoroughly modern structure, gone forever are the platform pieces that dated back to the '70s. The chassis retains a rear live axle setup, with MacPherson struts up front. The Mustang will be offered initially with a choice of 4.0-liter/202-hp SOHC V-6 engine and 4.6-liter/300-hp SOHC V-8. A six-inch increase in wheelbase provides a much-needed interior space increase. The interior shows '60s influences with symmetrical dash segments accented with a squared arch, three-spoke steering wheel with black center hub, and defined circular gauges. The instrument face backlighting can be changed to any of 125 colors, allowing easy personalization. The 2005 Mustang is a car loyalists should covet and rear-drive enthusiasts will be drawn to. Click here to view downloadable wallpapers and additional photography, or watch the Mustang Video.
Despite denials, rumors that Honda is developing its own version of a pickup truck were to be believed. In Detroit, Honda unveiled the SUT (sport/utility truck) concept, demonstrating its unique take on the pickup market. The development focus was the "active dad," translating into a family-focused vehicle that emphasizes car-like characteristics yet boasts truck-grade toughness for weekend adventuring. The unibody truck has seating for five, along with a five-foot cargo bed for toys like ATVs. The SUT is powered by a VTEC V-6, with output estimated to be in the 240- to 260-horsepower range. Ride and handling are aided by a fully independent suspension. On the safety front, the SUT concept features vehicle stability assist, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and four-wheel ABS. Bed bonus points awarded for exterior speakers. SUT production at the Alliston, Ontario, plant will begin in 2005.
Ever since Honda's HSC (Honda Sports Concept) debuted in Tokyo, we've been anxious to hear news about when it will enter production as the next-generation Acura NSX. Making its domestic debut in Detroit, the aggressive two-seater HSC is composed of carbon fiber panels over an all-aluminum unit body frame and uses a 300-plus horsepower mid-engine V-6 shifted via F1-style paddle shifter transmission. As always, Honda remains tight-lipped about the HSC and its production potential; Don't expect to see this halo vehicle anytime before late 2007. The wide, smooth front-end design is meant to compliment the reverse-angle B-pillar shape, curvaceous fenders, and bubbled deck lid. This could be their next home run.
Infiniti joins Cadillac and Lincoln in the full-size, luxury sport/utility vehicle segment with the QX56. Following the formula proven by the domestic manufacturers, Infiniti has outfitted the mainstream Nissan Pathfinder Armada with premium accoutrements, ranging from Infiniti cues to upscale feature content. Standout elements include standard navigation system, 10-speaker Bose audio system, adjustable pedals, and Vehicle Dynamic Control with Active Brake Limited-Slip. Key options include DVD system with wireless headphones, laser-based Intelligent Cruise Control, and RearView Monitor system. The fourth Infiniti model to tout V-8 power, the QX56 shares the 5.6-liter/315-horsepower engine and five-speed automatic transmission with the Nissan trucks. Offered in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations, the QX56 carries the distinction of being the first Infiniti model assembled in the U.S.
As the auto industry turns its attention to hydrogen fuel as a gasoline alternative, the RX-8 Hydrogen RE offers a hydrogen-powered version of RENESIS--Mazda's next-generation rotary engine introduced last year in the all-new RX-8, and winner of the 2003 International Engine of the Year award. Due to its unique nature, the rotary engine can run on hydrogen with very little modification. The RENESIS engine has the injection, compression, ignition, and exhaust areas separated from each other so no pre-ignition of the gas occurs, whereas the more common reciprocating gasoline engine needs substantial development to run on hydrogen to avoid pre-ignition on the intake cycle. This rotary engine has been developed with a dual-fuel system, allowing it to run on either gasoline or hydrogen, offering flexibility to promote the usage of hydrogen fuel and the development of a supporting infrastructure. Mazda is still several years off producing a hydrogen car for customer use, but it is actively pursuing this alternative fuel system with the RX-8.
Center stage at the Audi booth is the luxury maker's high-tech flagship, the Audi A8 L 6.0 quattro. As the name reveals, this aluminum-intensive premium sedan is powered at all four wheels by a 450-hp W-12 engine. The 12-cylinder powerplant is teamed with a six-speed Tiptronic transmission with Sport mode, enabling the driver to race 0-60 mph in just over five seconds. Road holding is enhanced with an adaptive air suspension that continuously varies damper settings to optimize dynamics and comfort. Distinct grille and LED headlamp treatment, as well as trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes, announce the W-12's presence. This Teutonic super sedan goes on sale in the U.S. market by end of 2004.
The legendary Bronco is back as Ford re-explores the origins of the sport/utility vehicle in this concept. Key design features reminiscent of the original Ford Bronco include the boxy upright roofline, short wheelbase, round headlamps, a winch and guide rollers integrated into the lower fascia, and the Bronco nameplate milled into the modern three-bar grille. The roof features separate removable sections for open-air driving, giving the look and feel of the "Baja Broncos" of the early 1970s. Exterior details include exposed door hinges, cowl vents, flared wheelwells, and unique loop-shaped door handles integrated into the door. The Bronco concept mates a 2.0-liter/128-hp intercooled turbodiesel with six-speed PowerShift transmission and Intelligent 4WD system for a powerful, sure-footed off-roader, and adds nitrous-oxide injection for a temporary 50-horse burst of power at the driver's fingertips.
