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by David Zatz, J. White, and John Georges; unsigned photos by David Zatz
In 2004, after launches of a new Grand Cherokee and Liberty, the biggest news 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.
The show floor is divided into two levels. On the
car floor, Toyota has the most prominent location, while Chrysler and Dodge are among the hardest to reach, all
the way at the back corner. On the
truck/SUV floor, Dodge trucks are next to Toyota, right by the center
"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, pointing to its heritage in the
Cherokee and other past Jeeps.
The bigger launch was the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, 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, whose new GS430h hybrid-electric runs 0-60 of
about six seconds, but still produces gas mileage in the high 20s, combined
To launch the Dodge Charger SRT-8 and Dodge Charger pursuit car, Chrysler Group
Vice President Eric Ridenour told the media that there was a live event downtown, switching to a “satellite” feed “downtown.” A local police chief was telling Tom LaSorda that the Dodge Charger SRT-8 would make their life more difficult. Enter the new Dodge
Charger police car.
The video had someone steal the new Charger SRT8, with Tom and the police chief pursuing through the downtown; the
chase made it way to the stage. Joe
Eberhardt then climbed out of the Charger SRT-8 and was arrested.
Tom Lasorda also announced that SRT owners would get a free SRT Track Experience day with help from Skip Barber
Driving School instructors.
the SRT-8 is only lowered 0.5 inches it seems much lower. 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, unique to the Charger SRT-8, remind me a
bit of the Plymouth Prowler wheels but more squared off. The 14.2 and 14.4 inch Brembo brakes behind them are
accented with red paint. The
brakes will stop this 4100 lb mass of muscle in Viper-matching 110 feet
from 60 mph. The front buckets have contrasting
suede inserts for a splash of color and the rear seats have been given
a matching treatment. Overall, a great package that should do very well.
The Charger Police Vehicle is nice looking in its own
right with a body colored grill and steel wheels hidden behind a cap
resembling the standard Charger wheels. Overall, the package seems similar to the Magnum police car.
After the launch, I asked Dan Knott about
the “functional” hood scoop. He mentioned that a Ram Air type scoop would have to deal with water and snow management, and the height of the 6.1 L engine
also made it a tricky proposition. I also asked if the rear wing might be a delete
option and he said “no.”
I then pulled Ralph Gilles, who seemed familiar with
Allpar, and he said
that the Charger SRT-8 is the LX car that is most him and his
personality. 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.
I asked him about the new minivans (which he is leading the design
of) and he said 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.
Camp Jeep NY, which was separated from the rest of the show by a short
tunnel, occupied the entire North Pavilion. The
display was swamped with visitors: the wait for a test drive exceeded
an hour for the majority of the day.
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.
The 2005 New York Auto Show was
quite impressive- even more so than last year’s. 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. Outside, there was a
tent set up with customized cars from celebrities like Snoop Dog and
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. This bad boy
runs the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds. Ford also showcased the Shelby Gr-1 concept car, a two-seat, polished-aluminum fastback has a 605 horsepower V10.
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. With a base
price of only $21,195, this front-wheel drive, 4-door speed demon is
powered by a 2.4-liter four pumped up by a high-pressure
turbocharger and a huge air-to-air intercooler. 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 with a 5-speed
manual, and can do the quarter
in about 13.9 seconds; 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.
The V-6 powered Accord Hybrid 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 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, 263 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque.
The 2005 Nissan 350Z 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. 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. The new Nissan AZEAL Coupe concept car has an intense body
design with wide fender flares.
The GTI VR6 is an economy car with a sports car spirit
and Volkswagen’s 2.8-liter engine, which pumps out 200 horsepower at
6,200 RPM. 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
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. The basic Laredo comes with a
210-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and a five-speed automatic
transmission ($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 optional for the Laredo. The Limited comes with V8 engine,
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.
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