2006 Detroit Auto Show Preview

January 2, 2006

Detroit’s annual auto show is a love-it and hate-it event. The timing couldn’t be worse: the city’s settled into the bleakest trough of the winter, and though the downtown renaissance continues apace, there’s still more to recommend Motown in the middle of summer than in the earliest days of a new year. And to top off the indignity, there’s the Japanese-subway jostling for press kits and oversubscribed press conferences to boot.

But enthusiasts and industry types have to love the annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), this year open to the media from Jan. 8-11 and to the public beginning the Friday after. Like no other show, Detroit puts a huge variety of hardware on display — much of it never seen before. Concepts and production cars alike fire off almost on the hour, so rapidly that it often takes a team of reporters just to make it to the newsworthy events.

TCC’s team will be doing just that in Detroit. Starting Sunday, Jan. 8, we’ll be reporting non-stop from the show floor to bring you the very latest product introductions, concept car reveals, and newsmaking quotes from the top industry executives. Until then, stay tuned here as we update and add to this preview of what we expect to bring you from the Cobo Hall floor:

Dodge Has Challenger Coupe for Detroit

2006 Dodge Challenger

2006 Dodge Challenger

2006 Dodge Challenger

2006 Dodge Challenger

A new concept coupe to be shown at the Detroit auto show in January will take the name of Challenger. The long-expected two-door will take on the Ford Mustang directly with a chassis derived from Chrysler's 300C/Magnum twins, along with a 425-hp version of the HEMI V-8 in the most thrilling versions. Chrysler is expected to show the car as a concept at the show, but insiders suggest the vehicle will be in production as early as 2009 on a new version of the 300C platform. Chrysler has only offered this official sketch of the concept prior to the January auto show debut, but these spy shots were taken last week as the vehicle was prepared for its auto-show debut. Stay tuned for more information on the Challenger as TCC previews the Detroit auto show on December 15.

Spy Shots: '09 Dodge Challenger by Brenda Priddy (11/21/2005)
A Detroit concept first, a production Mustang challenger second?

TCC Scrapbook:

Imperial Concept from Chrysler

2006 Chrysler Imperial concept

2006 Chrysler Imperial concept

While Chrysler has already confirmed that it will have a Dodge Challenger concept for Detroit , the company's been considerably more tight-lipped about another concept that will be on display at Cobo Hall. An anonymous tip to TCC says this Chrysler Imperial concept will be shown off in Detroit , reviving the nameplate for the most luxurious Chrysler vehicles that died away in the 1990s. Drawn off the 300C body, the stretched-wheelbase Imperial concept is said to evolve the 300C in a Rolls Phantom direction-much as the current 300C has been dubbed the "baby Bentley."

'07 Dodge Caliber Bets On CVT, AWD

2005 Dodge Caliber Concept

2005 Dodge Caliber Concept

The Chrysler Group is letting out some more details about the 2007 Dodge Caliber its plans to have ready for showrooms by the middle of 2006 - and on the Detroit show floor in January.

Eric Ridenour, the Chrysler Group's executive vice president of product development and chief operating officer-designate, said the new Caliber will feature a continuously-variable transmission and all-wheel drive, as well as the new four-cylinder global engine that was designed jointly by Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai. Tests aren't anywhere near complete yet, but the combination of the CVT and new engine should raise fuel economy by 8-10 percent over the fuel economy of the Neon, the Chrysler group's current offering in the small-car segment.

The Caliber will come only in a two-box bodystyle that borrows design elements from sport-utility vehicles, the larger Dodge Magnum, and the hatchbacks of the 1970s and 1980s. Chrysler has no plans for a three-box sedan model, Ridenour said during a briefing on the powertrain for the next-generation small cars.

"The idea is for something a little more aggressive in the marketplace with those proportions," he said. "It's very, very impressive the way it has stood out at auto shows. That's what we're trying to do with our cars. We make sure they catch your eye," he said.

'07 Dodge Caliber Bets On CVT, AWD (8/7/2005)
New Dodge compact crossover takes Neon's place next year.

