Los Angeles and Detroit auto shows are tough acts to follow, but the Chicago auto show has proven to be an exciting event with almost 1000 vehicles spread over 1.2 million square feet (40 percent larger than last year). There were certainly a few familiar machines from recent events, but a number of world debuts are worth a close look, including the Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, Dodge Nitro, Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Portico, International RXT, Kia Sedona, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, Mercury Mountaineer, Mercury Milan, and Toyota FJ Cruiser.
In addition to traditional show cars, Chicago marked the "introduction" of the first Chinese car line to the North American market when legendary car-importer Malcolm Bricklin revealed details on the Chery brand soon to be introduced in the U.S.
Our coverage wraps up with more than 55 vehicles included here. As you're reading, watch for links to detailed photo galleries and videos. Remember to click on any image to see its enlargement.
While Buick has traditionally appealed to older buyers, this future of this GM division walks a fine line between progressing the brand to attract new customers, while not alienating their existing clientele. The 2005 LaCrosse replaced the Regal, and for 2006 a new entry-level luxury sedan will replace the old LeSabre. Sleek and athletic, the Lucerne will also be the first Buick car in more than a decade to be available with a V-8. Three trim levels will be offered: CX, CXL, and CXS. Standard power will be the familiar 3.8-liter/195-horsepower V-6. Optional on the CXL and standard on the topline CXS will be a 4.6-liter/275-horse V-8. Four-speed automatics drive the front wheels and should have a combined city/highway economy of 23 to 25 miles per gallon. Lucerne will be the first Buick to offer GM's Magnetic Ride Control paired with StabiliTrack, both of which were originally Cadillac features. Inside and out, Buick promises the Lucerne will have fit and finish on par with high-end luxury vehicles. Inside, the Lucerne will offer both five- and six-passenger seating configurations. Passenger room is said to be among the best in this competitive set, which includes the Toyota Avalon XLS and Lexus ES 330. Upscale touches include wood and chrome finishes, and French seams and stitching. Six airbags are standard. The 2006 Buick Lucerne is expected to be on sale this fall, with exact pricing yet to be announced. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
By far the most significant shot fired to date in the full-size truck battle, Dodge has finally introduced their Mega Cab Ram. Long criticized for their smallish Quad Cab rear seats and doors, the new Mega Cab is 20 inches longer than their current four-door configuration, giving Dodge buyers the most interior space (145 cubic feet--more than many SUVs) available for any full-size pickup. In fact, Dodge is saying there is more rear seat legroom in the Mega Cab than in the Maybach. A clever rear seat design (split 60/40) allows for a reclining seat back, as well as a fold-flat-forward configuration--the result being almost 70 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Behind the rear seats are two hidden, floor-mounted storage compartments, designed to hold various tools, towing gear, and recovery straps. Although technically offered in 1500, 2500, and 3500 configurations, all Mega Cab models will be based off the Ram Heavy-Duty chassis, allowing for a wide variety of payload and towing capacities (the former ranging from 1400 to 2800 pounds; the latter from 6200 to 15,800 pounds). All current Mega Cab models will be based off the 160.5-inch 3⁄4-ton, single-rear-wheel long-bed Quad Cab wheelbase, with only one six-foot, three-inch bed offered, but we'd expect other, larger, wheelbase models (maybe even a long bed dually) to arrive later. Half-ton models will be offered with the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and five-speed automatic, while the 2500 and 3500 models will offer the HEMI with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic, as well as the 5.9-liter High-output Cummins Turbo diesel with the six-speed manual or heavy-duty four-speed automatic. Although pricing was not announced, we'd expect the two-wheel drive Mega Cab models to start near $27,000, with options like a sliding rear window, as well as an all-new navigation system and DVD option, pushing prices up to the mid $30s pretty quick. Expect Mega Cabs to be in showrooms by fall. Click to watch the Ram Mega Cab pickup video.
Honda displayed a Civic Si concept in Chicago, calling it a "strong indication of the styling and performance direction for an all-new production Civic Si" that will make its real-world debut at SEMA in November. A sneak peek of the sixth-generation Si, the concept features the latest generation of "intelligent" I-VTEC technology, as well as a 200-horsepower, 16-valve DOHC engine mated to a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission. A helical-type limited-slip differential helps improve launch traction and cornering performance, and 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels wrapped in 225/40R18 tires and four-wheel disc brakes with cross-drilled rotors and four-piston Brembo calipers improve handling. "The 2006 Civic Si Coupe will be the most powerful, fastest, and fun-to-drive Si we've ever put on the street and the Civic Si concept sets the direction in terms of its styling, package, and performance," says John Mandel, Senior Vice President of American Honda. The 2006 Civic lineup will include a sedan and coupe, as well as fuel-efficient Hybrid and natural-gas powertrains when it comes to market in the fall. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the 2006 Honda Civic Si video.
Cadillac has just one remaining front-drive vehicle, the DeVille sedan. It's been a sales leader for years, and other than the Escalade, it's the only Cadillac with a model name more than a few years old. For 2006, the Deville marque will fade, and a redesigned front-drive sedan will take its place. Cadillac's new DTS sedan is much more angular than the outgoing DeVille and more in keeping with the "Art & Science" Cadillac signature design theme, now familiar on the CTS and STS sedans. The headlamps are stacked vertically, as are the taillamps. While modern in appearance, both Cadillac design cues dating back to the 1960s. In a departure from recent offerings, there will be just one DTS exterior and one interior, but with differing option packages. Dual-firmness seats are reported to be comfortable yet supportive, and they offer an additional inch of seat travel. The instrument panel has been lowered and moved forward to give a feeling of more spaciousness. Genuine wood trim is available, along with nearly every high-tech comfort and convenience option imaginable. If you watched the inauguration for President Bush's second term in office, you likely saw that the President was the first to receive a 2006 Cadillac DTS, although the newest Presidential limousine is a little longer, wider, and heavier than the production sedan, which for the rest of us, will be on sale this fall. Click to watch the Cadillac DTS video.
Suzuki shared a decked-out version of its Reno sedan to demonstrate an array of easy and affordable personalization possibilities available to tuner enthusiasts. The Reno Intruder Concept is adorned with attention-getting Firestorm Orange pearlcoat paint, dark smoked headlights, foglights and taillights, an imposing silver mesh grille and lower bumper scoop, front and rear ground effects, rocker panel extensions, Euro-style dual-tip center exhaust system, and flashy 17-inch five-spoke Sport Max Chromium black alloy wheels. Inside are APC racing bucket seats, Alphasonik CD-DVD sound system with 800-watt amplifier, and custom black floormats. For additional street cred, the Reno Intruder sports a K&N Typhoon air intake system, Yokohama ES-100 performance tires, and custom cross-drilled brake rotors.
