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2005 NAIAS

15th January 2005

The Slandy Report® 2005

Welcome to the third annual Slandy Report, an irreverent look at the North American International Auto Show, held each January in Detroit, Michigan (so why not just call it the Detroit Auto Show? Oh, wait, it was until 1989, when we officially got too big for our britches).

2005 NAIAS Must-See Cars and Trucks

Ford Motor Company
Ford Division
==> Shelby GR-1 – sometimes triple 6 isn’t so bad. 605HP, 6.4L V10, 6-speed manual tranny. If Ford builds it, will they come?
==> Fusion – if Ford had had this a few years ago as a Contour replacement, maybe the share would be better now. Where’s the beef (manual V6 and SVT)??
==> Fairlane Concept – Ford says this hints at the next-gen “people mover”. Based on Fusion architecture.
==> Mustang Convertible – ‘nuff said.
==> Five Hundred – taking some heat for “vanilla” styling. Guess what? Vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream! People like vanilla!
==> Freestar – where is it? None at the show!
Mercury
==> Meta One Concept – styling hints at a future crossover. The powertrain & other features are not likely for some time, if ever.
==> Montego – French Vanilla
Lincoln
==> Zephyr – maybe this will succeed where LS hasn’t. Outstanding interior!
==> Mark LT – what the Blackwood should have been. Also check out the Lincoln LT chopper.
Volvo
==> 3CC Concept – cool styling, though it will probably never be made. Seats 2 in front and 1 in back. Electric car.
==> S40 – still love this car.
Mazda
==> Mazda5 – kind of like a micro-van, popular in Europe. Great styling.
==> MX Crosssport – another crossover wagon, but looks great.
Land Rover
==> Range Rover Sport – cool concept, but will its apparent lack of off-road capability hurt the Land Rover brand in the long run?
Jaguar
==> Advanced Lightweight Concept – another beautiful Jaguar. Next XK8? Looks like an Aston Martin.
==> Type Rs – why do none of these have manual?
Aston Martin
==> Everything they make is beautiful. Love the DB9.

General Motors
Chevrolet
==> Corvette Z06 – takes the new Vette 1 step (maybe 1½ steps) further. New 7L 500 HP, 0-60 <4>190 mph. Corvette continues to be the best value supercar.
==> HHR – the love child of SSR and PT Cruiser.
==> Impala – much better looking than its predecessor. The love child of Cobalt and Taurus.
==> Monte Carlo – Impala’s 2-door brother. Looks a little less like a cartoon character.
Pontiac
==> G6 – this car is still great. Love the 3-panel moonroof. But wait, there’s more! Convertible brings a hardtop convertible to the masses for <$30K. The coupe looks like an SC430 from the back. Where do I get Oprah tickets? ==> Solstice – still love this. If they really sell this for <$20K, they won’t be able to build enough. ==> Torrent – probably competent, but just a made-over Equinox. The best thing about this is that it replaces Aztec in the lineup.
Saturn
==> Aura – the General is finally giving some better product to the dealers who give the best customer satisfaction in the business.
==> Sky – faster, more expressive sibling to Solstice.
Caddy
==> STS-V – great car that will give BMW M5, Benz E55 AMG and Jaguar S-Type R a serious run for the money (and customers).
GMC
==> Graphyte concept – a bit fugly, but shows off the General’s hybrid powertrain. They say it’s the most sophisticated in the world, but where do I buy one?
Hummer
==> H3 – based on Chevy Colorado.
Subaru
==> B9 Tribeca – yes, another crossover wagon. Bad name, but really nice design. Front end needs a nose job, though.

DaimlerChrysler
Chrysler
==> Firepower – ME412 from last year will not be made. Why? Because they’ll build this instead. Viper platform, but with a more refined powertrain (6.1L Hemi).
==> 300C SRT-8 – super-Hemi!
Dodge
==> Charger – is it a Magnum sedan or a Dodge 300C? It’s both!
==> Magnum SRT-8 – see 300C SRT-8.
Mercedes-Benz
==> ML-Class – next gen moves to a unibody design. Diesel comes later.
==> Vision R – concept of a 7-seat ML class coming soon.
==> Vision B – concept of a Benz B-Class coming soon.
Smart
==> All – cute but the only one that has a chance in the US is the roadster.
Jeep
==> Hurricane concept – 2 hemis (680HP)? All 4 wheels turn all the way around allowing the vehicle to rotate around.
==> Gladiator concept – will Jeep re-enter the pickup segment?
Mitsubishi
==> Raider – Mitsu gets back into pickups, courtesy of Dodge Dakota.
==> Eclipse – hot new version on sale later this year.

Toyota
Toyota
==> Avalon – moving upscale and continues to get better looking. Some Lexus ES styling cues.
==> FT-SX concept – hints at the next Highlander.
==> Trucks general – anybody else notice that Toyota has quietly introduced a new logo for their trucks? Not badged (yet), just in advertising and on stickers.
Lexus
==> GS – new design. AWD. Hybrid later.
==> L-FA Concept – hints at possible Lexus supercar.

Others
European
==> Maserati Quattroporte – see last year. I still love this car!
==> Ferrari F430 – super fast, super cool!
==> Ferrari SuperAmerica – beautiful, exotic, but slower to 60 than Z06.
==> Ferrari 612 Scaglietti – I just like saying (and apparently, writing) “Scaglietti”
==> VW Beetle Ragster – a pseudo-convertible concept
==> VW Jetta – moves upscale, but still starts under $18K.
==> Audi A4 – nice new design. Love the S4 Cabriolet.
==> Audi A3 – nice looking, but does it take the brand too low?

Asian
==> Honda Ridgeline – a Honda pickup? Some nice features, like a trunk in the bottom of the bed, which has a drainhole for cooler use.
==> Honda Odyssey – Honda does it again, and one-ups everybody in the minivan segment. Sales are already improving and taking back share from Sienna.
==> Acura RD-X – small SUV for Acura, based on Honda CR-V.
==> Nissan Azeal – hints at next-gen Sentra.
==> Infiniti Kuraza – 6-door Goofy-mobile. I appreciate non-conventional styling as much (or more) than most. This is just plain ugly!
==> Infiniti M35/M45 – beautiful design, starts at $40K. No manual?
==> Kia KCD-II – a full-size SUV from Kia. Perhaps now I’ve seen everything!

Other
==> ASC Helios (300C Convertible) – 1st 4-door convertible since 1967 Lincoln. Chrysler is apparently considering production.

The Slandy Awards® 2005

Slandy Best in Show Mustang Convertible
Honorable Mention ASC Helios, Audi S4 Cabriolet*, BMW M5***, Chevy Corvette Z06, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti*, Ford Shelby GR-1, Maserati Quattroporte*
WATT Award**? VW Phaeton* & Toureg*, Infiniti Kuraza, Honda Ridgeline, Benz Vision B
Ho-Hum Award Pontiac Torrent,
Bet the Farm Award Ford Fusion/Lincoln Zephyr

* Repeat winner
** Formerly known as the “What are they Thinking Award”
*** Would have won SBIS, but for the “Bangled” design

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