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  • The Coolest Highlights from This Year's Auto Shows

The Coolest Highlights from This Year's Auto Shows

Show Business

Allyson HarwoodAug 14, 2006
Every year, the country's auto shows give us a sneak peek at the trucks and SUVs that'll be on the market in the near future. Here are some of the most interesting vehicles seen at the Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago auto shows as well as a few standouts from the Consumer Electronics Show. Look for stories elsewhere at TruckTrend.com that focus on the stars of the shows: Toyota Tundra, Chevy Avalanche, Ford Expedition and Expedition LE, Dodge Rampage, Audi Q7, and Mercedes-Benz GL.
Buick revealed a luxury six-passenger crossover concept, called the Enclave, at the Detroit show. While it may not look exactly like the upcoming model, GM did say this concept "provides a glimpse" of what the production version could be. Passengers ride under a skylight that extends along nearly the entire cabin. Also included in the interior is a DVD system with screens in the dash, in the seats, and overhead, allowing people to watch up to four different DVDs at the same time. The Enclave uses a 270-horsepower, 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 with variable valve timing, backed by a six-speed automatic. The all-wheel-drive crossover rides on a 119-inch wheelbase and has four-wheel independent suspension.
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Dodge had already shown the production version of its Nitro, but at the Chicago show it revealed the R/T, which is available with an all-new 4.0-liter V-6 and 20-inch wheels and tires. The new 4.0-liter has 255 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque and uses a five-speed automatic. The Nitro can tow up to 5000 pounds when properly equipped. Standard on the SLT and R/T is the new Load 'N Go cargo floor, which slides back 18 inches to make it easier to load and unload packages; it can hold up to 400 pounds. Like its Liberty sibling, the Nitro will be built at the Toledo North Assembly Plant. Dodge's midsize SUV will arrive in U.S. dealerships later in 2006 as a 2007 model.
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GMC showed the 2007 Yukon XL and flagship Yukon XL Denali, both of which will go on sale in the first half of 2006. Offered in two- and four-wheel-drive configurations, the Yukon XL will initially be available with an E85-capable 5.3-liter V-8 with Active Fuel Management cylinder shutoff. Later in the model year, a new all-aluminum 6.0-liter V-8 with variable valve timing will be available. The Yukon XL Denali will have its own unique interior as well as a 380-horsepower (415 pound-feet of torque), 6.2-liter all-aluminum V-8 with VVT, with a new six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing is listed as $37,790 for the XL and $50,490 for the XL Denali.
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Ford and Lincoln will be bringing CUVs to market for the 2007 model year. Both are powered by a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, backed by a six-speed automatic. The Edge has a panoramic glass roof and a laptop-friendly center console and can carry eight-foot-long cargo with the front passenger seat folded down. An EasyFold release, accessible from the cargo area, is an available option. The car-based Edge has a MacPherson-strut front suspension and four-link setup in the rear, and comes with optional all-wheel drive and AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control. The Lincoln MKX (originally called the Aviator) is the more luxurious version of the Edge, with options that include a THX Certified audio system, adaptive headlights, heated and cooled front seats, and DVD-based navigation.
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As Toyota's RAV4 gets bigger, so does the Santa Fe. Hyundai's SUV now has a third row and all-new sheetmetal. It'll come with a choice of a 180-horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6 or a 230-horsepower 3.3-liter V-6, which is said to be lighter, more fuel efficient, and cleaner burning than the 3.5 it replaces, while producing 30 more horsepower. The SUV has ESC and six standard airbags, including side air curtains. It also features standard equipment like four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Compared with the first-gen, the new Santa Fe is about seven inches longer, one inch wider, and almost two inches taller, and its track is 2.9 inches wider--which is wider than that of the Ford Explorer.
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International introduced the MXT, the third truck in its personal-use XT line of trucks (which also includes the CXT and RXT). The four-wheel-drive MXT has 16,000 pounds of towing capacity and is aimed at the "image" truck market: those buyers who want their truck to make a statement. The MXT will be powered by a 300-horse V-8 turbodiesel with 530 pound-feet of torque, backed by an Allison five-speed automatic. The five-passenger truck has a 14,000-pound GVWR, a 16,000-pound towing capacity, and a seven-foot pickup bed. Several interior amenities are available, including DVD navigation and rear-seat entertainment, heated mirrors, air ride seats, and Sirius satellite radio. The truck will be on sale summer 2006, available through International's dealer network. It has an MSRP ranging from $69,900 to $85,000.
