In the end, the car we buy comes down to the value we get for the dollars we spend. It's a nebulous floaty-thing of a word, to be sure -- one that means a combination of everything good - but even still, value defines the difference between a good purchase and one solely based on sheet metal, horsepower and heart. Not that horsepower is a bad thing. Or fancy options. It's just that great performance and trendy design must be accompanied by a strong value statement: will this car get it done for me? After all, we buy cars to drive to work and home and to the store, so it's important to find the best combination of style, features, price and warranty. From a practical perspective, then, the most important auto show vehicle debuts are the cars and trucks that provide the most value.
There's that word again - value. Truth is that the value of a vehicle can't truly be defined until it's been thoroughly tested. Until, then, however, it's possible to make a pretty good guess based on price, features, style and the automaker's reputation for reliability and dependability. With these criteria in mind, we've selected the 10 best buys that debuted at the Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and new york auto shows. Some are commuters, some are performance cars, but all provide a strong value to buyers.
In a year or less, these are the cars you should have on your short list:
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: If you find yourself looking for a performance vehicle with a strong personality, the Corvette Z06 is a very strong - and much improved -- contender.
2006 Ford Fusion: Here is the hope of sedans for domestic automakers. Seriously. A strong car built off of the same platform as the Mazda 6, the Fusion combines a nicely executed design with what should be strong performance, inside and out.
2005 Ford Mustang Convertible: Just as great as the coupe, plus sunshine and at a really nice price. Available now, this is one of the few realistic 2+2 convertibles on the market.
2006 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500: Ford is taking their Mustang to new limits with a racer design and an estimated 450-horsepower. This may be the best weekend sweetheart on the road, this time next year.
2005 Honda Ridgeline: Okay, so it's not going to replace the F-150. But this is the ultimate suburban truck - just enough for everything you will ever need to haul or tow. With Honda engineering, count on plenty of innovative features.
2006 Hyundai Azera: Hyundai's replacement for the XG350 is a serious car that will likely do serious damage to upscale sedan competitors. Count on a well-equipped driver with a great interior, and enough power to move ya.
2006 Hyundai Sonata: The new Sonata announces Hyundai's intention to play with big boys like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. With features such as side curtain airbags and loads of interior space, there may well be a new sedan King before long.
2006 Infiniti M: Tired of choosing between BMW, BMW and BMW for your luxury sedan? The M puts together the best of what Infiniti does: a great engine, snappy design, and plenty of groovy technology features.
2006 Lexus IS: Neckties are getting tighter for the Bavarians. The 3-Series has some serious competition with this new, emotive and much improved IS 250 or 350.
2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser: Youthful design that harkens back to the FJ40, a sub-$20,000 price tag and typical Toyota reliability, the FJ Cruiser is sexy and sensible - and will surely give small-to-mid SUVs a major headache.
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Chevrolet used a hydroformed, all-aluminum chassis combined with magnesium bits and carbon fiber pieces to keep the weight off. For example, the Z06's front fenders are carbon fiber, as are portions of the balsa wood sandwich floor panels. The new Z06 comes as a coupe only, with the standard removable roof panel permanently affixed for improved structural rigidity.
Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar run-flat tires are two inches wider in back at 325/30ZR19, tucked beneath quarter panels flared an extra 1.5 inches so that they'll fit. The Z06's butt is three inches wider than standard, an undesirable attribute on American bodies but a damn sexy feature on this American sports car. Helping the tires to keep the Z06's power from overwhelming its driver are Sachs monotube shock absorbers that replace the standard Corvette's available Magnetic Ride Control Suspension dampers, stiffer springs, and heavier duty struts. Red-painted, six-piston brake calipers clamp down on cross-drilled 14-inch front and 13.4-inch rear rotors to scrub speed.
Styling differences include a revised front fascia with a larger air inlet and a functional hood scoop, new side vents, a rear lip spoiler that increased downforce at speed, and unique wheels. Inside, the Z06 loses its power passenger's seat and the electric seat bolsters to save weight, but still comes standard with dual-zone air conditioning, two-tone leather upholstery, and a head-up display. Options that add price and poundage include a Bose stereo, side-impact airbags, a navigation system, and other goodies. Polished wheels are also available at extra cost.
Pricing could be as high as $75,000 when the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 arrives, a substantial boost from the original's sub-$55,000 price tag. But purists who value the performance of what can rightly be called the ultimate Corvette won't mind paying the fare for this thrill ride.
