2003 New York Show, Part II

April 16, 2003

Related Articles:
2003 New York Show Coverage by TCC Team (4/16/2003)
All the news from the Javits Center, circa 2003.

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Toyota Prius

2004 Toyota Prius

PRIUS: LARGER, MORE FLEXIBLE, CLEANER TOO

The name Prius is Latin for “to go before,” and when Toyota introduced the gas-electric hybrid Prius in 1997, it was more a conversation piece than a necessary response to rising gas prices. What a difference six years makes — not to mention indirect celebrity endorsements from the likes of Cameron Diaz and Leo DiCaprio. Cam and Leo will be happy to know that the second generation of the Prius, due out later this year, makes a tremendous leap forward in usefulness and in electronic efficiency (and gadgetry, too). Toyota says the ’04 Prius has grown so much (six inches longer in wheelbase), the five-door hatchback now is classified as a mid-size vehicle. By upping the electric part of the powertrain to 50 kilowatts and 500 volts (from 33 kW and about 300 volts) Toyota claims a 0-60 mph time for the Prius in about ten seconds, with fuel economy in the 50+ mpg range and with emissions of hydrocarbons 30 percent less than the previous Prius. The new hybrid drive system has been dubbed Hybrid Synergy Drive, and will also appear in the Lexus RX300 hybrid coming next year. Inside, a “start” button replaces the conventional ignition; a proximity sensor replaces a conventional key fob and senses the driver’s presence, unlocking the doors as the driver approaches. Many ancillary systems such as the air conditioning are now electrically driven; anti-lock brakes, and power windows/doors/locks/mirrors are standard. Toyota expects to price the new Prius very close to the outgoing model — at about $20,000 — and anticipates selling about 36,000 of them each year, nearly tripling original forecasts when the Prius launched in 1997.

 

2004 Mitsubishi Galant

2004 Mitsubishi Galant

MITSU PREDICTS 100K GALANTS

Not in price — in sales volumes. Mitsubishi’s North American guru Pierre Gagnon says the 2004 Galant is an important milestone for the company, and when it goes on sale later this year the Galant will be Mitsubishi’s volume seller at more than 100,000 units annually. The new Galant, with a striking Altima-like shape, is a larger, more powerful sedan than before. A new platform makes the Galant one of the largest vehicles in its class, with room for three adults across the back seat, Gagnon promises. A 160-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is the base powerplant; a 230-hp 3.8-liter V-6 is found in upscale models. The Galant will come in four trim levels: the DE bows at about $19,000 with a four-speed automatic, four-cylinder engine and four-wheel disc brakes; the ES adds a 270-watt stereo and anti-lock brakes; an LS V-6 model has a Sportronic automatic and traction control; and the GTS gets the sport tuning treatment as well as projector headlamps, leather interior trim and side airbags.

 

2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback

2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback

LANCER WAGON ROUNDS OUT MITSU COMPACTS

A five-door Sportback model is coming to the Mitsubishi lineup, and with it comes more help for the revival of the affordable compact sportwagon, Mitsu says. A 2.4-liter four with 160 hp (162 on the Ralliart) is the only powerplant available on the wagon, and a four-speed automatic is the sole gearbox. An LS model comes with A/C, a 140-watt CD player and power accessories. The plain-ish five-door wagon will thankfully be joined by a Ralliart edition with body add-ons, sport seats and interior carbon-like trim.

 

DIAMANTE STILL AUSSIE, STILL HERE

A new Diamante sedan built in America is still a couple of years off — but Mitsubishi’s reskinned the large Australia-built sedan this year and given it new interior touches to bring its appearance more in line with the new line of Mitsubishis, from the Lancer to the Endeavor. The 2004 Diamante has a new front fascia and hood, and styled 16-inch wheels; inside, it gets a new instrument panel and center console. The LS and VR-X add a 270-watt stereo and a Sportronic automatic.

 

2003 Acura TL concept

2003 Acura TL concept

TL CONCEPT IS COMING SOON

Acura’s TL concept is coming soon — in production form that’s about identical to the concept shown in New York. Aside from minor sheetmetal creases, the TL Concept is nearly the same as the stylish four-door shape shown in New York. Acura dubs the style an “ultimate athlete”; some BMW echoes are evident in the stance and the wheel arches are highly pronounced (and likely to soften somewhat on the production vehicle). The Concept TL is shorter than the current vehicle, but fills its wheel wells with 19-inch alloys. The concept has a few nifty touches: xenon headlamps are up front, and a wiperless winshield uses high-pressure nozzles to keep the windshield clean. Acura says the production 2004 TL coming this fall will feature multi-channel DVD Audio, XM radio and Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity.

 

2003 Lexus HPX concept

2003 Lexus HPX concept

HPX PREDICTS BIG LEXUS SPORT WAGON?

Lexus says they haven’t decided to build the HPX concept crossover wagon — but with its Infiniti FX-alike shape and ready-to-build mechanicals (based on the GS platform) it’s hard to imagine Toyota’s luxury brand passing this potential cash cow by. The HPX is a California-designed concept powered by a V-8 engine and placed atop an all-wheel-drive chassis derived from the current GS430 sport sedan’s underpinnings. The ride height is adjustable, and inside the “executive jet” offers three rows of seating for six passengers. Drive-by-wire steering is part of the concept package.

 

2005 Mercury Mariner

2005 Mercury Mariner

MERCURY DUBS ITS ESCAPE “MARINER”

Mercury’s product renaissance will include this variant of the Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute family — the most attractive of the family so far, in the opinion of many New York observers. “Our goal is to achieve a high level of differentiation in our Mercury products in a clean, contemporary design,” Ford design chief J Mays told the auto show crowd. The Mariner carries Mountaineer themes front and rear, and adds dynamic touches like the Mercury name embossed into the front bumper. Inside it’s two-toned doors and chrome/nickel accents and woodgrain all around, with a unique center console. The Mariner’s drivetrains include an all-new electronic four-wheel drive system; both its four-cylinder and V-6 engines will come with a four-speed automatic. The 2005 Mercury Mariner, due out in late 2004, will join a new Monterey minivan, Montego sedan, and a Mazda6-based sedan due in 2005 in Mercury’s lineup.

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