New Trucks Unveiled In Chicago
While the Big Three automakers throw the biggest new-vehicle party at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, they always save a few new truck model introductions for the Chicago Auto Show. This year was no exception, although most of the new trucks unveiled were from import makers. Dodge chose Chicago to take the wraps off its new Dakota (which we showed you last month), but Nissan, Toyota, and Kia (yes, Kia) also stole some of the new-truck limelight.
Toyota Tacoma X-Runner
Look beneath the 2WD sport truck's body add-ons and you'll see the next-generation Tacoma 4x4 as well. The new Tacoma "will move well beyond its current compact truck dimensions," says Toyota, with a wheelbase that's 5 inches longer than the current truck and a track that's 4 inches wider. Power is provided by a 4.0L V-6 that puts out 240 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, mated to a close-ratio six-speed transmission. A TRD-developed supercharger boosts output to the 300hp range. A limited-slip rear diff will be standard on this X-Runner, and we expect to see one on 4WD models too.
The midsized KCV4 Mojave is the first pickup-concept or production-that Kia has shown in the U.S. The idea behind it was to "take advantage of Kia's research and development resources and create a concept vehicle that is closely aligned with Kia's positioning in North America," said Peter Butterfield, president and CEO of Kia Motors America. But Kia also admits it doesn't have the production facilities to build a truck for North America. Not yet, anyway. Among the Mojave's more interesting design features are the pillarless doors that allow unimpeded access to front and back seats; and a midgate-like cabin back wall that, when the rear seats are folded, can slide forward to extend the bed to carry that hauling standard, a 4x8 plywood sheet. Though it's based on a Sorento platform, its 130-inch wheelbase is nearly 2 feet longer than the SUV's. Its engine, a 3.8L V-6 producing some 280 hp, is also significantly stronger than the Sorento's 3.5L, 192hp six.
New Luxury Edition H2
There will be only 1,500 "Victory Red" Hummer H2s made this year, so be sure to get your order in early. In addition to the unique paint, the special-edition Hummer will also include a Victory Red, 27-speed Hummer tactical mountain bike. Tactical? It has a "military paratrooper" folding frame for easy in-vehicle storage. Now, are you sitting down? All this can be yours for just $59,840, not including tax, title, license, dealer fees, and other options, of course.
Wrangler Unlimited Pricing Announced
Jeep announced that the new, long-wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited will have a base MSRP of $24,995 (including $610 destination). Positioned between the Wrangler Sport and Sahara models, the Unlimited will be fitted with such standard equipment as the 4.0L PowerTech I-6 mated to the 42RLE four-speed automatic, a Dana 30 front axle and heavy-duty Dana 44 rear with 3.73 ratios, 30-inch-tall Goodyear Wrangler GSA tires on 15-inch aluminum wheels, the new Sunrider soft-top with its sunroof feature, foglamps, steel doors, a padded Sport Bar, AM/FM stereo with CD, power steering, and tow hooks.
According to a recent article in Automotive News, Jeep has an interesting sales target for the Unlimited: two-door Cherokee fans who just didn't "gravitate" to the Liberty. Jeep marketers think the Unlimited's extra length, seating, and cargo room will appeal to that market, which lost the two-door XJ after the 2001 model year.
We'd love to hear from you Cherokee lovers out there as to whether or not the Unlimited will fill the void. Our guess is "no."