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2004 New York Auto Show, Part V



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


ACURA TAKES AIM WITH NEW RL

2005 Acura RL

2005 Acura RL

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The Japanese automaker’s top-line RL model has never made much of an impact on the market. Acura is hoping to improve its perception —and sales — with the introduction of its second-generation RL. The flagship sedan features an all-new, 3.5-liter, VTEC V-6 making 300-horsepower, the most powerful engine ever from Acura. That will be driven through the new Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system that not only distributes power forward and aft, but also shifts power left or right to help enhance high performance maneuvering. SH-AWD will debut on the 2005 Acura RL this coming autumn. So will a first-of-its-kind real-time traffic monitoring system introduced by XM Satellite Radio. According to marketing director Dick Colliver, Acura hopes to “feel our way” into the higher end of the luxury market. The automaker definitely has some momentum going for it. The smaller TL has helped Acura boost sales by about seven percent this year. “Sales have been going through the roof," Colliver said inNew York.


KIA SAYS, “WAGONS HO

With the launch of the Spectra5, the latest entry to Kia’s midsize line-up, “the only thing we didn’t change was the name,” declared Fred Aikins, project leader for the new sport wagon. “Think of it as the Spectra four-door’s sportier, more extroverted twin,” he explained during Kia’s turn in the spotlight. The five-door features a mesh blackout grille with integrated spoiler matched by the rear valance and spoiler. The Spectra 5’s suspension has been tightened, and the car gets new 16-inch alloy wheels. It’s powered by a 138-hp 2.0-liter in-line four. In typical fashion for a Korean make, the automaker will include six airbags and four-wheel disc brakes, as well as air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, heated outside mirrors, and a CD audio system as standard features in order to enhance the

2005 Kia Spectra 5

2005 Kia Spectra 5

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value equation. The new 5 is expected to account for almost a third of overall Spectra sales and help Kia maintain its momentum. In March, the brand’s sales rose eleven percent in the U.S., and so far this year, volume has surpassed both Volkswagen and Mitsubishi.


ARE WAGONS BACK?

Are wagons cool again? Not everyone is ready to agree. While wagons were the body style of choice during the ’50s and ’60s, they’ve fallen out of favor in recent decades. The big behemoths, traditional wagons like the old Buick Roadmaster, are not coming back, analysts like Dan Gorrell warn. On the other hand, sporty, wagon-like crossovers are becoming increasingly common. The new Cadillac SRX and Chrysler’s Pacifica are just two examples. European makes are finding models like the BMW “Touring” appeal to a small but dedicated audience. And Japanese makes like Suzuki and Kia are predicting big sales with new sport wagons. The word, “wagon” itself is “not cool,” admitted Kia project manager Fred Aikins, but even that may be changing. Chrysler is about to launch its new Magnum model, which will not try to find a euphemism

2005 Suzuki Forenza Wagon

2005 Suzuki Forenza Wagon

Enlarge Photo
to replace the wagon destination. Why the shift? People “are realizing not everyone needs an SUV,” suggested Gorrell, though they’d like some of the ute’s attributes, such as their bigger cargo compartments.


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