2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part I

January 9, 2006

2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)

Lexus LS460L Gets Eight Speeds

2007 Lexus LS460L

2007 Lexus LS460L

Lexus is determined to outdo its German rivals -- that much became apparent at the world launch of the LS at the Detroit show, at which Lexus showed the long-wheelbase version of the car. The new vehicle gets a 4.6-liter V-8 with 380 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque, coupled to an eight-speed automatic. Zero to 60 times of 5.5 seconds are promised. Power is up 36 percent from the previous generation with equal or better fuel economy, Press said. "Yes, we've one-upped them," U.S. sales chief Jim Press said during the unveiling. In a dig at rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Press also noted that the five-year-old copies of the LS are more reliable by Lexus' measures than brand-new sedans from the competitors.

The new 203-inch long-wheelbase LS gets a raft of tech equipment that Lexus officials said they would delve into more deeply at March's Geneva Motor Show. They include a 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system with an internal hard-drive server that can store 4000 songs, making an iPod seem hopelessly retro. There's also a reclining rear-seat option with extendable ottomans a la Maybach, and a cooler and a separate DVD entertainment system. An intelligent park system will help drivers put their cars into tight spaces with only a little brake assist from the driver, Press added. The "ultimate Lexus," Press promised, will be on display at the New York show in April. it will be powered by a hybrid powertrain.

MORE PHOTOS:

Chrysler Brings in Desperate Measures

2006 Dodge Challenger concept

2006 Dodge Challenger concept

Well, sort of. All eyes were on the Chrysler, as new Group president and CEO Tom LaSorda made his first auto-show unveil. Trevor Creed described the design process of the two concepts, both built on the LX platform, as being like the Iron Chef, and that although they have the same origins they couldn’t be more different in character. Creed compared the new Imperial sedan, represented by a theme of black and white, to the new Challenger, with a theme of hypersaturated colors. On stage there was an unexpected surprise as Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria made a momentary appearance with LaSorda and Zetsche. —Bengt Halvorson

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Stretching Luxury to Imperial Proportions

2006 Chrysler Imperial concept

2006 Chrysler Imperial concept

Along with the introduction of the new Challenger that we’ve already reported the details of, LaSorda introduced the ultraluxury Chrysler Imperial concept that points heavily to a new production Chrysler flagship of the same name. Built on a wheelbase that’s 17 inches longer than that of the Chrysler 300, and six inches higher than the 300, the Imperial’s long, sleek shape is also dominated by near-vertical surfaces, both front and back, and huge 22-inch wheels are another design standout. A suicide door setup, which Chrysler calls “French doors,” allows a very wide opening to the luxurious interior, finished in Bay Brown, Birch Crème, and California burl wood with metallic accents throughout. A touch-pad screen is centered on the posh instrument panel. The rear-seat area is limousine-like, with LED lighting along the headliner and either electroluminescently lit fabric or overhead spotlights. Though we can definitely see the Chrysler influences in the Imperial, we also see some prominent Bentley and Rolls-Royce design attributes.

 

Power is of course provided by the group’s HEMI V-8, here providing 340 hp from 5.7 liters, running through a five-speed automatic transmission. Zero to 60 for the Imperial is estimated at 5.5 seconds, with an estimated top speed of 160 mph. —Bengt Halvorson

 

Buick Enclave Concept

1999 Ford Mustang Convertible

1999 Ford Mustang Convertible

Bring on the dancing girls! In easily the most pretentious concept-car reveal so far this year, Buick's Enclave was preceded on stage by marketing types describing the particulars of Eames chairs and Les Paul guitars and Cannondale bikes. And then, the Enclave toodled onto stage led by a troupe of, er, what exactly to call them? Handmaidens? Vestal virgins?

Beneath all the odd hype is GM's largest crossover vehicle thus far, and the first in a family that will expand to include the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. The Enclave does have some nifty touches, including a twin-screen DVD entertainment seat in back and the marvelous 270-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 borrowed from Cadillac's lineup, mated here to the GM version of the six-speed automatic transmission developed jointly with Ford. The six-passenger ute rides on a 119-inch wheelbase, sits 202.3 inches long (just a smidge shorter than Lexus' new LS460L), and offers all-wheel drive and six-passenger seating. Burled camphor wood, cocoa-colored leather and satin-metallic finishes make up the Enclave's upscale interior.

MORE PHOTOS: Watch GM's Webcast of the Buick Enclave concept car

Ridgeline is Truck of the Year; Civic, Car of the Year

John Mendel and Dick Colliver

John Mendel and Dick Colliver

Honda scored a double victory in this morning's North American Car and Truck of the Year. The Truck of the Year is the Honda Ridgeline, the flexible almost-full-size truck that went on sale last year. The Ridgeline's companion Car of the Year is the company's new Civic lineup, complete with Hybrid, Coupe and Si models. The NATOTY/NACOTY awards are given each year by a panel of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. Cars and trucks must be new or substantially changed from prior editions. The Civic beat out Pontiac's Solstice convertible and the Ford Fusion sedan, while the Ridgeline topped the Nissan Xterra and revamped Ford Explorer for its title. Honda's John Mendel and Dick Colliver accepted the award for the manufacturer. It's the first time in 13 years that one manufacturer took both awards. "If you listen to the consumer and build a product they want, they'll respond," Colliver said.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part II by TCC Team (1/8/2006)
Shelby GT500, Ford Reflex, predictions for 2006 and Lutz on GM financials.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part III by TCC Team (1/8/2006)
Hyundai HCD-9 Talus, Santa Fe, and the death of the five-day car.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part IV (1/8/2006)
Nissan's next steps, Benz GL-Class, GM hybrids.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part V by Bengt Halvorson (1/8/2006)
Honda Fit, Ford Edge, and more from Bill Ford.

2006 Detroit Show, Part VI by TCC Team (1/9/2006)
The new face of Lincoln, Mazda Kabura, Infiniti G35 and MINI Clubman.

2006 Detroit Show, Part VII by TCC Team (1/9/2006)
GM planning big price cuts, Aston Rapide, Volvo C30, XK pricing.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part VIII by Bengt Halvorson (1/9/2006)
Jeep Compass, Toyota Camry, Nissan Sentra and Urge.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part IX by TCC Team (1/10/2006)
Camaro by the numbers, Acura RDX, Jaguar gets Ford help.

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