Home > Auto Shows > 2008 NAIAS Show Stoppers

2008 NAIAS Show Stoppers

New Pickups, Alternative Fuels and a Real Surprise In The Motor City

     Pickup sales may be slowing, but Ford and Dodge are still smart enough to know that if fuel efficiency can be increased American consumers will still pay up for the biggest and best on the block. Ford’s F-150 forgoes a power increase (probably a bad idea) in favor of several new innovations, including a retracting side step to access the bed without throwing ones back out.  Advancements in the hydroformed frame bump up torsional rigidity by 10% while a completely flat load floor makes for easier cargo carrying in the cabin. The interior designs stick with the same basic look but many details are polished up, including the availability of a next-gen nav system and a whole new flagship luxury model called Platinum. Will it be enough for Ford to retain the best selling pickup title?
     We’ll get back to you, but the new Dodge Ram is going to do everything it can to see that it doesn’t. The ’09 Ram brings more power to the game with the range-topping Hemi now delivering 380 hp and an all new design that bestows the full-size Dodge with an upscale appearance, thanks partly to “integrated” chrome dual-exhaust tips. It all looks good to our eyes. The new storage bins built into the side rails of the bed add valuable, lockable cargo space and the floor of the second row holds two bins that can hold up to 10 cans of pop. We can’t say for sure until we drive them later this year, but the F-150 will have to muster everything it can to hold off the latest Ram.
     We finally got to see BMW’s new X6 crossover in person and the consensus around here is good. Sure rear seat headroom and cargo room suffer, but sexy style often calls for sacrifice. We might be especially lenient on BMW here since they’ve tugged on our heartstrings by offering two seriously smooth and powerful twin-turbo engines. The 300 hp straight-six previously employed in the brilliant 3-Series and a new 4.4-liter 407 hp V8 with 450 lb-ft of backroad-storming torque.
     Audi celebrated a record-breaking sales year by debuting two performance versions of cars already in production. The TT-S turns the wick up on the standard TTs by utilizing a new 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder rated at 272 hp. Paired with the S-tronic tranny 60 mph comes in 5.2 seconds. Audi keeps its style changes, including the S-lineup’s LED headlight treatment, tasteful. The R8 V12 TDI Concept drops a new 6.0-liter diesel V12 where the standard R8’s 4.2-liter V8 normally resides. The monster oil-burner punishes its 6-speed manual transmission with 500 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. Audi says the spring to 60 mph takes only 4.2 seconds, and we’re guessing with all-wheel drive that number is plenty conservative. The TDI version of the R8 adds larger air intakes up front as well as a roof-mounted intake to feed the big engine. The added weight of the massive diesel can’t be good for handling, but off the line and in everyday driving the crazy torque of this engine should be enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face.
     Hyundai is not content with being competitive in just the lower end of the market. As the Genesis luxury sedan indicates, Hyundai wants to prove it can do more, and by more we mean two cylinders more. The V8 in the new car produces 375 hp and comes with all the expected luxury features, including a 500-watt Lexicon high-end audio system, heated and cooled seats, 8-inch navigation screen and a mouse-type controller like BMW and Mercedes use. We don’t know what pricing will be, but if value continues to be part of the Hyundai recipe, we bet people will be willing to give the Genesis a chance. We know we will.
     GM put Cadillac front and center Monday morning by showing off the Provoq concept, which features another version of GM’s E-flex propulsion system and just happens to sit under the body of a small crossover that hints at what Cadillac will introduce in a few years time. It looks far better than other crossovers like the Acura RDX and a production model could help jumpstart Cadillac’s crossover sales since the SRX never took off like the General hoped. More important to enthusiasts worldwide was the debut of the 2009 CTS-V. Bob Lutz didn’t beat around the bush when he took the stage and claimed that the new model will be the fastest four-door in the world. With 550 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque and your choice of a six-speed manual or, for the first time, a six-speed automatic we don’t doubt the man. And if that wasn’t enough to prove Cadillac has its grove back the biggest (maybe the only) surprise of the show was the CTS Coupe Concept. It sits on the same wheelbase as the sedan and is actually two inches longer. Pictures don’t do the complex surfaces justice; the car looks fantastic in the metal. Don’t let the concept terminology fool you, this car looks too good to never see a showroom and GM knows it. We expect a production version relatively soon.

Categories: Auto Shows Tags: , , , ,
You must be logged in to post a comment.