2003 Detroit Auto Show, Part VIII

January 7, 2003


2003 North American International Auto Show banner

2003 North American International Auto Show banner

 
2003 Los Angeles Auto Show Ford banner with type

2003 Los Angeles Auto Show Ford banner with type

Related Articles:
2003 L.A. Auto Show Coverage by TCC Team (1/1/2003)
2003 Detroit Auto Show Coverage by TCC Team (1/2/2003)

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MAZDA SETS PRICE FOR NEW RX-8

2004 Mazda RX-8

2004 Mazda RX-8

Mazda’s newly-revived, rotary-powered sports car will carry a base price of $25,180. That figure covers the version of the four-seat RX-8 equipped with a 210-hp engine mated to a four-speed automatic. The more powerful, 250-hp version, mated to a six-speed manual, pushes the figure to $26,680. That’s a good bit below expectations, but suggests Mazda learned its lesson when it overpriced the last generation of the old RX-7, stifling sales and driving the sports car from the U.S.market. “You either learn or you’re history,” said Mazda’s U.S.chief executive, Charlie Hughes. The RX-8 boasts a number of novel touches, besides the rotary powertrain. Taking aim at potential buyers who don’t want to cope with a cramped back seat, the unusually roomy package features the so-called “Freestyle Door System,” which makes it much easier to get in and out of the back. Mazda expects a high proportion of manual transmission sales, not only because of the fun factor but because it had to limit torque with the automatic gearbox to handle the high-revving rotary. -- TCC Team

WASHU WANT?

2003 Mazda Washu concept

2003 Mazda Washu concept

Mazda’s fascination with unusual ingress and egress methods was further underscored by the Washu concept vehicle introduced in Detroit. The name translates into “eagle’s wings” in Japanese, and refers to the way the front doors open. Similar to the gull wing doors tried by other manufacturers in the past, the Mazda design hinges, so the Washu can be opened up in tight places. The rear doors slide out and sideways, much like the cabin doors on a commercial airliner. The seating is arranged in a 2+2+2 configuration.  And to make it even easier to get in and out, the steering wheel retracts, while the instrument panel lifts up and into the windshield when the driver door is opened.  -- TCC Team
2004 Ford F-150

2004 Ford F-150

FORD BITES BULLET ON F-SERIES COSTS

Ford Motor Co. believes it needs to get $1000 out of the cost of its new F-Series pickups, which are due to market later this year, according to company chairman Bill Ford. But the automaker has decided to hold off on any cost-cutting efforts in order to ensure a smooth launch, the family heir stressed. What is critical, added Jim Padilla, president of Ford’s North American operations, is that “We are going to deliver this product on time and with high integrity. This is not time to play,” and risk the sort of last-minute problems that have plagued other Ford product introductions in recent years, Padilla told TheCarConnection.  -- TCC Team


Carlos Ghosn in Titan

Carlos Ghosn in Titan

BACK-TO-BASICS ACCORDING TO GHOSN
“When you cannot make a profit, it is a signal you are doing something wrong,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said during a media roundtable Tuesday. To try  to ignore that basic rule is like “trying to ignore a fever.” The Brazilian-born executive has led a significant reversal of Nissan’s fortunes and is now unleashing a significant product blitz that brought an assortment of trucks, passenger cars and crossover vehicles to Detroitthis week.  That includes the new Titan pickup, which will take aim at the full-size segment long dominated by the Big Three. Ghosn stressed that Nissan has no interest in maintaining unprofitable products, and will quickly pull any off the market. He declined to discuss sales forecasts for the new Titan, though the automaker’s new plant in Canton, Mississippi, has 400,000 units of capacity. Along with the pickup, it will produce two new full-size SUVs based off the Titan ladder-and-frame platform, as well as the new Quest minivan.  -- TCC Team


2004 Chevrolet Colorado

2004 Chevrolet Colorado

CHEVROLET'S ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
After much anticipation, Chevrolet pulled the wraps off its new successor to the S-10 line. The Colorado, called a mid-size pickup, has a sleek appearance while following the rugged design cues of the rest of the Chevy truck line. The Colorado, termed a mid-size pickup and about the same size as the S-10, will be available in nine different configurations, including three different cab types, three suspension packages, and either two- or four-wheel drive. The new truck has substantially improved torsional rigidity, partially attributed to a new-design ladder-type frame. A new line of large-displacement engines powers the Colorado. The standard 2.8-liter “Vortec 2800” inline four makes 175 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, while the optional 3.5-liter inline five makes 220 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque. Both incorporate variable valve timing and an electronic throttle. They’re extensively based on the 4.2-liter inline six featured in GM’s mid-sized sport utility vehicles, but the four and five feature a balance shaft design for smoothness. Four-wheel-drive models have shift-on-the-fly capability with a dash-mounted switch, and traction control is now available on four-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive models. Roof rail side airbags and ABS will be standard. -- Bengt Halvorson
2005 Chevrolet Equinox

2005 Chevrolet Equinox

CHEVY INTRODUCES FIRST CROSSOVER

Chevrolet unveiled a long-anticipated entry into the compact SUV segment—the fastest growing segment in the industry. Based on the same platform as the Saturn Vue, the Equinox is available in either front- or all-wheel drive. The only powertrain available is a 3.4-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic transmission. The available all-wheel-drive system sends all power to the front heels during normal conditions, redirecting power to the back wheels if the front wheels slip. Equinox’s front end was given the same look as Chevrolet’s truck line, with a strong vertical bar across the large grille. The interior is touted as highly flexible, with a Multi-Flex rear seat that slides forward or back eight inches total to allow either more cargo room or more passenger room, while carrying back-seat passengers. The cargo shelf height is also adjustable. With the base price being especially important in this class, the Equinox has a front disc, rear drum brake system, and ABS will not be standard. Other available features will include roof rail curtain airbags, an MP3 player, heated from seats, and a power moon roof. -- Bengt Halvorson


2004 Chevrolet Malibu

2004 Chevrolet Malibu

CHEVY'S NEW MIDSIZE MAINSTAY ROLLS OUT
The Malibu, a rental-car and fleet mainstay, will be completely new for 2004. The new model is built on GM’s global Epsilon platform, currently  shared with the Opel Vectra, Saab 9-3, and several other models in the works. The new Malibu, like its predecessor, will continue to emphasize comfort and value, but with a bit more attention to details. Badging has been eliminated from the sides to clean up the appearance. Basic dimensions are about the same as the current car, but interior space has increased. The rear seat folds down, 60/40, to help acommodate large cargo items. Two different powertrains will be offered: the 140-hp, 2.2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder, and a new 200-hp, 3.5-liter version of the familiar pushrod V-6 (which may see a Displacement on Demand upgrade the following year). GM’s electric power steering finds its way into the Malibu for 2004. Both engines are matched with a four-speed automatic. A specially designed four-point front cradle with tuned bushings allows luxury-car ride-and-handling attributes, according to Chevrolet, and many other noise-elimination features normally only used in luxury cars have been employed in the new Malibu. Safety-wise, ABS will be optional, and side roof airbags will also be available. Production will start this fall at GM’s Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City. -- Bengt Halvorson

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