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2000 Chicago Auto Show, Part I


2000 Nissan Frontier Super Sport concept

2000 Nissan Frontier Super Sport concept

Head of safety Sue Cischke buckles up to demonstrate DC’s new Fit For A Kid service

Head of safety Sue Cischke buckles up to demonstrate DC’s new Fit For A Kid service

BUCKLE UP FOR SAFETY Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 10 in the U.S., noted Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Yet a sizable share of those deaths could be prevented, he stressed. But it will take more than just buckling youngsters up in child safety seats, for studies show 80 percent of those devices are being used improperly added Sue Cischke, Senior Vice President for Safety at DaimlerChrysler. Cischke and Hall were kick-off speakers at the Chicago Auto Show, brought together to announce the automaker’s expanded "Fit for a Kid" program. Parents will now be able to take any car, whatever the make, to a DC dealer for an inspection designed to determine if a child safety seat is properly installed and being correctly used. The program could eventually inspect up to 800,000 vehicles a year.

2000 Nissan Frontier Super Sport concept

2000 Nissan Frontier Super Sport concept

TRUCK WARS PIT TOYOTA, NISSAN With Japanese and Korean automakers racing to add new trucks and truck-like crossover vehicles to their lineups, it could kick off an industry-wide war as the Big Three battle to protect their most profitable market segments. Toyota introduced a four-door version of its Tacoma pickup, only weeks after rolling out the new, full-size Sequoia SUV. Toyota expects trucks to make up 50 percent of its growing sales by 2005, up from 38 percent today. Nissan, meanwhile, unveiled its revised Frontier pickup, and Daewoo had several versions of its Korando SUV on display in Chicago’s McCormick Place. "It’s not inevitable" the Japanese will gain share, insisted Chevrolet General Manager Kurt Ritter, but he admitted it will take a lot of creativity on the part of the Big Three to fend off the assault.

2001 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab

2001 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab

MORE DOORS FOR TACOMA DOUBLECAB Toyota’s latest assault in this new truck war is the 2001 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab. With a mildly restyled front end and four doors, the new truck should help Toyota sustain its yearly sales of 155,000 Tacomas. The DoubleCab sports a 61-inch-long bed and a wide range of drivetrain, transmission and engine configurations. Alongside it, Toyota will sell the Stepside, a sculpted-bed version of the standard Tacoma that adds about $310 to the price of the base truck but preserves the bed size of a standard Tacoma pickup, even between the rear wheel wells.

2001 Nissan Frontier

2001 Nissan Frontier

NEW FRONTIER FOR NISSAN With maybe the most successful facelift since Linda Tripp’s, Nissan showed the newly freshened 2001 Frontier and its mechanically hip styling. With new exterior cladding and plenty of character lines and grooves, the ’01 Frontier mimics the circular theme making the rounds in the world’s car design studios. The new Frontier will go on sale this summer with the current engine lineup, to be followed in the fall by the introduction of a supercharged version of the current 170-horsepower 3.3-liter V-6. With the attached blower, the truck will have 210 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque on tap.

2000 Pontiac Piranha concept

2000 Pontiac Piranha concept

2000 Chevrolet Traverse concept

2000 Chevrolet Traverse concept

GM ROLLS OUT A BIG FISH GM introduced two more "innovative" concept vehicles at McCormick Place on Day One. The aggressively-styled Pontiac Piranha starts with a rakish sport coupe than adds some of the utilitarian attributes of a truck. The four-seater features a removable rear cargo tub that can be rolled away. The yawning cargo hatch can be folded back to create a "mini-pickup," noted designer John Mack. But with its 202-hp supercharged V-6, Piranha is meant to haul more than cargo. The Chevy Traverse, meanwhile, is "Chevrolet’s reinvention of the family sedan," said lead designer Joel Piaskowski. An SUV-like body is mated to a passenger car chassis, which is meant to improve handling and fuel economy — while yielding truck-like utility, of course. The rear seats can slide back to provide limo-like roominess. But with a touch of a button, they automatically fold over to create a pickup-size cargo compartment. Insiders suggest that Traverse is one of six current concept vehicles that GM is seriously considering for production.


 
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