3/1/2005 | 16 MINUTE READ

Field Guide to the Vehicles of the 2005 NAIAS

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Name: 2006 Ford FusionType: Four-door FWD sedanReason for Being: To fill the niche between the Five Hundred on the larger side and Focus on the smaller.


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Name: 2006 Ford Fusion
Type: Four-door FWD sedan

Reason for Being: To fill the niche between the Five Hundred on the larger side and Focus on the smaller. If there is a "Taurus replacement," this is it.

Engineering Aspects: "Before we ever built a Fusion in the factory"—and the factory that the car is being built at is Ford's Hermosillo Stamping & Assembly Plant in Mexico—"we already had built the car in a virtual factory and discovered ways to do it better," according to Phil Martens, Ford group vp, Product Creation. It is said to be the first Ford car completely digitally designed, engineered and manufactured (prior to actually making it). It's based on the CD3 architecture, a.k.a., the Mazda6 platform (which will eventually serve as the basis for as many as 800,000 vehicles). They've made structural adjustments to the base architecture, as the car is 30 mm wider and 55 mm longer than the base. The torisional stiffness is increased by 12.7%, thanks mainly to the use of advanced high-strength dual-phase steel for the rocker panels and a tailor welded B-pillar with thicker high-strength steel above the beltline and thinner-gage lower tensile strength steel below.

Also Know This: The design of the Fusion is loosely based on the Ford 427 concept car introduced at the 2003 North American International Auto Show. The 427 referenced the displacement of the 427 engine used in Ford cars of the ‘60s (and the V10 under its hood). The Fusion is available with two engines: a 2.3-liter I4 and a 3.0-liter V6. That would be translated to 140 in.3 and 183 in.3, respectively. (The 427, metrically speaking, would be 7 liters.) The 427 concept has a grille consisting of three horizontal bars. So does the Fusion. Also, the headlamps have a similar appearance. The term used to describe the squarish shape with rounded corners is a "squircle." Look for more squircles on more Fords.



Name: Corvette Z06
Type: Street-legal race car

Reason for Being: Because GM has never had a faster, more powerful car. Consider: a 500-hp 427-in.3 engine powering a 3,130-lb. car. This means 0 to 60 mph in <4 seconds.

Engineering Aspects: A tour de force of materials makes this exceedingly light. For example, while carbon fiber composites were used for the hood of the ‘04 Commemorative Edition Z06, this time they've engineered the front fenders and wheelhouses with the material. The body structure is aluminum. The wheels are cast-spun aluminum. There are hydroformed perimeter rails with cast suspension nodes rather than steel weldments found on more pedestrian ‘Vettes. There is a magnesium cradle that not only attaches to the engine, but is used for some front suspension components, as well. About the engine, the hand-built LS7. It provides 500 hp @ 6,200 rpm and 475 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm. There are titanium con rods , intake valves, pushrods, and valve springs; a forged steel crankshaft; forged steel main bearing caps; and forged; aluminum flat-top pistons.

Also Know This: Speaking of the aforementioned use of aluminum in the structure, Dave Hill, Corvette chief engineer observes, "This is an instance where the street car uses more advanced material than the race car. We're constrained by rules to run the steel frame in the race cars, but we stretched to bring even more performance technology to the street for our customers." Of course, the street drives are constrained by speed limits.



Name: Mercury Meta One Concept
Vehicle Type: Crossover vehicle

Reason for Being: To show off science, and, ultimately, when fully productionized, to help meet the division's goal of selling 500,000 vehicles—200,000 more than today—by the end of the decade.

Engineering Aspects: Although this is a "concept," Ford has announced that production for a crossover vehicle for Mercury will commence in 2007. This production will occur in the Chicago Assembly Plant, where the Ford Freestyle, the platform mate (both on the D3 platform) of the Meta One, is produced. While "concepts" are often stretch-type exercises, the production-intent nature of this can be discerned from the following list of companies that worked with Ford's Advanced Design Studio, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford Brand Imaging, Lincoln Mercury Marketing on developing the Meta One: 



