2005 Detroit Auto Show, Part VIII

January 9, 2005

2005 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/8/2005)

A Land Rover for the Nürburgring?

2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Land Rover revealed a new fifth model line, the Range Rover Sport, which will slot into the brand’s lineup between the Range Rover and the LR3. The Sport is said to have been developed with more of an emphasis on on-road performance than any other Land Rover, but still very competent off-road. Actually, Land Rover says, it was tuned on the Nürburgring, a claim that’s often made for sport sedans but not often for SUVs. “It is the best driver’s vehicle that Land Rover has ever made,” stated managing director Matthew Taylor in a release.

With styling cues more like those of the original Range Rover, particularly in the rear section, visually there’s no denying its heritage. Side pillars have been blacked out and combine with a lot of side glass to create a “floating roof” look. In back, the tailgate is made of aluminum and the glass can open separately.

The Sport will be powered by a 390-hp 4.2-liter supercharged V-8 and a six-speed automatic transmission, combined with, of course, four-wheel drive. A normally aspirated 4.4-liter, 300-hp V-8 will also be offered. The brand’s Dynamic Response suspension system and Terrain Response off-road system will help provide top performance on- and off-road. Hill Descent Control will also be standard on all models, as will a four-corner air suspension.

The interior will be quite lavish, with options including a Harmon/Kardon audio, bi-xenon headlamps, and an individual-screen navigation system. The Sport is somewhat smaller than the standard Range Rover, and will fit between the LR3 and Range Rover in price.

Range Rover gets Jaggy

2006 Land Rover Range Rover

2006 Land Rover Range Rover

The new 2006 Range Rover, which will reach dealerships this summer, also made its first appearance on a special stage reserved for Ford’s Premier Automotive Group.

Most notably, specially tuned Jaguar engines now replace the BMW-derived unit that has powered the Range Rover since its 2002 introduction. A supercharged version joins the Range Rover lineup for ’06, with a supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 offering 400 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The new 4.4-liter naturally aspirated V-8 makes 305 hp and is standard on all other Range Rovers.

The luxury SUV also gets a new front bumper, grille, headlights, and taillights (the look can best be described as more complicated); and changes have been made to the steering and air suspension system. A new touch-screen system is standard; adaptive front headlamps are available, as is a rear-view parking-aid camera and new entertainment system for rear-seat passengers.

Avalon shamelessly embraces empty-nesters

2006 Toyota Avalon

2006 Toyota Avalon

In an address to the showgoing press, Toyotasenior VP and general manager Don Esmond explained that, now with Scion, the company has a full line of vehicles covering nearly all ages and demographics and the company needn’t be ashamed of the Avalon’s loyal, proud, value-seeking empty-nester base.

The new Avalon, styled at Toyota’s Calty Design Research facility in Newport Beach, Californiaand called the most American Toyota yet, once again aims to provide “understated elegance,” with high levels of refinement and luxury, while being an even better value than the current outgoing Avalon.

Substantially larger both outside and inside, the new Avalon provides more comfort for all occupants, and better performance, while offering better efficiency than before. Power is provided by a new 280-hp 3.5-liter V-6 with VVT-I variable valve timing and five-speed automatic transmission, allowing a 0-60 time of only 6.6 seconds, with an EPA fuel economy rating of 22 city, 31 highway and a ULEV emissions certification.

Seat-mounted front side airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag are standard equipment on all models, along with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, and the VSC stability system. Plenty of luxury features are available as standard or optional, and new options this year include a remote engine starting system.

The ’06 Avalon will start at $26,350 when it goes on sale later this year.

Kia Rio Safer, Sportier

2006 Kia Rio

2006 Kia Rio

Kia made its formal introduction of the new Rio subcompact at Detroit. The new Rio sedan, which will go on sale in early summer, has a longer wheelbase and is also slightly higher and wider that the Rio it replaces. Interior volume is up significantly, and trunk space alone is up 29 percent. The Rio will offer six standard airbags, with front side airbags and full-length side curtain-type airbags, but anti-lock brakes will be optional.

A new, more refined 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine makes 110 hp, while larger front disc brakes give improved stopping power. A Sport Package is also available, which includes 15-inch alloys, four-wheel disc brakes, fog lamps, and other appearance add-ons.

Eclipse Brightens Mitsu Future a Bit

2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT

2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT

Though Mitsubishi is in the direst straits in North America, the introduction of the new Eclipse coupe gave the beleagured company some reason to cheer at the Detroitauto show. Rich Gilligan, the new president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America, was on hand to introduce the fourth-gen Eclipse, which Mitsu promises will offer a revolutionary new interior and an appeal to all the senses. The dramatic coupe shape will be offered in GS and GT flavors, the GT with the most powerful V-6 in the class, Mitsu says — a 3.8-liter V-6 with 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The base engine is a 162-hp, 2.4-liter four coupled to either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. ABS, curtain airbags and 17-inch wheels and tires are standard on the GS, as are power features and a 140-watt AM/FM/CD player with six speakers. The GT adds on a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic, plus 18-inch wheels and a premium Rockford Fosgate audio system. The new Eclipse goes on sale later this year.

Raider Endows Mitsu with V-8

2006 Mitsubishi Raider

2006 Mitsubishi Raider

Mitsubishi will be the only import brand offering a V-8 in its mid-size truck this year when the Raider comes to market. The Raider is spawned from Dodge’s Dakota truck platform, but gets a unique Mitsu front-end treatment and a variety of trim levels. The Raider will come in extended-cab and double-cab versions, outfitted with either two- or four-wheel drive. The stock engine is a 210-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 with 235 lb-ft of torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The V-8 engine is a Chrysler-sourced powerplant with 230 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. Air conditioning, a CD player and cargo-bed tiedowns are standard on all versions; Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a six-disc, in-dash CD changer are options.
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