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Jeep's Bluetec Grand Cherokee is said to have the cleanest diesel powertrain in its class. Shown in Detroit, this engineering concept features DaimlerChrysler's Bluetec clean-diesel technology, which has the potential to meet emissions standards in all 50 states. The vehicle uses an efficient diesel engine, an oxidizing catalytic converter, a diesel particulate filter, and selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which reduces nitrogen oxide (NO) emissions. SCR is an exhaust-gas treatment that converts NO into nitrogen and water vapor through the use of ammonia. Clean-diesel vehicles improve fuel economy by 30 percent and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions 20 percent, compared with similar gasoline vehicles.
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Kia unveiled the Multi-S concept in Chicago, a vehicle that could very well make its way to production. The car-based crossover has a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed automatic. The cabin has dual full-length glass moonroofs and a three-row HVAC system. Second and third rows fold flat, allowing flexible cargo-carrying capability, and the vehicle can tote mountain bikes and outdoor gear in back. Safety equipment includes electronic stability control, six full-length side curtain airbags, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. The concept also features interfaces for iPods, MP3 players, PDAs, cell-phones, and notebook computers.
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Monroe Truck Equipment built a special Kodiak C4500 medium-duty for display at the Detroit show, meant to demonstrate the potential for making this work truck more liveable on a day-to-day basis. Monroe added a stainless-steel tube grille, bed rails, and side steps plus chrome hood latches, light bar, fuel door, and rear tube bumper. Inside, there is an Eclipse stereo system, with DVD navigation and a backup camera. Monroe mounted its eight-foot dualie pickup box to the back, which has a spray-in bedliner and a retractable, extendable tonneau. There is an additional camera mounted above the Class 5 hitch, making it easier to hitch a trailer or launch a boat. The truck also is equipped with UltraRide chassis air suspension and MTE's cab air suspension.
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The 2007 Navigator has been redesigned, with a bold, new chrome grille flanked by HID headlamps. The hood is also new, with a "powerdome" styling cue that gives the SUV a more masculine, trucklike front end. The extended-wheelbase Navigator L, also new for 2007, is 14.7 inches longer than the regular model. It provides an additional 25 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the third row. Both vehicles are powered by the three-valve, 5.4-liter V-8 backed by a six-speed automatic, and they both use five-link rear suspension. Maximum towing capacity is 9100 pounds.
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One year after the showing the all-new M-Class sport/utility, Mercedes-Benz introduces the high-performance model, the 2007 ML63 AMG. The SUV is powered by the first-ever engine developed entirely by AMG: a 503-horse, 6.3-liter V-8 said to get the ML to 60 mph in under five seconds. Like the standard ML models, the ML63 uses a seven-speed automatic transmission. AMG styling cues include bolder front and rear aprons, a unique grille, flared fenders, stainless-steel runningboards, and a chrome dual exhaust. The cabin has Nappa leather seats with Alcantara inserts, a leather AMG steering wheel, and a special instrument cluster. The ML63 AMG will go on sale in the U.S. this summer.
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No, the 450-horse Cayenne Turbo doesn't have enough power--that's why Porsche unveiled its Cayenne Turbo S. The new Cayenne is propelled by a twin-turbo, 4.5-liter V-8 that puts out 520 horsepower and 530 pound-feet of torque. Manufacturer estimates put 0-to-60 times at 4.8 seconds for the five-passenger SUV. To achieve the power increase, Porsche revised the engine control system's throttle map and installed larger intercoolers; it also upgraded the brakes. The Cayenne Turbo S, already on sale, is priced at $112,415.
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Well, Ford may not be doing a Lightning, but Saleen has come out with its high-performance version of the F-150. The Super Cab Sport Truck S331, dubbed "Thunder" within Saleen, will be offered with two engine options: normally aspirated, 24-valve, 325-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8 or the supercharged version, with 450 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. Saleen features include an exhaust with twin side pipes, Saleen Racecraft suspension, 23-inch seven-spoke wheels with BFG 305/40R23 tires, 15-inch front slotted and vented discs with six-piston calipers (13.7-inch discs in the rear), and interior and exterior styling cues. The trucks should be on sale in July 2006 as 2007 models at Saleen dealers.
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