Mercedes Plans GL-Class forDetroit

Mercedes-Benz will show the new GL-Class sport-ute at the Detroit show, the company confirmed on Thursday. The name of the new full-size SUV hints at the legendary G-Class that will be going into its 26th year of production-but while the GL is a successor to the G-Class, Mercedes also plans to keep the G-Class alive until 2009.

The wheel base of the GL-class measures 121.1 inches; it sits 200.4 inches long, is 75.6 inches wide and 72.4 inches tall. The GL-Class can accommodate seven passengers on three rows of seats. The third row has 32 inches of leg room and 38.5 inches of head room. When that row is not in needed, one or both of the split-bench seats can be fully automatically lowered to create a flat floor. Luggage space measures 43.8 cubic feet when the third row is not in use and can be expanded to 75.1 cubic feet.

Engine choices depend on the market where the GL is sold. There are two diesel engines, the 320 CDI V-6 with 224 hp and the 420 CDI V-8. The GL 450 will be available with a 4.6-liter V8 with 340 hp and the GL 500 will come with the 388 hp V-8. AMG versions are expected. All engines are teamed with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The new Mercedes-Benz will be equipped with 4Matic full time all-wheel drive, ADS adaptive damping, standard air suspension and Airmatic automatic leveling, as well as Trailer Stability Assist (TSA). Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) and off-road ABS will help the driver in rough terrain.

Just like the ML- and R-Class vehicles, the new GL-class will be built in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Mercedes expects to sell 70 percent of GL-Class production in North-America, where it will go on sale in spring.-Henny Hemmes

2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class by Bengt Halvorson (11/30/2005)
Still the king of the road, now more street-smart.

MORE PHOTOS:

Jeep Wrangler Gets Frigid Reception

2007 Jeep Wrangler

2007 Jeep Wrangler

2007 Jeep Wrangler

2007 Jeep Wrangler

After many years and unexpected delays, Jeep will finally redesign the aging, yet classic Wrangler. And in an auto-show first, the Wrangler will be launched outside Cobo Hall, on a display built outside in the latest iteration of Chrysler's Camp Jeep theme.

A redesigned Wrangler will debut for the 2007 model year in both the traditional two-door configuration as shown here, as well as a new four-door variant sitting on a longer wheelbase. A pickup derivative is a likely addition sometime during the next Wrangler's lifecycle. Codenamed TK, the upcoming Wrangler may have a fixed top with removable panels, instead of the soft and/or hardtop offerings. A fold-down front windshield and removable doors, of course, are expected.

We are also expecting the new Wrangler to be powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 150 horsepower, or an optional 3.7-liter SOHC V-6. A 4.7-liter V-8 may follow a year or so after the Wrangler's launch.

Chrysler Group also is expected to show a production version of the Jeep Compass at its Detroit display.

Lincoln Takes Flight with '07 MKX

2007 Lincoln Aviator

2007 Lincoln Aviator

2007 Lincoln Aviator

2007 Lincoln Aviator

Ford has already released the first shot of the 2007 Lincoln MKX ahead of the launch next year in Detroit. The Aviator - along with the mechanically similar Mazda CX-7 and Ford Edge crossovers - will join the luxury lineup next year as an '07 model aimed squarely at the likes of the Lexus RX and Nissan Murano. Though not confirmed by Ford, a 245-hp V-6 and all-wheel drive are the likely powertrain for the ritziest MKXs. Stay tuned to TCC for more pictures of the MKX - and for previews of the Detroit auto show during the holiday season.

Spy Shots: '07 Lincoln Aviator by Brenda Priddy (10/10/2005)
The Edge gets a luxurious twin.

2007 Ford Edge

2007 Ford Edge

2007 Ford Edge

2007 Ford Edge

Ford Edge Shares Aviator Gear

 

Ford Division will get its own version of the Aviator crossover to sell. Called the Edge, the new crossover will also be shown at the Detroit auto show.

 

Codenamed U387, the Edge will be built in Oakville, Ont., alongside its sibling, Lincoln's new Aviator. The Edge will be positioned between the Escape and Explorer, and is expected to be powered by a new 3.5-liter V-6. Front-wheel drive will be standard, with an all-wheel-drive version also available. The exterior is similar to that of the Aviator. Production is scheduled to begin late next summer, with an on-sale date expected for early fall of 2006.

