We recently had the opportunity to check out the latest OE 4x4 offerings at the 100th anniversary Los Angeles Auto Show, and while L.A. isn't typically known in the automotive industry as a great truck showcase, this year's show did have a couple of surprises in store. Here's what we spied:
What It is: The second generation of Toyota's fullsize mass-market SUV, the Sequoia is essentially a Tundra pickup from the B-pillar forward, with three rows of seats and independent suspension at both ends.
How It Works: Like the Tundra, via the very-speedy 381hp 5.7L iForce V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission. Besides going fast down the road, its tow rating is 10,000 pounds.
When You Can Get One: Early 2008.
Price: Yet to be announced, but we'd imagine a base in the mid-$40s, with a fully optioned 4x4 model likely to tip the scale at over $60,000.
Our Take: With four-wheel independent suspension, it's not the most trailable Toyota, but as an all-around family-wagon/toy hauler for the upscale buyer, it should fit the bill perfectly well. We recently testdrove the new Seq', and you can read our detailed impressions in last month's issue.
What It is: The first gas-electric powertrain offered on a fullsize pickup truck.
How It Works: The GM-Daimler AG joint-venture "two-mode" hybrid system utilizes geardriven induction motors in the transmission to provide additional power for the electric motor/generators to power the vehicle at low road speeds; the electric motors can either provide power or generate it, depending on transmission gear. Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing provide additional mileage benefits
When You Can Get One: Sometime in 2008.
Price: Not cheap, we'd imagine. The 2WD Tahoe/Yukon SUV hybrid will list for $50K for 2008, so we'd imagine a price in the low $40s for the pickup isn't out of the question.
Our Take: Given a claimed 21 overall mpg for the Tahoe/Yukon, we'd expect the Silverado to improve slightly on those numbers. And with the likelihood of $4 gas this year, the arrival of a hybrid system in the GM truck line couldn't be happening at a better time.
What It is: A gas-electric powertrain for Dodge's biggest SUV.
How It Works: Similar to the GM two-mode system, it uses a combination of battery power, electric generators, and transmission-driven induction motors to amplify electric power to the wheels at a variety of road speeds. It also works in conjunction with Chrysler's Multi Displacement System.
When You Can Get One: Mid-summer 2008, for the '09 model year.
Price: No pricing has been announced, but we'd wager a similar sticker to the Chevy Tahoe hybrid, around $50K to start.
Our Take: Chrysler claims the new hybrid will deliver a 25-percent overall improvement in fuel economy, and given the 5.7 Hemi's insatiable appetite for gas, anything that can make this beast more frugal at the pump will be of help. If nothing else, it will improve Chrysler's CAFE rating in time for 2010.
What It is: A parallel-type hybrid for Porsche's zoom-zoom sport-ute.
How It Works: The Porsche Hybrid Manager (i.e., computer) runs a clutch/electric motor assembly in parallel with the gas engine, allowing electric power to be generated at all sorts of road speeds. Porsche claims the Cayenne will run on volt-juice alone at speeds of up to 75 mph (!).
When You Can Get One: Still only a concept: no production dates have been set, but rest assured, you'll see some version of this puppy in showrooms by the 2010 model year.
Price: If you gotta ask, you don't wanna know.
Our Take: Like most Porsche systems, the Cayenne Hybrid Manager would take an advanced degree in engineering to properly explain, but with its claimed 30-percent improvement in fuel economy and the ability to run at legal speed limits on electricity alone, we can't wait to testdrive one whenever a prototype's available.-Douglas McColloch