Designed to be a rugged search-and-rescue vehicle in the most extreme situations and unforgiving conditions, Chrysler says its five-seat Rescue concept is the ultimate execution of a Jeep off-road vehicle. Powered by a Cummins Diesel, the Jeep Rescue's primary mission is rescue capability, and its list of high-tech rescue and safety equipment includes: AC electric power (10 kW) generation in the field; 3-D topographical mapping software and topographical navigation system; under-chassis, point-of-view cameras for avoiding danger in its path; passive, infrared cameras for search and rescue; satellite telephone, VHF radio, and digital video recorder with satellite transmission; high-tech lighting; and front and back remote-control winches. Built to survive anything in its way, Rescue rides on an 80-inch wide chassis with 123-inch wheelbase and 37-inch run-flat tires, and the front hydropneumatic suspension combines with the heavy-duty link-coil rear suspension to give the Rescue solid footing on all types of terrain. Forget the St. Bernard; bring on the Jeep Rescue!
Jeep's futuristic Treo concept makes its domestic debut in Detroit, as what must be the strangest vehicle to ever wear the "Jeep" moniker. Looking past the, um, imaginative styling, there are some interesting ideas at play. The pickup trucklet is built on a fuel cell platform, with an electric powertrain providing full-time all-wheel drive. This platform can adapt various alternative powertrain systems, allowing the three-seat Treo to be a rolling science experiment. By-wire steering column, pedals, and instrumentation shift as a unit from side to side to allow instant adaptability for either left- or right-hand drive. On the styling front, the Treo applies rugged elements to an urban commuter, with exposed tires on 19-inch wheels pushed to the very corners, bolted-on body panels, oversized tow hooks, boot tread texture on sill plate, and obligatory seven-slot vertical grille.
Mazda puts two new skins on its popular 2004 Mazda6 sport sedan lineup: the Mazda6 Sport Wagon and Mazda6 5-Door. The Mazda6 Sport Wagon (shown) and Mazda6 5-Door offer additional variety for consumers who desire versatility and style but yearn for the Zoom Zoom soul of a sports car. From the exterior, the Sport Wagon and 5-Door differ from the sedan only from the B-pillar back. Underhood Sport Wagons come equipped with a 220-horsepower DOHC V-6 engine and standard five-speed manual transmission (five-speed Sport Shift A/T with manual shift mode available). The Mazda6 5-Door, like the sedan, comes with either a 160-horsepower I-4 (available with five-speed manual or four-speed Sport Shift A/T with manual shift mode) or the 220-horsepower V-6 (available with five-speed manual or five-speed Sport Shift A/T with manual shift mode).
Lincoln-Mercury's first compact SUV is targeted to attract 30-something, diverse buyers to the company's SUV lineup. Refined design touches include satin aluminum waterfall grille, unique taillamps, and distinctive front and rear fascia outside, and elegant wood grain, chrome, and satin-aluminum accents inside. Three series offerings are available: Convenience Array, which includes Duratec 2.3-liter/153-hp I-4 engine; Luxury Array, with the Duratec 3.0-liter/200-hp V-6 engine; and the Premier Array, which builds from the Luxury model and adds premium leather seating and driver's lumbar support as well as heated driver and passenger seating. Additional features include keyless entry, optional 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, standard anti-lock brakes with braking assist, as well as a variety of safety systems. Mariner is available in both front- and four-wheel-drive versions, and V-6 models can tow up to 3500 pounds, when properly equipped. The 2005 Mercury Mariner will be produced at the Avon Lake, Ohio, assembly plant.
Based on GM's new rear-wheel-drive Kappa architecture shared with the Pontiac Solstice and Chevy Nomad, the Saturn Curve concept is evidence of Saturn's evolution, both in styling and product. Built from fiberglass panels over a steel tube structure, and featuring roof pillars concealed by a wraparound canopy of glass to create the look of a "floating" roof panel, its design abounds with interesting details that emphasize its contemporary design aesthetic, as well as its sports car roots. Sporty performance is provided by a supercharged 2.2-liter/200-hp Ecotec four-cylinder engine paired with a Getrag five-speed manual for an engine/transmission combination similar to that found in the new 2004 Saturn ION Red Line. Unique seven-spoke 20-inch wheels are mounted to performance tires, while large, 14-inch brake rotors with twin-piston front calipers and large, single-piston rear calipers, provide the vehicle's stopping power. The powertrain, chassis, and brake system are based on existing production components, which makes us wonder just how close to production the Curve really could be...
Making its American debut, Honda's long, low, and wide sport wagon concept tries to balance the complexity of hydrogen fuel cell technology with a simple (even primitive) aesthetic interior and exterior style. While Kiwami's outside surfaces are boxed and flat, inside designs try to be relaxing with only a few smooth accents. Advanced packaging technology that make possible the lower floor ensures a roomy interior despite the vehicle's low roofline. The interior design reflects the Japanese sense of a luxurious, relaxing atmosphere, harmoniously blending advanced features such as an exterior information display and panel-touch shifting with a traditional Japanese sensibility for the ultimate in comfort and hospitality. On the technical side, an H-shaped layout for the control unit, ultracapacitor, fuel cell stack, hydrogen storage unit, and other components give the Kiwami a low center of gravity, lower overall vehicle height, and a spacious interior, along with stable synchronized-control 4WD handling performance.
