|2000 Los Angeles Auto Show
by Jim Bennett
Chrysler's Java concept car takes cues from both sports-utility and mini-van platforms. The vehicle is about the size of a Neon, with the interior volume of the new PT Cruiser. As in previous Chrysler designs, Java puts passenger comfort first as it makes maximum use of interior possibilities. The tall architecture and panoramic seating, with the rear seats higher than the front, allows for enhanced visibility, while providing for increased comfort and ease of entry. Power is provided by a 80 horsepower, 1.4 liter four liter engine coupled with a five speed manual transaxle.
The Pontiac Aztek is a five passenger vehicle that is a combination of station wagon, van and SUV design elements. It's powered by 3.4 liter V6 185 hp engine with four speed automatic transmission with front wheel drive or optional all wheel drive and four wheel disc brakes. Design practicality and flexibility allows the hauling of 4 by 8 sheets of plywood, while clever use of space provides removable backpacks built into the front doors and a lift out, insulated center console cooler for drinks and food. A towing capacity of 3,500 pounds is specified, along with traction control system. An optional automatic level control system raises the vehicles rear using air bladders and rear shocks. A pull out cargo tray has folding dividers and extends beyond the tailgate for ease of access. The vehicle's design features were based largely on consumer comments logging on the Pontiac Web site, which hopefully translate into additional sales for the division. It will be built in GM's Ramos Arizpe Mexico plant in Q2 and sold here this summer.
Oldsmobile's Profile is a next generation, mid-luxury concept vehicle definitely moving deeper into new territory with a new sleek form flowing from a high trunk. Rear access is provided by sliding rear doors and a back liftgate. It's powered by a supercharged V-6 engine, coupled to a four speed automatic transmission. Innovative technologies include web server equipment for mobile connectivity via satellite and GPS navigation with real time traffic information, a real plus for the traffic congested LA market. A voice command system, keyless ignition system, audio library, DVD entertainment and palm top interface, round out some of the hi-tech features.
Saturn's CV1 concept vehicle features an unusual folding side door and provision that all passenger seats can be folded flat for the utmost in space flexibility and versatility. It will carry five adults plus two fold down children jump seats. The 2.2 liter DOHC engine provides power through a continuously variable transmission to an all wheel drive system, while meeting very low emissions standards. Could this be a new addition to the Saturn line up in the future? Probably yes in the 2002 model year.
The unique Saturn SC, three door coupe is reskinned below the belt line with more aggressive styling and angular lines. Aimed at practical, safe, hassle free sport vehicle enthusiasts like women, Gen X and younger crowds, this vehicle hopes to attract repeat and new customers as part of refreshing its existing product line after the introduction of its much needed mid size vehicles last year.
Honda's Spocket concept vehicle is part sports car and part pick-up truck. It has front upward pivoting doors. A multi-function roof slides rearward and gives the vehicle a sports car feel while providing protection for the cargo area which has a tailgate. A 1.3 liter, 4 cylinder engine drives the front wheels, while each of the rear wheels receive power from individual electric motors. The interior is highlighted by design creativity, ingenuity and some surprises like its weatherproof coverings. This is an interesting 21st century vehicle designed for the young urban and outdoor segment.
The Isuzu VX-02 concept vehicle is an open air two seat version of the popular sold out VehiCROSS product. It's powered by a 24 valve, 3.5 liter V6 producing 215 horsepower transmitted through an advanced Torque-on-Demand system and four wheel ABS. Also featured is a voice-controlled electronic package to control amenities like GPS, 6-disc CD player through seat mounted built-in microphones and speakers.
Subaru's ST/X is another crossover vehicle that incorporates features of a pickup and Forrester vehicle, with four doors with a soft top folding roof. The shorty, four foot cargo bed can be extended an additional two feet inside the passenger compartment via a "midgate" section when needed. A supercharged, 230 horsepower six cylinder engine and all wheel drive rounds out the powertrain. Exterior styling has received mixed reviews and production plans are pending.
Daewoo's Korando SUV is a serious first effort and off road class winner (Baja 1000) for this Korean automaker. It's powered by the Mercedes Benz 3.2 liter V-6 engine at 215 hp and 225 ft lbs of torque, coupled to a full time four wheel drive system. Its suspension system is reported to be equally at home on the street as well as off road excursions. The LA Show offered a first look at this exciting product which will be available in Q2 for under $20,000. Wow!
Mazda's Tribute was another hybrid SUV with conventional, but sporty sheet metal. The vehicle is similar to the Tokyo Motor Show's ActiVehicle concept, but tailored for the US market. It should be available in both two or four wheel versions. Engines range from the 130 horsepower, 2.0 liter, in-line four, to the 3.0 liter V6, at 200 horsepower.
Dated: January, 2000