Adhering to a theme of explosive concept vehicle names initiated with Firepower, Dodge pulled the trigger on its latest show machine, the "Nitro." This anodized red concept reveals the Jeep Liberty-based Dodge sport/utility that launches in late 2006 as an '07 model. The exterior transformation brings flat surfaces and crisp lines to the Liberty profile, with the key distinguishing element being a downsized rendition of the macho Dodge crosshair grille. The Nitro's nose is much like the one on the youth-targeted 2002 M-80 pickup truck concept, including its Mercedes/Land Rover-like side vents in the upper fenders, below the A-pillar. Conceived as a midsize alternative to the Durango SUV, the Nitro has a 3.7L/210-hp SOHC V-6 with 235 lb-ft of torque, full-time 4WD, and a four-speed automatic. Tiping the scales at 4115 lbs, the Nitro reportedly runs 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds. It has a "Load and Slide" cargo floor, made of textured vinyl, that slides to the rear for easy loading and unloading, and modular storage bins and a first-aid kit. Though it looks pretty much production ready, we figure the concept name is as ephemeral as Chrysler's Firepower. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the Nitro sport/utility concept video.
Inspired by a new era of "reality" automotive tuners, American Suzuki's latest creation was built for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Jr., co-host of the new urban show, "The Drop," which airs on the national Si TV network. One of four Suzuki vehicles being customized for the show's hosts, Kareem's Grand Vitara broadcasts his "sporty, high-tech" personality and identification with his Trinidad and Tobago heritage through the red, black, and silver elements of the country's flag incorporated into the paint treatment, seats, and floormats. Enhancements by Pacific Coast Motoring include custom-painted wheels, custom grilles, dual performance exhaust system, Sony PlayStation 2, 7-inch monitors in the headrests, and a fun foldout basketball hoop in the cargo area. The sound system includes a Crestron Home Automation multimedia head unit, 900-watt amplifier, 1250-watt sub-amplifier, and 10-inch subwoofer.
A whirlwind tour of the aftermarket industry at the 2004 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show gave aspiring tuner Todd Butterbaugh the know-how and industry connections he needed to create his dream car, revealed at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show as this custom, titanium black Hyundai Tiburon with the sound, looks and performance that all tuners dream of. As the winner of Hyundai's "Tune-Up-A-Tib" online contest, Butterbaugh earned a chance to work with Hyundai and American Products Company to create on a one-of-a-kind show car. Butterbaugh's vision included a truly unique carbon fiber roof scoop, APC carbon fiber hood and rear wing spoiler, 19x8 1⁄2-inch wheels from Ray's Wheels and Toyo Tires. Other modifications include a custom-installed Alpine audio system, Tein suspension, Centerforce clutch and APC racing seats, Alpine Developments supercharger, and Greddy exhaust system for performance. "It was the opportunity of a lifetime," said Butterbaugh. "I've always wondered what went into creating a show car, and after coming up with a creative direction, everything seemed to fall into place. It helps to have the resources of Hyundai and American Products Company working for you, but any tuner can find ways to make their dream vehicle a reality." Butterbaugh was selected by a panel of Hyundai and APC executives from among entrants to the "Tune-Up-A-Tib" contest conducted on Hyundai's tuner site -- www.HyundaiUSA.com/Tuner.
As Mercury refines its image, it also is refining the Mountaineer, with revisions throughout. The 2006 model has a revised front fascia, fog lamps, and trim. Updates continue down the side with more aerodynamic mirrors and integrated power running boards. To the rear, clear taillamp lenses and new liftgate round out the cosmetic makeover. More drastic changes were made to the interior, with new seats, instrument panel, and upgraded materials. Changes in the seats create a flatter load floor, and the second row will be available with captains-style configuration. The powertrain has been enhanced, with a more-potent three-valve 4.6L V-8 now producing 292 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, round through a six-speed automatic transmission. An improved 4.0L V-6 with five-speed automatic remains standard equipment. All these components ride on a strengthened platform damped by a revised suspension, with an all-new independent rear setup. This comprehensive roster of tangible improvements promise to put Mercury on track as an American luxury nameplate for the 21st century.
Mercury's product renaissance continues with the introduction of the 2006 Milan five-passenger sedan. Launched as a compliment to the larger Montego, the midsize Milan is a more youthful, Euro-inspired car that forwards the modern luxury drive for Mercury by reaching out to new buyers. A clean, contemporary design, the Milan almost erases the memory of the Sable. Inside, the Milan features a clean, flat dash design with contrasting elements, a theme that continues throughout the cockpit. Leather seats, available in two-tone, are complimented by either Satin Metallic or Wales Mahogany wood trim finishes. The Milan will launch with two engines, a 2.3L/160-hp PZEV I-4 with a five-speed manual or automatic, and a 3.0L/210-hp V-6 teamed with a six-speed automatic. In about a year, Milan's drivetrain offerings will expand with the availability of all-wheel drive. And in 2008, Milan will become Mercury's second full-hybrid vehicle, joining the Mariner.
Hyundai debuted its Portico concept in Chicago, showcasing a solution for family transportation that fits in the Euro-centric space between a tall wagon and minivan. This decidedly international configuration was conceived to explore its potential for the U.S. market, as Hyundai seeks new niches to add to its growing portfolio. Within the artfully rendered multipurpose vehicle are two rows of three-across seating, with the flexibility to stagger the seats to enhance shoulder space. This unique approach preserves considerable space behind the second row often consumed by a third row in current production crossovers. Powertrain in this concept use the new Lamba DOHC V-6 with a six-speed Shiftronic automatic, but the show vehicle was engineered to also accept Hyundai's 219-hp hybrid drive system.
Kia took the wraps off its all-new 2006 Sedona in Chicago, revealing a larger, more versatile minivan. The importance of the Sedona can't be overstated, as the budget-priced minivan was Kia's best-selling vehicle in 2004. And it is clear the Korean automaker has approached the second-generation product with requisite seriousness. The new seven-passenger Sedona is based on a fresh platform, with an increased length, width, and wheelbase. The added space is maximized with flip/fold second row seats and a standard foldaway third-row, now de rigueur for the segment. Offered in two trims, the LX will feature six airbags, tri-zone air conditioning, sliding door power windows, cruise control, AM/FM/CD player, second-row captain's chairs, and keyless entry with an alarm system. The Sedona EX will add a chrome grille, fog lights, eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar, heated power mirrors, AM/FM/CD/MP3/cassette stereo system, auto-dimming rear view mirror with Homelink, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power rear quarter glass, compass, roof rack, and wood trim. Options will include leather seats with front seat heaters, backup warning system, power sliding doors, power liftgate, power adjustable pedals, power sunroof, and a premium entertainment system featuring a DVD player and 11 speakers. On the safety front, the Sedona will come equipped with six airbags, four-channel ABS, electronic brake force distribution, tire pressure monitor, and active front headrests. Electronic stability program and traction control will be optional. To move this large family hauler, the Sedona is fitted with a new 3.8L/240-hp V-6 with a five-speed Sportmatic transmission. The '06 Sedona will go on sale late 2005.