Chevy's Nomad concept is not a sedan, wagon, SUV or any other categorizable vehicle, but GM says it simultaneously conveys presence and practicality. The Nomad team created a forward-thinking and forward-looking design that evokes the spirit of the 1954 Chevy Nomad concept vehicle, including its round headlamps mounted on gently curving fenders, a trademark Corvette grille, and a forward-sloping B-pillar. Designed in Great Britain with the help of renowned Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina, Nomad is built on GM's new rear-wheel-drive Kappa architecture, which is also the foundation for the Pontiac Solstice production model and Saturn Curve concept. A turbocharged Ecotec 2.2-liter/250-hp four-cylinder engine powers the Nomad, which also features a new Hydra-Matic 5L40-E electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission with finger-operated tap shifting. The new Nomad features clever details to accommodate large, bulky items, such as a removable rear roof panel, a folding tailgate, and a sliding cargo floor that extends over the folded tailgate so items placed on the load floor can be easily pushed into the cargo area.
During a lively press conference, Chrysler announced pricing for its all-new 2005 300 range, with the large sedan starting at $23,595. This base price shocked attendees, but the price for the Hemi-powered 300C set the reality check at $32,995. The payment for this desirable model nets a modern musclecar certain to become the foundation for future hot rodders. The 300C boasts a 340-hp V-8 fitted to a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. All Chrysler 300C models feature dual exhaust tips, large performance disc brakes, unique chrome exterior appearance, patented tortoise shell interior highlights, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, and Boston Acoustics six-speaker 288-watt digital amplifier sound system. Two models fit in the middle, with the 300 Touring starting at $27,395 and the well-equipped 300 Limited priced at $29,890. The 2005 Chrysler 300 will begin to arrive in dealerships in the spring.
Porsche celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 550 Spyder with a special-edition Boxster S. Since the Boxster was first shown in 1993 as a dream-inspiring silver concept, comparisons to the classic Porsche were commonplace. Now, the lineage is celebrated with a limited run of 1953 Boxsters, commemorating the 1953 Paris motor show where the 550 Spyder made its world debut. For this car, the 3.2-liter flat-six engine output is bumped to 264 horsepower, up from 258. The manual six-speed shifter has 15 percent less travel, and the Tiptronic auto transmission is available with steering wheel shifter paddles. Other key elements include lowered suspension, wider track, racier exhaust note, Litronic headlamps with dynamic beam angle adjustment, 17-inch front/18-inch rear Carrera wheels, and "50 Years of the 550 Spyder" badging. The color scheme is silver exterior with a dark brown Cocoa top and interior trim. This very special Porsche Boxster S goes on sale in March 2004 priced at $59,900.
Mercedes' latest concept vehicle reveals a near-future, family-centric vehicle expected to join the premium automaker's expanding line in 2005. The Vision "Grand Sport Tourer" merges traditional vehicle types into a crossover vehicle similar in spirit to corporate cousin Chrysler Pacifica. Key to any crossover is interior versatility; the GST second- and third-row seats each fold individually to accommodate various people and cargo-toting needs. Passengers are entertained via two eight-inch color screens fed by DVD player and digital TV receiver, and a glass panoramic sunroof. For the driver, the entertainment comes from a 250-hp diesel V-8 engine teamed with an electric motor, and shifted by a seven-speed transmission, creating a powerful and efficient drivetrain. Zero to 60 mph times of 6.6 seconds are cited by Mercedes, with fuel consumption rated at 30 mpg, while the future version of this powertrain promises 33 mpg. When it goes into production, the luxuriously equipped GST will fill the narrow gap between the E-Class Estate and the ML-Class, offering an appealing solution to the transportation needs that send most car buyers toward more conventional segments.
For the first time, Ferrari has selected an American auto show for the international unveiling of an all-new model. The occasion marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first Ferrari GT in North America, which continues to be the biggest market for the Prancing Horse. Each Ferrari sold in the United States this year will feature a plaque celebrating the anniversary. Designed by Pininfarina, the 612 has been named in honor of Sergio Scaglietti, the coachbuilder who created some of Maranello's most noteworthy cars for founder Enzo. The all-aluminum, 2+2 coupe draws its numerical name from the nearly six-liter V-12 engine. This lightweight engine produces 540 horsepower -- 100-hp more than the 456M. Matched with a six-speed manual gearbox or new-generation clutchless manual (shifted by F1-type paddle triggers), the engine propels the sleek Italian from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds and achieves a 195-mph top speed.
True to tradition, Volkswagen used the Detroit show to unveil a surprising concept vehicle. For the concept T, VW designers looked deep into the company's history, drawing inspiration from the Kubelwagen and the Beetle-based dune buggies, and then looked to the future to identify a micro-niche in the crowded SUV segment to shoehorn an innovative vehicle into. The result is an off-road coupe fitted with a 214-hp V-6, Tiptronic transmission, 4Motion all-wheel drive, and wild, Speed Buggy styling. The sweeping doors move outward and swing upward to aid ingress/egress. The roof is made of two removable parts to enable open-air beach cruising. The interior boasts latest technology with a Personal Mobility Gateway (PMG) wireless communication system. The PMG uses a portable PDA-like device that controls functions such as air conditioning and navigation system. VW officials suggest this concept is more than a fanciful design, leaving us wondering about the potential for a platform- and drivetrain-sharing sport/ute coupe.
The entry-level, near-lux Volvo range moves up in sophistication, power, and safety for 2005. The Belgium-built V50 features an increased track and width over the V40 it replaces, benefiting road dynamics and interior packaging. Measuring 1.8-inches longer than the recently introduced S40 sedan, the V50 wagon is structured with not only space in mind, but safety, putting the increased size to use in protecting occupants. Typical Volvo, the V50 is overflowing with safety systems such as whiplash protect, side airbags, traction control, stability control, electronic brake assist, ABS, and clever deformation strategies. Power has also improved, with two new inline five-cylinder engines offering 168-hp and 218-hp, in turbo form. Pricing was announced for the S40, with the sedan starting at $24,875, making it 2.1 percent less than the current car. Both the S40 and V50 go on sale in the spring as 2004.5 models.
