Detroit's North American International Auto Show is supposed to be an annual celebration of the automobile -- a cornucopia of concept dream machines and gleaming production sheetmetal all unveiled at over-the-top, glitzified extravaganzas.
Boy, have times ever changed. The 2009 Detroit auto show is taking on the trappings of an expensive funeral, the only thing missing from the cars will be the orange flags used to keep the procession moving along. Several automakers, including most notably Nissan and Mitsubishi, have decided to strike Detroit off their calendar altogether.
And of course, there are the trials and tribulations of the bruised and bloodied Detroit Three. Like a trio of soldiers charging into a hail of gunfire, their futures remain frightfully uncertain -- even with the recent cash infusion GM and Chrysler recently secured from the Bush administration.
The past year has had more downs than ups with the changing economy that forced many Americans to give up their beloved trucks and SUV because of over inflated gas prices. This strained many manufactures to rethink how trucks and SUVs play in a world that is forced to conserve energy. SUVs are shrinking in size and gaining better mileage while trucks are become the work horses that the average Joe needs to get their jobs done. So what does this mean for us? It means slim pickings for new debuts for 2009.
So while the bite in the January air will probably seem a little more frigid and most of the pomp and circumstance of shows past won't find their way to the Cobo Hall floor this year, as the cliche goes -- the Detroit show must go on.
2010 Cadillac SRX
If you have been paying attention, you know from our spy shots of the 2010 Cadillac SRX earlier this week that the production crossover is not dramatically different from the Cadillac Provoq hydrogen fuell cell concept the automaker first displayed at the 2008 Detroit auto show. Sure, the 2010 SRX sports a different wheel design, real door handles, and restyled side mirrors and rear fascia, but otherwise the details are fairly close.
Like the 2010 CTS Sport Wagon, the SRX will be shown at Pebble Beach. The SRX does not have the slick chrome bars on its roof like the CTS Sport Wagon, but we are guessing the chrome bars on the SRX are easier to use. Like the concept, the SRX has side vents above which a character line sweeps through the front and rear doors.
As we have said before, the latest SRX will probably not have a V-8 option thanks to the switch to a transverse layout. Powertrain options will likely stick to the 3.6L V-6 making around 263 hp as a base engine with a direct-injection 3.6L V-6 putting out at least 300 hp as the upgrade, with both mated to a six-speed automatic.
Cadillac's crossover -- set to debut worldwide mid-2009 -- competes in an increasingly crowded price range for SUVs and crossovers. Does the 2010 SRX's styling set it off to a good start? Stay tuned for more on the Caddy sport wagon and SRX direct from Pebble Beach after its official unveiling.
Click here to see video on the 2010 Cadillac SRX!
2010 Chevrolet Equinox
The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox gets a spanking new 2.4L four as the base engine, bristling with variable valve timing on both cams and direct fuel injection. Letting liquid fuel evaporate inside the hot cylinder cools the charge considerably, permitting an impressive 11.7:1 compression ratio with no knock on regular fuel. That high compression combines with more complete fuel burn to lower hydrocarbon emissions, improve power, and reduce fuel consumption.
The result? It makes 182 hp and 174 lb-ft. That's just three horses and 36 lb-ft shy of the former pushrod V-6's output, and performance with the improved gearing of the standard six-speed 6T45 Hydramatic is supposed to equal the 3.4L V-6's (9.1 sec to 60 mph by our equipment) while EPA fuel economy hits 21/30 mpg FWD, 20/27 AWD, up from 17/24 (FWD and AWD). Furthermore, you may be able to beat that number. An ECO button on the dash remaps the transmission shift strategy and calls for more aggressive fuel shutoff when coasting. There's a slight NVH and driveability penalty, but it reportedly pays off, and the EPA does its testing with and without this button pushed, averaging the results. Ordering a base vehicle without the luggage rack will further improve your mileage (it comes on more than 30% of Equinoxes so EPA tests with the rack). Electric power steering, 17-in. low rolling-resistance Michelin tires, improved aerodynamics (from 0.42 to 0.36 drag coefficient), and a host of other tiny details contribute to the fuel economy bump, but none is expected to dramatically increase the cost of the base car.
Click here to watch video!
2010 Lincoln MKT
Like the Lincoln MKT concept featured at the Detroit Auto Show in 2008, the production 2010 Lincoln MKT will have the 1941 Continental-style bow-wave grille first seen on the MKS and destined to become a Lincoln signature face, a chamfered surface parallel to the beltline and a thick C-pillar, with very little other than overall dimensions to hint at its connection with the Flex.
It will come in six- or seven-passenger variants and will add a plethora of high-tech conveniences, including Blind Spot Monitoring and Cross Traffic Alert System. The latter uses two multibeam sonar modules in the rear quarter panels that alert the driver with an indicator light on the corresponding outside mirror when another vehicle enters the blind-spot zone.
