2003 Detroit Auto Show, Part IX

January 8, 2003


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)


Toyota Motor Co. used the North American International Auto Show to unveil a new, more sophisticated hybrid powertrain in a version of the new

2004 lexus RX330

2004 lexus RX330

RX330. Fujio Cho, Toyota's president, said the Hybrid Synergy V-6 offers the power and the torque of a V-8 with the fuel economy and emissions of any other standard-size minivan. The hybrid version of the RX330 should reach showrooms by 2005 and will help Toyota reach its goal of putting more than 300,000 hybrids on the road by middle of the decade. The hybrid system planned for the RX330 will operate at nearly double the voltage of the existing Toyota Prius. The front and rear electric drives that are part of the package provide all-wheel drive. The entire package also is lighter and more compact than earlier generations. Toyota also is considering selling its hybrid technology to rival automakers. Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's chief executive officer, said Nissan is certainly interested in using Toyota's technology and Chrysler Group executives also are considering using hybrid systems developed by Toyota. --Joe Szczesny


2003 Kia KCD-1 Slice concept

2003 Kia KCD-1 Slice concept

Enlarge Photo
In the last automaker press conference of the show, the group of jaded journalists crowding the Kia stand murmured about “yet another crossover vehicle” under the cover. But once the cover was pulled, there was considerable enthusiasm. Kia’s KCD-1 Slice concept showed that there is yet some new territory for the segment. With a raked-back silhouette and huge (for its size) 19-inch wheels with sport tires, the Slice has an aggressive stance. Bright orange striping is used inside and out where brightwork or blacked-out trim would otherwise be—quite different than the drab tones prevalent at this year’s show—making it clear that the model is for a more youthful, expressive market segment.

A 2.7-liter DOHC V-6 powers the KCD-1, coupled with a Sportmatic automatic transmission. The suspension is independent all around and sport-tuned, with stabilizer bars front and rear.

While—for the U.S. market—it’s a relatively compact vehicle (at 177 inches long), there’s seating for six in the KCD-1, in three rows. The seats can be folder in various combinations depending on cargo. The doors open up wide from the middle and they’re solenoid-operated. Inside, the gauges and dials are likened to those on sailboats, while the center console resembles a motorcycle fuel tank.

Off-roading isn’t part of the package. Rather, the Slice was designed to provide more passenger and cargo-hauling capacity without a sacrifice in driver enjoyment, handling ability, or fuel economy. –Bengt Halvorson

Kia Motors is looking hard to produce the Slice concept vehicle it is showing this week at the Detroit show, and is considering pricing the Optima spin-off around $20,000 with all-wheel-drive, say company officials. The Slice is reminiscent of the Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe, but has three rows of seats and no B-pillar. Kia, which has gained credibility in the last two years with its Kia Sedona and the new Sorento SUV, could severely undercut Subaru's all-wheel-drive Outback with the Slice. "Slice is not just a concept, it's a very serious market niche we think we can take advantage of with a design that is right in the heart of where the crossover, sport wagon market is going, but with a great value positioning relative to other entries," said one senior Kia official. --Jim Burt

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