The 2005 New York Auto Show

2005 New York Auto Show - Camp JeepIn 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 Chrysler.

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 entrance.

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.

Auto Show Press Day One

"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 competitive advantages.

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.

Auto Show Press Day Two (by J. White)

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 arrested.

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.

Dodge Charger police car Dodge Charger SRT8

inside the Dodge Charger squad car

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.

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 very similar to the Magnum Police Vehicle.

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.

New York Auto Show in progress (by Mark)


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 Nitro concept.

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 the floor.

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.

John Georges' impressions of the show (to be continued)

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.

Ford

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.

Dodge

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.

Honda

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.

Mitsubishi

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 spoiler.

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.

Nissan


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 rims.

Volkswagen


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.

Jeep


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?

Acura


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).

Saturn


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 early 2006.

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.

Engine displays

2.8 liter VM diesel from Jeep Liberty

Cummins turobdiesel from Dodge Ram

5.7 Hemi 6.1 Hemi V8 4.7 Jeep PowerTech

Other items of interest

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