2002 Detroit Show Preview

December 31, 2001

sponsored by Toyota

 

Detroit’s annual auto show inspires vivid memories among those who attend each year. Like those from 1989, when Toyota and Nissan stunned the luxury market with the impeccable, primeval Lexus and Infiniti sedans. Or ten years later, when a crippling blizzard stranded hundreds of travelers at the city’s airport, some held ten hours onboard planes at the mercy of the local airline.

A blizzard of another kind descends on Cobo without fail. The wave of production vehicles and concepts unveiled at Detroit could supply a smaller auto show for years. And 2002 promises no different, despite the attacks on America that killed thousands and tipped the economic balance toward recession.

TheCarConnection.com is prepping for the busy show season with our annual Detroit preview. We’ll be updating this with the latest releases up to the Detroit show’s press days, which run from Sunday, Jan. 6th through the 8th. And of course, we’ll be on the show floor those days, bringing you twice-daily news briefs on the latest introductions and press conferences.

 

2003 Hummer H2

2003 Hummer H2

Hummer H2
A few days ago, GM unveiled the Hummer H2, the first product of its investment in AM General. To be shown en mass at Detroit, the new truck is essentially a Hummer shape grafted on a heavily modified GM heavy-duty truck platform, with a 325-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 and heavy-duty four-speed transmission. A full-time four-wheel-drive system with a locking rear differential is standard; two tire packages will be offered, a softer highway set and a triple-sidewall set for extreme off-roading. A luxurious interior with CD stereos, power windows and leather seats will be standard with each H2, which is entering pilot production soon in Mishawaka, Ind., and goes on sale in July for $50,000-$55,000.

 

2003 Chevrolet Warrior/Isuzu Ascender
Essentially a mini-Avalanche, the Warrior sports the ‘Lanche’s midgate design and is said to be based on the TrailBlazer EXT long-wheelbase SUV. The similar Isuzu Ascender will be shown as well; it’s replacing the Trooper sport-ute in 2003.


 

2003 Honda Pilot

2003 Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot
Honda’s first SUV done in-house was designed to combine the looks and AWD of a sport-ute with the eight-passenger seating, cargo capacity and overall family-friendliness of a minivan. Though it shares platforms with the upscale Acura MDX, the new Honda ute will be smaller on the outside yet roomier on the inside, with lots more storage. It will feature a less sophisticated version of MDX’s 3.5-liter V-6, and boast a 4500-pound towing capacity. Scheduled for launch next summer, the Pilot will be built at the Canadian assembly plant currently producing both the MDX and the Odyssey minivan.

 

Acura RD-X
Along with the production Pilot SUV, Honda will show an adaptable “urban adventure” vehicle at Detroit. The Acura-branded concept, called the RD-X, is said by the company to combine the “street performance of a sports coupe with the ruggedness of a next-generation SUV.” The RD-X has 2+2 seating, a flexible rear seating/stowage compartment with a hidden nook for laptops and other valuables, and all-wheel drive. A VTEC-equipped powertrain and a racy interior round out the concept, which will make its debut on Jan. 7 during the Detroit show’s media days.

 

2002 Cadillac Cien concept

2002 Cadillac Cien concept

Cadillac Cien, CTS and XLR
The ongoing renovations at Cadillac will be evident at Detroit, when the Cien supercar, CTS sports sedan and XLR sportscar are shown in trio. The Cien, a mid-engine two-seater concept, features an all-new Cadillac V-12 engine, which is presented in grand view, housed under a Plexiglas cover. The prototype powerplant is a 7.5-liter 60-degree V design that is unusually compact and might actually find other applications in the Cadillac line-up. It puts out a hefty 750 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds of torque. The 2003 CTS is the production sedan that Caddy hopes can take on the ilk of the Lexus IS 300, while the XLR is near-production convertible based on the Evoq concept.