Beneath the bushy moustache, Chrysler Group President and Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche is smiling after watching a cabaret-style introduction of the new "Stow 'n Go" minivan seating and storage system. Amid the stage show, there was mention about how this innovative system will improve the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans for 2005, but our notes read "See Dodge Caravan."
Like the 2005 Chrysler Town & Country, the Dodge Caravan will benefit from a creative new seating system called "Stow 'n Go." Clever engineering enables the second- and third-row seats in extended-wheelbase minivans to fold up, forward, and flat, giving owners tremendous interior flexibility without removing the typically heavy and awkward seats. As a benefit, the underfloor seat storage bins offer significant storage space when the seats are upright in their passenger-ready positions. To accomplish this feat, the development team needed to dig into the floor pan and create an entirely new underbody, invent folding seats, and a load floor for the second-row seats. They also needed to design a new fuel tank, exhaust system, park brake cables, rear climate control lines, and modify the rear suspension. Cost for this new platform: $400 million. The result is a useful feature that will give the Chrysler brands a key competitive feature when they go on sale early 2004.
With the unveiling of its four-passenger Sport Truck concept, Mitsubishi has revealed its belief that a pickup truck can be both functional and fun to drive. Designed to appeal to urban customers who are always on the move, the Sport Truck Concept's exterior styling is sporty yet rugged. Developed on Dodge's next-gen Dakota platform, the heart of the Sport Truck Concept beats with a powerful V-8 engine mated to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. The transmission features a dial-type shifter knob which, rotated into the D+ mode, allows for sporty paddle shifting through controls mounted on the steering wheel. Beyond the practical utility of a truck, the concept also features a four-wheel independent suspension and 22-inch custom alloy wheels for the sophisticated ride and performance more commonly associated with sport sedans. Large "barn-style" side doors open outwards to provide maximum access to an interior finished with chic, modern materials, and outfitted with an assortment of high-tech gadgetry and infinitely variable LED lighting.
Aston Martin's goal when developing the new DB9 was to make a beautiful, distinctive car that was also outstandingly nimble and fast, while also striving to be a worthy successor to the DB7 -- the best-selling car in Aston Martin's history. That's no short order! As far as beautiful and distinctive... its appearance speaks volumes. For nimble and fast, it's powered by the latest version of Aston Martin's 6.0-liter/441-hp V-12 (developed from the engine found in the Vanquish), the DB9 promises a top speed of 186 mph and 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds. Two transmissions are offered: a six-speed ZF automatic paddle-shifter and a conventional six-speed manual gearbox. Built entirely from aluminum for strength, torsional rigidity, and light weight, instead of traditional spot welding, a new type of ultrasonic welding was used to join the upper and lower C-pillars, whereby high-frequency vibrations actually agitate the molecules of the two aluminum panels until they are joined by a molecular bond. The new DB9 will go on sale in Spring 2004.
First shown in Tokyo, Honda's bicycle-themed IMAS offers a high-tech combination of lightweight body, wind-cheating aerodynamics, and refined Integrated Motor Assist engine promising fuel economy higher than 90 miles per gallon. Constructed of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum, its overall weight is just 1540 pounds and its drag coefficient is a slippery .20, making it an exceptionally efficient little sportscar. Handling is optimized by a shaftless variable gear ratio steering system with drive-by-wire technology for a natural linear throttle response. Interior construction is sparse, with an aluminum frame structure reminiscent of a racing bicycle so passengers can experience the invigorating "cutting-through-the-breeze" emotion evoked by its sweeping design from inside the car, as well.
Elegant design, high-tech features, and athletic performance combine to put BMW's new 6 Series Convertible on the wish list of all who desire the ultimate in open-air driving. Powered by BMW's top-of-the-range 4.4-liter/326-hp 8-cylinder 645Ci bi-VANOS engine and shifted via one of three six-speed transmissions (including BMW's Formula 1, paddle-style SMG Sequential Manual Gearbox) the 6 Series Convertible promises 0-62-mph acceleration just tenths above six seconds and a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph. Talk about feeling the wind in your hair! High-tech features include BMW's Active Steering, Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Drive Control, voice-operated entry and iDrive, and Car Communication Computer. The fully automatic electric top opens and closes in seconds, even if the car is moving at speeds up to 20 mph. A full-fledged 2+2 convertible, a convenient wind deflector (which stores neatly in the trunk along with room for two 46-inch golf bags) turns the Convertible into a two-seater almost free of drafts. The 645Ci Convertible will retail for $76,995 when it goes on sale on March 26th.
Project Daisy blossomed at the Detroit show into a modern Shelby Cobra, complete with the bulging fenders, twin stripes, monster power, and smiling Texan. Carroll Shelby conspired with the concept team to develop this show car, borrowing heavily from the Ford GT production car. For the Cobra, the mid-engine platform was reconfigured for a front-mid-engine application. Inspired by the Cobra 427, the team created a special 6.4-liter V-10 that produces 605 horsepower and 501 lb-ft of torque. In a 3000-pound car sized like a Miata, that power translates to sub-four-second 0-60 mph times. The six-speed transmission is rear mounted to distribute weight and increase interior legroom. The cockpit is all business, with essential gauges, race-inspired seats, and toggle-switch controls, all surrounded by aluminum and carbon fiber materials. Likewise, the clean exterior carries the essential Cobra cues with a modern, machined appearance highlighted with 18-inch front, 19-inch rear wheels. "I'm sure the question on everyone's mind at this point is, 'Are you going to build a production version?' The answer is, "We'll see.' If we get the same overwhelming reaction to the Cobra concept as we did to the GT concept, anything is possible," said J Mays, Group Vice President, Design. Click to see more photos, or watch the Shelby Video.