The rugged look and wide stance of SUVs like the Hummer H2 have been a hit with buyers who can afford the fairly steep price and limited fuel economy. That clunky appeal hasn't been lost on Toyota, who offered one of the first off-road adventure vehicles in the early 1960s - the legendary FJ-40 Land Cruiser. With a bold "Back to the Future" theme, they'll build an affordable, modern interpretation of that Toyota classic. Very similar to the FJ Cruiser Concept shown in 2003, the Toyota FJ Cruiser will be in showrooms in early 2006. It's aimed at young buyers with active outdoor lifestyles. Power will be from a 4.0-liter/245 horsepower V-6, and a five-speed automatic on two- or four-wheel-drive models, or an available six-speed manual on 4x4 models only. Just like the outside, the interior of the FJ Cruiser is tough and straightforward, but not stripped or boring. Body-color accents surround the industrial-looking instruments, a mechanical appearance that extends to the wheel, shifter, and door panels. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, AM/FM/CD stereo, and tilt wheel, and a full range of extra cost comfort, safety and convenience options will also be available. In back, the rear seats fold flat for maximum cargo room. With the FJ Cruiser, Toyota brings basic functionality, flexible utility, and affordability to a vehicle with rugged styling and an aggressive stance. It all adds up to an offering that should be a hit with young, and young-at-heart, buyers. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or click to watch the 2006 Toyota FJ Cruiser video.
A unique part of the Mercedes-Benz display was the opportunity to watch an AMG master engine builder at work. The AMG factory in Germany uses a "one-man, one-engine" approach, where a single person has complete responsibility for the hand assembly of an engine from start to finish. In the factory, each engine builder assembles two or three engines per day, and when they're done, a signature plate from that builder goes right on the engine. We're told the engines completed at the Chicago Auto Show will go back to Germany where they will be installed in the initial S65s built for test fleets used by journalists to evaluate. We're looking forward to that! Click to watch the Mercedes-Benz video.
At its debut in Chicago, Mercedes-Benz touted its new S65 AMG sedan as the quickest four-door sedan in the world -- thanks to its hand-built 6.0-liter/604-horsepower twin-turbo V-12 engine - and promised 0-60-mph times of about 4.2 seconds. The S65 AMG sedan is equipped with an ABC active suspension that uses special AMG struts with firmer damping, as well as reworked ESP stability control and ASR traction control systems. To handle the awesome potential of the AMG engine, the sedan features high-performance internally ventilated and perforated 15.4-inch eight-piston fixed-piston brakes up front, with 13.7-inch internally ventilated and perforated four-piston fixed calipers in back. Staggered-size twin-spoke light-alloy AMG wheels (8.5x19 front, 9.5x19 rear) are wrapped in high-performance (245/40ZR19 front, 275/35ZR19 rear) tires for handling to match the output. AMG designers also blessed the sedan with subtle body enhancements, including a front apron with large cooling air intake and clear-lens foglamps, AMG sideskirts, chromed twin tailpipes, and chrome "V12 Biturbo" badging, for a distinctive appearance. Click to watch the Mercedes-Benz video.
SCOTT MORTARA PHOTO
International trucks define the question "How big is big enough?" Well, if you're not sure you need the seriously enormous CXT, now you can also consider its little brother, the RXT, unveiled in Chicago when massive curtains dropped to reveal a five-ton, 22-foot-long 4x2 commercial pickup truck International says was "built for business owners who...prefer a strong and athletic look rather than a vehicle as big and bold" as the CXT. Drawing on the family bloodlines of the CXT, the not-exactly-diminutive RXT stands 8 feet tall, and features a more sleek and refined exterior with 8-foot bed, aerodynamic hood, front bumper valance, full-body sideskirts, low step-in height, and a spacious crew cab that seats five. Underhood is International's VT365 diesel V-8 engine which boasts 230 horsepower and 540 lb-ft of torque for optimal performance and efficiency. The RXT boasts a GVW range of 15,500 pounds, with a payload capacity of 6-8 tons, and a towing capacity of 9-12 tons. International will begin taking orders for the RXT in the fall, with a starting price just under $70,000. Click to watch the International video.
Saying they will replace current E320 models in dealerships soon, Mercedes-Benz debuted a new 2006-model E350 sedan and wagon in Chicago. Powered by a new-generation 3.5-liter/268-horsepower V-6 engine that features four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust valves, this also marks the first time Mercedes has used double overhead camshaft technology on its V-6 engines. The E350 sedan boasts a new seven-speed transmission which helps improve acceleration and also allows greater flexibility in adjusting shift points as needed for lower engine speeds (reducing fuel consumption and minimizing noise), skipping gears as required -- up to three gears at once when downshifting rapidly. The current E-Class lineup represents about 25 percent of total Mercedes sales in the United States. Click to watch the Mercedes-Benz video.
The Acura RD-X Concept version of the upcoming Acura entry-level SUV, which will go on sale in 2006, promises to combine the performance of a sports sedan with the versatility and utility of a premium SUV. Aimed at active urban professionals and packed full of performance and technology, the RD-X Concept is designed to knife through traffic on crowded city streets and carve up twisty mountain roads. It features aggressive styling, a wide track, bold fender flares, and a unique wood and leather interior based on the feeling of an upscale loft apartment. Look for the RD-X to go on sale in 2006 as a 2007 model. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the Acura RD-X Concept Video.
The all-new 2006 Kia Rio sedan made its world debut at NAIAS. Completely redesigned from the ground up, the all-new Rio features a longer wheelbase, wider track and more horsepower than its predecessor, providing better handling, a smoother ride and improved performance. The new Rio will also offer class-leading interior volume and six standard airbags, including full-length side-curtain airbags. Like all of Kia's vehicles, the 2006 Rio will be covered by Kia's comprehensive 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and five years of roadside assistance. The all-new Kia Rio will be built at Kia's Sohari manufacturing facility in South Korea, and will be available in showrooms in Summer 2005.
Honda has reinvented the modern pickup truck with a contemporary design that focuses on how consumers use trucks most of the time. Derived from the light-truck platform that begat the Honda Pilot, this family-focused vehicle emphasizes car-like characteristics through its fully independent suspension, yet boasts enough truck-grade toughness for weekend adventuring with seating for five, along with a five-foot cargo bed for toys like ATVs. The unibody Ridgeline will be powered by the 3.5L VTEC V-6, producing about 255-horsepower with cylinder deactivation available. In an "oh my!" answer to the complaint of most truck owners, Ridgeline has included a unique "trunk" under the bed that allows covered storage roomy enough to hold a 72-quart insulated cooler and other gear. On the safety front, the Ridgeline features vehicle stability assist, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and four-wheel ABS. Production will be at the Alliston, Ontario, plant alongside the Pilot and Acura MDX. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the Honda Ridgeline Video. Ridgeline pricing starts at $27,700 and ranges to $34,640 with moonroof, XM satellite radio, and navigation system.
