2005 Los Angeles Auto Show, Part I

January 5, 2005

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2005 Los Angeles Auto Show Index by TCC Team

 

 

Chevy Revamps Impala, Monte Carlo

2006 Chevrolet Impala

2006 Chevrolet Impala

Police departments and NASCAR fans everywhere are set for a 2006 refresher for their favorite two- and four-doors. This year, Chevy is revamping the front-drive Impala/Monte Carlo, outfitting them with a trio of powertrains that will include a small-block V-8.

The Impala is the more radically improved of the two. The four-door, last retouched in 2000, has been recast as a more sophisticated sedan with a neatly arched roofline and a familial resemblance borne through its grille. Inside the look is vastly more refined than the last-generation car, with a broad dash panel integrated with better-drawn instruments, higher-quality switchgear, and even a line-in port for iPods to mate up to the new audio systems. The Impala’s seats have made their concession to the SUV era as well, with a flip-fold feature that opens a flat load floor from the trunk to the back of the front seats. The rear seats seem to have far more support than prior editions, too.

2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo has been streamlined for a cleaner appearance. A distinctive front-end appearance and a new bumper cut its overall length by a little more than an inch, but the NASCAR silhouette remains largely the same. The interior gets new instruments and a new center stack as well, and a new spoiler rides on the decklid.

But it’s the powertrains that most readers and enthusiasts will scan for — and it’s the return of the small-block V-8 to the front-drivers that is most surprising. The base engine in both cars is a 3.5-liter V-6 with 210 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque; an uplevel 240-hp, 3.9-liter V-6 is a version of the smaller engine. The 303-hp V-8 is a newly engineered version of GM’s 5.3-liter, outfitted with Displacement on Demand technology that shuts off cylinders to increase fuel economy up to 12 percent, and designed for use in front-drive vehicles. It appears in SS models.

A four-speed automatic is standard on both cars on all trim levels. Revised suspension packages and new sets of 16-, 17-, and 18-inch wheels appear in various trim packages on both cars.

Other new features added to the cars includes an optional remote vehicle start system, steering wheel radio controls, and new audio systems that include XM radio, MP3 capability and in-dash CD changers. Side curtain airbags are available on the Impala, while seat-mounted side airbags can be had on the Monte Carlo.


HHR Goes For PT Niche

2006 Chevrolet HHR

2006 Chevrolet HHR

The HHR – Chevrolet’s “heritage high-roof” wagon for 2006 — emerges this week at the Los Angeles auto show wearing the looks of a 1949 Suburban and riding atop the mechanicals of GM’s new Delta platform. There will be two HHR wagons arriving for the 2006 model year. The LS and LT share the same body style and 174.5-inch length, as well as a cargo capacity of 63.1 cubic feet. What they don't share is powertrains. The LS spins out 140 horsepower through a 2.2-liter version of the GM corporate Ecotec four-cylinder, making 150 pound-feet of torque as well. The LT moves up to a 2.4-liter Ecotec four with 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. The engines are both dual overhead-cammers with balance shafts and electronic throttle control for smoothness. Five-speed manual sticks come with either model, and a four-speed automatic is optional. The manuals are Getrag units, with different final gearing for the two engine variants. The Hydra-Matic automatic is similarly tweaked for LS and LT models. Dual front airbags are standard, as are air conditioning, power locks and windows, an AM/FM/CD player, and remote keyless entry. Pricing hasn’t been released; the HHR goes on sale in the spring.

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Pontiac Bears G6 Coupe/Convertible Twins

2006 Pontiac G6

2006 Pontiac G6

Pontiac’s new G6 family is about to get a bit bigger. GM’s “excitement” division will be rolling out a new coupe to complement the compact sedan that debuted last autumn. That pair will be joined early in the ’06 model year by a G6 convertible that takes the retractable hardtop concept to a new — and much more affordable — market niche.

The coupe should connect with younger buyers drawn to its more sporty styling, company officials hope. It's a 2+2, though the backseat is more usable than many other two-doors in the segment, thanks to a relatively long, 112-inch wheelbase. Rear legroom is 35 inches, about 1.5 inches less than in the larger Pontiac Grand Prix. The doors are six inches longer than the front doors on the G6 four-door for ease of entry.