Borg Warner Transmission Systems
Delphi Delco Electronics Systems
Engelhard Corporation
The Gates Corporation
GKN Automotive
In-Seat Solutions, LLC
ITW Global PDC
Johnson Matthey
McCleer Power, Inc.
Roush Industries, Inc.
Siemens Controls
Tenneco Automotive
Launch and Disconnect Clutch Module (www.bwauto.com)
Brake System for Active Safety (www.boschusa.com
Ceramic substrates for catalysts (www.corning.com)
Camera and Radar for CMbB (www.delphi.com
Metallic substrates for catalysts (www.emitec.com
SCR Catalyst and DPF wash coats (www.engelhard.com
Front End Accessory Drive (www.gates.com
Halfshafts and Intermediate Shaft (www.gknplc.com
Sound System amp and speakers (www.becker.de
DPF Silicon Carbide Substrates (www.ibiden.co.jp/eng)
Haptic Seat Actuators
Capless fuel system SAFF (www.itwautomotive.com)
DOC catalyst wash coat (www.matthey.com)
Prototype Electric Machine (www.mccleerpower.com)
NOx Sensors (www.ngk-locke.com)
Powerpack Vehicle Build (www.roushind.com)
Powerpack controls (www.siemens.com)
Concept Vehicle Build (www.saleen.com)
RTD Sensors (www.stoneridge.com)
DC/DC Converter (www.component.tdk.com)
Aftertreatment system integrator (www.tenneco-automotive.com)
Air Intake (www.visteon.com)
High voltage wiring (www.yazaki-na.com)


The acronym "CMbB" on the list refers to "Collision Mitigation by Braking." What this means is that there is a combined video/radar system that determines whether an unavoidable frontal collision will occur, and then activates the braking system so as to reduce the speed of the vehicle (control stays with the driver). Another supplier that Ford worked closely with is BP. It developed a synthetic bio-mass diesel fuel blend (part organic feedstocks; part conventional diesel fuel) that is used to power the 2.7-liter twin turbo-charged V6 diesel that works in conjunction with a hybrid-electric transmission. The engine is said to be the world's first Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV)-capable diesel.

Also Know This: "Meta One is a test-bed for advanced technologies allowing us to highlight future safety and powertrain technologies that exist only in theory and in laboratories today," says Gerhard Schmidt, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.



Name: Audi allroad quattro concept
Vehicle Type: Crossover

Reason for Being: Audi describes the U.S. as "the world's leading and most significant crossover market." So why not give it what it wants?

Engineering Aspects: Like the previous allroad, this crossover comes from the A6 Avant. The main dimensional difference is the height, which is increased by 60 mm to 1.52 m, so as to deal with the off-roading that may be encountered. There is adaptive air suspension that allows the selection of four levels of ground clearance (160 to 210 mm) and three modes (automatic, comfort, and dynamic). Although Audi generally talks about its aluminum structure, in the case of the allroad quattro, steel is called out: specifically, the stainless steel used to form an underfloor protector. The vehicle features a turbocharged eight-cylinder, 4-liter diesel V8 engine that has a common-rail injection system with piezo injectors (these allow greater control over the injection volume and number of injections per cycle). A sensor system called "road vision" uses laser and infrared spectroscopy (with the LEDs in the headlamps serving as the infrared source) to scan the road surface ahead so as to determine the nature of that surface (ice, asphalt, gravel, wet, dry) and to provide both the driver and the onboard systems (e.g., ESP, adaptive cruise control) the information. There's a video-based lane assist system that provides feedback via shaking the steering wheel on the appropriate side in the case of an unwarranted departure. There are radar sensors used to monitor areas next to and behind the vehicle.

Also Know This: Audi last showed an allroad quattro at the Detroit show in 1998.



Name: 2006 Lincoln Mark LT
Vehicle Type: Full-size pickup truck

Reason for Being: Approximately 2.3-million pickups are sold each year. Lincoln wants part of that. Given that the best-selling pickup is the Ford F-Series, and given that the Lincoln Mark LT is based on the F-Series, this is thought to be incremental volume for the platform. (It is being built with the F-Series at the Dearborn Truck Plant.)

Engineering Aspects: Features boxed (hydroformed) frame rails. Front suspension features coil-over shocks, long-spindle double wishbones and cast aluminum lower control arms. The rear Hotchkiss-design suspension places the shock absorbers outside of the frame rails. Powered by a 5.4-liter Triton V8 (300 hp @ 5,000 rpm and 365 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpm). Towing capacity: 8,000 lb.

Also Know This: The Mark LT has a box that's 67-in. long and has an inside box height of 22.3 in. This is no ill-fated Lincoln Blackwood box.



Name: 2006 Hyundai Sonata
Vehicle Type: Full-size sedan

Reason for Being: When you have a new two-million-ft2 assembly and engine plant in Montgomery, Alabama, and R&D personnel in Michigan and California, then why not go to work at producing a car that is bigger than its competitors (e.g., Toyota Camry and Honda Accord)? (Specifically: wheelbase: 107.4 in.; length: 188.9 in., width: 72 in., height: 58 in.)