The second concept vehicle from Kia's California design center, Kia's KCD-II "Mesa" provides a North American commitment to a potential new product segment for the company, presenting a modern, rugged body-on-frame SUV that features three rows of six individual bucket seats and dual full-length sunroofs. "Like Hummer and Jeep, Kia has a history of building military vehicles, and we drew on that legacy to bring utility to life in the Mesa," says Tom Kearns, chief designer for Kia Design. A turret-style wraparound windshield provides maximum visibility from inside, and features a center-roof-mounted LED searchlight. Its high beltline offers passengers a sense of security and protection. Built on a long 116-inch wheelbase, the vehicle spans 192 inches in overall length; its massive 22-inch alloy wheels have been pushed to the very corners to maximize interior space, creating stable responsive handling characteristics, and lending to its athletic appearance. Underhood is Kia's existing 3.5-liter/192-horse V-6 (also seen in the Sorento), though the compartment is sized to accept Kia's next generation of powerplants. Mesa features full-time four-wheel drive with an Active Torque Transfer system that shifts power between the front and rear wheels according to road conditions (from a maximum 100 percent front to 50/50 split). Insiders confide there is significant corporate interest in producing such a vehicle, and that it could be built in the U.S. While there has been no official production approval, the fact that the media page says an MSRP is coming soon might be a hint towards its true destiny.
Last winter, Land Rover unveiled the pulse-quickening Range Stormer concept, translating the brand values into a high-performance machine. The concept was chock full of innovative technology and enthusiast bits, including Land Rover Terrain Response, Alps electronic systems, Hella interior and exterior lights, and Alcoa 22-inch forged alloy wheels. The production vehicle is expected to launch in 2005 as a four-door model, with a two-door to follow a year later. Powerplant will be shared with the LR3, putting a 300-hp V-8 under the hood. A supercharged variant is certain to follow. Smaller than a Range Rover, this Sport model is sized like the BMW X5, and it will answer the German automakers' challenge with the highest-performance Land Rover ever. Click to watch the Ford Luxury Vehicle Video.
Mitsubishi returns to the pickup market after a decade of absence with the midsized Raider. Co-developed with the new Dodge Dakota platform, the Raider will also be offered in two cab configurations, extended cab and crew cab, with each offered in two- and four-wheel drive. Base engine will be a 3.7L/210-hp V-6 with an available 4.7L/230-hp V-8 boasting 290 lb-ft of torque, both shared with the Dakota. With an extended cab bed length of 6.5 feet (5.25 on the double cab), Mitsubishi claims the largest cargo bed in its class, along with a 1700-pound max payload, and a 5000-pound tow capacity. Keeping with Mitsu's love for technology, the Raider will offer a thumping 500-watt audio system with a six-disc, in-dash CD changer, and Bluetooth. Click here to view a full photo gallery. or Click to watch the 2006 Mitsubishi Raider Video.
After six special-edition Harley-Davidson Ford F-150 and Super-Duty pickup trucks, the all-American alliance gives the bad-boy treatment to the new-generation F-150 for the first time. After a disturbing effort with a pumpkin-colored Super-Duty, we're glad to see Ford is back in black. For 2006, the Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 SuperCab is given a black monochrome treatment, with red and blue stripe accents and obligatory badging. The truck is dressed with a distinct lower valance, custom billet grille, blackout headlamps and taillamps, chrome side steps, and massive 22-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, the Harley truck has all the leather, embroidery, and chrome expected, transforming the dash, captains chairs, center stack, and even doors. Buyers will have a choice of 4x2 and AWD configurations, marking the first all-wheel-drive application on the F-150. Under the hood on all examples will be a 5.4L/300-hp V-8 boasting 365 lb-ft of torque. Bristling with attitude, this truck shows that Ford has the formula down pat.Click to watch the Ford Production Vehicle Video.
Mercury offers an early look at its upcoming 2007 crossover vehicle based on the Ford Freestyle with the Meta One concept, while also demonstrating leading edge technologies. The standout feature is the world's first Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV)-capable diesel hybrid powertrain. Underhood is a twin-turbocharged V-6 diesel engine and an electric motor in the modular hybrid transmission that together produce as much torque as a large V-10 gasoline engine - 431 lb-ft - while providing V-6 fuel economy and exceeding the Tier I emissions standard for NOx emissions by 97 percent. The Meta One also showcases active safety technology, including a Lane Departure Warning that uses a mechanized vision system designed to recognize lane markings and a vehicle's lateral position relative to those markings. It can provide a visual, audible and/or haptic (vibrating) warning to the driver if the vehicle departs from a distinguishable lane without activation of the appropriate turn signal. Another intriguing system called "Collision Mitigation by Braking," aka CmbB, judges whether the car is about to experience a front collision, then applies the brakes if the driver is not reacting appropriately. Developed in cooperation with Volvo, the CmbB system defers to the driver's judgment if evasive action is taken, making its true safety benefit to buy precious seconds of deceleration in a calculated dangerous situation. While the production vehicle will likely be quite similar to the Ford Freestyle, this concept variation does illustrate next-generation electronic systems that FoMoCo is seriously exploring for future application. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
"Longer, lower, and wider" was the siren song of American cars in the 1950s and 1960s, and it also applies to Mercedes' completely redone M-Class SUV. Front and rear legroom is increased considerably as a result. Mercedes removed the truck frame that underpinned the previous version and retuned the suspension for a more carlike ride. While still recognizable as an M-Class, the 2006 model is clearly sleeker-looking and more in tune with the luxury and refinement buyers expect of a Mercedes passenger car. The five-seater will be available at its Spring 2005 launch with the company's new four-valve/cylinder DOHC 3.5-liter/268-horsepower V-6, as well as the carryover three-valve SOHC 5.0-liter/302-horse V-8. Safety improvements include active front head restraints, side curtain airbags, and the company's PreSafe system that cinches the belts down if it senses the onset of a collision. Off-roaders haven't been left out either with a two-speed four-wheel-drive transfer case being available, as well. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
Ford is finally crashing the family sedan party that the ubiquitous Camry, Accord, and Altima sedans have long dominated. Based on Mazda6 running gear, the Fusion will be offered with a 2.3-liter 160-hp inline four or a 3.0-liter 210-hp V-6 mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The front suspension resembles that of a Mercedes E-class, using a control arm, a lateral link, and a leading link to reduce the effective scrub radius for improved steering feel and accuracy. Along with a multi-link rear suspension, this setup promises best-in-class handling. Four-wheel disc brakes will be standard on all models; ABS and traction control are options. The look is broad-shouldered and confidently American outside and the interior fit/finish and materials are first-rate. One area where Ford invites unflattering comparison, however, is in its interior space: most major dimensions fall short of the Asian bogeys, some by up to two inches. Click to watch the Ford Production Vehicle Video.
