2005 Detroit Auto Show: TCC’s Top Picks

January 16, 2005

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

TCC Team

Best New Concept: Ford Fairlane. Some weird design elements, like the Home Depot plywood accents, but overall, a very intriguing turn of direction that I strongly expect to see in production.

Best New Production Car: Mercedes M-Class, certainly compared to the old car which was never that great to begin with and by now was nearly as ancient as a Model T.

Most Significant Production Vehicle: Infiniti M45. After years of being a sort of undefined, "me-too" luxury brand, this sporty new sedan finally gives Infiniti a real raison d'etre. Now let's see if consumers agree.

Biggest news story: GM's big employment cuts. The automaker admits it will end the year with about 8000 fewer jobs in theU.S. -- but denies the even bigger headcount reduction long rumored and reported by the Detroit Free Press.

2005 Jeep Hurricane Concept

2005 Jeep Hurricane Concept

Enlarge Photo
Best Press Conference: Chrysler's Sunday newser, especially the Jeep Hurricane roll-out. Just when we all thought we knew what was coming, Chrysler pulls off a big surprise. Double HEMI? Four-wheel independent steering? Silly as all get-up, but proves why Chrysler has had the news conference to cover for as long as I can remember.

Worst Press Conference: Mercedes, by a long shot. Hmm, you have a new car and it almost gets lost in all the other stuff you want to talk about, rolling out just three minutes before the next newser, and after many journalists already had left? 

Who’s On Top: There's no denying that Toyotahas the "big mo," and that, along with Lexus and Scion brands, this is now the (difficult) one to beat. But after years of being in the barrel, the Chrysler side of DaimlerChrysler deserves an honorable mention, at least, as it is the one on top of the domestics.  For now, anyway.  Let's see what happens when the new mid-size models roll out.

Who’s In The Barrel: Mitsubishi, without a doubt, is so far down, it's hard to imagine how it will ever pick itself back up again. But one also has to have some serious concerns about Jaguar, among the Europeans.

Personal Best: I've got a thing for over-the-top design in sexy sports cars, and I really do love the look of the Firepower, which I am convinced they'll build.

Prediction for 2005: The Japanese will target trucks, but Detroit will make a big push to rebuild in the passenger car market.  The big losers are likely to be U.S. suppliers, many of whom might be forced to declare bankruptcy.

Marty Padgett

Marty Padgett

Marty Padgett
Editor and Producer

Best New Concept: If the Shelby GR-1 hadn’t been shown at Pebble, it would sweep this category. But of the remainder, I liked the Lexus LF-A – the audacity to out-‘Vette Chevrolet and Ford on their home turf shows you that Toyota’s mild exterior is hiding some serious claws.

Best New Production Car: Honda Ridgeline. Wait ‘till you drive one.

Most Significant Production Vehicle: Honda Ridgeline. What happens when 500,000 drivers realize they don’t need a full-size truck?

2006 Dodge Charger

2006 Dodge Charger

Enlarge Photo
Best Press Conference: Dodge Charger. In ten minutes we get the past and future of NASCAR, Dieter Zetsche in a black cowboy hat, and a cross-dressing four-door – and great live music, too. Did anyone else notice the plethora of PR people on the floor, too? If you want to know how to do car PR, take in a Chrysler press conference.

Worst Press Conference: Mercedes-Benz. For 30 minutes we get about ten different topics, none of which are the smart formore. Then in about two minutes, they zing over the vehicle that’s probably responsible for a quarter of MBUSA’s profit – the M-Class. Having worked with the Alabamafolk, I know they’re peeved over the short show.

Who’s On Top: Fujio Cho, Toyota. Maybe sales were off a little in Argentinathis year. Find me a real soft spot in the armor.

Who’s In The Barrel: Rich Gilligan, Mitsubishi. Nearly unanimous here, Gilligan is just the latest skipper at Mitsu to be faced with a mountain of trouble and a teensy trowel to remove it all.

Personal Best: Not a car, not a concept – just kudos to TCC’s team for making my job posting and editing copy this year the easiest Detroit show in recent memory.

Prediction for 2005: We may finally wave goodbye to Isuzu and Mitsubishi if sales trends continue. But Jaguar too? Anything’s possible in the world of $5000 rebates and $5 billion losses.

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