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1999 New York Auto Show

New York leads the nation in many ways — fine dining, good theater, heart attacks had in taxis, probably. Usually, it doesn’t lead in car introductions. But this year’s New York International Auto Show, the 99th promo of new cars in the Big Apple, hosted more than a handful of vehicle debuts that charged the auto-journalist crowd and likely made organizers at Chicago, L.A., and Detroit a touch nervous. Along with the Nissan Z and Ford Taurus we brought you last week, the New York show unveiled the next Olds Aurora, the newest Infiniti I30, and a restyled Chevrolet Suburban, as well as refashioned models from Isuzu, Pontiac, Saab and others. Click on our NY Show Tech Report for a deeper dive into these models’ innards, and read off-road vet Sue Mead’s report on the quartet of New York Show trucks. And if you don’t want to miss a thing from the New York sheetmetal shindig, click on our New York Special Report table of contents for a complete list of all the stories.

NISSAN’S A-TO-Z's. It’s official: the legendary Nissan Z is coming back in 2002, company officials proudly announced during a NY Auto Show news conference. But while it’s likely to maintain some of the styling "cues," it will be a lot less retro-looking than the orange metal two-seater that originally debuted at the Detroit auto show last January. Significant details have yet to be worked out, including whether or not to offer a V-6 engine, but look for a starting price in the mid-$20,000 range. It’s very possible the next Z will have a "French flavor," according to designer Jerry Hirshberg. That would reflect Nissan and Renault’s new partnership. The two companies intend to slash the number of individual product platforms they use from a collective 34 to just 10. Meanwhile, Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer has ruled out a return to the competitive U.S. market. Relaunching the Renault brand, he acknowledged, would cost at least $2 billion, much of it aimed at overcoming the image that Renault "built cars that rusted." Instead, some Renault models will likely be sold in the States under the Nissan nameplate. — PAE



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TAURUS TURNS. It was once the country’s top-selling passenger car, and Ford Motor Co. is hoping to reclaim that mantle with a face-lifted sedan due to debut at dealers next fall. The 2000 Taurus and its sister Mercury Sable (unveiled at the San Diego auto show last week) is less radical in design and roomier inside, with a full cubic foot more of trunk space. But the car’s biggest selling point could prove to be its Advanced Restraint System, which introduces "smart" airbag technology to a mass-market vehicle.

The system is able to determine the severity of a crash and decide whether or not to trigger its airbags. And in a moderate accident, its two-stage inflators will activate the airbags more slowly to reduce the chance of injuring passengers. — PAE

TOTAL ECLIPSE.Mitsubishi's Eclipse has been a perennial favorite among young and first-time new-car buyers. The 2000 Eclipse aims to continue to appeal to that audience with brash styling and sporty dynamics. A new platform shared with the new Galant provides the basis for Mitsubishi's latest coupe. Under the hood, a 2.4-liter 16-valve engine and a 3.0-liter 24-valve V-6 are available. They produce 155 and 205 horsepower, respectively. The V-6 replaces the turbocharged four-cylinder of the previous Eclipse. At this time, no four-wheel drive Eclipse has been announced. The Eclipse will continue to be produced by Mitsubishi in Normal, Illinois. A redesigned Eclipse Spyder should follow the Eclipse coupe into showrooms in about a year; shortly thereafter, an ultraperformance version of the Eclipse is being contemplated for production. Mitsubishi also showed the 2000 Montero Sport (read about it in our special NY Show Trucks report), which has a revised exterior appearance and a revised V-6 engine lineup. The four-cylinder Montero Sport is dropped for 2000. — NT

A BRIGHTER AURORA. For the past two-and-a-half years, we've been showing you spy photos of a new Oldsmobile Aurora. It's finally here. The new Aurora will be badged as a 2001 model and should go on sale in the spring of 2000. It will offer a choice of two engines, a 250-horsepower version of the 4.0-liter DOHC V-8 offered in the current model and a 3.5-liter 215-hp V-6 that powers the 1999 Intrigue. The new car is 6 inches shorter than the outgoing model but still manages to have more interior and truck space. Both the new Aurora and the 2000 Intrigue will be available with a skid control system similar to the active handling control system available on the Corvette and Cadillac Seville. The system detects slippage and applies the brakes at each wheel to compensate for the skid, allowing the driver to maintain control of the vehicle. — NT



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