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 Dodge Ram Mega Cab and Nitro, Hyundai Portico, International RXT and MXT, Kia Sedona, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, 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 25 trucks, suvs, and minivans 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Click to watch the International video.