Ford Has New V-6 For Crossovers, More

The next-generation Lincoln Aviator and the new Ford Edge will be powered by an equally-new powertrain. Barb Samardzich, vice president of powertrain operations, said Ford's 3.5-liter V-6 will make 250 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. The all-aluminum engine will be mated to a new six-speed automatic expected to yield an average seven-percent better highway mileage than a comparable four-speed, according to Samardzich. While Ford officials wouldn't discuss other plans for the powertrain package, insiders report the V-6 and six-speed will eventually show up in a wide range of products, including the Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego. The new 3.5-liter V-6 will immediately meet tough ULEV-II emissions standards, and be "PZEV capable." The engine also will be part of future Ford hybrid powertrains requiring the extra kick of a V-6. -TCC Team

Spy Shots: '07 Ford Edge by Brenda Priddy (11/7/2005)
Freestylin' with Ford's crossover future.

Explorer Sport Trac Bows for '07

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

Ford's new Explorer Sport Trac arrives in the 2007 model year pretty much as the concept did at the 2005 Detroit show. The Sport Trac, now based on the four-door Explorer platform, has an independent suspension and a body shell 444-percent stiffer than the outgoing vehicle. Ford says it shares 65 percent of its parts with the four-door Explorer, but has a wheelbase stretched 16.7 inches and a composite bed. The powertrains include a 4.0-liter V-6 with 210 hp and a five-speed automatic, or a 4.6-liter, 292-hp V-8 with a six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is optional, while front airbags, stability and roll control, and anti-lock brakes are standard (side-curtain airbags are optional).

2006 Ford by Jim Gorzelany (9/21/2005)

Shelby GT500 Gets Convertible Companion

2007 Ford Shleby GT500 Mustang Convertible

2007 Ford Shleby GT500 Mustang Convertible

2007 Ford Shleby GT500 Mustang Convertible

2007 Ford Shleby GT500 Mustang Convertible

Mustang fans have another Shelbyfied car to drool over, with Ford's confirmation that a convertible GT500 Mustang will join the company's lineup. In Detroit earlier this year, Ford showed the GT500 coupe, an SVT-prepared car with a 450-hp, supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. Now the same Shelby treatment gets applied to the ragtop, which adds a power top mechanism to the new Mustang's rigid body. Ford says the convertible conversion adds only 125 pounds to the coupe's curb weight. Some minor suspension retuning takes place under the sheetmetal, but the biggest difference is the ragtop's cloth convertible top, which replaces the standard GT convertible's vinyl one, along with specific Shelby design details on the nose and tail. The Shelby convertible arrives in the summer of 2006 for an undisclosed price. We expect a Detroit-show unveiling as well.

Preview: 2007 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 by TCC Team (3/28/2005)
Fast and furious, SVT, like Mustang, reborn.

Toyota Confirms Lexus LS, Camry for Detroit

Toyota says that two important vehicles will be shown in production form at the Detroit auto show coming in January. First off the bat is the production Lexus LS, based on the LF-Sh concept shown in October in Tokyo . The new car, in concept form, boasted a hybrid-V-8 mated to an all-wheel-drive system. When it rolls into showrooms next year, we expect to see a 4.6-liter V-8 in the LS460. A rumored V-10 apparently is not in the works, TheCarConnection was told, though a seven-speed transmission will be added at some point. There will also be an optional 5.0-liter V-8/hybrid package. At the Tokyo preview, executives said the gasoline-electric powertrain will produce "an acceleration feeling of a different dimension." That's in line with what TCC had been told by recently retired Lexus General Manager Denny Clements, who'd been championing a line of hybrid performance vehicles. The first of these, the GS450h, was also shown in Tokyo . In 5.0-liter hybrid form, a senior American Toyota executive boasted to TheCarConnection that the LS will outperform both the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series - a tall order that will be closely scrutinized.

2007 Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry

2007 Toyota Camry

The other major introduction of the Detroit show for Toyota will include the 2007 Camry sedan. The new Camry will be offered eventually with hybrid technology, but Toyota has not confirmed a timeline for that powertrain offering. Toyota does promise that the new Camry, which has been the best-selling car in America for seven of the past eight years, will feature significantly improved performance and new level of comfort and refinement.