The Shelby GR-1 takes the performance car genre in a new direction combining modern sculptured surfaces in a sleek muscular fastback design. Ford Motor Company says the polished-aluminum Shelby GR-1 concept sports car is a salute to performance art, calling it "a uniquely emotional American sports car design that makes a bold statement about Ford's performance future." Inspired by Carroll Shelby, the front-engined, two-seat, fastback supercar is based on the architecture of the Ford GT. Designed by George Saridakis of the Ford Irvine (California) Advanced Design Studio, this car was developed as a possible lesser-priced successor to the GT. Unlike other iterations of this car that we have seen through the autoshow season, this car was a runner, powered by Ford 6.4-liter/605-horse DOHC 90-degree V-10. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
Or, click to watch the Ford Concept Vehicle Video.
Chrysler's Hemi-powered, Viper-based Firepower concept is wedged neatly in size and status between the ME Four-Twelve dream car and the very real Crossfire SRT6. Since other companies--presumably in the arms biz--own "Firepower," the label is a working codename. The car will have been renamed by the time you read this. But the vitals remain the same. The handsome, fastback skin is by Four-Twelve designer Brian Nielander and stretched over a Viper chassis--it seems Chrysler was drinking from the same design well as was Ford with the Shelby GR-1. Replacing the Viper's thumping 8.3-liter, 500-horsepower V-10 under the hood is the punchy yet refined 425-horse, 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 from the hi-po version of the hot-selling Chrysler 300, the SRT8. The suspension is tuned for a softer, GT-style ride akin to Aston Martin in handling and feel, and tires are 275/35R19 fronts, 335/30R20s rear, with 14-inch Brembo brakes all around. Production? It sits in that auto-show purgatory of "we have no plans, but if we did it, it would bridge Crossfire and [the equally uncommitted] ME Four-Twelve." At first glance, it makes a lot more sense for Chrysler than the ME, as it would be affordable and much easier to put into production if demand exists. The nose features familiar Chrysler grille, with hood-strakes like the Crossfire and ME Four-Twelve. Overall length, at 172.6 inches, is 2.9 inches shorter than a Viper (yet more than a foot longer than Crossfire) and shares the Viper's 98.8-inch wheelbase. Width is 73.0 inches, height a rakish 47.7 inches.An all-glass roof sweeps from the windshield to the glass hatch (coincidentally, the new Jaguar XK coupe will have a fastback-hatch) and the CHMSL is integrated into the satellite-navigation/satellite-radio antenna. Rear quarter-panels are influenced by Aston; the tail is GR-1-like. But overall design is tidy, elegant, muscular Chrysler. Click here to view a full photo gallery.Or, click to watch the Chrysler Concept Video.
A midsized SUV, the Graphyte is the first vehicle GMC is showing to use the Advanced Hybrid System 2 (AHS2), which combines the Vortec 4800 V-8 that includes Displacement on Demand cylinder shut-off, and full electric propulsion at lower speeds. The calculated fuel savings over normal driving is said to be 25 percent when compared to a normal midsize SUV. Riding on 22-inch wheels, offering an adjustable ride-height suspension, and debuts the first rotating rear hatch/tailgate system. Inside, the Graphyte makes driving a push-button affair, while maintaining a professional-grade appearance.Click to watch the General Motors and Saturn Combo Video.
The Gladiator concept takes yet another stab at a Jeep pickup, and this appears a logical and easy-to-produce machine. Its engine is a 163-horsepower, 295-pound-foot turbodiesel (specs virtually equal to the new Liberty CRD's 2.8-liter four) with part-time four-wheel drive. With a 138-inch wheelbase, its dimensions are close to those of the midsize Dodge Dakota pickup. It's also described as a concept, but it clearly gives clues to the design direction of the 2007 Wrangler. FYI: Jeep used the Gladiator name on a pickup built from 1963 to 1969. Despite the Wrangler/Liberty styling themes, Chrysler says the Gladiator's platform is unique. The club cab has a small lower access door on the driver's side and a full-height rear-hinged half-door on the passenger's side. The sidemount spare saves space and allows rear overhang to be short, and it recalls the spares on the early J-10 Gladiators. Rugged and basic; top is canvas, for an open-air option. Rear-window glass rolls down, the rear seat cushion drops and slides under the deep bed, which slides forward to extend from its 5.6-foot standard size to eight feet in length. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the Chrysler/Jeep Concept Video.
With the Aura sedan concept and Sky roadster, Saturn is taking Oldsmobile's place in the "Chevy, Pontiac, Olds..." etc. lineup as GM's "import fighter." The Aura (not its final name) rides on the 112.3-inch wheelbase version of the Epsilon platform (Malibu Maxx and G6), but it will be the only Epsilon offered at-launch with GM's 3.6-liter twin-cam "high-feature" V-6. It will also come with a 2.4-liter/174-horse four, but a six-speed manual will be offered only with the six. Styling is based heavily on the Opel Vectra, with "sculpted surfaces and flowing horizontal lines," projector-beam trapezoidal headlamps and a panoramic sunroof, like the G6's. The concept's interior features snakeskin-like "Rustica" leather seats in navy and dark saddle and much attention to lighting, including a backlit instrument cluster, center vent switches and window and door switches, theater dimming, ambient overhead lighting, and illuminated door handles. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the General Motors and Saturn Combo Video.
What consumer wouldn't want more? With the all-new fifth-generation Jetta that will go on sale later this year, Volkswagen is betting that customers are ready to step up to more size, more power, and more features. The upsized Jetta grows an inch in width and height and a whopping seven inches in length, graduating from premium subcompact to premium midsize status. Still smaller than the also-redesigned Passat, the new Jetta gets more juice, courtesy of a 2.5-liter inline-five with 150 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, like Audis of yore. Though pricing of the "Hecho en Mexico" Jetta will start below $18K, a feature-rich standard equipment list is enhanced with stability control, head-curtain airbags, a six-speed automatic transmission that aids powertrain reponsiveness, a new independent rear suspension, and electro-mechanical steering for a more dynamic driving experience. And if buyers catch a whiff of the Phaeton luxury flagship in the Jetta's rear flanks, that's all the more reason to get enthusiastic about VW's best-selling model in the U.S. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
The Impala sedan is reborn for '06, with dramatic new sheetmetal giving the four-door a more international appearance. The basic formula continues, though improvements can be seen throughout, from major components to details. The interior is equally redone, with a cleaner, more modern arrangement. Like the updated Monte Carlo, the Impala offers dual-zone climate control, remote-start with climate presets, steering wheel cruise controls, heated power seats, Generation 6 OnStar system, and an uplevel MP3/CD-radio configured for XM Satellite Radio. Significant structure fortifications and suspension tuning promise a more refined, more controlled ride, balanced by an improved steering system. In total, three suspension packages are available (FE1, FE2, and FE3), with 16- and 17-inch wheels available. The most exciting feature set is undeniably the powertrains, with the base 3.5-liter V-6 engine producing 210-hp. Next step is a 3.9-liter/240-horsepower V-6. And the enticing top offering is a 5.3-liter OHV V-8 fitted with GM's fuel-saving Displacement on Demand technology, allowing 303 horsepower and 323 lb-ft of torque to be available with V-6-grade mileage. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
General Motors dances with the branding devil yet again with a badge-engineered Saturn version of the Pontiac Solstice sports car. Both are rear-drive Kappa platform two-seaters, but the Sky has sharper creases in its sheetmetal, styling borrowed heavily from the Vauxhall Lightning concept. Other changes versus the Pontiac include more standard equipment, such as OnStar, power windows, and air conditioning (although you can option out a Solstice with all of the Sky's equipment) and a more elegant interior with piano black inserts and LED backlighting. The Sky will have the same suspension tuning and standard 2.4-liter/170-horse Ecotec four as the Solstice, with probably a supercharged 2.2-liter four available sometime after launch. GM hopes enough buyers will discriminate between the two roadsters to help elevate Saturn upmarket as a more prestigious, sophisticated brand than Pontiac. Click here to view a full photo gallery.Or, click to watch the General Motors and Saturn Combo Video.
