2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class WagonBENZ HAS COOLER E-CLASS WAGON
If it’s possible for a station wagon to be cool, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate fits the category. Making its world debut Monday, the wagon features the new Easy-Pack cargo management system behind the rear lift gate. The system takes other sliding cargo systems a step further by putting the cargo floor on a hydraulic motor that lifts and slides it for easier access. The system also features a telescopic bar and retractable belt to secure cargo. Mercedes also unveiled the SL600 convertible with a V-12 engine that produces 500 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is 0-62 kph in 4.7 seconds. The vehicle will go on sale this spring in Europe and in 2004 in North America. The SL600, which is Mercedes-Benz's top-of-the-line luxury coupe, will carry a price tag in the neighborhood of $150,000.—Bill Rapai
2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class WagonEnlarge Photo
2004 Toyota SiennaNEW SIENNA HEADS FOR PRODUCTION
Only two weeks away from production, Toyota staged the world premiere of the new 2004 Sienna minivan. The second-generation minivan can only be a step up from the rather anonymous, current Sienna. The new Sienna features improved design both inside and out, and Toyota engineers say they spent considerable effort improving passenger compartment noise. Before settling on a design, the head of the Sienna team took a 50,000-mile drive, crossing North America several times in the current Sienna and competing vehicles. The result is a vehicle with improved steering feel, performance and fuel economy.
Inside, the vehicle will have power windows in the sliding doors and a “conversation mirror” for front seat passengers to be able to see behind them. The interior will come in different configurations that will seat seven or eight passengers. In one option, the second row will feature a three-way split folding bench, with a middle seat that can slide 13 inches forward to give parents easy access to infants riding in a car seat.
The minivan will be built at Toyota’s assembly plant in Princeton, Ind. At launch, the vehicle will boast 90 percent domestic content. —Bill Rapai
2004 Toyota SiennaEnlarge Photo