Saturn Outlook Set; Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia Too

2007 Saturn crossover

2007 Saturn crossover

Saturn's new eight-passenger crossover vehicle will bow at the Detroit auto show with the new nameplate Outlook. The Outlook, like the upcoming Aura mid-size sedan and Sky roadster, will be a 2007 model. Few details are known, but a V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic gearbox are expected to be standard. Along with the Saturn version, the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia crossovers may also be on display - or at the Los Angeles show the week prior, or held in reserve for the Chicago and New York auto shows in the spring.

Spy Shots: '07 Saturn Crossover by Brenda Priddy (7/25/2005)
Mary had a little Lambda.

Mazda's Detroit Concept Splits RX-8, Miata

Two's company and three is… very exciting news from Mazda. The Japanese firm has revealed it will add to its sportscar range with the addition of a third model to sit alongside the RX-8 and MX-5.

The car will be unveiled at January's Detroit auto show, and though it will be styled and badged as a concept, insiders say the two-seater hints very strongly at a production model that will go on sale around 2008. We've been told it's a mini RX-8 with a hint of MX-3, but crucially won't use the former car's rotary engine.

It will be designed and developed by Mazda North America, based inIrvine, Calif. The center's director of design, Franz von Holzhausen, said, "It's an exciting continuation of the Mazda DNA. We will offer a product that's relevant to what people want, and enters us into an arena that we have not been in before."

The designer emphasized that the car would be aimed at North American buyers. However, he admitted it has been designed so that it is "conceptually possible" for it to made right-hand-drive for fans in countries such as Britain and Japan. -Richard Yarrow

Weekly Car Guide: Oct. 28, 2005 by TCC Team (10/31/2005)
New Mazdaspeed6, Sherpa carriers, and new Aviator.

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

 

Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

Though the new Mazda crossover that shares its running gear with the Lincoln Aviator and Ford Edge will have its official premiere at the Los Angeles auto show, it's expected to show up in Detroit as well.

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

Based on the MX-Crossport concept, the production CX-7 crossover keeps the bold wheel arches, the upsweeping beltline, the steeply sloping windshield, in fact the entire style of the MX-Crossport intact. The only changes to be seen are minor ones like the absence of a clear plastic panel over the rear license plate. Mazda promises the CX-7 will have the utility of an SUV, but the handling dynamics of a sports sedan.

 

The size of the CX-7 will likely be similar to the MX-Crossport concept vehicle, which is 182.3 inches in length, 76.0 inches wide, and 64.2 inches high, riding on a wheelbase of 110.0 inches. The engine will likely be a 3.0- to 3.5-liter V-6. A late 2006 or early 2007 introduction is expected.

Nissan Drops Curtain on Versa

2007 Nissan Versa

2007 Nissan Versa

2007 Nissan Versa

2007 Nissan Versa

Nissan will take the plunge into the small but potentially dynamic U.S. minicar segment, when it launches the all-new Versa in 2006. Based on the "Flex-B Platform," the first jointly developed by Nissan and its French partner, Renault, the new model is already on sale in several markets, notably Japan, where it is sold as the Tiida. A five-door hatchback will roll into U.S. showrooms first, with a sedan version of the Versa to follow a few months later.

The new entry will boast a 1.8-liter four delivering an estimated 38 mpg in the EPA's combined city/highway driving cycle, and 120 horsepower, which the company said should provide plenty of performance in the lightweight model. The base Versa will feature a four-speed automatic, but an optional CVT will be offered, and with it delivering as much as ten-percent better mileage, Nissan planners expect a high "take rate."

Nissan officials made it clear, during a Wednesday briefing, that Versa is not intended to be a stripped-down econobox. By going with a tall roofline and using higher seating, Versa will boast the same, useable interior space of a class larger vehicle. Even the base vehicle, expected to come in around $12,000, will carry a reasonable level of content, with a focus on material refinement, especially in the unexpectedly spacious interior. "If you make a $12,000 to $14,000 car," explained product planning chief Jack Collins, "it has to be fundamentally appealing because people can also buy a (well-equipped) two-year-old used car" for the same price.

