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2004 New York Auto Show, Part I



2004 New York Auto Show Index (4/5/04)

New Grand Cherokee Gets HEMI Power

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Jeep’s new Grand Cherokee arrives in showrooms this fall not a moment too soon. With buyers moving into bigger SUVs and the Grand Cherokee’s mild 1998 makeover beginning to show wrinkles, the brand’s been in need of a refreshed core product. For the 2005 model year the new Grand Cherokee delivers on most of the goods that have become standard issue in the most hotly competitive SUV niche, save for a seven-passenger version (due in about a year, and possibly dubbed the Wagoneer, if Detroit insiders are correct). Revamped styling that draws on Jeep’s heritage plays a major role in the redo, but Jeep also promises that the new Grand Cherokee delivers a better ride and best-in-class traction. But the big addition to the Grand Cherokee lineup that will appeal most to enthusiasts is undoubtedly the appearance of the HEMI engine in the Jeep lineup.

­Preview: 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee (4/6/2004)
A dip into the heritage well becomes the new five-seat SUV.

 

Nissan Parks New Xterra in New York

2005 Nissan Xterra

2005 Nissan Xterra

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It isn’t always easy finding a parking spot in the Big Apple, as Nissan apparently discovered when it pulled up at Rockefeller Center for a special preview of the second-generation Xterra. But it helped prop up the SUV’s credentials. While many of the newest sport-utes are consciously blurring the line between car and truck, the original Xterra made no excuses about its off-road heritage. And that remains the case with the new model, which shares its body-on-frame “F-Alpha” platform with Nissan’s big Titan pickup, albeit in reduced size, as well as the new Pathfinder SUV and Frontier mid-size truck. The wheelbase has been extended 2.5 inches, while the ’05 Nissan Xterra’s height has increased 1.9 inches. Interior space has been improved all around, with a full 3.6 inches more rear leg room. The original Xterra was one of the first products launched as part of Nissan’s comeback strategy, and the automaker chose not to stray too far with the replacement. So the styling and basic functionality of the new ute is “evolutionary, though with a capital E,” suggested Mark McNabb, vice president and general manager of the Nissan division. The ’05 Xterra features a new 250-horsepower, 4.0-liter version of the Nissan VQ V-6 engine. The truck will be offered in either 2WD or 4WD configurations, and several different models, including an Off-Road package. The 2005 Nissan Xterra will be assembled at the automaker’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

 

M45 Finalizes Fuga Idea

2004 Infiniti M45 concept

2004 Infiniti M45 concept

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Infiniti’s M45 concept due at the show on Thursday morning ends up looking a lot like the recent Fuga concept from the Tokyo motor show — which is exactly what insiders have been saying since the concept Fuga bowed at the ’03 Japanese show. While officially still a concept, the Infiniti M45 Concept is touted by Nissan as pretty representative of the 2006 M45, which should be in showrooms about a year from now. The concept vehicle’s lovely exterior shape is backed up by a 340-hp version of Nissan’s 4.5-liter V-8 also found in the current M as well as the Q45. The chassis is an updated version of the FM architecture that underpins the G35 series and the FX crossover vehicle. The new version of FM of course supports the Nissan 3.5-liter V-6 as well as the V-8, suggesting that Nissan will take a BMW 5-Series tack with the new car and offer a range of six- and eight-cylinder engines. Nineteen-inch wheels and tires grip the road and Nissan says lightweight body pieces help reduce poundage as well as lift. The five-speed automatic has a semi-manual mode, and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and new adjustable rear suspension help to increase stability. The cabin sports power reclining rear seats and surround sound with 14-speaker 5.1-channel decoding, as well as an “Intelligent Key” system with push button start.

 
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