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2007 NAIAS

14th January 2007

The Slandy Report® 2007

Welcome to the 5th annual Slandy Report, a look at the North American International Auto Show, held each January in Detroit, Michigan – the most dysfunctional and fattest city in America!!

2007 NAIAS Must-See Cars and Trucks
Ford Motor Company
==> Sync – Ford announced a new technology product it has developed with Microsoft. Called Sync, “a full integrated voice-activated in-car communications and entertainment system for your mobile phone and digital media player (iPod).” Available on 12 2008MY Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products this fall, it has too many functions to explain here. Go check it out in the Ford display or go to www.SyncMyRide.com for more details.
Ford
==> Escape – Ford’s small SUV gets a freshening for the 2008MY, due by April. The Escape’s new styling, like the original did a few years ago, looks like the little brother of the Explorer, which is a good thing. The bad thing is that the freshening, and the beauty, only goes skin deep. The dirty parts are still the same – same engines, transmissions, etc.
==> Five Hundred – the big sedan gets a much-needed makeover for 2008. It gets the Fusion’s grille, plus new lamps, a new sculpted hood, and the soon-to-be ubiquitous Ford front fender vent. Also gets the new 3.5L V6 from the Edge, good for 60 more needed horsepower. Ford has added chocolate chips to the vanilla styling. Mmmm…ice cream!
==> F-Series Super Duty – the big, bad pickup gets bigger and badder with an all-new look, but still looks familiar. It gets a new 6.4L Diesel engine, which is more powerful, cleaner and quieter. A new model is the F-450 pickup, which can tow your house. Also gets the fender vent.
==> Interceptor concept – Ford’s answer to the Chrysler 300, this is a high-performance rear-drive sedan that has a menacing look, and a menacing engine. 5.0L V8 making 400hp. Might be a preview of a new entry for Ford.
Lincoln
==> MKR concept – this car is flat-out gorgeous in all 3 places (outside, inside and under the hood). In addition to the great styling, Ford is using the MKR to show off a new engine. It is a 3.5L direct injected, twin-turbo V6 that makes 415 horses. It’s good for a 0-60 mph sprint in 5.3 seconds. D865f76gv8yobuin – sorry, I drooled on my keyboard.
Volvo
==> XC60 concept – if the production model looks anything like this, Volvo will have another great product. Will compete with Acura’s RDX and BMW’s X3. Yet another example of Volvo breaking out of its stodgy, safety-only reputation.
Mazda
==> CX-9 – this is a bigger version of the CX-7. It has 3 rows and seats 7. Wait, shouldn’t this be the CX-7 and the CX-7 should be a CX-5, based on how many they seat?
==> Ryuga concept – Mazda has no plan to make this sports car; it is a styling exercise only, possibly indicating the style of future Mazdas. It has gull-wing doors, meaning they open up from the front, almost like a scissors.
Land Rover
==> LR2 – this is the replacement for the Freelander, coming this spring to the US. Never heard of the Freelander? Not many did, which is why a new name won’t really hurt sales. It shares many components with other parts of the Ford empire, including the 3.2L I6, making 230hp.
Jaguar
==> C-XF concept – this is a preview of the styling for the S-Type replacement, due in 2008. Gone is the retro look of the S-Type, in favor of a modern look. It has a 400hp 4.2L supercharged V8.
Aston Martin
==> All Aston Martins are beautiful. That’s all you need to know. Here’s another – Aston Martin is so exclusive, they have a sign at the show that lists all of their US dealers.

