by David Zatz, J. White, and John Georges; unsigned photos by David Zatz
In 2004, the Grand Cherokee and Liberty were introduced, but the biggest surprise of the show was in the Mopar Speedshop, which showed Plymouths
in race form. The Jeep off-road course ("Camp Jeep NY") was a big hit,
with over 36,000 participants taking test rides, and it was back for
2005 in the same place, and looking pretty much the same - complete
with a collection of classic Jeeps. There were four introductions;
unfortunately, the two Dodge debuts got relatively little press, with
the Ford Mustang Cobra grabbing most of the headlines and the Grand
Cherokee SRT8 or Commander getting a little coverage as well. It's
unfortunate that the Commander didn't make more of a splash, because
its press kit is the most extensive we've seen in some time from
The show floor itself is divided into two levels, and as far as we
could see, the brands kept the same spaces they had last year. On the
car floor, Toyota has the most prominent location, right at the corner
entrance, while Chrysler and Dodge are among the hardest to reach, all
the way at the back corner (BMW is also relatively hidden.) On the
truck/SUV floor, Dodge trucks are next to Toyota, right by the center
If you go, be warned that parking in the area is $40 for any length
of time. The garage directly across the street (open air) was demanding
cash in advance. Other garages abound but the price seems standard - we
paid $16 down the street (with MasterCard) but the attendant said
they'd be doing $40 for the public days. Unfortunately mass transit to
Javits is poor at best, with no subways and the route from Port
Authority not being marked with signs (or obvious for that matter).
From Port Authority, which hosts many subways lines, take the 42 bus
Eastwards. From Penn Station or Grand Central, take the subway (Shuttle
from Grand Central, A-C-E or 1-2-3 from Penn) to Port Authority. A cab
from either location would work but be rather expensive.
"Starting at the end," with a "media scrum" of actors pretending to
be journalists, complete with mics and TV cameras, Dieter Zetsche
introduced the Jeep Commander today, pointing to its heritage in the
Cherokee and other past Jeeps. He pointed out the off-road credentials
of the new vehicle, which we have a great deal of information on -
click here to read it - before moving on to its creature comforts and
The next vehicle introduced was the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 (click
here for details, a 410 horsepower SUV that can still go off-road and
tow over 3,0000 pounds, but also does 0-60 in 5 seconds - making it
faster, according to Zetsche, than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the
quickest BMW SUV.
One of the more interesting launches from other automakers was
Lexus, which says it is serious about capturing 14% of the luxury
market - nearly double their current share - with the new GS, which is
coming with more than one drivetrain option. The most exciting new
Lexus is probably the GS430h, which has a hybrid-electric drivetrain
that produces instant acceleration in the 30-50 mph range and a 0-60 of
about six seconds, but still produces gas mileage similar to many
four-cylinder automatic sedans - in the high 20s, combined
city-highway. The IS250 and IS350 were also debuted, the latter having
a 300 horsepower V6. The IS has not been a sales success, but Lexus
believes they will more than double sales of the model. Details on both
Lexuses will be available at toyoland.com next week.
The Dodge Charger SRT-8 and Dodge Charger Police Vehicle were
launched today at the New York International Auto Show. Chrysler Group
Vice President Eric Ridenour told the gathered crowd of automotive
media that there was a live event downtown that we might be interested
in. They switch to a "satellite" feed downtown with Tom Lasorda showing
a local police chief the new Dodge Charger SRT-8 and goes over the
amazing specs. The police chief stated that with all these SRTs, Dodge
was making their life more difficult. Tom said that of course, all SRT
drivers will be law abiding citizens, but if the cars do fall into the
wrong hands there is some new help for them. Enter the new Dodge
Charger Police vehicle.
As he was showing the 5.7 HEMI Charger Police package to the chief,
someone "stole" the new Charger SRT-8. Tom and the police chief
followed in pursit through a downtown chase. Other vehicles tried to
join in, but only the Dodge Charger Police vehicle could keep up. The
chase made it way to the Jacob Javits Center and on to the stage. Joe
Eberhardt then climbed out of the Charger SRT-8 and was promptly
Tom Lasorda then went over the various specs of the two vehicles. He
also announced a new program starting in April for new SRT owners. They
will get a free SRT Track Experience day with help from Skip Barber
Driving School Instructors. There will be about 25 dates this year.
My first impressions of the cars: they look good. Very good. Though
the SRT-8 is only lowered 0.5 inches it seems much lower. The body
colored grill and functional hood scoop provide a very menacing look.
The hood is aluminum to save weight but unlike the 300C SRT-8 the
Charger SRT-8 decklid is steel. The rear wing is strikingly like those
on the second generation Charger R/Ts.