But the real attention-grabber is likely to be the convertible, which features a hardtop that folds away, origami-style, in a mere 30 seconds. The technology is not new, but until now, it's been limited to far more expensive products, such as the Mercedes SLK or Lexus SC430. With the top up, there's 5.8 cubic feet of trunk space; 1.8 cf with the top down. The top was designed by Karmann; Pontiacclaims it’s the world’s largest retractable hardtop.

Both coupe and convertible will be offered in two trim packages. The GT models features a 200-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, while the performance GTP package makes 240-hp with its 3.9-liter, high-output six. A four-speed automatic is the base transmission for both trim levels, though there's also a manual six-speed available on the GTP (on the coupe and G6 sedan).

Anti-lock brakes are standard. Stability control, XM radio and OnStar, and remote starting are available on the G6 two-doors.

 

Pontiac Unleashes Torrent, First SUV

2006 Pontiac Torrent

2006 Pontiac Torrent

The Torrent is Pontiac’s version of the architecture that spawned the Saturn Vue and Chevrolet Equinox. The Torrent, due as a 2006 model, will stock the same 3.4-liter, 185-hp, Chinese-sourced V6 and five-speed automatic transmission found in the Equinox. And like the Equinox, Pontiac’s first SUV will be available in front- or all-wheel drive. Standard equipment for the Torrent includes an AM/FM/CD player, power locks and windows, and standard ABS on all-wheel-drive models. Options include leather seats and steering wheel, heated driver and front passenger seats, power-adjustable driver seat, 17-inch aluminum wheels, CD/MP3 stereo with six-disc CD changer and subwoofer, steering-wheel radio controls, power sunroof, multi-tier rear cargo system, OnStar, and XM Satellite Radio. The 2006 Torrent is expected to arrive in dealerships in the second half of 2005.

 

Venturi Shows Off Fetish

Venturi Fetish

Venturi Fetish

You though electric cars are dull? French carmaker Venturi showed the L.A. show crowd the contrary. Venturi was saved in 2001 by Gildo Pallanca Pastor, who unveiled his Fétish during the Grand Prix week in May 2003 and then again at last year’s Paris auto show. Now the two-seater roadster made its North-American debut in Los Angeles.

Equipped with an mid-mounted, air-cooled 245-hp electric motor, delivering 241 hp of power and 162 lb-ft of torque, the sporty roadster sprints from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 106 mph. Range is 217 miles.

The Fétish proves that there is an alternative for the petrol engine, says Pastor.

The battery of the Venturi can be charged in 3.5 hours at 80 Amps, while it takes 16.5 hours to charge it at 16 Amps. The car weighs 2425 lb, is 152.6 inches long, 74.2 inches wide, and only 47.2 inches high.

According to Pastor there is interest from four clients, but he says: “People should drive the car first.” The Fétish will only be built to order for around $675,000.—Henny Hemmes


Hyundai’s Tucson Gets Fuel-Cell Concept

The Korean car maker Hyundai unveiled their second-generation fuel-cell vehicle today at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show.

Beginning in just a few weeks, Hyundai’s first hydrogen-powered vehicle, the Tucson FCEV, will begin its testing program out of Hyundai America Technical Center, AC Transit of Oakland, California, and Southern California Edison, partially supported by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Hyundai’s second-generation fuel cell vehicle is dramatically improved in almost every way, the company says. The Tucson FCEV has a driving range twice as much as Hyundai’s first-generation vehicle, the Santa Fe FCEV. Maximum speed and power have both increased to improve the overall performance. In a major technology breakthrough, the Tucson FCEV is one of the first fuel cell vehicles capable of starting in freezing temperatures. Testing has proven that the vehicle is capable of starting after being subjected to -20 degrees Celsius temperatures for five days. Other technical advancements include a higher output fuel cell and a new lithium ion polymer battery.

“These advances in our fuel cell electric vehicles are exciting steps forward for our program,” said Kim Sang-Kwon, president of research and development for Hyundai-Kia Motors. “The Tucson FCEV is proof that Hyundai has significantly improved efficiency and quality control in the manufacturing process.”   

A team consisting of ChevronTexaco Corp., Hyundai Motor Co., and UTC Fuel Cells was awarded federal funds to lead a five-year demonstration and validation project designed to showcase practical applications of hydrogen energy technology. The primary goal of this multi-year project is to develop and demonstrate safe, convenient, and reliable hydrogen-based distributed power generation, fuel cell vehicles and vehicle fueling infrastructure, and to educate key audiences about the use of hydrogen as a potential fuel for transportation and power generation. —Greg Sanchez

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