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Those with the time to stroll through 2005’s key January car shows, Detroit’s North American International Auto Show and the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, saw several interesting trends.
One is the continued growth in automotive horsepower – brute power at times rivaling NASCAR race cars – from a 469-hp Mercedes CLS55 sedan to a 507-hp BMW M5 sedan and a new DaimlerChrysler station wagon packing more than 400 hp.
Also evident was the fact that Japanese auto makers continued to forge inroads in the U.S. light truck market with the debut of a 2006 midsize Honda Ridgeline pickup retailing for $27,000.
Likewise, the standard SUV and family van continue to undergo a rather rigorous transformation from which they are generally emerging as smaller and more stylish “multipurpose” or “crossover” vehicles.
A prime example showcased in January was Ford Motor Co.’s Fairlane concept vehicle (bottom), which, if produced, will give Ford’s family hauler a more distinctive design yet retain the useful interior of a minivan.
The traditional American light-duty truck, meanwhile, is alive and well, as indicated by Ford’s brawny new 2005 F-250 Super Duty pickup (top).
Along with a restyled chrome grille and jeweled headlamps reminiscent of the popular “Tonka” truck that Ford unveiled in 2004, the new F-250 sports an improved suspension, standard TorqueShift 5-speed automatic transmission, larger engines – including a 6.8-liter V-10 rated at 362 hp – plus increased towability across the line.