The long-rumored Jeep "Scrambler" was unveiled with other Chrysler convertibles as the Wrangler Unlimited. This 2004.5 model measures 15 inches longer than a typical Wrangler. The added length is split, with 13 inches more cargo space and two more inches of rear legroom, creating a more functional, more livable all-terrain sport/ute. This long-wheelbase model promises improved on-road ride quality, while retaining the legendary Jeep off-road prowess, as engineers were keen to retain a 20-degree minimum breakover angle. Powered by a 4.0-liter/190-horse inline-six, the Unlimited boasts a 3500-lb towing capacity, besting the regular Wrangler by 1500 lbs. The larger Jeep has a large cloth top for foul weather and security that features a large 45x23-inch center flap to create a massive sunroof. Look for this mighty Wrangler to reach dealerships in April.
Lexus unveiled the production RX 400h luxury sport/utility vehicle, emerging as the first automaker to prove hybrid vehicles can be about more than near-zero emissions and high fuel economy. This new model features a more powerful, more advanced version of the hybrid drivetrain found in the 2004 Motor Trend Car of the Year Toyota Prius. While the 400h achieves 36 city/31 highway mpg and meets California's Super-Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) requirements, it is the power and its delivery that excites us. The electric-enhanced V-6-based powertrain will produce approximately 270 horsepower, a full 40 horses more than the RX 330. Insiders confide that it is the torque that really impresses, giving the 400h the pull of a V-8. Further defying conventional wisdom, the all-wheel-drive variant reportedly recovers more energy (heightening efficiency) and delivers more acceleration. Beyond the powertrain, the 400h will Vehicle Dynamic Management (VDM), a more advanced version of the automaker's stability control system. Throw in a 600-mile range, and the RX 400h makes being green more appealing than ever. Click here to watch the Lexus Video.
Lexus offered a very early look at the next-generation GS sedan, destined to replace the current, dramatically styled model range launched in 1997. This new GS demonstrates the more dramatic exterior and interior styling that will be reflected in future Lexus products. More specifically, it shows the next GS will have a two-inch longer wheelbase and measure a half longer overall. Powerplant choices will include an all-new 245-hp V-6 and a 4.3-liter V-8, each paired with an all-new close-ratio, sequential six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. The V-6 models will be offered in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive configuration, though V-8 cars will be strictly rear-drivers. The GS will be offered with Vehicle Dynamic Management, a stability enhancement system designed to anticipate handling problems. Click here to watch the Lexus Video.
Flanked by new models, Mazda presented the MX-Micro Sport concept to explore American interest in an upcoming 2005 model planned for overseas markets. The MX-Micro Sport is 19.9 inches shorter than the Mazda 3 wagon, yet it is nearly as wide and 3.3 inches taller. Consequently, the MX-Micro Sport provides a surprisingly workable interior for four passengers despite its length. The luggage compartment comes equipped with a detachable partition for flexible stowage arrangements, allowing below-floor storage or cargo cover. The MX-Micro Sport concept features a MacPherson-type front suspension and a torsion beam rear suspension tuned to provide the lively driving response. Couple with a 2.0-liter/148-hp four-cylinder engine, the mechanicals promise quite an entertaining ride. Is America ready the MX-Micro? You decide. Mazda is listening.
The Pathfinder grows for the 2005 model year, finding a more comfortable position in a crowded showroom that also houses the Murano, Pathfinder Armada, and Xterra. Sharing more than its name with the mighty Armada, the new Pathfinder shares design language and less obvious key architecture, including frame and suspension. By growing in size, the Pathfinder now accommodates three seating rows for a seven-passenger total capacity. These riders are protected with three-point belts for all positions, with available side airbags and roof-mounted supplemental curtain air bags. The Pathfinder is fitted with a 4.0-liter/250-plus-hp V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission, with 2WD and 4WD configurations available. A Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system is also offered, along with an advanced off-road traction system. Click here to watch the Nissan Video.
Nissan crashed the full-size truck party with the Titan, boldly confronting the domestic manufacturers with a powerful, aggressively styled truck that can hold its own. This same spirit, and even design flair, has been applied to the all-new 2005 Frontier. In fact, the Frontier borrows heavily from its big brother, with a fully boxed, all-steel frame; steel double-wishbone front suspension and rigid leaf rear suspension; factory spray-in bedliner; and convenient bed-rail system. For the new generation, the Frontier grows in length, and extends its wheelbase by nearly 10 inches. Also bigger is the powerplant, now a VQ-series 4.0-liter V-6 producing 250-plus horsepower and 270-plus lb-ft of torque. The DOHC engine will be offered with a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. Basic truck configurations include King Cab and Crew Cab, each available in two-wheel and four-wheel drive. The 2005 Frontier will arrive at dealers nationwide in winter 2004. Click here to watch the Nissan Video.
First shown as a concept at the 2002 Detroit show, the Pontiac Solstice concept was tangible proof of Bob Lutz's influence at General Motors, as this was a concept he fast-tracked into show-stopping reality in four months. Now, two years later, Bob seemed truly thrilled to reveal the stunning production model that so closely resembled the original concept. Built on GM's new Kappa architecture, the rear-drive roadster features a reverse-hinged clamshell hood that opens to reveal a 2.4-liter/170-horsepower four-cylinder Ecotec DOHC engine. Initially, Solstice will be offered with a close-ratio Aisin five-speed manual transmission. Rear-wheel drive, full independent suspension, four-corner disc brakes, and 18-inch wheels all speak to an entertaining sports car that should further fuel excitement into the reinvigorated Pontiac division.
