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2005 New York Auto Show, Part II

March 21, 2005

2005 New York Auto Show Index by TCC Team (3/21/2005)


Hyundai Celebrates Azera

Not many carmakers can celebrate 2005 the way Hyundai is, with a sales increase in January of ten percent, in February of 19 percent, a good-looking month of March, and today’s unveiling of their all new Azera flagship sedan.

The 2006 Azera gets its official introduction today in New York. The name comes from “the era of A to Z” or A-Z-E-R-A, but it also recalls the French word “azure” the color of blue skies, an optimistic color that reflects Hyundai’s focus on the future.

The flagship sedan is the third of seven all-new or redesigned Hyundai vehicles to be launched in a 24-month period, completely revamping the Hyundai lineup, said Bob Cosmai, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “Azera will earn a well-deserved distinction for segment-leading standard safety features, refined styling, and content that is generally reserved for higher-priced luxury sedans.”  

Compared to the 2005 XG350, the Azera is longer and wider, and rides on a wheelbase stretched 1.1 inches longer than that on the XG350. The interior also benefits from the increased exterior dimensions, as it is larger than its predecessor, and has more interior room than the BMW 760i and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. A new aluminum 3.8-liter V-6 engine under the hood delivers an estimated 265 hp, more ponies than the Ford Five Hundred and the Buick LaCrosse. It is also environmentally friendly, as it is projected to achieve Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) certification levels. It’s coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual control. A four-wheel independent suspension is new, as are the freshly styled alloy wheels. —Greg Sanchez


Mercedes-Benz R-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class

Mercedes-Benz unveiled its twelfth model, the R-Class, in New York. The concept made its debut in 2002 in Detroit as the Grand Sport Tourer, a name Mercedes still likes to use to refer to the R-Class. With a length of 203 inches, a width of 77.5 inches, and a height of 65.2 inches, it certainly plays tribute to its name: the car is an inch longer than the S-Class.

The R-Class is a roomy vehicle with space for six in three pairs of bucket seats. The rear seat backs can be folded forward for more luggage space; after removing the headrests, the seat backs move forward and the seat itself flips up. A completely flat luggage floor is created by folding the second and third rows.

The new Mercedes will be available as the R350 with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine or as the R500 with a 5.0-liter V-8. The V-6 has variable intake and exhaust valve timing and delivers 268 hp and has 258 lb-ft of torque, available from 2400-5000 rpm. The V-8 has two single overhead cams, twin spark plugs, and three valves per cylinder. The engine delivers 302 hp and has 339 lb-ft of torque at 2700-4750 rpm. The R350 accelerates in just eight seconds from 0 to 60 mph and the R500 does this in 6.7 seconds. The engines are teamed to a seven-speed automatic transmission that is also used in the S-Class, combined with 4Matic full-time four-wheel drive, stability control, and four-wheel traction control. A panoramic sunroof with nearly five feet of glass panels is available as an option.

The R500 will be available this fall, the R350 will follow later. —Henny Hemmes

Cadillac XLR-V

2006 Cadillac XLR-V

2006 Cadillac XLR-V

Early this afternoon, during the unveiling of Cadillac’s XLR-V, automotive journalists witnessed one of the most unusual press conferences in recent years. It all began with an extensive display of video clips — all filmed in Manhattan — of many people telling the camera what they would do in New York with five seconds; some were funny, others were not, some were amusing, others were boring, then the last clip was one that introduced the vice chairman of GM North America, Bob Lutz.

Lutz thanked the crowd and told us it would take him five seconds to introduce the newest addition to the luxury nameplate’s growing family of high-performance V-Series vehicles, the new XLR-V. The roadster sports a 4.4-liter supercharged V-8 engine with 440 horsepower, coupled to a six-speed automatic. Cadillac promises a 0-60 mph time of less than 5.0 seconds. Along with the powertrain mods, the XLR-V also wears a wire-mesh grille, 19-inch 10-spoke wheels, and ebony and aluminum trim in the cabin. Bigger brakes and a recalibrated Magnetic Ride Control are also included.

The cover came off the vehicle and Bob Lutz was done. Except, out of nowhere, billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump walked on stage to congratulate Bob and GM for such a gorgeous vehicle and to ask Bob for the keys to his new DTS limo. A couple of months ago, President George W. Bush was delivered the world’s first, state-of-the-art 2006 Cadillac DTS presidential limousine, but the “you’re fired!” and never to be outdone Brooklyn-born billionaire took delivery of the first 2006 Cadillac DTS Executive limousine.

It all seemed very strange to us, not the usual Bob Lutz, not the usual GM press conference, especially amid the talk of whether GM would retire another brand and how it would counter the big losses it’s already anticipating for 2005. —Greg Sanchez


Camp Jeep Goes Seven-Seater with Commander

More pictures: 

2006 Jeep Commander

2006 Jeep Commander

Camp Jeep is the last thing you’d expect to find appended to the north side of the Jacob Javits Center, but Chrysler’s creative agencies have in the last two New York shows, turned a parking lot there into an off-road track where buyers can drive and experience Jeep products. This year, the Camp Jeep setup also hosted the press conference that introduced the new Commander seven-seater SUV and SRT8 Grand Cherokee.

The Commander is the long-awaited seven-seater SUV spun off the Grand Cherokee platform — a sort of Jeep “LR3,” one journalist commented, as the long, tall vehicle bears a striking resemblance to Land Rover’s new sport-ute. The Commander, however, is more closely related to the Grand Cherokee: it sits on the same 109.5-inch wheelbase as the five-seat Cherokee. But with a longer subframe off the back end and the extra row of seating in back, the Commander sits substantially larger and taller than the Grand Cherokee. Jeep says the second and third rows fold flat for better cargo storage, and the rows are staggered stadium-style for better visibility. Jeep will offer a choice of engines in the Commander, including the 3.7-liter V-6, a 4.7-liter V-8 and the HEMI 5.7-liter V-8, all coupled to a five-speed automatic. Three full-time four-wheel-drive systems are to be offered, and two different transfer cases will mean the Commander is also Trail Rated, in spite of the additional room. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but sales begin later this year. —Marty Padgett


Grand Cherokee Gains SRT8 Power

2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

The new 415-hp Grand Cherokee SRT8 could be the most powerful thing ever to wear a Jeep badge, at least in production form. Marking the first Jeep to wear the Chrysler Group performance badge, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is powered by the same 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 found in the Chrysler 300C SRT8, but slightly detuned (it’s down 10 hp off the sedan’s 425-hp mark). The additional power puts the GCSRT8’s 0-60 mph time at less than 5.0 seconds, Chrysler says. Four-wheel Brembo brakes provide stopping power, and a lowered suspension and recalibrated stability control give the SRT8 more dynamic capability. Special 20-inch, five-spoke wheels distinguish the SRT8, and the SUV retains a strong towing capacity of 3500 pounds. Sirius satellite radio, DVD navigation, and Uconnect Bluetooth connectivity are available as options. Jeep says the SRT8 will outgun the Porsche Cayenne Turbo but didn’t reveal by how much the Jeep’s price would undercut its German competition. —Marty Padgett


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