This year marked the 100th anniversary of the premier auto show of the season, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), held at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit-the heart of the American auto industry. Unfortunately, for us truck guys, there wasn't much to behold-well, we won't lie, the Lamborghini girls are always a pleasant sight, and we get to check out all the cool cars we normally don't get a chance to see during the year. So, between pretending to drive Ferraris and Bentleys, we scoured the convention center floor and looked between the cars to report back to you the latest in four-wheeling news.
The Trailhawk concept was by far the coolest truck at the show. Showcasing the design direction of the next-generation Grand Cherokee, Jeep chose to place this concept on the frame of a four-door Wrangler Unlimited, giving us hope for our dream of a grand return to solid axles. We could do without the 22-inch wheels or the freakishly overproportioned fender flares, but overall this tasteful concept retains the four-wheelability of the Rubicon in a less pedestrian and more luxurious package. What we did love was the roll-down rear quarter windows and removable roof panels for a true open-air Jeep experience, and an innovative interior with reconfigurable storage. The Trailhawk turns its 34-inch tires via a Mercedes-Benz 3.0L Bluetec turbodiesel engine with 215 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque (one more than the Hemi V-8). From a practicality and capability standpoint, it would make sense to build the next-generation Grand on the Wrangler platform, but we surmise that this design exercise is more about the next Grand's look, and not its platform-but at the same time showing Jeep's willingness to use the platform for another model (the Gladiator was also shown on this chassis).
Getting a bit long in the tooth, Porsche has updated the Cayenne for 2008. It is available in base, S, and uber-awesome 500hp turbo trim. These new Cayennes have a more menacing appearance and a range of V-6 and V-8 engines, now sporting Direct Fuel Injection for better power and efficiency. Read our review on page 52.
You saw it in these pages last March, but Toyota officially unveiled the supersized Tundra CrewMax in Detroit. Designed to be the SuperCrew and MegaCab 1500-fighter, the Toyota CrewMax offers the most legroom in its segment with the segment's only reclining and sliding rear seat. The CrewMax can be powered by Toyota's new 5.7L 381hp and 401 lb-ft of torque V-8 and offers a 66.7-inch bed, a nearly 1,500-pound payload and an over 10,000-pound tow rating.
Audi showed off the world's first passenger vehicle powered by a 12-cylinder, 60-degree diesel engine. The Q7 V-12 TDI is labeled a concept, but in reality is a thinly veiled production version. The 6.0L V-12 turbodiesel pumps outs 493 hp and a ground-clawing 737 lb-ft of torque, seemingly enough to make the earth reverse rotation on command. We weren't able to find out if it has a low-range or not-but with that kind of muscle, who cares?
First seen at SEMA, the Hummer H3 Open Top Concept received a cool new flat silver paintjob, highlighted by black chrome, for the NAIAS. The Open Top Concept gets its open-air feeling from an ASC sliding fabric roof. Other accents include Hummer accessories, 20x9-inch Rozzi EGO wheels that are wrapped in 325/50R20 Mickey Thompson M/T Baja Claw rubber, and a luxuriously appointed interior. We think it is safe to say that Hummer is testing the water for an open-air option on future models.
The General had a couple of the 2008 HDs on the floor, but we were not able to get near enough for a close-up inspection. Sources tell us that the new trucks are actually an upgraded version of the current GMT-800 chassis, with the new GMT-900 bodies. Because of this, you can expect to see torsion bars retained up front. We'll have the complete picture of the new HDs in next month's issue after we get a chance to drive them.
Our very own Douglas McColloch (center) used NAIAS as an opportunity to present JK Wrangler chief engineer Jim Issner (right) and Chrysler body-on-frame V.P. Mike Donoughe (left) with the coveted 2007 Four Wheeler of the Year award for their excellent 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Congrats, guys, you've richly earned this one.