Scion will expand its range and reach with the tC, a five-seat sporty coupe scheduled to go on sale nationally in June. Based on the Toyota Avensis, the tC is the first Scion model exclusively bodied for the youth-targeted division. Although it looks like a notch-back coupe with a traditional trunk, the tC benefits from the versatility of a hatchback and a 60/40-split rear seat. Folding the rear and front passenger seats creates 8.5-feet of linear cargo space. Other key exterior details include a panoramic moonroof, recessed windshield wipers, and side mirrors with built-in turn signals. Premium touches are seen throughout this affordable machine, from aluminum interior trim to standard four-wheel ABS. But the aspect that truly stands out is the powertrain: While the xA and xB have conservative 1.8-liter/108-hp engines, the tC has a more enthusiastic 2.4-liter/160-hp four-cylinder shared with the Camry. Going a step further, TRD will offer a dealer-installed supercharger later in the year to boost output to 200 horses.
Criticized for offering two-generations of not-quite-full-size pickups in a market segment absolutely dominated by the domestic manufacturers, Toyota has learned a lesson from the Nissan Titan -- come out swinging. While the next-generation Tundra isn't scheduled until 2006, the FTX concept truck is intended to make a strong statement that the next pickup will indeed be a big player in the high-volume category. Tundra to the extreme, the FTX is a huge machine measuring 19 feet long and nearly seven feet wide, with a bed edge that is eye-level. Ready for off-road adventures, this 4x4 wears 37-inch tires and isolates passengers from trail harshness with suspension-fitted seats. Retractable side step rails aid ingress/egress, and even cargo loading. A hidden ramp at the rear helps roll heavy items or recreation machines into the bed. This concept features a hybrid V-8 powertrain, reportedly under consideration for the next Tundra, though it will not be offered at launch.
Motor Trend's 2004 Sport/Utility of the Year Volkswagen Touareg is already a winner in our book, but it is about to gain a lot more momentum. VW quietly introduced the Touareg V10 TDI in Detroit, a German SUV late-comer with the output to shake Motor City. For naysayers who feel the V-6 model could use a bit more oomph, VW has overcompensated with a five-liter, 10-cylinder diesel engine that produces 310 hp and 553 lb-ft. This power raises the tow capacity to 7716 lbs and pegs the macho factor all the way to redline. EPA mileage figures are 17 city, 23 highway. The Touareg V10 TDI comes standard with a 4XMOTION permanent four-wheel drive with low-range gear and adaptive torque distribution, six-speed automatic transmission, and Electronic Stabilization Program with brake assist as well as Hill Descent and Climb Assist. Touareg V10 TDI will go on sale later this year starting at $57,800.
Plasma running lights and taillights, neon crackle-tube indicators and brake lights, and a glass roof that offers ambient luminescence of its own make Mitsubishi's 2+2 Concept-E quite a study in lighting. An all-wheel-drive configuration in which parallel engines provide constant power to both the front and rear axles, even when shifting, also makes the fourth-gen Eclipse a study in high-tech hybrid engine mechanics. Front wheels are powered by a 3.8-liter/270-hp MIVEC V-6 engine and rear wheels get an extra 200-horse push from an E-Boost electric motor sending a total of 470 horsepower to the six-speed automated manual transmission. Up front, the grille vent and integrated front spoiler evoke the image of a jet fighter; elsewhere its hybrid electric drivetrain influenced the design of such elements as the functional elliptical side exhaust ports, which allow the electric motor's batteries to be placed down the center of the vehicle.
A scowly visage combines with graceful lines and buttery smooth "Ballistic Yellow" paint to create Hyundai's HCD8 Sports Tourer concept, the first vehicle to emerge from the Hyundai Kia Design and Technical Center in Irvine, California. Designed to appeal to youthful minded professionals who want a great-looking, high-performance sports coupe, the HCD8 explores an automotive segment some say is in decline, using Hyundai's entire portfolio -- the face of the Elantra, the grace of the Sonata, and the stance of the Tiburon -- as inspiration. At the heart of the HCD8 is a supercharged 2.7-liter V-6 engine mated to a six-speed manual transaxle for performance to match its styling. An adjustable air suspension allows the pilot to adjust ride height a total of four inches, depending on driving needs.
The Range Stormer is a high-performance, sports-tourer SUV concept, meant to showcase a future design direction for Land Rover. Saying "the challenge was to translate fundamental Land Rover design values into a concept for a high-performance machine that looks powerful, muscular, and edgy," Geoff Upex, design director at Land Rover promises, at its heart, the supercharged V-8 Range Stormer "is still clearly an authentic Land Rover." Chock full of innovative technology, including Land Rover Terrain Response, Alps electronic systems, Hella interior and exterior lights, Alcoa 22-inch forged alloy wheels, and Goodyear custom-made tires, we're told the all-new platform will be the basis for future full-size Land Rover models, including a production vehicle inspired by the Range Stormer.
