New Production Models Debut at Chicago
The Chicago Auto Show, running at McCormack Place from Feb. 7 through Feb 17, was the site for several debuts of new production vehicles. It follows one month after the Los Angeles and Detroit shows as the third of the four major U.S. auto shows. (New York in April is the fourth.) As opposed to concepts, which may never become reality, these vehicles are promised to be in dealer showrooms no later than the beginning of the next calendar year. In alphabetical order, then, here is what is truly new:1 The Chevrolet SSR. This crossover vehicle blends a convertible and a pickup, and will fill the niche in the Chevy line vacated by the Camaro. It features V-8 power, independent suspension and the popular retro look.2 The Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra. GM’s full-size trucks have been restyled and upgraded for the 2003-model year. Most striking is the wide availablity of the Quadrasteer 4-wheel steering system.3 The Dodge Ram Heavy Duty. Following in the footsteps of the Ram 1500 introduced last year, the 2500 and 3500 carry the series into Class 2 and Class 3 trucks. New engines and improved ergonomics in the cab are part of the design.4 The Dodge SRT-4. High-performance small cars are making a comeback, led by models from Honda and Acura. This compact sedan, based on the Neon, is the DaimlerChrysler answer to the small imports. It offers stunning performance in a small package.5 The Honda Pilot. This replacement for the Passport SUV shares a platform with the Acura MDX. With V-6 power and fully independent suspension, it offers car-like handling and ride. 6 The Kia Sorento. A new companion to the Sedona minivan will be the Sorento mid-size SUV. It will be offered with 2-wheel drive and two types of 4-wheel drive and a full complement of luxury equipment.7 The Lexus GX 470. The GX 470 fills the middle gap in the Lexus line of SUVs. It offers V-8 power, independent front suspension and Lexus luxury with a 6,500 lb. towing capacity.8 The Mazda 6. This mid-size sedan replaces the 626 in Mazda’s lineup and offers new engines and a new platform as well as new styling.9 The Subaru Baja. Based on the ST-X concept vehicle first shown two years ago, the Baja crossover vehicle combines a four-door station wagon with a pickup truck. 10 The Suzuki Aerio SX. This crossover vehicle combines a compact station wagon with a compact SUV. It offers distinctive styling and a 2.0L engine.