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2004 NAIAS

14th January 2004

The Slandy Report 2004


As some of you have come to expect, I have my own twist on the Auto Show. See below for the Annual Slandy Must-See list and the Slandy Awards. Read on…

2004 NAIAS Must-See Cars and Trucks


Ford Motor Co.
Ford Division
Freestyle – very nice product, but the styling could be better. Ford needed this product 2 years ago
Five Hundred – see Freestyle
Mustang – great product. The line forms behind me!
GT – brother, can you spare $140K?
Shelby Cobra – Shelby is back! Need I say more?

Lincoln Mercury
Aviator Concept – probably what the Aviator should have been in the first place.
Mark LT – probably what the Blackwood should have been in the first place.
Mark X – Lincoln needs this for an image vehicle. Make Lincoln aspirational again!
Mariner – not anything special, but should help LM dealers with a great product

PAG
Volvo S40 – beautiful! S40 gets S60 styling
Volvo V50 – wagon-version of S40 with more room
Aston Martin – everything, especially DB9 is beautiful. I need to win the Lotto.

Mazda
Mazda 6 wagon and hatchback – a great product gets more broad appeal with more function versions.

General Motors
Chevrolet
Corvette – more different from its predecessor than it first appears
Cobalt – not overly exciting, but a nice, clean design
Colorado (& GMC Canyon) – the General finally gets serious about small pickups. Nice product.
Equinox – see comment on Colorado
Malibu/Malibu Maxx – a very competent product, even if the styling is uninspired
Nomad concept – think, “What would the Solstice look like if it were a wagon?”

Pontiac
Solstice – if the actual price is less than $20K, they won’t be able to make enough of them – gorgeous!
G6 – very nice Grand Am replacement with a few segment-first features (AWD, 6-speed manual)

Buick
Rainier – nothing special, but the 1st “real” SUV from Buick (Rendezvous doesn’t count)
Terraza – same as Rainier, but substitute “minivan”

Cadillac
CTS-V – Corvette power (400HP, 395 lb-ft of torque), 6-speed manual, and seats 5? Sign me up!
SRX – essentially a CTS wagon, but exactly what Cadillac (and Lincoln) needs to fight the luxury imports
XLR – a Caddy Corvette w/power folding hardtop

Saturn
Relay – 1st minivan from Saturn. Nothing special, though Relay is the first Saturn without plastic body panels
Curve – concept based on the Pontiac Solstice

Saab
9-2X – based on the Subaru WRX. An interesting marriage if nothing else

DaimlerChrysler
Chrysler
Town & Country – new seating system that is very impressive. 2nd and 3rd rows fold completely into the floor
300/300C – new large RWD sedans that look like a poor-man’s Rolls Royce
ME Four-Twelve – exotic-looking supercar with >800 HP

Dodge
Grand Caravan – see Chrysler Town & Country
Magnum – same platform as 300/300C. Available as a wagon only.

Jeep
Rescue – looks like a hardtop Wrangler, but much bigger. Intended as a Hummer-fighter.

Mercedes-Benz
Vision GST – upcoming crossover with a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain. Over 300hp and 30 mpg!

Other Europeans
Maserati Quattroporte – drop-dead gorgeous! A 4-door Ferrari.
Ferrari 612 Scaglietti – also gorgeous and powerful.
BMW 645 Convertible – the glass rear window can be raised or lowered independent of the convertible top
BMW X3 – new, smaller sport wagon
Porsche Carrera GT – >600 HP, >$400K
VW Phaeton – a $65K “people’s car”

Asians
Lexus GS430 – 3rd generation. Much better styling and will add an AWD option.
Honda SUT concept – a pickup from Honda?
Toyota FTX concept – first look at the styling idea of the next-gen Tundra
Acura TL – Honda is starting to figure out how to get the styling right
Kia Amati – take a look at this and take the quiz – who is Kia copying this time? A $30K Kia!?!
Lexus RX400h – take the very successful RX and add a hybrid.
Toyota Prius – take a hybrid and add a better package and styling
Scion xC – wait, a good-looking Scion?

The Slandy© Awards!

Slandy Best in Show Award Maserati Quattroporte
Honorable Mention Audi S4 Cabriolet, Pontiac Solstice, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, C6 Corvette
Most Disappointing Pontiac GTO: venerable name, great power, looks like a Grand Prix on a bad day
Ho-Hum Award new GM minivans, Chevy Cobalt
“What are they Thinking?” VW: the Phaeton and Toureg are great products but too expensive for the brand, and who can pronounce the names?
The “Uh-Oh!” Award (tie) Honda SUT, Toyota FTX
The “Oh Yeah?” Award Jeep Rescue. DCX fails to stop the Hummer design in court so they attack with Product
Best new feature Factory-installed remote start. Chevy offers it on Malibu and will continue to offer on more products.

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