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There are few things more fun than walking through a major auto show along side AutoPacific Analyst and former General Motors brainiac, Jim Hall. You have to be patient. He knows everybody and everybody knows him, so the going is often slow. But the one liners you get to overhear as he comes upon the latest in concept cars are worth the wait. So we decided to follow him around the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but this time,we brought the video camera.
Jim checked out the new Cadillac CTS, due to hit showroom floors this October. If you haven’t seen this performance sedan yet, you’re going to be blown away whether you’re a Cadillac fan or not. Cadillac must have had BMW’s 5 series and the Audi A6 in the crosshairs when they dreamed up this beauty. Even Jim was impressed.
He also reviewed a crop of new concepts -
Mercedes S-Class Convertible Ocean Drive
Jim went to design school, so watching him chat about stamped steel is actually interesting. And you can’t beat descriptions like “swoop du jour” and “Ingmar Bergman on acid.”
Thanks for the stroll, Jim. It was fun.
Show Runtime – 14:44
As the pendulum swings towards smaller vehicles and ‘socially conscious’ consumers Volvo has decided to shrink some of their XC90s. Volvo will expand their Crossover SUV lineup to compete in the arena with vehicles like the Lexus RX350, BMW X3, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV and Mercury Mariner (Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute). Some may ask… Does Volvo need another soft roader 5-passenger SUV positioned under its 7-passenger XC90? Is Volvo concluding like many manufacturers that multiple SUVs are required to compete in today’s auto market?
XC60 Violates Volvo’s Naming Strategy
Codenamed Y278, then dubbed XC50, the production version will be called the XC60. This name violates Volvo’s own naming strategy. That strategy, that they have been implementing over the past few years, has each hatchback, wagon or SUV having an odd-number – C30, V50, V70, XC70, XC90. The sedans are all “S” names with even numbers – S40, S60, S80. So, here comes the XC60 and throws all this hard work out the window. Wonder why?
AutoPacific analysts and Vehicle Voice contributors were on hand in Detroit to take in the subtle changes Subaru plans for the 2008 model year Legacy and Outback. Last year our office had the opportunity to drive a Subaru Legacy Spec B where we realized that much of what we believed about Subaru products have now become misconceptions . My previous encounters had been with older Subarus and I was never really impressed. Throughout college I can always remember drawing a correlation between Subarus and pipe-smoking geography professors who wore hats and corduroy sports coats with leather elbow patches, liked camping and had plans to retire in Oregon or Colorado.
Lose the Cartoon, Keep the Attitude
Three years ago, Dodge brought American muscle to a wagon at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. In the best Dodge fashion, the Magnum arrived with a tough, mean look; made no apologies for being either pure American muscle or for being a wagon; and we loved it, though its personality was never subtle or refined. Three years later, Dodge introduces a new face that adds sophistication without losing its edge. The changes for 2008 are minor in nature may not sound all that significant. But the result is a vehicle with some style and grace added to its edge.
Though sales don’t begin until later in the year, an updated Magnum was but one of Dodge’s reveals at the 2007 Detroit auto show. Magnum keeps its goodness, including the HEMI V8 with cylinder deactivation in the R/T and the grocery-getter/weekend racer in the 425HP SRT8, but trades in some of the cartoon aspects of its pumped-up look for a more sophisticated approach. There is a smoother, cleaner look for the standard cars and the dad-racer SRT8. The Magnum has grown up, while keeping its devilish personality.
Family Face Updated
New headlights and hood allow for a raised-eyebrow look similar to the Charger sedan and all-new Avenger, with creases in the hood also reminiscent of Charger, for the basic Magnum range. Combined with the subtly redesigned lower fascia, the changes allow for a less clumsy face. The new wider grille is every bit as aggressive as before. The new chrome accents below the headlights are just enough to brighten the face. The SRT8 also gets a new grille, redesigned hood, and front fascia. The new hood scoop on SRT8 is functional as well as adding to its take-no-prisoners look.
Redesigned Interior Continues Upscale March
The interior has been redesigned as well, with what Dodge calls a more driver-oriented layout. The chrome rings around the gauges are among the elements that give the interior a more upscale look, versus the overdone thick chrome rings they replaced. SRT8 models get the new ambient LED cupholder and door-map pocket lighting standard, while that new feature is optional for the rest of the range. The SRT8 now boasts a ReConfigurable Display in the cluster for getting instant feedback on just how fast you got around that autocross course, or maybe more likely, to the grocery store and back.
2008 Porsche Cayenne Revealed in Detroit
Among the many introductions expected at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week is that of an updated Porsche Cayenne. The first real sports-car-meets-SUV gets new engines to go with minor styling changes that improve aerodynamic efficiency. The new Cayenne arrives in U.S. dealers in March 2007 for the 2008 model year. I, for one, am looking forward to driving these new, sleeker, more powerful versions of the Cayenne. While it’s been several years since I’ve been behind the wheel of one, it took only one afternoon driving the Cayenne S and Turbo for me to appreciate the impulse that could lead to buying a $90,000 SUV. Adding horsepower and beefing up the available features list should make for an even nicer product.
Even with these changes, Cayenne is not likely to see its peak sales year again. Back in 2004, Porsche sold just over 18,000 Cayennes. Since then, sales have settled in the low teens. Though sales around 12,000 units annually is perhaps not so bad for a high-priced, niche vehicle, this facelift will do more to hold volumes than to increase Cayenne’s overall sales.
The new engines are the most interesting elements of this change, as exterior tweaks don’t go beyond new headlights, more heavily contoured wheel arches, a new diffuser-style apron and roof spoiler, and revised front air intakes. The new intakes improve air cooling and engine efficiency, of course. The air intakes are still different for each model and the new headlights are a smoother. These changes give each version of the Cayenne a better-integrated and less clumsy look between headlights and front fascia. Changes to the rear are more subtle, but the new taillamps and bigger rear spoiler make for a more purposeful look. For comparison, here are a couple of photos of the first Cayenne.
All three models, Cayenne, Cayenne S, and Cayenne Turbo, get more power and efficiency thanks to direct injection engines. Porsche’s European press material estimates as much as 15 percent fuel savings in real-world driving. While Porsche’s North American arm is holding U.S. specifications for the show itself, they will be similar to the European versions.
Detroit Auto Show
Based on the traffic we have been receiving, we know that you have followed the VehicleVoice and AutoPacific coverage of the second Los Angeles Auto Show for 2006. The next big auto show is the 2007 North American International Auto Show
… better known as the Detroit Auto Show.
The VehicleVoice crew will wing our way from balmy Orange County to nippy Detroit on January 6 to join our Detroit-based staffers in covering the Detroit show. The major press days are on Sunday, Monday and half of Tuesday – January 7th through 9th.
Plan on reading our reviews of new concept cars and trucks and new introductions every day and for days after the show closes. Also, we will be creating video podcasts that you can access directly from VehicleVoice or through the Apple iTunes Store.
Send us comments about what you would like to see covered in depth.