The rear view of the Lincoln MKT concept is shown below.
Kia Soul Concept
Though the Kia Soul hasn't quite hit showroom floors in the U.S. yet, Kia has already brought out a new concept, dubbed the Soul'ster, to illustrate possible future adaptations of the Soul.
Kia promises that the Soul'ster is more than just fresh sheet metal. The biggest change is the two-piece removable roof, that Kia says uses "elbow grease technology." We're pretty sure that means you have to take it off yourself, especially considering that this vehicle has crank windows. They attach to permanent roll bar running across the middle of the vehicle. Kia says the Soul'ster is targeted at hip, young buyers looking for sportiness and versatility on a budget.
With that in mind, the company designed the Soul'ster to seat five, though they admit that four would fit more comfortably. They'll be riding on seats that aren't bolted to the floor, a feature Kia added to increase storage space. To drastically increase storage space, the rear seats can be folded flat.
The Soul'ster utilizes the same engines as the standard Soul, a set of small four-cylinder units. The base engine is a 1.6L mill mated to a five-speed manual transmission and generating 120 hp. Optional is a more-powerful 140-hp 2.0L engine mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. Kia says both powerplants are good for 30 mpg fuel-efficiency or better. Non-U.S. markets can also choose from a 124-hp 1.6L engine or a 1.6L turbo-diesel.
Debuting in "Soul'r" yellow, the Soul'ster also features a number of cosmetic updates beyond the new roofline. Also featured on the concept are a new front end and new lighting all the way around, as well as special 19-in. wheels and dual chrome exhaust tips with carbon-fiber interior sleeves. It is not yet known if the Soul'ster will ever make it past the concept stage, and its future likely depends on the success of the original Soul, once it finally goes on sale.
2009 Scion xB RS 6.0
The Scion xB RS (Release Series) 6.0 -- the first limited-edition Scion for 2009 -- will go on sale in February and carry an MSRP $1743 over a regular xB's base price. That's $17,493 for a manual transmission xB RS 6.0 or $18,443 for an automatic xB RX 6.0, plus a $670 delivery fee.
That price won't include the optional $320 spoiler, but the xB RX 6.0 does come with a unique front grille, Absolutely Red paint, and Release Series wheel covers that, well, don't look too different from the three wheel covers already available on the xB.
The best goodies are inside, starting with a touchscreen Pioneer navigation system and audio system, Bluetooth as well as USB, SD card, and iPod connectivity. When the Absolutely Red xB is in park, you can watch your favorite DVDs and iPod videos. Plus, you can choose a different color for the 5.8 in. LCD display everyday for the next 87 years.
Red illuminated door sills welcome you inside onto black-and-red seats. Each of the 2500 cars will be individually numbered.
Jeep Patriot EV and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EV
Last September, Chrysler took the automotive world by surprise with its unveiling of a trio of electric vehicles. Now, the ENVI trio has picked up a fourth partner in green in the form of the Jeep Patriot EV, becoming the second electrified Jeep in the mix.
Like the Wrangler EV, the Patriot EV uses an electric motor to drive the wheels for up to 40 miles before the batteries are depleted to 30% of their maximum charge. At that point, a small gasoline engine kicks on to generate electricity to drive the wheels for a maximum combined range of 400 miles. However, where the Wrangler (and Town & Country EV, with which shares the same componentry) both use a 94-hp gasoline engine and 200kW (268 hp) electric motor, the Patriot EV makes do with a 60-hp gasoline engine and 150kW (200 hp) electric motor, but still achieves the same range.
Despite being down on power, Chrysler says the Patriot EV's performance is on par with its stable mates. It will hit 60 mph in approximately eight seconds, run the quarter-mile in the low-sixteen second range and hit a top speed "greater than 100 mph." That reportedly makes it slightly quicker than the Wrangler EV. Chrysler has not released the Patriot or Wrangler EV's curb weight, so we can't be sure if the vehicle has been lightened substantially to allow it to keep up with the Wrangler despite its power disadvantage. Like all three other ENVI vehicles, the Patriot EV utilizes regenerative braking technology to recover as much energy from braking as possible, as much as 85% according to Chrysler.
To differentiate the Patriot and Wrangler EVs from standard Jeeps, Chrysler has fitted unique wheels on it, as well as roof racks with low-profile fog lights. Both the Patriot and Wrangler EVs also receive an ENVI Green Pearl paint job and large EV graphics on their sides, as well as ENVI badges. Chrysler says the Patriot EV will recharge from a standard 110-volt electrical socket, though it hasn't said how long the recharge time will be, only that it can be halved by using a 220-volt socket instead.