Fans of Chrysler's beloved PT Cruiser can finally delight in a topless version, with production scheduled to begin in Spring 2004. Buyers will be able to choose from three levels of performance, beginning with the standard 2.4-liter/150-hp engine paired with manual tranny, at a suggested retail price beginning at $19,995. Next step up is the Touring model, which features the standard 150-hp engine with a manual transaxle or an optional 2.4-liter/180-hp turbocharged engine with automatic transaxle. Features include with 16-inch painted cast aluminum wheels, speed control, security alarm, fog lights, floor mats, and an AM/FM stereo with CD player, all for $22,900. Finally, the GT model includes a standard High Output 220-horsepower turbocharged engine with a five-speed Getrag manual transaxle, plus all of the Touring model standard equipment and a list of additional features including performance-tuned suspension with ABS four-wheel disc brakes, 17-inch cast aluminum wheels, leather seats, and more, for $27,565. (All model pricing excludes $590 destination fee.) With all this info, there's only one question left to ask: "Will the Britax fit in that backseat?"
Chrysler unveiled a convertible triumvirate on the third media day to shine light onto the chilling corporate sales. Arguably more gorgeous than the coupe, the Crossfire Roadster looks even more sporting with roll bars and tonneau cover fairings exposed. The rear "boat tail" design retains the coupe self-deploying rear spoiler with integrated brake light. To lower the top, simply release and pull down the center-mounted handle located on the windshield header, turn the handle which releases the convertible fabric top and lowers the side glass, and lift the front of the top approximately eight inches. Press the button on the center console and the hard tonneau opens up, the soft fabric top folds in, and the hard tonneau closes again. The transformation takes approximately 22 seconds. The 2005 Crossfire roadster will be offered with a 3.2-liter/215-hp V-6 and choice of six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission.
First seen at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the R-D6 arrives in the United States demonstrating a potential configuration for a premium coupe, or at least a coupe-like sedan. The sensuous aluminum- and composite-intensive car reveals a design style that we're told will be used with future Jaguar cars. The interior is an interesting blend of premium materials and modern, minimalist design, combining the worlds of luxury sedans and racecars. Under the hood is a 2.7-liter bi-turbo diesel engine that produces 230 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, a combination strong enough to propel the lightweight car to 60 mph in less than six seconds and reach an electronically limited 155-mph top speed. Makes diesel sound more appealing, doesn't it?
Sure, we've seen this rakish concept before at Frankfurt and Tokyo, but we felt it was worth revisiting. Kia doesn't get many breaks, so we thought we'd point out that Korea's oldest automaker had shown this small retractable-hardtop convertible months before the similarly shaped Mitsubishi Eclipse Concept-E was revealed. Although intended to be an affordable vehicle, the 2.0-liter-powered KCV-III has several features more often found on upscale vehicles, such as adaptive cruise control, anti-whiplash headrests, brake assist, electronic stability control, and parking assist. While the car itself is truly a concept, Kia confesses that several showcased technologies will appear on its future models.
Kia Motors America unveiled an all-new 2004 Kia Spectra four-door compact sedan in Detroit powered by a new 2.0-liter/138-hp DOHC four-cylinder engine. Equipped with continuously variable valve timing, Spectra's new engine can be mated to either a five-speed manual or an optional, electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission promising fuel economy of 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. Available in two trim levels, both models offer a satisfying assortment of standard features, though major options for the LX model include four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, air conditioning, rear spoiler, and carpeted floor mats. The EX includes power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry, dual body-color heated power outside mirrors, and front fog lights. Optional equipment includes cruise control, alloy wheels, power moonroof, rear spoiler, carpeted floor mats, and a body kit with front spoiler and rear valance. Safety equipment includes six standard air bags, with dual advanced front and front seat-mounted side air bags, and full-length side curtain air bags. The new Spectra will be available in showrooms in late spring, with pricing to be announced closer to launch.
Lincoln is taking a different approach with its next-generation Aviator, turning away from a traditional midsize SUV to more civilized crossover vehicle. This move to pursue the Japanese competitors has Lincoln building its vehicle off the Mazda 6 platform. Clearly a modern design, the Aviator does adapt design cues off early Lincoln models as it reveals the future face for the brand. Chrome accents and the wide grille are said to be key distinguishing features that will spread to other models. The Aviator features flexible storage and seating. Adjustable first- and second-row seats, as well as two storage consoles that move forward and rearward between the occupants, allow passengers to arrange the cabin in different configurations for long trips. The rear console also features personal climate and navigation controls, along with DVD screens integrated into the front row seat backs. Keeping with the aviation theme, lap tables with a leather-trimmed pad deploy from the rear center console to be used for a laptop computer, snacks or travel games in the second row. Power is expected to come from a 3.5-liter Duratec V-6 producing 240 horses. Due for 2006, the Aviator will likely be offered in FWD and AWD configurations.
Buried deep in the Lincoln booth was a key part of Lincoln-Mercury's plan to introduce 11 new products in six new segments within the next four years, the Mark LT. Lincoln floundered with the Blackwood, its first attempt to place a companion full-size truck alongside the popular Navigator. With the LT, it is clear that Lincoln is taking a more conservative approach with its straightforward F-150 rebadging. Both the exterior and interior are given the obligatory branding treatment, drawing heavily from the Aviator and Navigator to create a truck that will fit very naturally in the product line. The Mark LT will be available in both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and will offer four full-size doors and a 5.5-foot box. It will powered by a 5.4-liter, 3-valve Triton V-8 engine that produces 300 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 365 foot-pounds of torque at 3750 rpm when production begins early in 2005 at Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant.
