2006 Chicago Auto Show Roundup: Day One
Honda teases with the Si Sedan, Hyundai launches a minivan and Dodge goes Nitro
Did someone say something about hydrogen cars?
Dodge didn’t. In fact, they debuted a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, bolted it into the 2007 Caliber hatchback, and watched while we went insane, writing about the marvels of SRT. In fact, they didn't say a word about oil or fuel, giving us what we wanted in the form of a new mid-sized SUV, the Nitro, with two powerful V6 engines, and a Dodge Rampage Concept built around the 5.7-liter HEMI.
Mercedes-Benz went one better, and announced that they’ll make an AMG model for every single vehicle, and trotted out the 2007 Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG and ML63 AMG, with a 6.3-liter V8 engine making 503 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque plus a slew of other advancements, all designed to suck the oil right out from the ground. When we saw that, our eyes went wide, thinking about the fun we’d have running one of those beauties on our favorite road.
Yeah. We’re hooked on internal combustion, all right. And we can’t help ourselves. We stand for hours, sit on buses, walk for miles, just to get a glimpse of Hyundai’s new minivan, the 2007 Entourage. It’s got a 3.8-liter V6 engine and enough safety equipment to keep Mr. Marshmellow safe. Ready to roll later this year, the Entourage will probably be a hot seller, as families look for convenient, quality transportation with a good warranty. Even minivans are cool to us, which reveals the problem. We need to go to a place to test drive bicycles and write about skateboards; maybe then we’d notice the blatant contradictions automakers trot out at show time, talking the socially responsible game but delivering gas-swilling giants, super cars and fantasies about corn.
Okay, so maybe “E85” vehicles are the real deal. Designed to run on a fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, Ford and General Motors think it is a very viable future alternative. And they may be onto something, working hard to develop the technology. In the meantime, they will have to wait for the day when celebrities start driving a Ford or Chevy Cornius hatchback, there’s a long waiting list, and a plus-MSRP price. That’ll be the day, but in the meantime you can load up a lot of corn inside the new 2007 Lincoln Navigator. Also introduced at the Chicago Auto Show, the Navigator has a 5.4-liter V8 engine -- and many gaudy design enhancements. There was also a new 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche, which GM touted as an E85 vehicle, except for a 6.0-liter V8 engine, due out later in the year and primed to burn oil at an astonishing clip
Maybe corn smells like oil when it burns. If so, then we’re probably okay with the ethanol thing – just as long as it doesn’t change the way that exhaust note sounds.
For a full list of debuts from day one at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show, please select from the links at left.