2005 Detroit Show Preview I Page 2

December 9, 2004

Jeep Gladiator

2005 Jeep Gladiator concept

2005 Jeep Gladiator concept

Enlarge Photo
Think of this flashy pickup prototype as "part of the fleshing out of the Jeep division," suggested Trevor Creed. The design director at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group, he acknowledged "(we) haven't done enough with Jeep," adding that "we're going to do an awful lot more…in a very short time."

With its exposed door and hood hinges, there's a bit of the back-to-basics look to Gladiator, enhanced by a canvas roof that rolls partway back, much like a sunroof, but it also can be removed entirely. The pickup features dual doors on the passenger side and, on the passenger side, a cargo hatch for easy access to the rear on the driver's side. The doors swing open a full 180 degrees. Based on an all-new platform, so-called "lifestyle vehicle," may be straightforward in design, but what you see isn't always what you get. The Gladiator's most innovative feature is its cargo bed. In normal configuration, it measures 5.5 feet in length. But stow the rear seat cushions and the rear bulkhead moves forward into the two-row cab, stretching the bed to an even eight feet.

Featuring a part-time 4x4 powertrain, the Gladiator boasts a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel making 163 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a manual transmission.

While Creed won't say whether the Gladiator is set to become part of Jeep's expanding product portfolio, it wouldn't hurt to keep a close eye on this concept vehicle, especially the bold front end. It "could be" the inspiration for the next-generation Wrangler, Creed hinted. "We always learn our lessons from these concepts."

Chrysler Firepower

2005 Chrysler Firepower concept

2005 Chrysler Firepower concept

Enlarge Photo
2005 Chrysler Firepower concept

2005 Chrysler Firepower concept

Enlarge Photo
Make that "codename Firepower!" The name may change by the time this two-seat sportscar hits Detroit's Cobo Hall next January, but the striking styling is all but locked in stone. Or, to be more precise, carbon fiber, the material of choice for Chrysler's show cars.

The Firepower prototype is meant to slot in somewhere between the sporty Chrysler Crossfire and last year's audacious ME-412 concept vehicle. (And, not so coincidentally, the Firepower and ME-412 were both designed by 30-year-old stylist Bill Niedlander.) If the dimensions seem familiar, that's because the Firepower shares its platform with the Dodge Viper. But in Chrysler trim, it's meant to be more elegant and refined, in the tradition of a classic grand tourer, according to Creed, who suggests you "think of the likes of Aston Martin."

Instead of the Viper's raw V-10, the Firepower will feature the new, 6.1-liter, 425-horsepower version of the HEMI V-8. Estimated top speed is 185 mph, with 0-60 times of under 4.5 seconds.

Though there continues to be some interest in the ME-412 at Chrysler's highest levels, its astronomical price tag seems to have limited the likelihood it would go into production. The Firepower could still serve as a top-end halo car, though Creed cautioned that for the moment, at least, there is no talk of production. On the other hand, he quickly added, "Sometimes design (department) has to put something out there and take the lead" to see what the market reaction is. Then the beancounters need to figure out if there's a business case to be made.

Dodge Charger

2006 Dodge Charger

2006 Dodge Charger

Enlarge Photo
2006 Dodge Charger

2006 Dodge Charger

Enlarge Photo
By now we've all seen "official" sketches of the upcoming Charger, but here are the first actual pictures of the much anticipated Charger caught in an undisclosed location. The Charger will make its official debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and arrive at dealerships next spring as an early 2006 model. Published reports state that Charger will be powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 or the optional 5.7-liter HEMI, but insiders expect the 6.1-liter HEMI to follow — as it will be doing with the 300C, Magnum, and even the Grand Cherokee.
2017
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2017
The Car Connection
Commenting is closed for this article
 
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car