The new 20" wheels are unique to the Charger SRT-8. They remind me a
bit of the Plymouth Prowler wheels but more squared off and complete a
very nice look. The 14.2 and 14.4 inch brembo brakes behind them are
accented with red paint, which seems standard on all Dodge SRT's. The
brakes will stop this 4100 lb mass of muscle in Viper-matching 110 feet
from 60. The interior is quite similar to the Magnum SRT-8 and seemed
to have very good fit and finish. The front buckets have contrasting
suede inserts for a splash of color and the rear seats have been given
a matching treatment. The steering wheel also had some contrasting
leather. Overall, a great package that should do very well.
After the launch I spoke a bit with Dan Knott and asked him about
the "functional" hood scoop. He mentioned that there are several
factors to deal with if they did a Ram Air type scoop; things such as
water and snow management. He said that the height of the 6.1 L engine
also made it a tricky proposition. He also stated that there might be
some opporitunity for aftermaket or Mopar Performance parts to make the
scoop more functional. I also asked if the rear wing might be a delete
option and he said "no."
I then pulled Ralph Gilles aside (he seemed quite familiar with
Allpar by the way) and asked the designer about this car and he said
that the Charger SRT-8 is the LX car that is most him and his
personality. In retrospect he said he almost wished that they had led
the Charger launch with this car as it has been done for some time, but
that the plan was to release it in New York all along. He said that
they considered a different hood and fascia combination (i.e. different
shape) but by keeping the shape similar someone could order the SRT
hood for instance as a service part and add it to their Charger R/T.
Gilles also stated that he would not do a 2 door with a 120"
wheelbase and that the resources for a shortened LX weren't there yet
so there will be no SWB LX anytime soon.
I asked him about the new minivans (which he is leading the design
of) and he wouldn't say much other then saying he was having a lot of
fun with them and that he wanted them to be striking and attention
grabbing. They want to re-invent what the minivan can be.
I was at the show for eight hours on Saturday, and the Caliber was
(sadly) not there. They also only had one Stratus and one Sebring (both
sedans, which makes sense since the coupes are lame ducks). On the
brighter side, there were lots of Dakotas and Durangos on display
downstairs on the truck level, along with a few Rams, the Mega Cab
(which, somewhat surprisingly, was roped off on a platform), and the
Upstairs, Dodge displayed several Chargers, Magnums, and Caravans on
the floor, with each generating considerable interest among visitors
(much more so than the comparable GM and Ford models). There was one
Viper coupe, one Stratus sedan (the orange R/T from other recent
shows), one SRT4 ACR edition, and one Neon with the SRT appearance
package. The Charger SRT8 looked stunning up on a rotating platform
(accompanied by an attractive spokeswoman). The Magnum SRT8 was out on
Over at Chrysler, enthusiasm was high for the several 300s on display,
as well as the 300C SRT8 sitting atop a platform. There were several
Town & Countries, a pair of Pacificas (one Limited and the other
Touring), a Crossfire Convertible, and an SRT6 coupe. Each also
attracted their fair share of attention. There was one lonely Sebring
TSi sedan on display, which just seemed to be in the way of visitors
trying to reach the newer Chrysler models. The Firepower concept,
looking gorgeous up on yet another platform, was swamped.
Camp Jeep NY, which was separated from the rest of the show by a short
tunnel, occupied the entire North Pavilion as it did last year. The
display was swamped with visitors: the wait for a test drive exceeded
an hour for the majority of the day. There were a lot Grand Cherokees,
and quite a few Liberty's and Wranglers on display, along with a
handful of Commanders. Most were unlocked for visitors to climb inside,
and multiple trim levels of each model were represented. The Hurricane
and Gladiator concepts occupied rocky pedestals along the perimeter of
the off-road course, while heritage models stood proudly at its center.
One curious element was a woman wearing stilts on her hands and feet,
completely covered in vines save for her face. She strutted around
silently among the crowd, making awkward poses and mischievous facial
expressions along the way. She was somewhat of a hit, with awestruck
visitors snapping pictures and crowding around her.
Overall it was a good show, although I would have enjoyed it more were
there fewer people there; the crowds were truly overwhelming. I was
very pleased to see the positive reaction to Chrysler’s
well-constructed displays, especially Camp Jeep.
The 2005 New York Auto Show at Jacob Javits Convention Center was
quite impressive- even more so than last year’s. Cars in
all catorgories, including the new hybrids and sleek SUVs, held the
audiences’ attention as their features were impressively
displayed. This year, there was more knowledgeable staff
available to provide help and answer questions. Digital camera
stations were set up around some of the more popular high-end vehicles
where you could get your picture taken, which was later posted on a web
site. The center was basically two full levels, the top being
mostly cars and the bottom mostly trucks. Outside, there was a
tent set up with customized cars from celebrities like Snoop Dog and
Nelly. Crowds were entertained by the nicely structured stages on
which the cars were displayed. Below, I have a few of the car
companies that were there and the car I thought was most impressive and
what’s in store for them in the future.
