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2000 Los Angeles Auto Show
by Jim Bennett

Crossover Vehicles
High Image And Performance Vehicles
Evolutionary Vehicles
The Bottom Line

The Mercury Mountaineer caught my eye as being a refined, cleanly designed evolution of the popular and proven Mountaineer/Explorer platform with an independent rear suspension. J. Mays, Ford's design chief said the design is 95% complete and will retain a different look than the yet-to-be-introduced Explorer. Styling cues of simple surfaces, brushed aluminum trim and precise fittings work very well. The vehicle still has all the style and ruggedness that made it a success and was well received at the show.

Lincoln's Town Car Cartier can now be stretched at the factory for the first time. This adds six inches to the wheelbase and over 7 cubic feet to the rear seat area.

BMW's 323I Sport Wagon will be available in April and the company selected LA as the location to launch this vehicle. It promises to combined a very sporty driving experience with flexible cargo space behind the standard rear folding seats. The rock solid 2.5 liter six cylinder engine, with 170 horsepower, coupled with two transmission choices and new body shell, will help make the vehicle create the perfect blend of performance and practicality with BMW style.

The re-designed, sleek 2001 Acura 3.2CL and sportier Type S coupes also made their world debut in LA since it's a key market and was designed and developed in America. These second generation vehicles feature V-6 VTEC engines in 225 and 260 hp versions, Sequential SportShift automatic transmission, better handling, traction control, higher luxury appointments and refined levels of performance.

The popular Volkswagen Beetle was spotted as morphing into a "Sand-Dune" during the LA show, in the form of the concept Volkswagen Dune vehicle. Seriously, one notices the oversize tires and Baja bumpers are perfect for the LA region's sand dune recreation areas, as well as street cruising. Other goodies include: a clear removable top, aluminum lined rear area, a 150 hp, V-5 high torque 2.3 liter engine coupled to a six speed transmission and a 4Motion all wheel drive system. It's a cool looking, cute vehicle, perfect for the outdoor southwest lifestyle and the young at heart.

For the entry level segment, Kia has served up the Spectra for its North American debut. It's a modern, sporty looking five door hatchback selling for under $10,000. For that modest amount, you get a 125 horsepower, four cylinder engine, 5 speed manual transmission, split folding rear seat, easy opening, wide rear hatch and decent suspension.

The Bottom Line

High Image And Performance Vehicles

Dated: January, 2000

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