AVIATOR: NO MERE EXPLORER
The 2003 Lincoln Aviator isn’t merely a reworking of the Ford Explorer, Lincoln’s team of engineers and designers says. The evidence? The Aviator’s higher nose, jazzy interior and fold-flat third-row seat that sits nine inches lower than that of the Explorer. In that row, head and legroom are better than the critical darling Acura MDX, Ford says. The Aviator sports a 300-hp 4.6-liter V-8 and a five-speed automatic transmission, a sleek interior trimmed in wood and silver matte plastic, and LED lighting that imparts an uptown flair to the cabin. In the middle seat, a twin-bucket configuration can be had with a clever reconfigurable console. The rear-drive or all-wheel-drive Aviator can be equipped to tow 7300 pounds. The Aviator will be the first “growth” model in the brand’s portfolio since the launch of the LS sedan, says Brian Kelley, Lincoln Mercury’s president. The Aviator goes on sale in mid-July.
2003 Saturn IONEnlarge Photo
FIRST LOOK: SATURN ION
The first official pictures of the Saturn ION compacts hit the media today — but until the brand’s press conference, more details on the new GM compacts are thin. What’s for sure is that the four-door ION will be followed by a new coupe with two rear-access panels (call 'em doors if you must), and GM’s 137-hp 2.2-liter Ecotec in-line four will be found in all models. The sedan is six inches longer than before, riding atop GM's new Delta platform. A five-speed manual is standard; a continuously variable transmission is available and a five-speed automatic will be optional on the ritzier models. Hipness has been baked into the ION's style: interchangeable roof rails will be coordinated to similar dash panels, and the speedo is mounted atop the center stack. Stay tuned for more on the brand’s new entry-level car and its unconventional styling in and out.
2003 Land Rover Discovery IIEnlarge Photo
DISCO ISN’T DEAD
Not the Land Rover Discovery Series II, that is. The British subsidiary of Ford Motor Co. took the wraps off the revised, 2003 Disco Tuesday night. Scheduled for launch over the summer, it features a new, 217-hp, 4.6-liter V-8. According to the automaker, there have been more than 350 engineering changes made to the ’03 model, with 700 new parts, many of them hidden under the skin. The most visible update gives the Discovery a new front end similar to the one on the all-new Range Rover. But customers may find the most appealing feature is that the automaker will now cover all routine maintenance for four years or 50,000 miles. That same program will be extended to the ’03 Range Rover, as well. Incidentally, the automaker has announced that the Range Rover will hit U.S. shores carrying a base price of $69,335, plus another $660 for delivery.
2003 Land Rover Range Rover by Marty Padgett (1/28/2002)
AUDI ANNOUNCES TWO NEW MODELS
Audi will be bringing two new niche models to the U.S. over the next year. The high-performance RS6 features a 450-horsepower, 4.2-liter, biturbo V-8. It will be the first Audi equipped with a new suspension concept called Dynamic Ride Control, which is meant to reduce body roll and pitch. Audi expects to sell about 850 annually in the U.S., once the RS6 reaches dealers in mid-calendar year 2003. That’s about six to eight months after the introduction of the A4 Cabriolet, the latest spin-off from the automaker’s compact lineup. Audi notes the ragtop will offer the largest rear seat in its class, as well as a roomy trunk. The Cabriolet will be powered by a new, 220-hp 3.0-liter V-6. It will also feature an aluminum suspension based on Audi’s top-line A8 model.