General Motors
General
GM has a new display set up. There are concepts from some of the General’s foreign brands at the front as you enter. There is a main aisle from which you can see all the brands, which face the center aisle like booths at a flea market. All of the brands are using iMac computers for their information kiosks, just like the one used to write The Slandy Report. Take that, Microsoft!
Chevrolet
==> 2008 Malibu – the current Malibu is plain and unexciting. The new one is too, but much better at the same time. The styling is nothing to get excited about, but it’s clean, refreshing and tasteful. It’s based on GM’s global Epsilon platform, shared with the Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6 and Saab 9-3. The rear lamps look like they were borrowed from the VW parts closet, but otherwise it looks like a worthy new mid-size entry, competing with some of the best cars around: Camry, Accord, Fusion, Altima. The powertrains are new also. A 2.4L I4 replaces the 2.2L, and makes 20 more horsepower. A 3.6L V6 replaces the 3.5L and makes 28 more horsepower.
==> Volt concept – The first thing you notice here is that this is a great looking sports car. The real story, though, is what makes it go. GM is taking great pains to not calling this a “hybrid.” The information Chevy supplied does not even use the words “hybrid” or “engine”, though it runs on electric power and a gasoline engine – just like a hybrid. One difference is that in most hybrids, like from Toyota and Ford, the gas engine and the battery each power the vehicle separately and together. The Volt “engine” is designed to recharge the battery only – not propel the vehicle. The Volt has an electric-only range of 40 miles, and plugs in to recharge. The gas engine is only a “range-extending power source”. Sounds great right? The only problem is that the powerful batteries required to run this contraption don’t exist yet. GM doesn’t even have a running prototype.
==> Silverado HD – the big brother to the Silverado introduced earlier.
==> Tahoe hybrid – it’s OK here to use the “H” word. This is the hybrid system developed with DaimlerChrysler and BMW. GM claims 25% fuel economy improvement. Goes on sale later this year.
==> Camaro convertible – drop top follow up to last years stunning coupe concept. If you saw the coupe last year, this looks exactly like you would expect.
GMC
==> Acadia – large 3-row crossover. Can get front or all wheel drive. 18/26 MPG for front drive. Very nice looking inside and out, but I think this product is a mistake for GMC. For years, we’ve heard how GMC is “professional grade”, and then we get this car-like product? Sure, they’ll sell a bunch of them, but it will hurt the image/reputation that GMC has built over the last few years.
Buick
==> Enclave – see Acadia (but not a mistake). This product makes sense for Buick. Make sure you check out the Enclave split-open display. Unique look at the inside and construction.
Saturn
==> Outlook – see Acadia (but not a mistake). This product makes sense for Saturn.
==> Aura – we’ve seen this before, but Saturn has 3 versions on display. The base XE is very nice, inside & out, but the XR is an absolute stunner on the inside. Also shown is the Aura Green Line, which is a hybrid-electric version.
==> 2008 Vue – the Vue has been completely updated with a new, more rounded look – not as boxy.
Cadillac
==> 2008 CTS – the original CTS was the start of Caddy’s new design direction. Now, with a 2nd generation, it signals a course correction. The CTS gets a new look, with a bigger grille, new LED lamps and a great new interior with softer angles. The design seems to draw on the DTS look. Also new is an optional 300hp direct injected V6 and optional all-wheel drive.

DaimlerChrysler
Chrysler
==> 2008 Town & Country – the minivan gets a facelift, sporting a new, more upright look. The 2nd row seats can now Stow ‘n Go or Swivel ‘n Go. Swivel ‘n Go are captain’s chairs that can turn around and face the 3rd row. There’s also a table for games or meals. There’s also a new 4.0L engine and a 6-speed tranny – a minivan first.
==> Nassau concept – essentially a hatchback Chrysler 300. No plans to produce this, at least not that Chrysler will admit. Has a 425hp Hemi!
==> Sebring Sedan & Convertible – complete redesign. Looks great. Cupholder in front can cool drinks to 35 degrees or heat them up to 140 degrees.
Dodge
==> Grand Caravan – see Town & Country.
==> Avenger – new product, replacing the Stratus. Shares the dirty parts with the Chrysler Sebring. Styled to look like a little brother to the Charger.
==> Viper SRT-10 – this bad boy gets even more horsepower (+90 to 600!) from a modified engine and minor freshening.
Mercedes-Benz
==> 4Matic area – M-B has a separate area for all of their All-wheel drive models. That’s not so special, but the floor is. Underneath all of the 4Matic models is a floor of real ice, to show you that these are the cars to drive when it’s slippery. Cool!
==> Ocean Drive concept – this is a 4-door convertible, based on the S-Class. No official plans to make this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do. Could also signal new styling of future Benz’s.
==> CLS – maybe the best looking car you’ll ever see.
==> SLR – ultra-exotic sports car that, according to the sign, starts at $450,000.
Jeep
==> Fountain – no, this is not a new model. This is Jeep’s customary fountain, which showers actual words. It’s not new, I’ve just never mentioned it, and I think it’s really cool. See picture on last page.
==> Trailhawk concept – based on the Wrangler platform, no plans to make this.
smart
==> fortwo – this is a 2-seat city car that you can buy in Europe. Expected on sale in 2008. Has a 1L I3 engine making 71hp. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Well, it’s also only 1650 lbs. Overheard comment: “It’s an adorable little death-trap.”

Toyota
Toyota
==> Tundra CrewMax – 3rd bodystyle for the new Tundra. Full rear doors, to go along with the regular cab (no rear doors) and Double Cab (small rear doors). Tundra is now a real full-size pickup and will give Ford, Chevy and Dodge their first real challenge in this segment.
==> FT-HS HEV concept – an HEV sports car? Who would have thunk it? Toyota, that’s who – they thunk of everything (BTW, so did Chevy – see Volt, above). Phil Martens, Ford’s former product creation chief, was quoted as saying you would never make a hybrid sports car. Maybe that’s why he’s not in charge of product creation anymore.
Lexus
==> IS-F – Lexus adds a 400+ hp 5.0L V8 to the IS sedan, good for 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. It has paddle shift and an 8-speed automatic. I assume the “F” stands for fast, and this is just the first in the F-Line of products. It was inevitable, I guess. BMW has M, Mercedes has AMG, Cadillac has V, Audi has S, Jaguar and Volvo have R, Ford has SVT (sort of). If Lexus didn’t jump on this bandwagon quick, there would be no more letters! Goes on sale in 2008.
==> LF-A Sports Car concept – this concept is what a Lexus exotic would look like. Might be the sports car that has been seen running around the Nürburgring. It has a 500 hp V10.
==> LS600h L – is there no segment that Toyota won’t go or invent? Basically a hybrid limo.