 

2002 Land Rover Range Rover

2002 Land Rover Range Rover

2003 Range Rover
The ’03 Range Rover is only the third all-new model in the thirty-one year history of the vehicle that created the sport-ute segment, but this time instead of leading the trend it’s following, becoming bigger, more luxurious and more expensive, in line with its younger, brasher competitors from brands like Cadillac. The styling is not radically changed over that of the current model. Power comes from a 4.4-liter V-8 or a 3.0-liter turbodiesel six, both sourced from BMW, and as befits a Land Rover, four-wheel drive is permanent. The interior of the new version is even more luxurious, with wood and leather trim that would not be out of place in a car from its fellow Ford family member Jaguar, and the legendary off-road ability is sure to be maintained.

 

2003 Mazda 6

2003 Mazda 6

 
2003 Mazda RX-8

2003 Mazda RX-8

Mazda 6/RX-8
Mazda’s own mini-renaissance will be on display in Detroit with the new 6 midsize sedan and RX-8 sports sedan. Like the new Nissan Altima, the Mazda 6 aims to be the benchmark in the mid-size class, a vehicle with the dynamics of European sedans and the user-friendliness of a front-drive platform. A new range of engines starts with four-cylinders; the 2.3-liter four-cylinder features Mazda's Sequential Valve Timing (S-VT), while the 3.0-liter V-6, with 24 valves and the Sequential Valve Timing system, makes 219 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque. The RX-8 four-door will make its appearance in showrooms “very early in 2003,” say Mazda execs, and Mazda is betting its unexpected roominess will win it fans among those who normally couldn’t accept sports car compromises.

 

2003 Volvo XC90

2003 Volvo XC90

Volvo XC90
Volvo says that the XC90 "seats seven persons comfortably and safely in seven forward facing seats." Details about its "advanced safety technologies" will be issued in Detroit. The only details, in fact, that were announced about the vehicle in a recent press release, were the two powerplants, a twin-turbo six that may be the same as in the S80 T6 (273 hp) and a five-cylinder common-rail diesel with 163 hp, that will especially be of interest for the European market. The XC90 goes on sale in the fall of 2002.

 

2002 Saab 9-3X concept

2002 Saab 9-3X concept

Saab Concept 9-3X
Just four months after the Frankfurt debut of the 9X concept, the company will show off the 9-3X concept at the annual Motown sheetmetalfest. The 9-3X is likely a closer cousin to the replacement 9-3 due in the 2003 model year; as a concept, it’s said to “set the pace for a new style of all-terrain motoring.” Most importantly, the vehicle is said to be a showcase for all-wheel drive and crossover capability. Saab plans one new concept or product for the next six years.

 

Nissan Quest Concept

Nissan Quest Concept

Nissan Quest Concept
With its minivan partnership with Ford about to expire, Nissan said yesterday that it’s planning a brand-new minivan of its own for the 2004 model year. The Quest Concept will point the direction for the next Quest, which apparently doesn’t share any parts with the Renault Espace, as has been rumored around town. The six-seat Quest Concept, Nissan says in a release, will be a departure from typical minivan styling, with flowing lines and 20-inch wheels. The tailgate is powered, and the roof is largely glass, for better cabin illumination. The current Quest and the nearly identical Mercury Villager — built on the same assembly line in Avon Lake, Ohio — are set to exit their respective lineups after the 2002 model year.

 

2002 Lamborghini Murcielago

2002 Lamborghini Murcielago

Lamborghini Murcielago
The Diablo’s long-awaited replacement finally debuted at Frankfurt and will be shown in Detroit. The new car, called Murcielago (Italian for bat, but also the name of a breed of bull) is powered by a 6.2-liter V-12, with 570 hp at 7500 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque at 5400 rpm. The car has scissor-type doors like the Diablo and will have permanent all-wheel drive. Lamborghini expects to produce about 400 of the cars per year when production starts.

 

Bentley GT
A brand-new, Volkswagen-parented, $145,000 Bentley “supercoupe” will go on sale in the U.S. in mid-2003 and may be introduced at the Detroit Auto Show. It’s described by the CEO of Rolls-Royce/Bentley only as a “GT coupe”; its new platform is expected to spawn a sedan and convertible soon after the coupe’s launch. The products will be the first under VW’s stewardship, which Bentley will continue to enjoy after 2002 but which Rolls-Royce will not — it becomes part of BMW on Jan. 1, 2003.

