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01/10 2004 NAIAS, TURNING UP THE HEAT****

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Jan 16, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

01/10 2004 NAIAS, TURNING UP THE HEAT****

By Contributing Editors CHRISTOPHER MERLO and CHUCK DAPOZ

Part 5

NISSAN FRONTIER

Nissan Frontier (production) Following a bigger-is-better philosophy, Nissan has beefed up its all-new Frontier compact pickup, even giving it styling cues from the full-size Nissan Titan. Compared with the current model, the new Frontier has a wheelbase nearly 10 inches longer, with overall length increased 2.6 inches. Width and height also are larger. The Frontier will be available in King Cab and four-door Crew Cab configurations. A 2.5L inline four is available on base King Cabs. And a new 4.0L V6 produces more than 250 hp and 270 ft-lbs, providing a towing capacity of 5,500 pounds ## up from today's 3.3L supercharged V6 that generates 210 hp, 246 ft-lbs and towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. The Frontier goes on sale at the end of the year as a 2005 model.

NISSAN PATHFINDER

Nissan Pathfinder (production) The Nissan Pathfinder is built on the same platform as the new Frontier and shares most mechanical components and specifications. Suspension is double-wishbone, front and rear. Seven-passenger seating is now standard because of a third-row seat. Both the second- and third-row seats are split fold-down, providing 64 seating/cargo configurations. Roof-mounted curtain air bags are optional, as are power-adjustable foot pedals. Like the Frontier, the new Pathfinder is a 2005 model and will be available at the end of the year.

Nissan Actic

Photo not available

The Nissan Actic defies conventional categorization. It offers SUV-type versatility without being a truck, yet we're unsure whether we'd call this small concept vehicle a crossover. The Actic is a design exercise out of Nissan Design America, in La Jolla, with an obvious family resemblance to the Nissan Murano and Infiniti FX. There's no B-pillar, and the front doors slide forward while the rear doors slide toward the back, offering a wide opening to the innovative cabin. Inside is three-across seating, and the center seats can be folded down, creating a large center console. The 19-inch tires, developed with Michelin, have a waffle-pattern design, like aggressive motorcycle tires. A matching trailer, developed with Airstream, uses inflatable walls to offer room for cargo or sleeping space for, Nissan says, three people.

PONTIAC G6

Pontiac G6 (production) The all-new 2005 Pontiac G6 Sports sedan is built on GM's Epsilon mid-size architecture. Pontiac hopes to position the G6 as a driver's machine by offering three engine choices including a 170-hp 2.4L Ecotec four-cylinder, a 200-hp 3.5L V6 and a 240-hp 3.9L V6. Transmission choices include an electronically controlled four-speed automatic and a six-speed manual. The G6 appears in showrooms this fall. A 2+2 sports coupe and convertible will follow the sedan's rollout.

PONTIAC SOLSTICE

Pontiac Solstice (production) Voted "Most Fun" by AutoWeek Editors, the Pontiac Solstice is both a technological tour de force of General Motors' engineering prowess and a testimony to the Lutz effect. At the 2002 NAIAS, Bob Lutz unveiled the Solstice concept to critical acclaim. Two years later we're looking at a production version that has held true to the original concept. What's more, General Motors developed the Kappa rear-wheel-drive architecture to make the concept a reality. And in just two years time. Bravo! Scheduled for introduction in mid 2005 and priced under $20,000, the Pontiac Solstice is yet another example of General Motors's resurgence.

SATURN CURVE

Saturn Curve (concept) True to its name, the Saturn Curve presents a muscular ## curvaceous ## expressive design that may well be the shape of things to come from Saturn. This 2+2 sport coupe completes a trio of winning designs based on the new General Motors Kappa architecture. Its sleek, evocative design is enhanced by concealing roof pillars behind a wraparound canopy of glass to create the illusion of a floating roof panel. Twenty-inch wheels fill the bulge of the fenders and hint at the power of the 200-hp supercharged 2.2L engine beneath the hood.

