After disseminating Motorist’s Choice Awards (an AutoPacific and IntelliChoice award recognizing the most satisfying and highest value vehicles) to MCA winners it was time to preview vehicles showcased at the 2007-Model Orange County Auto Show. There were some vehicles you’d want to take home, a few you’d keep covered in the garage and others you’d never let onto your driveway.
Subaru WRX STI
Starting at Subaru, the WRX STI is still a favorite among enthusiasts. For those turbocharged, intercooled, Rally Car junkies who need more than an over-the-counter Impreza, the 300 horsepower, 300 lb. Ft. of torque, WRX STI comes as more of a prescription or antidote to the common car.
Remember the Trans Am Mustangs? Parnelli Jones and George Follmer vs. Mark Donohue
Winding our way through the course we came across the new Mustangs; including the GT500 and Boss 302. I kept looking around for a dark blue Sunoco Camaro and Mark Donohue out in front of the Mustard Yellow Boss 302, reminiscent of the TransAm Series in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but to no avail (maybe 2009?). Of course, then we’d need Parnelli Jones and George Follmer to compete.
Those retro Ford Mustangs may be galloping along through open pastures at the moment but it won’t be too long before we see the Mustang archrivals of yesteryear saddling up for another canter through the meadow. Built off of the Chrysler 300M platform and coated in ‘HEMI’ Orange paint (now called Orange Pearl-Thanks Daimler) the ‘muscle car’ that may beat the Chevrolet Camaro to showrooms is the Dodge Challenger. Fitted with a 6.1 Liter HEMI engine, pumping out 425 horses, the American Muscle Car era will be back in full swing. That is, until fuel prices neuter the craze once again.
Lincoln MKX – Em Kay Ex
For those seeking a little bit more estrogen, front wheel or all-wheel-drive, and a lot more utility, Lincoln was showing off their all-new MKX. The MKX is an upscale Ford Edge with fascia that has been likened to an integral bug catcher. It utilizes the Ford CD3 car platform, shared with the Zephyr (MKZ), Milan and Fusion. Before its introduction and after some entanglements with Honda, regarding the Acura MDX, it was called a “Mark-Ex”, but now we’re back to “Em-Kay-Ex”. This spawned Lincoln’s current promotional campaign where new owners receive a can of alphabet soup and a Speak & Spell with every new vehicle.
Lincoln will probably sell quite a few MKX’s but it seems like they’re just catching up to the competition. It’s an SUV built off of a car platform. This type of crossover SUV, like the Lexus RX (built off of the Camry) was being produced almost a decade ago. Does it take a disappointment like the Lincoln Aviator and nearly ten years for action to be taken?
The 2007 Lincoln Navigator was also on display. It carried a front grill fashioned in a similar style, but what was even more interesting was the 1970’s Ford Country Squire instrument cluster they’ve wired up into the new Navigator’s dash.
Other Fresh New Entries at The OC Auto Show
After playing the name game over at Lincoln it was off to visit other new arrivals like the GMC Acadia (pictured above), Audi Q7, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Toyota Tundra. The GMC Acadia is a Crossover SUV offering built off of the Lambda platform. It will share much of it’s sheet metal with the Saturn Outlook but will flaunt some more professional grade features like exterior rear view mirrors with integrated turn signals and an interior that flaunts brushed aluminum rather than wood. But both the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia have the ‘Smart Slide Feature’ where the second row seats can move fore and aft or collapsed with one hand. This makes getting into the third row seat really easy, not to mention that a full-size human can fit into the third row with decent headroom.
Even though Audi recently decided to increase production of the Q7 from 200 to 300 units a day they just anounced that it will be cutting back on Q7 shipments to the US (from 50% to 30%). Built in Bratislava, Slovakia they are selling much better in Europe than the U.S., which I found surprising given their size. However, with the importation issue, rising fuel costs and the weak dollar the future of the Q7 remains uncertain.
The all-new Outlander is said to be superior to the first generation. Larger and more powerful, it is to both ride and handle better as it sits on the next-generation Lancer platform.
After backing Ford, GM, and Dodge into a perverbial corner (read: Full-size truck market) Toyota is going in for the knock-out. The full-size truck market seemed to be a safe haven for Ford, GM, and Dodge, with loyal, even patriotic buyers, and very little competition. The Nissan Titan took a stab at it, but it might just be the Toyota Tundra that’s grown up, built the muscle, and secured the towing capacity (over 10,000 lbs.) to really take on the competition. However, the full-size truck market is fickle and the dynamic in this segment is different than any other. It will be interesting to find out how the new Tundra sits with full-size truck owners. It will really be those consumers who decide the Tundra’s fate.