The name that jumps into most people’s minds when they think
Ford is Mustang. The 2005 Mustang GT was impressive. Based
on the 1979 platform, this 4.6 liter all-aluminum V-8 (Also available
in a slightly cheaper V-6 version) Mustang cranks out 300 horses at
5750 RPM and 320 lb-ft of torque at 4500 RPM, which was usually only
found on the Cobra and Mach 1 trims in the past. This bad boy
runs the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds. With a base price of only
$24,995, how much better can it get? This car, according to Motor Trend, gives you the best bang for your buck.
Ford also showcases the Ford Shelby Gr-1 concept car. This
front-engine, two-seat, polished-aluminum body, fastback super-car is
going to be powered by a 390-cubic-inch, all aluminum V-10, cranking
out a solid 605 horsepower. According to Ford, this car can even
out-compete the Ferrari Enzo in several categories. A release
date has not been announced but I was told by one of Ford’s
representatives to expect the price to be around $140,000.
The SRT-4 is only a Neon until it's out-running and out-maneuvering
you… then you can tell your friends it was a Viper. Dodge
has stepped it up to the max with this car. The 2005 Dodge Neon
SRT-4 is like no Neon you have ever seen before. With a base
price of only $21,195, this front-wheel drive, 4-door speed demon is
powered by a 2.4-liter incline-four engine pumped up by a high-pressure
turbocharger and a huge air-to-air intercooler. Now- I know what
you’re thinking- with a turbo comes turbo lag but on this car all
I can say is what lag? The second you step on the gas you are
speeding down the road pushing out 230 horsepower at 5300 RPM and 250
lb-ft of torque at 2200 RPM. It comes standard with a 5-speed
manual, for those of you who feel like burning down the quarter
straight (which you can run in about 13.9 seconds) at your local
track. Another great feature about this car is its
handling. Braking from 60-0 takes only a short 112 feet.
The Nitro concept-car is expected to have a top speed of 108 mph,
standing quarter-mile at 16.8 seconds and 0-60 in 9.7 seconds.
For people who have been waiting for a mid-size SUV, just wait a little
longer; the Dodge Nitro is for you.
When most people hear hybrid they think meager horsepower with a top
speed under 65 mph. That is definitely not the case with the new
2005 Honda Accord Hybrid. This V-6 powered Accord pushes out 255
horsepower with the fuel economy of a compact-class, 4-cylinder Civic
Sedan (37 mpg highway/ 29 mpg city). The starting price of
$30,140 is a little steep but when it comes to fuel economy with strong
power, this car does its job.
In light of its 20th anniversary, the Civic Si concept car really makes
the name Civic a true legacy. Honda is planning to unleash this
car with a 16-valve, DOHC I-VTEC engine with 200 horsepower. It
should come standard with a 6-speed close ratio manual transmission and
a redline at 8,000 RPM.
The 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR Edition is here at
last. Lately, it seems that lately more and more car companies
are putting out 4-cylinder AWD turbocharged cars but nothing compares
to the Evo when it comes to smooth sailing. This all-wheel drive,
inline 4 pushes out a strong 278 horses at 6500 RPM and 286 lb-ft of
torque at 3500 RPM. The MR edition includes 6-speed manual
transmission, monotube Bilstein® dampers and forged aluminum
BBS® wheels. Nothing looks hotter than this car- with its
Recaro® seat, bulging fenders, and its high-mounted carbon fiber
Even though the last design of the Eclipse didn’t seem all that
hot to me, the 2006 Mitsubishis Eclipse is sure to steal peoples’
hearts when it comes out. The body design is pretty sleek- it
looks like a Nissan 350Z mixed with the a 2005 Eclipse. The 2006
Eclipse GT has the most powerful V-6 in its class. The 3.8 liter
V-6 produces 263 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque. You can get this
car with a 6-speed manual transmission or Sportronic® automatic
transmission. Eclipse fans… you will NOT be let down.
The 2005 Nissan 350Z Roadster continues its legend as a car with
superior design and performance. This Roadster is designed to
transform from top-up to top-down in just 20 seconds. The power
in this car comes from a reliable 3.5 liter V-6 engine producing a 287
horsepower. This year, the 350Z got some minor enhancements, such
as a standard Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS) and a reduced clutch
pedal effort, to help move the standard 6-speed manual
transmission. The Roadster starts out at $28,650 for the
Enthusiast edition but it can go all the way up to $39,200 for the
Grand Touring edition.
