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2003 Detroit Auto Show Preview Page 2

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CONCEPTS: GM’s concepts include the Buick Centime, a crossover with six seats in three rows that celebrates the brand’s centennial...the Chevy Cheyenne, a low-bed truck with a double sunroof…the Chevrolet SS, an Impala-based sedan with a 5.7-liter V-8…and the Pontiac G6, which shows up with a 3.5-liter 300-hp engine.

FORD

2005 Ford Mustang concept

2005 Ford Mustang concept

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Ford Mustang
Retro styling is once again hip and the 1960s are back again at Ford — and this time it’s the 2005 Mustang that receives the heritage treatment. This concept vehicle due at Detroit is a fair indicator of the new Mustang, though not identical to the production car due late in 2004. This time around, the Mustang will share a platform with a Jaguar (S-Type) and Lincoln (LS). We’re expecting the new Mustang to be offered with a variety of engine choices, including a 215-hp 3.0-liter V-6, and a modified 4.6-liter V-8 with 280-hp. The Cobra version will likely be fitted with a 400-plus horsepower V-8.

2004 Ford F-150 spy shot

2004 Ford F-150 spy shot

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Ford F-150
Ford’s new F-150 grows considerably more sophisticated in its 2004 edition, especially inside: the interior marks a substantial step up for the full-size truck, with more amenities and three unique instrument panels for different models of the pickup. The F-150 will be the first truck powered by Ford's new 300-horsepower, three-valve-per-cylinder, 5.4-liter V-8. We expect a handful of variations to be shown in Detroit, including the base version which comes with rear-hinged doors standard.

2004 Ford Five Hundred

2004 Ford Five Hundred

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Ford Five Hundred/Freestyle
Ford will unveil a new pair of platform-sharing vehicles in 2003; either the Five Hundred sedan or the Freestyle crossover wagon or both may be shown in the sheetmetal at Detroit for the first time. The Chicago-built Five Hundred and Freestyle will be built at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant beginning in early 2004. The mechanical twins will seat up to seven passengers with three rows of seating and will be available in all-wheel-drive as well as front-wheel drive. The V-6 engine will be mated to a ZF continuously variable transmission in the Freestyle and will offer car-like ride and handling with SUV-type off-road capabilities; the Five Hundred sports a roofline not unlike the VW Passat and, as a result, good interior room.

Aston Martin DB5
Ford’s top image brand has been working on a new Porsche 911-sized vehicle, and it is due to be revealed in Detroit. Codenamed AM305, and rumored to be getting the production nameplate DB5, it will hit the street sometime in 2005. Though it shares about the same overall length as the 911, it will feature a much longer hood, meant to accommodate the car’s front/mid-engine layout. The wheelbase will be notably longer than the Porsche flagship, and the AM305 will sit lower. In terms of price, the AM305 will target the higher end of the 911 range — around $100,000, Aston officials noted. Expect the DB5 to feature a unique-to-Aston V-8, though the engine will start with a block shared with its British affiliate, Jaguar. While precise details are not available, it would not surprise observers if the AM305 used a supercharger to boost performance, either as a standard feature or as part of an optional performance package.

CONCEPTS: Concept vehicles are set to show up on the Lincoln, Mazda and Mercury stands. Ford may show a concept called the 427 at either Detroit or the Los Angeles show.

DAIMLERCHRYSLER/MITSUBISHI


2003 Maybach M62

2003 Maybach M62

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Maybach 62
After a five-year gestation, the reborn brand is back, and buyers willing and able to plop down at least $300,000 will have two distinct models to choose from. The substantial M57 and downright huge M62. The numbers refer to the vehicle length in meters, meaning the bigger of the two measures in at almost 20 feet bumper to bumper. That’s actually longer than the Ford Excursion SUV, making the M62 one of the longest passenger vehicles ever built. Not surprisingly, it’s also positioned as the car for the chauffeured set.