Engineering Aspects: The story here is safety. As in: six standard airbags (front, seat-mounted side-impact and side air curtain), standard active front headrests, standard ABS, and standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC). There are two new engines, both with aluminum blocks and heads: a 2.4-liter DOHC inline four, with continuously variable valve timing CVVT); a 3.3-liter V6, with CVVT, 24 valves, and a variable intake system. (Anticipated horsepower ratings are 160 and 220 hp, respectively.) The V6 is mated to a new five-speed transmission.

Also Know This: In the ‘04 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, Hyundai made remarkable progress, trumping many marques that one would have thought would have been above it. They're saying that this car is better than what has come before. And with an anticipated starting price of less than $20,000. . . .



Name: 2006 Honda Ridgeline
Vehicle Type: Pickup truck

Reason for Being: Honda's Acura MDX, Honda Pilot, and Honda Element are doing well. So why not another light truck out of Honda R&D Americas?
Engineering Aspects: A bona fide truck needs a frame, so there is a ladder frame engineered consisting of two longitudinal rails joined by seven high-strength steel cross members, for a fully boxed frame. Said to have body bending rigidity 2.5 times better than any other body-on-frame compact truck and 20 times better stiffness in rear torsion rigidity. There is a four-door unibody cabin on top that seats five. There is a steel-reinforced composite bed that's 60-in. long, 20.7 in. deep, and 49.5-in. wide (wheel well to wheel well).

Also Know This: Much is made of the 8.5-ft3 storage box beneath the bed. More will be made of the 5,000-lb. towing capacity (thanks to a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 255 hp and 252 lb.-ft. of torque and a standard Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive System). In other words, this is a real truck.



Name: Acura RD-X concept
Vehicle Type: Small SUV

Reason for Being: The RD-X fills a giant hole in Acura's lineup by adding a SUV below the strong-selling MDX.

Engineering Aspects: Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) from the Acura RL sedan is fitted to the RD-X, and distributes torque front-to-rear and side-to-side. It should greatly improve on-road handling and off-road capability. Production RD-X's will have Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) front structure that prevents the front end from being too aggressive to an oncoming car. Overall length is 181.5-in., a scant 7.2-in. shorter than the larger MDX, and within 0.5-in. of Honda's CR-V small SUV. Though Honda's mum on the subject, power likely will come from a high-performance version of Honda's 2.4-liter inline four.

Also Know This: The RD-X is based on the next-generation Civic platform.



Name: Subaru B9 Tribeca
Vehicle Type: All-wheel-drive crossover

Reason for Being: To do what the Outback never could: put Subaru into the midst of the near-luxury SUV fray with a non-truck entry that seats seven.

Engineering Aspects: Under the skin are all the expected pieces: a 250-hp six-cylinder boxer motor mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, a planetary gear center differential, and a fully independent suspension. To enhance agility, more power is sent to the rear wheels than to the front under most circumstances. Like all Subarus, the body uses a one-piece side ring and high-strength side impact beams.

Also Know This: The interior is nothing short of astounding with a waveform instrument panel bisected by bright trim, a deeply hooded gauge cluster, two-color padded door panels, and more style and tactile quality than anything Subaru has done in the past. The central front air intake is flanked by two "wings" that relate to parent company Fuji Heavy Industries' Nakajima Aircraft roots. The eagle-eyed also will note its similarity to an Alfa Romeo grille turned upside down. No surprise, really, considering chief designer Andreas Zapatinas's previous experience.



Name: Jeep Gladiator
Vehicle Type: 4x4 "lifestyle" pickup

Reason for Being: To expand the "genuine Jeep" lineup by adding a ¾-ton pickup to the next generation Jeep Wrangler lineup, provide the basis for an extended-wheelbase SUV with traditional Jeep styling, and create a premium "genuine Jeep" sub brand.

Engineering Aspects: The Gladiator, which takes its name from the 1962 full-size Jeep pickup, sits on a 138.4-in. wheelbase, is 76.6-in. wide, 74.8-in. tall, and is a surprisingly short 205 in. overall. It weighs 4,150 lb., and is powered by a 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder turbo diesel (163 hp, 295 lb-ft.) that sends its power through a six-speed manual transmission. Front suspension is a four-link design with coil-over shocks, the rear has five links and the tires are 265/75R-18 tires front and rear. Like Chevy's Avalanche, the Gladiator has an opening mid-gate that increases the size of the 68-in. bed to a full 80 inches.

Also Know This: The separate-fender look reconnects with the public's image and understanding of the brand. Unfortunately, concepts like this date back to the Jeep Dakar of the early 1990s when a conscious decision to pursue this path would have prevented the brand erosion Jeep has suffered from since.



