2003 NY Auto Show Preview

April 5, 2003

TCC's Auto Show Index by TCC Team (2/23/2003)
Our coverage of the world's major auto shows, year to year.

Every other year, automotive journalists experience a rare sort of nirvana. It’s difficult to tell if it’s the enlightenment of seven major auto shows dawning upon us — or just a contact buzz from the ink on the two tons of press kits we’re compelled to cart home. But 2003 is one of those biannual highs that puts us — and you — in the driver’s seat through the major auto shows in L.A., Detroit, Chicago, Geneva, New York, Frankfurt, and Tokyo.

The New York auto show rounds out the year in American shows, and it seems set to do it in a style best termed “New York Brash.” How else to explain the worldwide intros of about 20 new vehicles, including trios of important product from Nissan and Toyota, not to mention a groundbreaking new direction for Chrysler cars?

This week, TCC is bringing you a preview of what we know and what we suspect will make its way to the floor of the Jacob Javits Center, the pearl of the West Side Highway. We’ll update this as frequently as we receive new information. And come April 15th, we’ll be bringing you all the news and pictures you could possibly want from New York — and potentially some that you don’t want, if we happen to run into the Naked Cowboy and/or Ricki Lake. But enough of that dreaming — on with the show:

2004 Chrysler LX spy shot

2004 Chrysler LX spy shot

2004 Chrysler LX

We’ve shown you spy pictures of Chrysler’s upcoming rear-wheel-drive “LX” that’s set for a New York debut. The new car will switch the Chrysler sedans from a front-wheel drive platform to rear-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive as an option. Power is expected to come from an optional 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 or a base 3.5-liter V-6 powerplant, and the cars will share several components with Mercedes, including their five-speed automatic transmission and electronic stability control system.

2004 Nissan SUV spy shot

2004 Nissan SUV spy shot

2004 Nissan Pathfinder Armada/Titan Crew Cab

Nissan will follow up on its Detroit trifecta with a pair of trucks sure to cause concern in Detroit, Dearborn and Auburn Hills. The full-size Pathfinder Armada SUV shares design features and components with the recently introduced Titan pickup, and it too will be built alongside at Nissan’s plant in Canton, Miss. Power will come from a 300-horsepower 5.6-liter DOHC V-8. The newest member of Nissan’s quickly growing family is expected to be available next fall, as will a Crew Cab version of the Titan.

2003 Lexus HPX concept

2003 Lexus HPX concept

2004 Toyota Prius/Camry Solara

Toyota is planning a busy schedule of introductions for April’s New York Auto Show. The company has released a sketch of its HPX concept car with a brief description, calling the concept a high-performance, all-wheel-drive crossover. Gone un-photoed: the two production models due at New York. The 2004 Prius, which Toyota says will be larger and more fuel-efficient than the current car, and the 2004 Camry Solara, the two-door version of Toyota’s Camry sedan. Toyota says the Solara will be its most American effort to date, with development, styling and production all handled within U.S. borders.

2004 Toyota Siennaby John Pearley Huffman (3/17/2003)
One step beyond the Odyssey?

2004 Chevrolet Malibu

2004 Chevrolet Malibu

2004 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx

In Detroit we showed you the four-door Malibu due in 2004. New York’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)

2004 Mazda3

2004 Mazda3

2004 Mazda3

Mazda is scheduled to show its recent MX Sportif concept car from Geneva show in New York — but our sources suggest that concept is a dead ringer for the ’04 Mazda3. Based on Ford’s CW170 world small-car platform — and sharing this platform with the upcoming Volvo S40 and future Ford Focus, the Mazda3 will be officially introduced during the 2004 model year. The North American market will first see sedan and sport wagon variants, with the hatchbacks (three- and five-door models) possibly to follow. The exterior design of the Mazda3 (and especially the front) is closely related to that of the Mazda6. Due to its low and sloping roofline, the new lineup will appear quite dynamic. The engine offerings for North America are expected to include a 2.0-liter four and a 2.3-liter four, with other options available in Europe and Asia.