The Vanquish is already one of the world's most desirable exotic GTs. In newly updated S form, it is even more so. With a maximum speed in excess of 200mph, courtesy of an amped-up 6.0-liter V-12 engine developing 520 horsepower, the Vanquish S has been spec'd out to deliver even greater performance, complemented by subtle suspension, steering, and brake system upgrades. "The Big V" looks meaner too, with a reshaped grille and decklid plus new wheels. Revised steering geometry provides 20-percent quicker response, and the Sports Dynamics suspension, steering, and braking package that was optional on the Vanquish is standard on the Vanquish S. The original Vanquish's interior wasn't quite up to the level of the rest of the car, but Aston has upped the game for the S with a more richly finished cabin that now looks and feels the part. The Vanquish S's main competition is Ferrari's 550 Maranello and 612 Scaglietti. U.S. pricing has not yet been announced, but expect it to fall between $250k-275k.
Dodge has taken a good bit of heat for applying the venerated Charger nameplate to a four-door sedan, but this particular sedan may just have the swagger and cojones to pull it off. Practically every part of this new sedan that you can't see is shared with its LX platform siblings, the Magnum wagon and our car of the year, the Chrysler 300 sedan. On the exterior, only the windshield is shared. And like the 300 and Magnum, this Charger looks better in person than it does in pictures. The headlights sneer just like a Viper's, and along with the chrome cross-hair grille, they appear to lunge forward as if poised to head-butt a docile Camry or Accord out of the fast lane. A steeply raked rear window like that found on its Intrepid predecessor conspires with sloping rear side glass to lend a distinctive coupe-like appearance, while preserving reasonable rear seat headroom. Engine choices range from the Magnum's 3.5-liter V-6 on up through the 6.1-liter SRT8 Hemi V-8. The Daytona Charger package that made its debut at Chicago features a 350-horsepower version of the 5.7 Hemi (induction and exhaust changes added 10 horses). This year, it's available in Go Mango (orange) and Top Banana, with matching "Daytona" stitching embossed in the front seat headrests. Dodge plans to roll out more colors in future years. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to WATCH the Dodge Charger Video.
To the casual observer, everything about the new Z06--its rolling chassis, engine, and composite skin--looks like standard C6 Corvette fare. But give this beast a double take and you'll discover that it's Chevy's 200-mph supercar; its Dodge Viper/Ford GT slayer. The chassis is all aluminum, hydroformed in similar dies to those used to build the standard steel C6 frame. Magnesium and carbon fiber parts are also used to help contain the total curb weight to less than 3150 pounds. The carbon fiber front fenders are flared to accommodate 275/35ZR18 tires and the rear quarter panels are widened 1.5 inches to clear massive 325/30ZR19s. The big news, though, is the 427.6-cubic-inch small-block LS7 engine, good for 500 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 475 pound-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. Titanium connecting rods, intake valves, and valve springs permit 7000-rpm revving, for this, the ultimate small-block. Expect to pay at least $75,000 when the Z06 hits the road this fall. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click here to watch the Corvette Z06 Video.
This race car sibling of the all-new Corvette Z06 street car is set to assault racing circuits from Sebring to LeMans this year. Packing the same all-aluminum 7.0-liter 500-horse Chevy small-block V-8 as the Z06, the C6-R features a dry-sump lubrication system, forged-steel crankshaft, titanium valves and connecting rods, plate-honed cylinder bores and CNC ported heads. Cranking to 7000 rpm between shifts, the pushrod V-8 has never sounded sweeter. A two-car factory-backed team will compete in the production-based GT1 class in the American LeMans Series. The previous Corvette-based race car, the C5-R, won its class at LeMans three out of the last four years. Race car engineers developed a new aerodynamic package for the C6-R, due to that vehicle's shorter overall length and longer wheelbase, that includes a new rear wing and front splitter. The same drivers that piloted the undefeated C5-R in the 2004 season will return to drive the C6-R: Ron Fellows, Max Papis, Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen, Olivier Beretta, and Oliver Gavin.Click here to view a full photo gallery.
Don't let the "concept" moniker fool you: this is Jaguar's next XK8.The first all-new Jaguar to come from the hand of former Aston Martindesign director Ian Callum, the Advanced Lightweight Coupe is a strongand elegant piece of work. The feline proportions and strong rearfenderlines are Callum trademarks. While the glinting headlights and ovoid grille are Jaguar trademark design cues,the rear design is a new design language for the marque, including thereturn of a rear hatchback, a la the E-Type of the 1960s and early 1970s.The front and rear fascias will be toned down a bit, but this design study otherwise gives a clear view of next-gen production XK that will come to market in 2006. Like the XJ sedans, the next XK will make use of aluminum intensive construction for both chassis and body panels. Revised versions of Jaguar's naturally aspirated and supercharged V-8engines, estimated at 320 and over 400 horsepower respectively, willpower the new coupe and convertible. The ALC shows that Jag isn't going down without a fight. Expect pricing to increase 5-10% over current levels. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the Ford Luxury Vehicle Video.
The global chassis architecture that underpins the Mazda6 is spawning a trio of mid-sized domestic sedans: Ford's Fusion, the Mercury Milan, and the Lincoln Zephyr. The latter will be the least expensive Lincoln model, and is intended to entice new, younger buyers to consider Ford's top luxury brand. The Zephyr will be available in front- or all-wheel drive form, powered initially by a 3.0-liter V-6 producing 210 horsepower matched with a six-speed automatic transmission, quite noteworthy for its class. A more powerful 3.5-liter V-6 will come along about a year after launch. Zephyr's exterior design is crisply edgy, and appears well-differentiated from its Ford and Mercury platform mates. The elegant passenger compartment treatments boast the quality, materials, and creature features you'd expect of a luxury nameplate; choose between real wood or high tech-looking satin aluminium interior trim themes, with leather upholstery standard. Expect a base price of under $30,000, with fully loaded models at around $35K.
