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2005 Detroit Auto Show, Part IV

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2006 Infiniti M45

2006 Infiniti M45

2005 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/8/2005) 

Honda Ridgeline: Most “Impactful?”

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2006 Honda Ridgeline

2006 Honda Ridgeline

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In the lexicon of auto-show press releases, new words are created where perhaps they shouldn’t be. “Impactful” is one of those non-words bandied about, and if you understand what it’s supposed to mean, you’ll understand why Honda’s Ridgeline truck could be the most impactful vehicle of the show.

The Ridgeline is Honda’s first pickup truck, although the company sold 491,604 trucks last year in the form of Pilot and MDX SUVs and Elements and CR-Vs. In 2004 Honda also hit a ninth straight record sales figure — and it plans on another in 2005, when it hopes to sell about 1.45 million vehicles in the U.S., up from nearly 1.2 million this past year.

The Ridgeline will be a significant chunk of that new sales volume — and it’s a significant threat to vehicles like the Ford Explorer Sport Trac. New for 2006, the Ridgeline isn’t beholden to any particular Honda sibling: it’s 93 percent new componentry, Honda says, though it does share some structure with the Pilot SUV. The Ridgeline sports a four-door cabin with a five-foot bed grafted on the back, lined in composite material and reinforced underneath with three steel rails for added strength. Thanks to the beefed-up structure the truck is rated as a half-ton, with a 5000-lb towing capacity. Power comes from a version of Honda’s corporate 3.5-liter V-6, here churning out 255 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque.

In terms of flexibility, the Honda doesn’t quite outmaneuver the Chevy Avalanche, since its rear cabin wall is fixed. But what it does with the available room is remarkable: there’s a secure cargo trunk under the rear end of the bed, large enough to hold a 72-quart cooler or three sets of golf clubs. The rear seat folds and latches up against the cabin wall, leaving enough room to carry a mountain bike behind the front seats. The tailgate swings both ways, like your adventurous uncle Stu; it drops down like a conventional truck and can also swing on a left-side hinge for easier access to the front reaches of the bed.

Honda will ladle the safety gear on the Ridgeline: standard features will include anti-lock brakes, stability control, and side curtain airbags.

The Ridgeline is built in Ontarioalongside the Pilot, and goes on sale in March. Pricing hasn’t been confirmed, but an base price of less than $30,000 is likely. Stay tuned for a Ridgeline road test in February.

Zephyr Breezes Into LincolnLineup

2006 Lincoln Zephyr

2006 Lincoln Zephyr

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The second Ford derivative of the Mazda6 sedan arrives early in 2006 powered by a V-6 engine and wearing the toothsome grille of Lincoln. The Zephyr will take on the likes of the Lexus ES and Acura TL with a distinctive front-end treatment and an interior that easily ranks among Ford’s finest. The Zephyr is the second Ford variant of the new CD3 architecture, spun off from the Mazda6; the Fusion is the first and Mercury’s version, the Milan, will be shown at an auto show this year, too.

2006 Lincoln Zephyr

2006 Lincoln Zephyr

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The Zephyr is distinguished by its tall, bright grille and 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as a cabin trimmed in aluminum, leather, and wood and outfitted with electroluminescent gauges. Like the Fusion, the Zephyr sports more interior room than the Mazda6, and trunk space is improved as well. The Zephyr uses a 210-hp V-6 coupled to a six-speed automatic gearbox to motivate the Zephyr, which will eventually be offered with all-wheel drive. Side airbags and anti-lock brakes will be standard on the compact luxury sedan, as will curtain airbags and traction control. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet; the 2006 model goes on sale late this year.

Infiniti Prices M, Shows Kuraza

2006 Infiniti M45

2006 Infiniti M45

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Infiniti’s new M sedans will be priced just south of the $40,000 mark when they arrive in dealers next month, officials from the Nissan luxury brand said on Monday. The M starts from $39,900 for the M35 with rear-wheel drive; the rear-drive M45 starts from $46,750, outfitted with a 340-hp V-8 engine. Both versions are equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the six-cylinder M35 also can be had with all-wheel drive. Standard equipment also includes Bluetooth connectivity, a Vehicle Information System with 7-inch LCD screen, voice recognition, and a tire-pressure monitor.

2006 Infiniti M45 by TCC Team (1/10/2005)
Momentum builds at Infiniti’s upper range.


 
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