Right now, the minicar segment is relatively empty, U.S. sales running barely 300,000 annually, but the Versa is likely to be followed by a range of competitive offerings. Manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota, and Mazda have all shown prototypes for the segment, and Collins suggested that interest levels will grow with fuel prices running at or near record levels. In fact, the Versa may be just one of several B-Segment offerings Nissan could bring to market. The Japanese automaker has shown a variety of high-style prototypes in recent years, including the Azeal, which debuted at the Detroit Auto Show last January. "We believe we may have several opportunities," hinted Collins, adding that Versa was just the one most ready for market. -TCC Team

2006 Nissan by Jim Gorzelany (9/21/2005)

Nissan Has Urge for Detroit

2006 Nissan Urge concept

2006 Nissan Urge concept

2006 Nissan Urge concept

2006 Nissan Urge concept

2006 Nissan Urge concept

2006 Nissan Urge concept

2006 Nissan Urge concept

2006 Nissan Urge concept

Funny, we thought they really liked Nashville ? In any case, Nissan this morning released this view of its upcoming concept coupe for Detroit , the Urge. Set to make its world debut in early January 2006 at the Detroit show, the URGE Concept is a "pure, powerful sports car with motorcycle-inspired styling." Conceived around a rear-drive platform, the Urge has a small-displacement engine, a six-speed manual gearbox and an integrated Xbox 360 inside. Nissan Design America, Inc., La Jolla , Calif. , penned the Detroit concept.

Sales Down Modestly in Nov. by Joseph Szczesny (12/5/2005)
Big Three drop; Japanese brands pick up, except Nissan.

Mitsu Has Eclipse Spyder, Concept-CT for Detroit

The Mitsu Eclipse coupe is being joined by a convertible version set to show up at the Detroit auto show in four weeks. Mitsubishi confirmed the appearance by issuing this sketch of the new ragtop, which it will sell as a 2007 model. The convertible will offer 2+2 seating and a choice of GS or GT trim levels; four- and six-cylinder engines are expected, and a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system will be an option.

Alongside the Eclipse Spyder on the show floor will be a new concept from Mitsubishi, the Concept-CT. A B-car concept conceived as a city vehicle with green technology, the vehicle will sport a hybrid powertrain that uses electric motors at each wheel to deliver all-wheel drive. The concept was penned at the company's Cypress , Calif. , design studio.

Hyundai HCD-9 Talus Concept

2006 Hyundai HCD-9 concept

2006 Hyundai HCD-9 concept

2006 Hyundai HCD-9 concept

2006 Hyundai HCD-9 concept

Coming to the Detroit auto show in January is the latest Hyundai concept vehicle to wear the HCD tag. Since the 1990s, Hyundai has used the letters to promote its concept coupes, and on the latest vehicle, the HCD-9 Talus, Hyundai provides little information other than the sketch distributed to the media this week. The sportscar is expected to be shown at the Detroit auto show alongside the new Santa Fe SUV, which makes its worldwide debut at the same show.

Kia "Soul" Concept for Detroit

2006 Kia Soul concept

2006 Kia Soul concept

2006 Kia Soul concept

2006 Kia Soul concept

Caught somewhere between Motown and Seoul-town is the latest Kia concept, the "Soul," due out at the Detroit auto show in January. The Soul is a crossover vehicle, Kia says, with cues that resemble its Mesa truck concept from last year's show. Details are thin, but Kia says the concept is geared toward active-lifestylers and is a compact-sized ute with reconfigurable cargo space, including a "drawer" for wet or muddy items.

Isuzu Says No Thanks to Detroit Show

Isuzu has dropped out of the annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), citing their poor display space and low sales in the Detroit metro area. The Detroit News reports that Isuzu, which offers only the Ascender SUV and i-Series pickups in the U.S., says that pulling out of the show doesn't mean it's preparing to pull out of the U.S. market. Spokesman Chip Letzgus told the paper that the brand never has sold well in the Detroit area and has only three dealers there, adding that show organizers long ago relegated the Isuzu stand to the basement of Cobo Hall. "The Detroit show is a big show as far as the press is concerned, but Detroit is not a big market for us," he told the News. The show attracts more than three-quarters of a million visitors each year and is attended by more than 6000 journalists.

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