--By Christian J. Wardlaw
2006 Ford Fusion
Ford's Fusion is the first car out of the chute to ride on the company's new midsize "CD" platform. Based on a modified Mazda 6 foundation and powertrains, the Fusion's underpinnings will also provide the basis for a slew of new FoMoCo products such as the 2006 Mercury Milan, 2006 Lincoln Zephyr, and 2007 Lincoln Aviator. Given that the Mazda 6 is one of the most entertaining sedans on the market, the Fusion should prove fun to drive.
Fun to look at is another strong Ford Fusion characteristic. Taking its cues from the Ford 427 concept vehicle of 2003, the 2006 Fusion embodies Ford's new corporate look; the most obvious element is the three-bar grille that will be added to all blue-oval-badged sedans within a couple of years. Headlights wrap up into the hood, tapering to a sharp angle similar to the Mercury Mountaineer. Tidy flanks, an elegantly arched roofline, handsome 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome accents, and upscale triangular taillights give the Fusion a clean, cohesive look.
Inside, symmetry rules. Stylistically, the theme follows the larger Ford Five Hundred sedan, with organized controls, flush surfaces, close panel fits, and simple design. The Fusion possesses a clean, refreshing interior loaded with soft-touch surfaces and materials that, for the most part, exude quality. Ford offers distinctive "themed" cabin treatments, including one inspired by the Ford 427 show car that blends charcoal-black leather upholstery with oatmeal-colored stitching and piano black interior trim.
Ford will offer four- and six-cylinder versions of the Fusion when it goes on sale, with a new hybrid model planned for 2008. The aluminum, four-cylinder engine displaces 2.3 liters and makes 160 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 150 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm while meeting partial zero-emission vehicle standards in California. The aluminum, 3.0-liter V6 generates 210 horsepower. A six-speed automatic is standard with the V6, while the four-cylinder Fusion gets either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic to send power to the front wheels. In 2007, all-wheel-drive will become optional. Four-wheel-disc brakes and independent suspension at each corner are standard on the Fusion, but ABS is an option.
Unquestionably, the 2006 Ford Fusion is a compelling midsize sedan. But without a reputation for reliability, without a longer warranty, without free scheduled maintenance, we think it's going to be hard for Ford to sell this car against Accords, Altimas, and Camrys without incentives.
Better warranty coverage, a price that undercuts segment leaders, and a flawless launch would help guarantee that the 2006 Ford Fusion is a success. It's extremely stylish, is probably quite fun to drive, and should be a great place to spend time behind the wheel.
--By Christian J. Wardlaw
2005 Ford Mustang Convertible
Unlike the concept, which had a unique design personality to the coupe, the real deal looks the same. Even with a soft top, the profile of the vehicle remains similar - and with the top down, the 2005 Mustang's striking design feels natural, as if it were always intended to be a convertible. Ford maintains that the coupe was, indeed, designed with the convertible in mind, and it shows. According to Phil Martens, group vice president for product creation, the convertible version adds only 120 lbs to the weight of the Mustang - a manageable weight difference made possible by the already sturdy nature and stiffness of the coupe. Indeed, the 2005 Mustang convertible shares its suspension geometry and almost all its suspension tuning with the coupe. The result is a convertible that is quiet on the road and suffers little by way of acceleration and performance. It feels like a lot of car on the road, to be sure, but suffers little negative impact thanks to a wide glass rear window, skinny C-pillars and three-quarter back windows. In order to keep the rattles and wind whine as silent as possible, Ford used a hard shell on the front portion of the top. With the top down, however, there is a bit too much wind swirling into the passenger compartment, though not enough to halt conversations between front passengers. With the top up, the ride is surprisingly quiet. Priced at $24,495 for the V-6 model or $29,995 for the V-8 GT, there is also a premium model available, starting at $25,320 for the V-6, which adds 16-inch machined aluminum wheels, Shaker 500 audio system with six-disc CD changer, MP3 capability and six-way power adjustable driver seat. The Mustang GT Convertible Premium model, which adds a Shaker 500 audio system with six-disc CD player and MP3 capability and Aberdeen leather-trimmed embossed sport bucket seats, begins at $31,175.
At those prices, the 2005 Ford Mustang convertible is one horse that's likely to move pretty quickly when it makes its way to US dealerships.
--By Brian Chee
2006 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500
American muscle lives.
The 2006 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 is another example of what's working with domestic car companies. Designers of the new Shelby Cobra GT500 have constructed a standout product that is obviously desirable but lacking representation in the market place. And, unlike other domestics that create and push high-powered versions of cars that already don't sell, the new Shelby Cobra GT500 is based on a vehicle that consumers want so much that they're willing to wait for it and pay sticker price or more. That's important, in a time when domestic share of the automotive market continues to decline and when domestics are often forced to offer significant incentives -- the success of an the home-built Mustang is extremely significant. And the fact that Ford sees benefits in devoting time and resources to create a more expensive model, the Shelby Cobra GT500, further validates the idea that Americans will buy appealing domestic cars. Lastly, both the regular Mustang and the Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 show that the muscle car segment is alive and prospering.