The Eclipse coupe has been a franchise player for Mitsubishi since the model's introduction 15 years ago. But the previous-generation "geo mechanical" styling hasn't always rung the sales bell, so Mitsu is rolling out an all-new one for '06 that it believes will recapture the magic of the previous, turbocharged sportster. The fourth-gen Eclipse is based on a coupified version of the current Galant chassis platform. It will be available in two trim levels, and with two new powertrain offerings. The look is aggressive and ultra-modern, recalling some elements of the second-generation Eclipse, a bit of Audi TT, and a lot that's new and fresh. A 162-horse I-4 is standard; performance types will head directly for the 3.8L/260-hp V-6. This powerplant represents the company's first use of variable valve timing on a V-6, and it is backed with a new six-speed manual transmission. Serious drivers will also want the Sport Package, which includes sportier suspension tuning and 18-inch rolling stock. The new Eclipse's interior goes way up market, with serious Rockford Fosgate audio offerings, optional leather trim, and an avant garde look courtesy of Mitsu's California design studio. The 2006 Eclipse goes on sale late this spring, with pricing to be announced. If the car drives as good as it looks, we expect the Eclipse to reclaim its leadership position in the performance coupe marketplace. Click here to view a full photo gallery. or Click to watch the 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse Video.
The Sonata promises to further the brand's march into the mainstream sales fray, with a generously equipped package that at 120 cubic feet offers more interior space than the Toyota Camry. This advantage sees the Sonata EPA-rated as a "large car," yet priced aggressively against the midsize competition. The Sonata boasts a full complement of standard safety features, including six airbags, active front headrests, ABS, and for the first time in the mid-size sedan segment, standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The Sonata will come with a choice of two new all-aluminum engines; a 2.4-liter from the new Hyundai/ Mitsubishi/ DaimlerChrysler global four family, and a 3.3-liter V-6. Trannys are a four-speed automatic, and available with only the four, a five-speed manual. Front suspension is double-wishbone, with a multi-link rear, and Active Geometry Control Suspension is optional. It regulates rear toe-in via two electric actuators that vary the geometry of the control arms. Hyundai undoubtedly will again offer full equipment for the price of a stripper Camry, but at this rate, the rapidly improving automaker could soon sell its cars on design alone.
Don't laugh, but this crossover SUV powered by the Outback wagon's 3.0-liter flat-six and five-speed automatic is intended to outperform BMW's X5 3.0i. Check the stats: relative to the BMW's inline six the Subie makes 25 more horsepower (250 total), and the truck weighs 450 pounds less, giving it a 19 percent advantage in weight-to-power. The front strut/rear multi-link suspension is tuned to closely match the handling dynamics of the BMW, while softening the suspension settings for improved ride quality. Fat 255/55R18 Goodyear Eagles match the size of the X5's sport suspension tires. Where Subaru clearly trumps BMW is in interior space efficiency. Stretching just five inches longer on a 2.8-inch shorter wheelbase, the B9 Tribeca fits three rows of seats (a third-row-delete option will be offered). Max cargo space with the seats folded flat appears to be much larger than in the BMW. Of course, learning to love Subaru's new airplane-inspired nose may take time. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
The massive, carbon-fiber-intensive Hurricane boasts twin Hemi V-8 engines producing over 650 combined horsepower. Not needing a turntable, the Hurricane is able to rotate each tire enough to not only drive in a circle, but to spin on its own axis. Radical approach and departure angles, obscene horsepower, 37-inch tires, and all-wheel-steer make this a true off-roader's dream machine. During the build-up, Jeep engineers registered several patents. While twin-engined sport/utes may not catch on, we expect development will continue on an answer to GM's QuadraSteer and hope it has application on an ultimate off-roader of the future. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the Chrysler/Jeep Concept Video.
Not to be confused with the mighty FTX full-size truck concept from 2004, the midsize FT-SX was developed by Calty, Toyota's California-based design house, to explore a crossover niche between wagons and soft-roaders. The FT-SX also establishes a "T-Face" theme that will likely be applied to future Toyota products. Fender arches and taillamp sculpting give the exterior a cohesive, integrated look that also hints at things to come. The interior designers explored a greater use of wood than common, creating an interesting blend of planar surfaces, stark panels, and materials. The wood/metal juxtaposition continues in the cargo area, as seen on a sliding load tray that automatically deploys when the lower hatch is opened. The resulting living room feel could prove an interesting production theme, as we expect some, if not all, of this vehicle to reach the road. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
Mazda debuted its newest high-performance vehicle at Los Angeles, touting the MazdaSpeed6 as the most powerful and best-handling sedan ever sold by Mazda. (Semantics: The title for most exciting four-door would go to the RX-8.) When the car goes on sale this summer, it will be powered by a 2.3-liter/270-horsepower turbocharged direct-injection engine that benefits from an all-new six-speed manual transmission and new Active Torque-Split all-wheel-drive system to effectively transfer that power to the pavement. The base-level MazdaSpeed6 (Sport version) will retail for $27,995; the Grand Touring package, which includes leather seats, eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats and mirrors, and keyless entry and start will sticker at $29,990. Both versions feature a long list of niceties, including four-wheel anti-lock brakes, 18-inch aluminum wheels, sport-type front seats, Bose audio system with in-dash six-disc CD changer, and alloy pedals. Pearl paint, power moonroof, and DVD navigation are the only factory options. And, like every Mazda, the 2006 MazdaSpeed6 comes with a four-year roadside assistance program.
First shown in November at the 2004 SEMA Show, Mitsubishi's motorsports division brought its Ralliart vehicles to Chicago to continue to showcase the brand's motorsports heritage. Visually, the Endeavor Ralliart vehicle stands out by incorporating PIAA driving lamps with factory-tinted headlamps, blinding paint, metal mesh grille with Ralliart logo, distinct front and rear fascia, and side skirts. The custom interior includes coordinated carpeting and leather, Recaro front seats, Ralliart pedals, Logitech steering wheel and pedal set, and a custom shift knob. The Endeavor Ralliart boasts an Eclipse brand stereo, Pioneer AVIC-80DVD navigation, and for pure fun and entertainment, a Sony PlayStation 2 with a 30-inch Mitsubishi LCD monitor. Underhood is a new 3.8L/260-hp MIVEC high-output V-6 engine, while a five-speed auto, modified exhaust system, and Road Race Engineering custom cold air intake and coilover suspension enhance performance, as do Brembo four-piston brakes (front) and custom cross-drilled rotors (rear). The midsize sport/ute rides on Enkei LM1/5S wheels, Falcon tires, and SuperAutobacs grounding kit.