 

2003 Lincoln Town Car

2003 Lincoln Town Car

2003 Town Car
Stung by criticism of the current, jellybean-styled Town Car, Ford is rushing a revised model into production next spring. The ’03 Lincoln four-door goes retro, borrowing heavily from the previous-generation, slab-sided sedan. “We’ve squared it off,” noted Ford’s design director, J Mays, adding that future Lincolns will go even further in that direction. The boxy shape has a practical purpose, significantly improving trunk space, which was perhaps the single most common complaint about the current Town Car. Ford engineers promise the ’03 model’s new frame, brakes and front suspension will maintain the Town Car’s cushy ride while significantly improving steering and handling.

 

2002 Saturn Sky concept convertible

2002 Saturn Sky concept convertible

Saturn Sky
The Sky is a slab-sided, open-air roadster that’s designed to provide a variety of seating configurations. Reportedly, it’s one of the concepts that underwent some serious modifications after the arrival of Bob Lutz at GM. In production form, the Sky would feature a power rear tonneau that could open or close over removable rear seats, allowing the Sky to shift from a two to a four-seater. Appropriately named RAD, or forward-hinged rear-access doors would provide easy access for back seat passengers.

 

2002 GMC Terra4 concept truck

2002 GMC Terra4 concept truck

GMC Terra 4
With its trapezoidal nose, hard, three-crossbar grille and industrial-style headlamps, this SUV-truck hybrid couldn’t be anything but a GMC. The Terra4 features side doors mounted on both of the rear quarter panels. They provide easy access to the covered cargo bed without having to fold down the tailgate. The concept truck features four-wheel steering, which would significantly reduce its turning radius and enhance highway handling. Under the hood is a parallel hybrid V-8. That concept, at least, is set for production, debuting in GM’s full-size pickups in 2004.

 

 

2003 Ford Expedition

2003 Ford Expedition

2003 Ford Expedition
Looking much like an overgrown Explorer, the 2003 Expedition sports new front and rear styling and an independent rear suspension. Engines are expected to be slightly updated and a 4.5-liter V-6 diesel option will likely be offered.
Spy Shots: ‘03 Ford Expedition by Brenda Priddy (12/3/2001

 

 

Jeep Willys II concept 2001 Tokyo

Jeep Willys II concept 2001 Tokyo

Jeep Willys 2
The Willys II concept vehicle could be the shape of things to come at the new Jeep. An updated version of the show car seen in Detroit last January, it still is four-wheel ready, but boasts more modest off-road capabilities than the Wrangler or new Liberty. “We’re not going to be using (the Rubicon Trail anymore) for every vehicle,” said Creed, “because it’s inappropriate.” While the hard-edged Willys II is just a styling exercise, Creed conceded Jeep is serious about adding an affordable new model that would be priced below both Wrangler and Liberty.

 

Also coming:

2003 Lexus GX470

2003 Lexus GX470

Chevrolet is said to have a Bel Air-esque concept ready for display, and it’s said to be a knockout…A few Ford concepts are as yet unnamed — but speculation insists a Ford supercar concept wearing the GT initials will be at Detroit, along with a megatruck and the final Fox-based Mustang Cobra…a new mid-range BMW Z5 sportscar has been seen in spy pictures but is unconfirmed by company officials…look for an unnamed Pontiac concept that’s been kept extremely — and unusually — secret by GM’s press department, as well as the Vibe compact wagon and a facelifted Grand Am…the expected trio of Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge concepts could be joined by the long-awaited Chrysler GT Cruiser, a turbocharged version of the popular retro wagon…the Lexus GX470 large ute is based on the American-made Sequoia…BMW’s controversial 7-Series will be shown in long-wheelbase form…the first fruit of GM’s agreement with Subaru could produce a concept wearing both badges, using a Subaru all-wheel-drive platform.
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