And Ford plans to make the most of it by offering a competitive price. Though officials at Ford are tight-lipped on pricing for the 2006 Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500, they do say that pricing will be in the same range as the previous Cobra, which had a starting price in the mid $30s. However, since the new model is better in most every way, we expect pricing to start at least in the high $30s. Regardless of the price, you can rest assured that rebates and special financing will not be available.
It would be insane to offer a discount on a car that has a supercharged 5.4-liter, 32-valve V8 with Ford GT cylinder heads and will, according to Ford, create horsepower around 450 and torque at 450 lb.-ft. Managing all of that oomph is a six-speed manual transmission, and controlling the ride is an independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link live setup in the rear. Front and rear stabilizer bars are standard, as are 19-inch alloys wrapped in 255/45 tires. Slowing it all down are cross-drilled discs (14-inch front, 13-inch rear) with Brembo calipers. Building the 2006 Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 is really a no-brainer for Ford. The 2005 Mustang has been a huge success so far, so much so that the company has had to ramp up production. And both SVT and Shelby fans are numerous and anxiously awaiting the arrival of new products. And with the only real muscle car competitor being the 400-horsepower Pontiac GTO, Ford's got plenty of room to play with their Mustang lineup, and that includes adding the Shelby Cobra GT500. As long as Ford doesn't misstate power ratings as they've done with past Cobra models, the company will likely have little trouble selling as many as they choose to build.
--By Thom Blackett
2005 Honda Ridgeline
The Ridgeline is built on a new light truck platform - the same one that will be used to produce the Acura RD-X, though Honda executive Dick Colliver claims that he Ridgeline will be 93 percent exclusive. Features of the Ridgeline include that famous trunk - located under the bed and lockable; a lift gate that also swings out as well as down, much in the manner of a door, and best in class fuel economy. The Ridgeline will be powered by Honda's 3.5-liter v-tech engine that produces 255 horsepower. The bed features completely flat surface, so large, flat items like sheets of plywood can be moved easily. The bed is made from a sturdy polymer resin. The back of the four-door truck features seats that tilt up, thus creating more cargo room inside the cab.
Priced at around $27,000 and available in March, the Ridgeline is a best buy because of its innovation, Honda roots and decent pricing. If you want an SUV but also want a trunk, this may well answer all of your needs.
--By Brian Chee
2006 Hyundai Azera
Hyundai is one of the worst at the name game, and a perfect example is the recent debut of its new flagship, the 2006 Hyundai Azera. Yes, it roles off the tongue a little - Ahhhzeerah - but it could be anything from a far-away news outlet to the name of a new jungle creature. But at least Azera is better than the non-descript moniker given to the outgoing XG350, the vehicle it replaces.
But hey -- if the car is good enough, you can call the thing anything you want. People will buy it anyway, and we think plenty of people are going to buy the Azera, thanks what will likely be a nice ride, ageless styling and a great interior. As the replacement for the XG sedan, Hyundai hopes that the Azera will compete with the big boys on the luxury block as a lower-end luxury choice. Their optimism isn't far off, judging from the initial reaction at the 2005 New York International Auto Show.
But about that name: The name Azera comes from the French word azure, which means blue. To Hyundai, the significance of the color blue is up above, as in blue skies for the company, which they feel is best represented by this new luxury sedan. As the flagship replacement, Hyundai hopes that the Azera will compete as a higher-end choice. Pricing has not been announced, but the feeling is that Hyundai will not necessarily price this as a discount lux-alternative. With loads of features and a grown up style, the 2006 Hyundai Azera will likely fetch a higher price than the outgoing XG. Standard equipment will include dual-zone climate control; electronic tilt and telescoping steering column; a memory system for the driver's seat, outside mirrors, steering column and foot pedals; a power rear sunshade; rain-sensing windshield wipers; and the requisite leather seating surfaces. The Azera will also be available with an Infinity audio system and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The 2006 Hyundai Azera will be offered in GLS, LX and Limited trim.