Mitsubishi's Ralliart Galant wears a treatment similar to the Endeavor's, with retina-searing paint, PIAA driving lamps, custom-integrated rear spoiler, front and rear fascia, and side skirts. It features the same 3.8L/260-hp engine to be offered in the 2006 Eclipse, as well as the coupe's six-speed manual transmission. The Galant Ralliart concept vehicle sits on Racing Hart F10 wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 tires, and features Ralliart exhaust, custom air intake system, and coilover spring suspension from Road Race Engineering. A rear stabilizer bar, front and rear strut braces, and Brembo four-piston brake kit (front) and custom cross-drilled rotors (back) complete the mechanical modifications. The interior gets a SuperAutobacs stereo, Recaro seats front and rear, and even a Recaro baby seat for the enthusiast family.
Volkswagen has cooked up yet another fun variation of its iconic New Beetle with the Ragster concept. With stripes that remind of "Herbie the Love Bug," the Ragster gives the cuddly car an aggressive appearance with a street-rod-style roof chop. Press a button on the steering wheel and the cloth top lowers back, leaving the arced roof structure intact. Slight changes to the front lamps add to the snarky appearance, with the headlights taking a more oval shape and the turn signals being wider and flatter. Redlined tires and massive 19-inch wheels give it a decidedly Hot Wheels appearance. More than an auto show toy, Volkswagen claims to be considering such a variant. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
Claiming it built the SynUS to provide security and sanctuary from urban life, Ford's small but mighty B-sized concept takes its inspiration from bank vaults and armored cars, with a security mode that deploys protective shutters over the windshield and side windows and uses bulletproof glass in the smaller flank windows. Once locked safely inside, passengers can reverse their seatbacks to comfortably surf the `net or watch movies on the ginormous 45-inch widescreen liquid crystal display built into the tailgate. Should you need to make a speedy escape, Ford's 2.0-liter/134-horse turbodiesel and 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in P225/50-18 performance tires will ensure it is a fashionable getaway. Click here to view a full photo gallery.Or, click to watch the Ford Concept Vehicle Video.
Besides the fact that it looks nothing like its namesake, what can be bad about a vehicle that has a refrigerator built right into the rear door? We suppose that depends on how you feel about being designated the official bartender at any future picnics you might attend. Calling its Fairlane concept a "new type of people-mover," Ford has actually created the ultimate tailgating vehicle, complete with flip-down utility area, fridge, cutting area, and utensils built right into the rear door. Said door also conveniently opens three ways (left, right, and down) for convenient access in any crowded parking lot. The Fairlane concept rides on an all-wheel-drive version of Ford's midsize CD3 architecture, and is powered by their 3.0-liter/210-horse all-aluminum V-6 Duratec engine mated to a six-speed transmission. Driver's zone features command seating and a low dash for greater visibility, thus ensuring safe transportation to any tailgating function. Click here to view a full photo gallery. Or, click to watch the Ford Concept Vehicle Video.
The first concept car created at the new Nissan Design America, Inc. studios in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Nissan's Azeal coupe concept is themed to prove the point that "an entry-level car doesn't have to look entry level." Aiming to be a fresh interpretation of the "pocket rocket," Nissan touts the Azeal as an affordable, high-performance entry-level coupe with an emphasis on personality and aggressive styling, and demonstrates that theory with dramatic architecture that combines square forms with round corners, 19-inch machined-and-painted alloy wheels, and a driver-oriented cockpit with retractable navigation screen. Liquid Titanium paint and "Mohawk" center roof panel add to its visual intensity. Click here to view a full photo gallery.
One of the most striking cars this show season is unquestionably the LF-A sports car. Toyota has been caught testing such a car, making this much more than a sheetmetal fantasy. Like the other LF concepts that foretell of the IS replacement, this supercar bears the exterior styling language known as "L-Finesse" that will shape future Lexus models. Rumors had been corroborated by official information that this high-speed wedge is powered by a 500-plus horsepower engine. Spies report that Toyota has been testing a V-10 engine, but a similar output V-8 is likely. "The LF-A is theoretically developed to run a parallel course to our company's efforts in Formula One racing," added Jim Press, Toyota Motor Sales executive vice president and COO. "It would probably feature a powertrain and drivetrain configuration strongly influenced by whatever is being used in competition at the time." Although it is about five inches shorter in length than the Porsche 911 Turbo, its wheelbase is nine inches longer. At 48 inches, it is nearly identical in height to the Ferrari F430. And with a width of 73.2 inches, it splits the difference between the Mercedes Benz SL55 and the Aston Martin DB9. Heir to the Toyota Supra mantle? We expect so.
Pontiac took the wraps off coupe and convertible G6 variants, giving the so-called "excitement" division a broad range of new, midsize products. Like the sedan, these two-door models have been designed and tuned for a bit more Euro flavor than commonly found in domestic, mainstream products. These two models each ride on a 122.3-inch wheelbase, providing a 2+2 seating configuration with room for adults in the back. Large doors ease ingress/egress, measuring six-inches longer than the portals on the sedan. To ensure structural rigidity, coupe platform was fortified for the open-top model ensuring similar ride characteristics between the two. Karmann played a lead role in develop the two-piece clamshell-style retractable hardtop that makes the G6 convertible unique in its price point in the North American market. This slick piece lays claim to being the longest such top in the world, necessitated by the large interior. GT models will be powered by a 3.5L/200-hp V-6, with the GTP models boasting a more invigorating 3.9L/240-hp V-6.
Pontiac unveiled its first sport/utility vehicle, expanding its product range into the every-popular segment with its own variation of the Chevrolet Equinox. Like its corporate twin, the Torrent will stand out in the compact `ute class by offering a slightly bigger package than most and a base 3.4L/185-hp V-6 with a five-speed automatic transmission. Offered in front- and all-wheel drive, the Torrent is tuned for a more enthusiastic drive than the Equinox, fitting with the Pontiac brand character. The five-seater boasts several distinct features, such as electric power steering, a rear seat that adjusts 8 inches fore/aft, and removable/adjustable rear package shelf. Ultimately, the long wheelbase and large side doors may be counted among the most appealing traits, allowing easy ingress/egress. The 2006 Torrent is expected to arrive in dealerships in the second half of 2005.
International's family of trucks present in Chicago also included the commercial pre-production prototype MXT. Derived from a military chassis, the MXT has the same distinctive International grille and crewcab as the rest of the XT family, but wears a more aggressive design with headlights integrated into the front fenders, rough terrain tires, low step-in height, 7-foot low-side pickup bed, and 4x4 capability. GVW range is 14,000 pounds, with a payload capacity of 4 tons, and a towing capacity of up to 10 tons. Initial versions will be available in late 2005 for use in military and government applications, such as by the U.S. border patrol, with a commercial variant targeted for production in 2006.