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2005 Chicago Auto Show Show Stoppers

Some Important Products Blow Into The Windy City

   Below we’ve broken down what made news in the Windy City and why.

Buick Lucerne
Buick is continuing to move upscale as the replacement for the LeSabre proves. For the first time in a decade a Buick car will be available with a V8 engine. In this case, it is a detuned version of the excellent 4.6-liter Northstar rated at 275hp. Buick fans will surely notice that the V8 powered cars sport 4 portholes on each front fender. Inside is where you will notice the most progress in Buick’s march upwards as the Lucerne’s well-trimmed interior looks premium. The Lucerne will also be the first Buick available with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control to ensure controlled, but comfortable ride quality.

Cadillac DTS
The DTS is the last Cadillac to receive the division’s Art & Science design language and we’re not sure it’s a complete success but the interior does see some design improvements. Our uncertainty focuses mainly on the Escalade grille that simply looks too large for the car–at least to our eyes. The interior features real wood trim and more soft-touch materials and subtle refinements like increased seat travel.

Dodge Ram Mega Cab
Dodge’s answer to those who complain that pickup trucks don’t have enough interior space is the Mega Cab. The Ram Mega Cab puts a short-bed on a long-bed chassis and directs the extra space directly to the cabin. There is so much leg-room in the back seats, in fact, that they can recline and there is even storage space behind them. The Mega Cab also debuts a refreshed look to the Ram lineup including a modified grille and new headlamps. The Ram Mega Cab offers 145.2 cubic feet of interior space and more than 44 inches of rear-seat legroom. Powertrain configurations remain the same but don’t be surprised if people start calling the Mega Cab the Maybach of pickup trucks.

Mercury Milan
Detroit saw the debut of the Ford Fusion midsize sedan and Chicago shows us what a slightly more sophisticated Fusion would look like. Mercury calls its version the Milan and all the usual Mercury design cues are accounted for. There is the brushed aluminum waterfall grille, the multi-spoke wheels, the aluminum-look interior trim and a few added standard features. The rear of the car is also made distinct from the Fusion with revised taillamps and large back-up lights. Improved sound-deadening materials also keep the Milan quieter than the Fusion, increasing the comfort level.

Toyota FJ Cruiser
Toyota is either trying to change its image as a company that doesn’t take design risks or it suspects enough people are itching to buy a vehicle that screams, “I don’t care if you think I’m ugly!” Actually, Toyota claims the FJ Crusier was designed as, “a basic, capable and affordable off-roader aimed specifically at young buyers with active outdoor lifestyles.” Whatever the case, we aren’t putting it on our 10 Most Beautiful Cars list anytime soon. Just in case retro-inspired oddities are your cup of tea, we’ll give you a few more details. A 245hp 4.0-liter V6 sends power to either a 5-speed automatic or an available 6-speed manual. We’ll see how the public receives the FJ Cruiser when it goes on sale in early 2006 as an ’07 model.

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