You don't usually find us hobnobbing it up at any of the fancy automotive-manufacturer shows. As far as we're concerned, a suit and tie are about as useful as teeth on a chicken. But this year we'd been hearing the dreaded words "hybrid" and "fuel economy"
So often we decided it was about time to get a better glimpse at what the oeMs were coming up with. so we dropped in on the Detroit North American Auto show, and here are some of the technologies and vehicles you might soon find on the road.
The Renegade was Jeep's latest concept-vehicle creation. While not quite as interesting or as drool-worthy as the twin-hemi hurricane or diesel Gladiator pickup, the Renegade buggy Jeep is a plug-in electric 4x4 with a diesel range extender. Think it as an electric car with a diesel generator in the trunk that will fetch an estimated 110 mpg!
Who says emissions killed diesel performance in 2007? this 6.0L V-12 tDI diesel pumps out a whopping 500 hp and can be found in the Audi R8 sports car. We're only just beginning to realize the potential of diesel engines.
The suzuki X-head concept was likely our favorite vehicle of the show. It featured solid front and rear axles with a Range Rover-like radius-arm front and rear suspension, cool toolboxes, a built-in air compressor, and, hey, it kinda looked like a Forward Control Jeep. We say someone needs to build it!
The GM-built hummer line was busy trying desperately to shed its bling stigma with the hummer hx concept. the engine bay builder didn't get the memo, as evidenced by the billet-aluminum engine cover. Aside from the nuclear-reactor engine bay, word is this is what the h4 will look like. the rear independent suspension was similar in design to the old VW Bug IRs, which in the past and even today works well at high speeds. But in front GM/hummer was up to its usual stupidity with rack-and-pinion steering and tiny fail-prone tie rods. Good luck running a locker in the frontend. Just another Wrangler wannabe with a price tag that'll likely be way too high.
Ford whipped out its '09 F-150 (which we accidentally caught a peek at in the California desert a few weeks ago). the Ford FX4 off-road package will include a rear selectable locker that can be engaged on the fly at up to 56 mph. Jeep, how about some locker capability in high-range? Geez, even Ford has it now!
The '09 Dodge Ram 1500 will feature a four-link and coil-spring rear suspension for a smoother ride and better handling. We really like the optional toolbox but doubt the estimated $2,000 option will be very popular with new-truck buyers.