2004 Kia sedan

2004 Kia sedan

2004 Kia luxury sedan

Kia has big plans for the coming New York Auto Show — big as in full-size, that is. The Korean company says it will pull the wraps off its biggest sedan ever on April 17 at 1 p.m. at the Jacob Javits Center. Details in a release were sketchy — Kia didn’t even release the name — but the company’s American president promises the five-passenger car will be competitive with more expensive vehicles. “Kia is the value brand that always delivers more than you expect,” said Kia Motors America President Peter M. Butterfield, “and we plan to fulfill that promise yet again with a brand new, large sedan with all the comfort, convenience and safety found in vehicles costing thousands more.”

Spy Shots: ‘05 Kia Sportage by Brenda Priddy (3/17/2003)
Kia breaks tradition and goes car-based for its next small ute.

2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet

2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet

2003 Benz CLK Cabriolet

The CLK Cabrio has already been shown in Geneva, but the New York show will be its first chance to show its sheetmetal for the American public. While Mercedes has been moving to retractable hardtops on many of its cabrios, the CLK keeps a cloth top. Improved aerodynamics should translate into both better mileage and reduced wind noise. The Cabrio boasts a range of high-tech safety hardware, including a rollover protection system. Three engines will come to the U.S. versions: the 215-hp CLK 320 is powered by the 3.2-liter V-6; the CLK 500 gets a 302-hp V-8; and the 369-hp CLK55 AMG gets a 5.5-liter V-8 and paddle-style shifters.

2004 Nissan 350Z Roadster

2004 Nissan 350Z Roadster

2004 Nissan 350Z Roadster

Nissan distributed this photo of the upcoming 350Z roadster earlier this year, promising that the two-seat convertible will make its first appearance at April’s New York auto show. The 350Z roadster will come with a power-operated cloth top with glass rear window, according to a release from the company. It goes on sale this summer.

2004 Saab 9-3 Convertible

2004 Saab 9-3 Convertible

2004 Saab 9-3 Convertible

It’s been tough times for the Swedish automaker, but company officials are betting things will start getting better when they roll out the next variation on the all-new 9-3 theme. The compact convertible is expected to capture 15 percent of Saab 9-3 sales worldwide, and about 25 percent in the U.S. Saab has always been strong in the cabrio market, and currently captures about four in ten sales of four-seat ragtops. The 9-3’s hydraulically-powered cloth top is the fastest in its class, taking just 20 seconds to deploy. It features several other unusual touches, including a unique “cargo wing” that serves double duty, either as a spoiler or a carrier for skis and other cargo. Then there’s the Cargo Set, basically the trunk equivalent of an expanding suitcase. When room for extra cargo is needed, the deck lid raises up several inches. The 9-3 convertible will be customized at the Magna-Steyr plant in Graz, Austria.

2004 Buick Rendezvous Ultra

Buick will up the power of the popular Rendezvous SUV in 2004 by adding a new V-6 engine to the vehicle. The motor will be a 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 with 255 hp, and is to be shared with the Cadillac CTS and SRX crossover wagon. The engine in the Rendezvous today makes just 185 hp.

2004 MINI Cooper S

The New York Auto Show will be the backdrop as MINI introduces its most powerful vehicle yet — a 200-hp Cooper S package dubbed the John Cooper Works package. Due this spring and developed by the John Cooper Works — its namesake was the man who gave MINI its racing heritage in the 1960s, including three Monte Carlo wins — the package can also be retrofitted to existing 2002 and newer MINI Cooper S cars. The package includes a reconfigured cylinder head, an uprated supercharger and special engine electronics and a performance exhaust, and boosts power from today’s 163-hp maximum.

2003 Mini Cooper S by TCC Team (7/15/2002)
Mini car, midi price, maxi performance.

ALSO COMING: A new Mitsu Galant and possibly, a refreshed Diamante…Caddy’s high-performance V-Series…an Acura concept said to presage the 2004 TL sedan.

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