2004 Dodge Durango spy shot

2004 Dodge Durango spy shot

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Dodge Durango
Contrary to popular belief, the next Dodge Durango (code named HB) will NOT take its styling from the Power Box or Power Wagon concepts, but rather from the Ram family. With the next generation Dakota downsizing, the Durango will be distancing itself from the smaller pickup. The new Durango rides on a wheelbase almost 10 inches longer than today’s model, but the vehicle’s length will remain the same, and it will sport a hydroformed frame. Interior volume will increase by 24 percent, allowing for eight-passenger seating configurations and more cargo space when the last two rows of seats are folded flat – our sources say, enough for cargo up to seven feet long. Information is sketchy on what engines may power the new Durango, but the variety of engines could include the Liberty’s 3.7-liter V-6, a 4.7-liter V-8 and the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8.

2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor spy shot

2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor spy shot

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Mitsubishi Endeavor
It's official -- Mitsubishi says the name of the SUV in this picture will be called the Endeavor. The California-designed ute will be available in front- or all-wheel drive and will be powered by a V-6. One of four upcoming "Project America" vehicles (vehicles developed for the North American market), the Endeavor will compete with other mid-size utes including the new Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Nissan's upcoming Murano, and will be in showrooms early next year as a 2004 model.

ALSO: Look for the Chrysler version of the new LX rear-drive platform, possibly as a 300C sedan;  the production version of the Crossfire coupe will be in Detroit too.

NISSAN/INFINITI


Nissan Truck
Nissan’s first full-size truck is on the way from its plant under construction in Canton, Miss., and product planners promise unique cab and bed utility for the first model, to be shown in Detroit. A 5.2-liter V-8 may power the truck, which shares its platform with the coming Infiniti QX55 SUV. Nissan says it has aggressive targets for fuel economy thanks to a multi-speed automatic transmission. A name for the truck has not been announced as of yet.

2004 Nissan Maxima

2004 Nissan Maxima

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2004 Nissan Maxima

2004 Nissan Maxima

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Nissan Maxima
The upcoming 2004 Nissan Maxima is a mystery no more. Nissan released this photo of the new four-door sedan to sate enthusiasts who just can’t wait until after the first of the year for the Detroit show. Nissan says the Maxima has the “soul of the Z,” while the wrapper looks like an exotic interpretation of the Altima’s straightforward goodness. And for good reason — they share the same platform with each other and with the new Murano wagon. Nissan promises aggressive performance, agile handling and an innovative interior that features a control center for HVAC and radio as in the Murano crossover. Look for the Maxima’s debut on January 5, 2003 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

2004 Nissan Quest spy photo

2004 Nissan Quest spy photo

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Nissan Quest
The new Nissan minivan carries over somewhere between 80-90 percent of the styling found on their recent Quest concept. Styled at Nissan’s Design Studios in La Jolla, Calif., the new Quest is modern and flowing, and won’t be confused with any of the traditional minivans. Sharing its platform with the new Altima, the new Quest will be powered by Nissan’s 240-horsepower VQ35 Series V-6. The new Quest will be built in Canton, Miss., and should be at dealerships early next fall.

2004 Infiniti FX45 spy shot

2004 Infiniti FX45 spy shot

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2004 Infiniti FX45 spy shot

2004 Infiniti FX45 spy shot

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Infiniti FX45
It’s been a couple of months since our spies spotted a production-ready 2004 Infiniti FX45 parked rather nonchalantly aside a parking meter overlooking the Pacific. The FX45 is finally set for a market introduction and a production-trim debut in Detroit. We expect the newest crossover from Infiniti to be powered by a 300-horsepower 4.5-liter V-8 at introduction, with a 3.5-liter V-6 possibly following in fall 2003. Infiniti is counting on the car-based (G35/Skyline) all-wheel-drive crossover to be a hit, and forecasters are predicting sales to be roughly four times that of the outgoing QX4.


 
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