2003 Chicago Auto Show Preview

February 10, 2003

TCC's Auto Show Index (2/9/2003)


Chicago’s annual auto show begins next week — and before you rush in out of the subfreezing temperatures into roomy McCormick Place, members of the media will show up to sample the wares before they go public.

This year’s Chicago show will have a tough time equaling the sheer horsepower firepower unveiled in Detroit. But with major manufacturers represented from all corners of the carmaking globe, the ’03 event won’t have any problem grabbing our attention. Stay tuned next week starting Tuesday as TCC brings you the best in new production and concept cars from the show floor — and look forward to seeing some of these along the way:

Chevrolet Malibu Maxx

2004 Chevrolet Malibu

2004 Chevrolet Malibu

In Detroit we showed you the four-door Malibu due in 2004. Chicago’s turn comes with the 2004 Chevy Malibu Maxx. Like the Malibu four-door, it’s built off GM’s Epsilon architecture, which also is the basis of the Saab 9-3 and Opel Vectra. But the Maxx has something different from the sedan — namely, a fifth door. The Malibu Maxx is a hatchback in the tradition of the old Mazda 626 hatchback, though Chevy will call it an extended sedan. It is six inches longer than the standard sedan, with six inches of travel in the back seat of both models, allowing the driver to reconfigure the back seat and luggage area to accommodate passengers or gear. The front passenger seat folds flat. Chevy boasts that an eight-foot kayak or eight-foot stepladder fits inside the car with the trunk closed. The trunk of the Maxx has a flexible half that works to hide gear, and it stands up on a post when the trunk is open for a tailgating table. It also will come with a standard remote starter, literally a hot-button feature that Chevy feels will have as much allure to buyers in cold-weather states as a disappearing third seat on a minivan.
’04 Malibu Gets Maxx-ed Out by Jim Burt (11/18/2002)

Mercury Monterey/Ford Windstar

2004 Mercury Monterey

2004 Mercury Monterey

Platforms twins underneath different skins, the new Mercury Monterey and Ford Windstar minivans are due for a Chicago outing. The Monterey minivan takes the slot formerly occupied by the much smaller Villager and is said to compete in the $30,000 luxury minivan niche behind the power of a 4.2-liter V-6 and class-leading safety equipment such as a three-row side airbag curtain. The Monterey, due in late 2003 as a 2004 model, will sport a third-row seat that flips and folds to create a flat load floor in back, like the seats in the Honda Odyssey, Mazda MPV and Ford Expedition. Power adjustable pedals, forward and reverse object-sensing systems, and a tire-pressure monitoring system will also be standard on the luxury minivan. As Mercury preps for the Monterey, Ford will release its own version of the improved minivan, again under the Windstar name. Ford says the 2004 Windstar, due at the end of next year, will get revised styling and a new interior complete with a folding-flat third-row seat. It will carry over many features introduced as standard this year, like Ford’s AdvanceTrac electronic stability enhancement system and better NVH.
Mercury Fighting for Customers by TCC Team (2/3/2003)

Toyota Tundra Double Cab

2005 Toyota Tundra spy shot

2005 Toyota Tundra spy shot

By popular demand, Toyota is developing a Crew Cab version of their full-size truck, the Tundra. The 2005 Tundra Crew Cab should be in dealerships sometime in early- to mid-2004, morphing the styling changes that took place for the 2003 model year together with updates for the new 2006 models. The four-door will precede the next generation of Tundra, which will also make a new home in San Antonio, Texas. Toyota will build Tundra pickup trucks in a new plant — its sixth in North America — starting in 2006. The plant, which will start with annual production of 150,000 units, will likely expand before the end of the decade to include SUV derivatives.
DAILY EDITION: Feb. 6, 2003 by TCC Team (2/4/2003): Toyota plans sixth plant in North America.

Suzuki sedan and subcompact

The Detroit Free Press reports that GM is ready to begin selling cars from its Daewoo joint venture — and those cars will be distributed in North America through the Suzuki brand. The paper reported last week that GM and Suzuki plan to market two Daewoo-built vehicles through Suzuki dealers in the U.S. sometime this year, and that a larger sport-utility vehicle could be in the offing for the brand, which now sells the seven-passenger XL7. Suzuki will introduce a subcompact model and a mid-size sedan at the Chicago auto show, the Freep says, and both vehicles will come with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. A later report this week also says a hatchback Daewoo will be sold in the U.S. under the Chevrolet badge and will be announced at Chicago.
Flint: GM’s Foreign Affairs by Jerry Flint (1/6/2003)

Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

2003 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

2003 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG

The supercharged V-8 version of the new E-Class — the E55 AMG — will scoot to a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds or less. It’s AMG’s 35th anniversary present to the speed-crazed and torque-starved, and it has apparently toppled the BMW M5 from the performance sedan throne.The standard E500 sedan is already pretty spectacular, granted, but the Lysholm-supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 engine packs a sweet rorty/sporty exhaust note, an eye-popping 469 horsepower, and a seriously huge 516 lb-ft of torque. The E55 will make its U.S. debut in Chicago, as will its pricetag, unreleased by Benz thus far.
2003 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG by Jim McCraw (10/21/2002)

BMW 745i/745Li Sport

2003 BMW 745i Sport

2003 BMW 745i Sport

BMW says its new 745i and 745Li will now be offered with a Sport Package that includes a sport suspension and unique 19-inch wheels and mixed-size performance tires (245 /45 front and 275/40 rear). The interior of the uprated ubersedan features sport seats and a three-spoke sport steering wheel that incorporates new standard Steptronic shift controls for the six-speed automatic transmission.
2002 BMW 745i by TCC Team (1/28/2002)

2004 3-Series Coupe and Convertible

The 2004 3-Series Coupe and Convertible get smoothed and preened for the ’04 model year with a wider kidney grille, a modified power dome on the hood, new headlights with optional adaptive controls, and dynamic adaptive brake light technology. During hard braking, such as in an emergency, the rear taillights join the brake lights at the same intensity, giving a stronger warning to following drivers.

Also coming to Chicago: the 2004 Acura RL…Mitsubishi Galant…Subaru Forester…Miata SE…the production version of the Dodge Ram SRT-10...and Volvo’s S60R.

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