Name: Chrysler Firepower concept
Vehicle Type: GT coupe

Reason for Being: To support the Chrysler brand's move upmarket—including in Europe—utilize excess capacity at the Viper's Conner Avenue assembly plant in Detroit, and spread the costs associated with the Viper over more models.

Engineering Aspects: There are minor dimensional differences between the Firepower and the Viper on which it is based, and the 6.1-liter SRT version of the Hemi V8 replaces the Viper's V10. The real difference is in style and attitude, which requires a rethink of the Viper's SLA suspension system to reduce ride harshness and noise transmission into the cabin.

Also Know This: The Viper has seen a sales decline, and the vehicle is viewed as too brutal to be associated with the Chrysler name in Europe. (The Viper will revert to the Dodge brand in Europe in 2005.) Adding an upscale GT capable of running with Porsches and Aston Martins for much less money elevates Chrysler's image, and provides a realistic alternative to the too-exotic ME-412 as a halo vehicle.



Name: Kia KCD-II Mesa concept
Vehicle Type: Full-size SUV

Reason for Being: To warn established automakers that Kia and Hyundai are serious about their plans to build full-size trucks profitably in the U.S. by decade's end.

Engineering Aspects: The fully boxed body-on-frame Mesa sits on a 116-in. wheelbase, is 71.7-in. tall, 77.8-in. wide, 192-in. long, and has 10.2-in. of ground clearance. It has 305-45R/45 tires on 22-in. wheels, retractable running boards from Algonquin Automotive, an electrically retractable tow hitch/foot step for access to the roof, and a roof rack with alligator-style clamps to securely hold objects up to 2.0-in. thick. The front four seats have nets underneath for storage, and mid- and rear-seat passengers have their own HVAC unit with an overhead vent system.

Also Know This: Power comes from Kia's 3.5-liter V6, however, it claims the Mesa's engine compartment is sized "for next-generation Kia engines." The full-size pickup will arrive first, and be aimed at the class-leading Ford F150 Hyundai and Kia engineers currently are benchmarking.

Ford SYNUS concept: According to our dictionary, sinuous means something with many bends or curves, which this doesn't have. Based on the Ford Fiesta platform, the vehicle may save on die costs (after all, rectangles aren't all that hard to machine), but imagine the price of those 6-in. thick aluminum doors, to say nothing of the ergonomic issues on the assembly line.


2006 Dodge Charger: According to Trevor Creed, Chrysler Group's head of Design, coupes for anything but niche applications have had their day. So in creating the new Charger, they've gone to four-doors. While it isn't the styling tour de force that the Chrysler 300 C is, the Charger is being built on the same production line in Canada, along with the Magnum. Talk about amortizing costs.


2006 VW Jetta: This fifth-generation Jetta was designed in Germany specifically for the American market; it is being built in Puebla, Mexico. It looks like a Japanese rendition of the VW Phaeton. The upscale interior is gorgeous, however, and the overall size increase from the previous generation helps provide needed rear seat room.


ASC Helios concept: Showing what it can do, specialty manufacturer ASC has not simply cut off the top of a 300 C, but reengineered the structure, including a cross-car bulkhead in the middle, another in the rear, reinforcements of the tunnel and half B-pillar, and put in a underbody X-frame. They've also created a folding mechanism for the cloth top that allows packaging of the 5-ft., 8-in. top in a space behind the rear seats that's just 18-in. across.


Saturn Aura concept: The only likely differences between this and the production car are the wheel arches (1/4-in. narrower in production), tire size and exhaust outlets. With the Sky coupe that precedes it, Saturn seems to be getting the Cadillac treatment—although if the planned full-size SUV looks like the Relay. . . .


Volkswagen Ragster concept: Were the folks in Wolfsburg at a loss for something to show in Detroit? After all, they showed the Concept 1, which became the New Beetle, and the vehicles that were to become the Touareg and Microbus at NAIAS. This year it is the Ragster. This is a New Beetle with the height lowered from 1,498 mm to 1, 395 mm. The fenders, bumpers headlights, and taillights are redesigned, and there are 19-in. aluminum wheels. Though much more masculine than the New Beetle, it seems like something a tuner might produce for SEMA, not a showing from one of the world's leading vehicle manufacturers.


Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe concept: There's not a whole lot to be said about the Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe concept beyond the facts that it is (1) the shape of things to come from Jaguar ("A new Jaguar sports car is always an important event and we absolutely believe that the Advanced Lightweight Coupe demonstrates that the direction we are taking is the right one"—Bibiana Boerio, Jaguar Cars managing director), (2) it has an aluminum structure, like the production XJ, and (3) the B-pillar bulkhead supports the hatchback shape and the planned convertible. While there's not a whole lot to say about the concept, there is a whole lot to look at.


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