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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 4 LAND ROVER RANGE STORMER

Land Rover Range Stormer (concept) Land Rover has never been known for design innovation. That's changed with the introduction of its first-ever concept vehicle, the Range Stormer, which we're told showcases a new design direction and technical innovations for Land Rover. A supercharged V8 makes Range Stormer the fastest vehicle ever from Land Rover ## though performance numbers weren't revealed ## as well as a world-leading off-roader. Inside is 2+2 seating and crisp, modern trim. The roof is mostly glass. The upper half of the two-piece electric tailgate lifts while the lower half disappears into the bumper. Should the Range Stormer evolve into a production vehicle, it has potential to run head to head with Porsche Cayenne.

LEXUS RX 400h

Lexus RX 400h (production) The Lexus RX 400h ## the hybrid version of the RX 330 ## is arguably the most significant vehicle introduced at the NAIAS. It's powered by an all-new version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive. Compared with the hybrid Toyota Prius, the battery produces twice the power, and its electric motor can spin at 12,000 rpm, which is twice the speed of the motor in the Prius. The hybrid system produces 270 hp, up 40 hp from today's RX 330. Lexus didn't give a 0-to-60 time except to say the RX 400h will be faster than the under-eight-seconds of today's RX and that passing acceleration, especially between 30 and 50 mph, is significantly improved. Safety innovations include Vehicle Dynamic Management, which combines vehicle stability control with a new electronic brake technology. Exterior appearance is barely changed from today's RX ## in fact the only indication this is a hybrid vehicle is a battery gauge in place of the tachometer. Introduction is set for this fall.

LEXUS GS

Lexus GS (production) The next-generation Lexus GS brings a new design direction to the Lexus brand, which has been criticized since its launch for borrowing from the German luxury marques. Lexus calls the sleeker styling of the GS "more passionate." The new GS has a longer hood, and the wheelbase is two inches longer, with overall vehicle length increased half an inch. As with today's GS, two engines are offered: an all-new V6 pumping 245 hp (up from the 220 hp produced by today's inline six) and a 4.3L V8. Both are mated to an all-new six-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode that provides faster and smoother acceleration. V6 models are available with full-time all-wheel drive. In addition, the GS, like the RX, offers Vehicle Dynamic Management, which Lexus claims anticipates handing problems and doesn't merely respond to them, providing exceptional handling. Lexus says while the GS is one of the most advanced vehicles on earth, it employs easy-to-use technology; that's a dig at BMW's and Mercedes' menu-driven instrumentation without ever mentioning the German luxury makes by name. The new GS will be introduced early next year as a 2006 model.

LINCOLN AVIATOR

Lincoln Aviator (concept) Displaying the exterior design direction for the next-generation Lincoln Aviator, this concept is based on a mid-size car architecture. Slated to appear in showrooms in 2006, the Aviator crossover will compete in the premium utility segment against the likes of the Lexus RX 330 and Infiniti FX35. Featuring the new signature Lincoln egg-crate grille and oversized 21-inch spooked wheels, the Aviator's sleek yet solid design is a refreshing tease of the new Lincoln look. An all-aluminum 3.5L Duratec 24-valve V6 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive system round out the package.

LINCOLN MARK LT

Lincoln Mark LT (production) Bringing the solid foundation of the new Ford F-150 chassis to the Lincoln showroom while promising to avoid the pitfalls of the ill-fated Lincoln Blackwood is the Lincoln Mark LT pickup. Lincoln resurrects the "Mark" nomenclature for this luxury truck. While it brings true truck performance and capabilities to the Lincoln lineup, there's little doubt the Mark LT will see much in the way of heavy-duty lifting. Rather, this is a candidate for urban cruising as well as luxury outside the city. Expect the Mark LT to reach showrooms in 2005. LINCOLN MARK X

Lincoln Mark X (concept) Lincoln unveiled another Mark at this year's show, an open-air roadster dubbed Mark X (pronounced "10," not "ex"). Based on the Thunderbird platform, it features the new Lincoln signature polished aluminum egg-crate grille as seen on the Aviator. Also note the soft shape of the front fender on both models. At the rear, the Mark X features a clean boat-tail fascia. Beneath the hood is a 280-hp 3.9L V8 teamed with five-speed automatic transmission. This convertible hard top features a retractable, power-folding roof that tucks neatly into the trunk.

MAZDA MX-MICRO SPORT CONCEPT

Mazda MX-Micro Sport Concept (concept) The Mazda MX-Micro Sport is a premium, small concept car built on the Mazda2 platform though noticeably larger. Nearly 20 inches shorter than the Mazda3, the MX-Micro Sport is almost as wide and 3.3 inches taller, offering room for four adults. A 2.0L four, 17-inch wheels and four-wheel disk brakes promise spirited and nimble handling for this lightweight urban car. Mazda says a production version of the MX-Micro Sport will be launched in a key market this year, and it's evaluating the potential in other markets, including North America.

MERCEDES-BENZ GST

Mercedes-Benz GST (production) When we asked a Mercedes-Benz product specialist if this could be classified as a crossover, he unflinchingly responded, "It's a sport tourer." Pardon us. We're just a couple of car hounds from Detroit, and in our book it's a crossover. Part sedan, part SUV, part minivan, the full-time all-wheel-drive Vision Grand Sports Tourer (GST) seats six, or all four rear passenger seats fold flat for cargo carrying flexibility. Based on a concept developed two years ago, the GST is powered by an advanced V8 diesel-electric hybrid powertrain teamed with a seven-speed transmission that is capable of delivering 314 hp and 634 lbs-ft. The GST goes from 0 - 62 in 6.6 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph and yet can travel 30 miles on a single gallon of fuel. Look for the GST to be in showrooms sometime in 2005.

MERCURY MARINER

Mercury Mariner (production) Mercury expands its presence in the premium compact SUV segment with the production of the new Mariner. Based on Ford's successful Escape platform, Mariner comes to Mercury showrooms this fall. Two engine choices are available, the new 2.3L Duratec four-cylinder and the 3.0L Duratec V6.

MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CONCEPT-E

Mitsubishi Eclipse Concept-E (concept) Make that "E" for Eclipse and electric. This stunning and pleasing design hints at the new direction for the fourth-generation Eclipse. The Eclipse Concept-E was developed to showcase a unique Japanese design language ## a trend we witnessed at the Tokyo Motor Show ## as well as demonstrate advanced powertrain technology. As for the design, the forward thrusting posture with 20-inch wheels pushed to the corners combined with a fire orange exterior presents an aggressive image. A gasoline-electric hybrid system completes the exercise. A 3.6L V6 produces 269 hp, and a 150 kW electric motor drives front and rear wheels. The high performance power is channeled through an all-wheel-drive system. We think the "E" should also stand for exciting.

MITSUBISHI SPORT TRUCK CONCEPT

Mitsubishi Sport Truck Concept (concept) Another pleasing design from the folks at Mitsubishi ## and another reminder that the Japanese continue to have designs on the highly profitable American truck market. This Sport Truck Concept offers a sleek, sophisticated interpretation of the urban pickup. Riding on oversized 22-inch rims, this truck lets driver and passengers cruise the city landscape in style. In fact, the rear seats roll out into pick up bed and transform into jumpseats for open-air cruising. Thumbs up!

NAIAS 2004 Part 5 Nissan Frontier (production) Nissan Pathfinder (production) Nissan Actic (concept) Pontiac G6 (production) Pontiac Solstice (production) Saturn Curve (concept) Scion tC (production) Suzuki Reno (concept) Toyota Highlander Hybrid (production) Toyota FTX (concept) VW Concept T (concept)

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