SCION tC

Scion tC (production) Though Scion has yet to expand out of California, about 500 xA and xB models have been registered in 40 states. That speaks volumes about the appeal of Toyota's youth-oriented brand. The Scion rollout expands to the east coast and Gulf states soon, with the national rollout scheduled to be complete by June, coinciding with the introduction of Scion's third model, the tC. Based on the Toyota Avensis, a platform never sold in North America, the tC is a sporty two-door hatchback styled like a coupe. Its 2.4L engine with variable valve timing produces 160 hp, and late in the year an optional dealer-installed TRD turbo will become available, allowing output to be boosted to 200 hp. A double-wishbone in the rear, MacPherson struts in front, 17-inch wheels and four-wheel disks with ABS promise boy-racer performance. The driver's seat has both height and thigh adjustment, and the rear seats recline up to 45 degrees. A panorama glass roof is standard along with a keyless entry and remote hatch operation. Pricing for the tC hasn't been announced, but Jim Farley, Scion vice president, says it will be, "Well, well under $20,000." GM, Ford and Chrysler: take note.

SUZUKI RENO

Suzuki Reno (concept) The Suzuki Reno is a five-door crossover sculpted by Ital Design and built by GM Daewoo. It's targeted at the youth market and is expected to carry a base price of about $13,000. A notable feature is the roof includes roof-rack grooves designed for easy installation of accessories to carry bikes, skis, camping gear and other recreational items. A 126-hp 2.0L engine drives 15-inch tires. Pictured is the Reno Tuner Concept, which comes with 17-inch wheels and a "Chameleon Color Shift paint scheme" that leaves you wondering whether it's gold or green. The Reno is part of a product onslaught Suzuki is planning ## with many vehicles coming from GM Daewoo ## in order to more than triple US sales to 200,000 units per year.

TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID

Toyota Highlander Hybrid (production) The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is built on the same platform as the Lexus RX 400h, sharing components and specification, from the Hybrid Synergy Drive to system output of 270 hp. Toyota says the Highlander Hybrid will be a Super-Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle ## don't you love this California environmental hair-splitting terminology? ## and driving it from California to Florida will produce fewer smog-forming emissions than a can of air freshener. At the vehicle's press introduction, Yoshio Ishizaka, Toyota's executive vice president, reaffirmed Toyota's long-term commitment to the development of fuel cell vehicles and said, "If you have an advantage with hybrids, you will have an advantage with fuel cells." The 2005 Highlander Hybrid will be introduced in about a year.

TOYOTA FTX

Toyota FTX (concept) Last year at the NAIAS, Nissan introduced a massive, full-size pickup. This year it was Toyota's turn, as it unveiled a concept pickup that looks even bigger, the FTX. Toyota says the FTX is allowing it to "explore" Toyota truck DNA. Explore is too timid a term, because Toyota is constructing a greenfield assembly plant near San Antonio, TX, to build a full-size pickup that will succeed the Tundra. The FTX may hint at what that truck will be like. One of its design elements is the integration and concealment of equipment. For example, inside the bed is a collapsible, hidden toolbox, and the tailgate incorporates a ramp that extends to the ground, allowing heavy objects to be rolled in our out of the box. Toyota says the FTX interior is intentionally different from a car interior; for example, floating, fold-away rear seats are styled after seats in recreational boats, with the seats attached to a center beam rather than the floor, allowing under-seat storage. On the C-pillar is a badge that reads, "Hybrid V8." Toyota's production full-size pickup will not be a hybrid, at least not initially, but this badge is an indication Toyota is investigating a large-displacement hybrid V8 that will deliver high torque with V6 fuel efficiency. Production at the San Antonio plant gets under way in 2006. Expect its output to be innovative and a brute.

VW CONCEPT T

VW Concept T (concept) From the sandy shores of Pismo beach and with a twinkle in the eye that brought us the Beetle and its derivative, the dune buggy, comes the Concept T. Volkswagen looked to its roots and the surfer subculture to develop this modern-day off-road coupe designed by its California studio. It's sure to kick up some sand and easily traverse the sandy stretches thanks to full-time four-wheel drive propelled by a 241-hp DOHC 2.4L V6. With a T-roof and swing-up doors, the Concept T is all about fun, open-air driving.

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