Ford designers brought new-found elegance to the Thunderbird platform for this concept by looking to both Lincoln's history and future for inspiration. The clean body work features a wide grille, tidy high-intensity discharge headlamps, and chrome accents. Of note, this clean fascia introduces a grille that will be used on future products. In fitting with the ever-competitive premium convertible segment, the Mark X features a power-folding, retractable, glass-roofed hard top. The Lime Sorbet interior is complemented with White Corian accents, polished aluminum, dark chrome, natural grain leather seating, plush sheepskin flooring, and tailored tone-on-tone stitching throughout. The instrument panel integrates a softly illuminated, jewel-like instrument cluster that combines analog with digital technology. Based on the DEW98 architecture, this two-seat luxury convertible roadster features a 3.9-liter DOHC V-8 aluminum engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission delivering 280 horsepower and 286 foot-pounds of torque.
Frank Markus photo
Nissan says its Actic concept is a "content rich" design exercise created at its design center in La Jolla, California, conceived as an entry-level vehicle for "lives in transition" as buyers move from single to "married with small children" status. Quietly displayed in a corner of the Nissan booth, the Actic portends of a crossover vehicle expected to be added to both the Nissan and Infiniti lines. The sleek, silver Actic features flowing body lines, a "cross trainer"-style 20-inch wheel and tire design, and a matching trailer with inflatable walls that converts to a sleeping space for three. With no B-pillar to interfere, Actic's wide doors slide open for easy access; the front doors move forward and the rear doors backwards, like an elevator's, creating generous access for passengers and cargo. Actic comes to life through a 100-gigabyte key fob that stores data about the needs and personality of its owner, not just standard audio and HVAC preferences but also e-mail and navi settings, as well as content that governs and affects mood and ambience. An Actic-inspired vehicle is expected to slot beneath the Murano and FX35 in 2006 or 2007.
Pontiac introduced the production version of the G6 sport sedan, a clean-body replacement for the Grand Am. The G6 is a significant model, as it represents the future of the brand taking it further than the sporty Grand Prix into the realm of Euro-inspired manners. Built on GM's Epsilon architecture, the G6 features a four-wheel sport-tuned independent suspension with MacPherson struts up and four-link independent rear configuration. Aiding the chassis is variable-assist electric power steering, full-function traction control, and a range of 16-, 17-, and 18-inch performance wheels and tires. Motivation comes from a 170-horsepower HO 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder, 200-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, and 240-horsepower HO 3.9-liter V-6. Manual and automatic transmissions will be offered, with the GT model featuring four-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and the 3.9L engine available with a six-speed manual. Beyond entertaining dynamics, the G6 will offer a four-glass panoramic room, side and head airbags, and remote start among its cool attributes. Look for a 2+2 sports coupe and a convertible to join the model range after the sedan goes on sale in fall 2004.
Through a product-sharing initiative with fellow GM partner Subaru, the 9-2X promises to catapult the Swedish division into the premium end of the white-hot sport compact market. After its debut in Los Angeles, the 9-2X appeared in Detroit, where days of snow had us wishing we could test drive it right away. Essentially, the 9-2X is a modestly restyled Impreza, with a distinctly Saab front end. The Fuji-sourced drivetrain remains unchanged, offering a base 2.5L/165-hp naturally aspirated flat four and WRX-shared 2.0L/227-hp turbo flat four. Each engine is backed by a choice of five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission, with power routed to all four wheels. The 9-2X will be offered in sedan and wagon forms when it goes on sale in July 2004.
As fuel cell technology advances, expect to see more creations like this one, the Fine-N concept car from Toyota, shown most recently at the Tokyo Motor show. Updated slightly since its 2003 debut in Detroit as the Fine-S, its radical styling boasts four-wheel drive that is exactly that: a lightweight, high-efficiency electric motor powers each wheel. The four in-wheel motors are driven by Toyota's FC Stack Hydrogen fuel cell and lithium-ion battery technology, giving the Fine-N a cruising distance of 310 miles and creating new options for driving performance as well as environmental performance. Each wheel is individually and continuously controlled for optimal wheel-by-wheel acceleration/deceleration according to steering angle, vehicle and road conditions, and other parameters. And if that's not high-tech enough, Fine-N also utilizes a biometric face-recognition system that authenticates the driver for enhanced security, and then automatically personalizes seat position, audio system, climate controls, and other settings.
Toyota's Highlander Hybrid makes its debut as the world's first seven-passenger hybrid SUV and marks the launch of a second hybrid vehicle from Toyota. The 3.3-liter V-6-equipped Highlander Hybrid will be powered by a new version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system, specifically developed to meet the load-carrying requirements of a midsize SUV. The hybrid system features a larger-capacity battery and high-speed electric motor that combine to provide double the power and speed of the system in the Prius, promising a combined peak horsepower of approximately 270 horsepower and 0-60-mph acceleration below 8 seconds. Highlander Hybrid will come standard-equipped with front-wheel-drive and offer an electric four-wheel-drive with intelligence (4WD-i) system that utilizes front and rear electric motors to deliver balanced power to all four wheels along with nearly instantaneous acceleration. Toyota officials said the 4WD version will be the hot ticket, delivering more power to the ground and recovering more energy thanks to the additional motors. The Highlander Hybrid will join the Motor Trend Car of the Year award-winning Prius in early 2005, offering all the options currently found in the 2004 Highlander.
Back again after its debut at last year's Detroit Show, Volkswagen elevates the Golf's sport compact status with the sizzling production R32, offering more performance and prestige than any GTI. At the core of this special model is a 3.2-liter/240-horse V-6, routing its power through a six-speed manual, and ultimately putting it to the ground through a 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The German automaker claims a 6.4-second 0-60 mph time for this tautly sprung model 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, deep-body-hugging seats, and Xenon headlamps. Ample leather and aluminum trim complete the upscale interior treatment. The MSRP price for the R32 is $29,100.