It seems like Nissan is slowly putting out new cars with a sleek design
similar to the 350Z. The new Nissan AZEAL Coupe concept car is a
great example of this. This concept car features an intense body
design with wide fender flares. The interior is equally
impressive with its combination of dark seats and industrial metallic
instrument panel appearance. A 2.5-liter turbocharged engine is
expected to power the AZEAL. The AZEAL will most likely be
released with a standard 6-speed manual transmission and large 19-inch
The New GTI VR6 is an economy car with a sports car spirit.
It’s a two-door car with a three-door hatchback. This car
is as good-looking inside as it is on the outside with a leather
wrapped shift knob and handbrake. The GTI VR6 features
Volkswagen’s 2.8-liter engine, which pumps out 200 horsepower at
6,200 RPM. It comes standard with a six-speed manual
transmission. This car gets a nice 23-mpg in the city and 30-mpg
on the highway with a base price of $22,330.
Volkswagen is focusing on sleek styling with the new Volkswagen Ragster
concept car. Not too much information has been released about
this car, except that it is going to feature newly designed fenders,
bumpers, head and tail lights, and 19-inch aluminum rims.
Racing-style bucket seats add to the sporty design, along with a large
ragtop. This car is expected to have an integrated engine start
button, which definitely adds to its already stylish looks.
The 2005 Grand Cherokee continues the Jeep tradition. At first,
the Grand Cherokee looks only slightly changed but when you get closer
you notice more steel and less glass on a slightly more angular body
and the windshield is pushed back more towards the driver. As
usual, the trademark giant wheel well flares still stay basically the
same. The Grand Cherokee comes in two different models with many
optional packages. The basic Laredo comes standard with a
210-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and a five-speed overdrive automatic
transmission. In addition, it comes with 17-inch tires and
wheels, an eight-way power driver's seat, AM/FM/CD changer, a driver
information center, 60/40 split folding rear seat, and remote keyless
entry ($26,130). A Laredo 4x4 model with Quadra-Trac I full-time
four-wheel drive will come out to about $28,100. A 4.7-liter V8
is also an optional for the Laredo. The Limited comes standard
with a 4.7-liter V8 engine and larger capacity automatic transmission,
power adjustable floor pedals with memory, and rain-sensing wipers
($31,455). An optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is available for both
Laredo and Limited.
The new Jeep Hurricane is
something I never would have imagined in the Jeep lineup. This
concept car is easily the most powerful yet maneuverable 4x4
ever. It is powered by two 5.7-liter HEMI engines (one in
front, one in back). Each engine produces 335 horsepower and 370
lb-ft of torque (a total of 670 horsepower and 740 lb-ft of torque).
This two-seater has a turn radius of zero which is achieved by the skid
steer capability and toe steering (the ability to turn front and rear
tires inward). This future car is sure to turn some heads but
with power like that in such a small car, how safe can it be?
Finding a car that is both luxurious yet mildly powerful with a smooth
ride can be a pretty hard thing to do these days. No other car
fills this description so perfectly than the 2005 Acura RL. The
four-door RL powered by a V6 3.5-liter engine that pushes 300
horsepower (75 more than last year) to all of its 4 wheels through the
Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. The Active Torque
Transfer System from the 1997 Prelude SH was put to good use in this
car. The RL comes standard with an Acura Navigation System with
Voice Recognition that quickly guides you through the roads with
real-time traffic information. With a price tag of $48,900, it
may be a little steep but will definitely appeal to those willing to
spend the money.
Acura showed that it has the engineering to create a sleek yet speedy
SUV with their MDX and are once again stepping up the game.
Acura’s new RD-X concept car combines the performance of a speedy
sports car and the comfort of a sports sedan with the same all wheel
drive system used in the RL (SH AWD).
I’m not really much of a Saturn fan. In fact, at the Auto
Show I pretty much just rushed by the Saturn section thinking,
“not a car for me.” Then I noticed quite a few people
gathered around a car on display- the new 2006 Saturn Sky. This
stylish convertible is like no other Saturn I have ever seen. The
car is pushed by a 2.4-liter engine that puts out 170 horsepower.
Projector halogen low beams and reflector optic halogen high beam
headlamps extend the cars already sophisticated look. This car
comes standard with a 5-speed short throw manual transmission.
The Sky is expected to be less than $25,000 and will be available in
Another Saturn with dramatically improved design is the Saturn Aura
concept car. Not much is known about this car except that the
exterior styling was based on a more European look. It is
expected to have 19-inch polished alloy wheels pushed to the corners,
resulting in short overhangs.
All in all, the 2005 Auto Show was a blast but I still can’t wait until next year’s show.
Chrysler Heritage • History by Year • Chrysler People and Bios • Corporate Facts and History
Dodge Charger sales and productionHow does New Charger stack up with the 1968s?
Starting on nitro, popping wheeliesRamcharger Recollections #17
All Mopar Car and Truck News
FCA at the Eiffels
Chrysler: Port Melbourne