Nissan
Nissan
==> 2008 Rogue – this is Murano’s little brother. On sale this fall with a 2.5L I4 engine and a CVT transmission.
==> Bevel concept – Nissan has no plans to build this, but might indicate some future styling. Looks a bit like a Scion xB. Has a very cool steering area. Take a look.
Infiniti
==> M35 – not a new product, but I noticed a cool feature. When you open the door, the steering wheel tilts and telescopes out of your way for entry or exit. When the door closes, it goes back to the original position. Very nice touch.

Honda
Honda
==> Accord Coupe concept – this isn’t the new Accord, due this fall, but it does indicate the styling of the 8th generation Accord.
==> CR-V – not new for this show, but if you haven’t seen this yet, check it out. It’s a real nice update to Honda’s small SUV.
Acura
==> MDX – mild styling change. No big deal.
==> Advanced Sports Car concept – preview of the next generation NSX sports car. V10 engine making 500hp. Due sometime in 2008.

Volkswagen
Audi
==> 2009 Q7 TDI Bluetec – Diesel SUV, but check out the beautiful interior.
==> 2008 TT – update to the little sports car. Not as “cute” as before, but now has a more aggressive look.

BMW
BMW
==> 3-Series convertible – this is BMW’s first hardtop convertible. It opens in 22 seconds. Engines are either a 230hp 6 or a 300hp twin-turbo 6.
==> X5 – BMW’s 1st SUV gets a needed update, including making it bigger to accommodate a 3rd row.
==> Hydrogen 7 concept – based on the 7-Series (duh), this concept runs on hydrogen or gas.
MINI
==> MINI is showing its new convertible. Check out the sign where the convertible switch is. Next to a Stop sign, it says, “Ask yourself, is it really necessary to close the top? Be honest.” Love it.

Hyundai Group
Kia
==> Kia has 2 new crossovers. One you can buy, the Rondo. Rondo is small, but with 3 rows, competing with the Chevy HHR, PT Cruiser and Mazda5. It starts under $17K, with a 162hp I4 or an optional, 182hp V6. The other is the Kue concept. Kia won’t build this, but may indicate the styling of future products. It has a 400hp, supercharged V8.
Hyundai
==> Veracruz – this large crossover seats 7 and will be on sale this spring. It’s about the size of an Explorer. It’s nice looking and signals Hyundai’s intent to compete in every segment. It uses the same 3.8L engine found in other Hyundai products, making 260 hp here.
==> Entourage – this is Hyundai’s first minivan, new for the 2007MY. It’s good looking as minivans go, and as you might expect, it’s inexpensive. Starting under $24K, it includes all the normal safety equipment, including airbags and side curtains and ABS w/stability control, etc.
==> Hellion (love the name) concept – this car combines attributes of a sports car with an off-road vehicle. It’s interesting to look at, but don’t expect to buy one any time soon.

Others
==> Porsche Cayenne – minor exterior change and some engine and chassis upgrades as well.
==> Mitsubishi Lancer – updated for 2008MY and built on the same platform as some Chrysler products. On sale this spring. The Prototype X concept is a preview of the next Lancer Evolution (or just “Evo”) due later this year. It has all-wheel drive and high-powered turbo engine.
==> Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe – this new Rolls is $407,000. I hear the IRS is considering allowing a mortgage interest deduction.
==> Chang Feng – this Chinese manufacturer is displaying a few vehicles, including a Ridgeline mini-me pickup, in the basement. None of them is great looking or particularly impressive in any other way. This is significant because they are the first to display their products in the US in public. You might remember The Slandy Report 2006 reported that Geely was here last year and say, “What’s up with that, Slandy?” Geely only displayed their product (and there was only 1) during the press preview days, not during the public days.

The Slandy Awards® 2007

Slandy Best in Show Lincoln MKR Concept
Honorable Mention Jaguar C-XF Concept, Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Tundra CrewMax, Cadillac CTS
WATT? Award GMC Acadia
Ho-Hum Award Ford Airstream Concept
Bet the Farm Award Jaguar C-XF Concept
Lamest Warning Toyota Highlander’s rear seat cup holder has a warning not to use for cups!! Bottles only. Go figure.
Uh-oh! Award Chang Feng display. The Chinese are coming!
Most Annoying New Trend Front fender vents. Ford seems to be slapping these on everything (Five Hundred, Focus, Interceptor, Super Duty, MKR, various Land Rovers, Jaguars and Aston Martins). Also spotted with the vents: Buick, Saturn, Cadillac, BMW, Dodge, Jeep.

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