On the performance side, the Azera offers a 3.8-liter V6 engine that makes an estimated 265 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 257 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm, the 2006 Hyundai Azera should get down the road with no trouble. Emissions ratings are projected to be Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV). Controlling the engine is a five-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual control. While that sounds nice, if Hyundai dealers can get people to sit inside the car, it will sell. The leather is comfortable, controls are nicely designed and there are plenty of luxury touches, such as dampened controls and wood grain. The style focuses on traditional luxury sedan design with a few touches of personality - probably fine for the buyers that Hyundai seeks. Whether you like the look or not, however, the 2006 Hyundai Azera is a clear step up from the XG350, and looks to be another win for Hyundai.
--By Brian Chee
2006 Hyundai Sonata
Make that well under $20,000, at least according to Robert Cosmai, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. Though Cosmai clearly relishes the idea of a low price, he spent most of his time talking about the car and the way it is to be built. Here is a man who has every expectation that a quality car will be built by the good folk in Montgomery, Alabama. For that price under $20,000 - make that well under -- buyers will get six standard airbags and a choice of engines: a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, rated at 160 horsepower and a 3.3-liter V6 engine making more than 220 horsepower. Both engines are new. Buyers will have their choice between a five-speed manual and a four-speed Shiftronic automatic. The Sonata also includes standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), and standard ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). It's a good thing that the Sonata has so many safety features - it sure seems like a lot of car to stop. With 120 cubic feet more room inside than many competitors, the 2006 Sonata is two inches longer, two inches taller, and features a one-inch longer wheelbase.
Yep, it's a big car that doesn't look that big, for a company that's growing bigger every day. If the thing drives nicely, it will likely be one of the best buys to come this way in awhile - or at least until the next generation Honda Civic debuts.
--By Brian Chee
2006 Infiniti M
Five models will be offered for 2006: M35; M35 Sport; M35 All-Wheel-Drive; M45; and the M45 Sport. Prices range from $39,900 for the M35 and $49,550 for the M45 Sport (excludes destination).
Based on a more rigid next-generation front-midship (FM) platform that positions engine weight behind the front axle for improved handling balance, the new 2006 Infiniti M will be available in two flavors: the M35 with a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 and the M45 with a 335-horsepower, 4.5-liter V8; both fired with push-start control through a standard Infiniti Intelligent Key system and both requiring premium unleaded fuel.
Power flows through a five-speed automatic transmission with a short-throw manual shift feature to 18-inch rear wheels, and the M35x model features all-wheel-drive. Buy the M35 Sport or the M45 Sport and you'll get a Rear Active Steer system that adjusts the geometry of the rear suspension according to steering input and vehicle speed, as well as 19-inch lightweight wheels wearing 245/40 performance tires. Run-flat tires and chrome-finish wheels are optional on non-Sport models, and just in case the driver exceeds the limits of talent a standard Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) stability control system is on alert to make course corrections.
Chock full of the features that most people expect in a luxury car of this caliber, standard equipment includes Bluetooth wireless communications. Options such as a rear DVD-based entertainment system and a RearView Monitor with wheel trajectory pathing are available. However, on the technology front, the 2006 Infiniti M is particularly notable for its optional Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system. This technology reads lane markings and warns the driver if unintended lane drift is detected.
To keep occupants even safer, the Infiniti M includes a tire pressure monitor as well as an Advanced Airbag System (AABS) of dual-stage front airbags with occupant classification and side-curtain airbags. Pre-crash front seatbelts that can sense an impending collision and prepare the restraints for impact are optional.
Additional techie bits and pieces include standard voice recognition technology for a number of interior features, an optional intelligent cruise control designed to maintain a safe distance behind the car ahead, and HID headlights that swivel with the steering to help illuminate around curves (standard on Sport models; optional on others). Genuine Rosewood or aluminum trim, combined with leather upholstery, outfit the Infiniti M's cabin, which also includes an electrofluorescent "solar eclipse" gauge cluster and a sound system with in-dash CD changer and MP3 playback capability. An impressive Bose Studio Surround audio system with 14 speakers, including two mounted inside the front seats, is optional.
The 2006 Infiniti M is also a roomy car, offering generous space for four adults (five can ride in back if necessary). Climate-controlled front seats are optional, and buyers can equip the M with heated and reclining rear seats if they wish.
In terms of year-over-year sales gains, Infiniti has been leading the luxury segment for two consecutive years on the strength of the G35 Coupe, the G35 Sedan, and the FX SUV. Initial impressions suggest that the 2006 Infiniti M35 and M45 will continue the company's winning streak.
Due to arrive on dealers lots in early February for viewing and test drives, customer deliveries will be begin at the end of the month.
By Christian J. Wardlaw and Thom Blackett
2006 Lexus IS
As the Lexus entry-luxury sedan, the IS is designed to attract the eyes of youth - those who are young and those who think they are. This is a car for people who can't afford a GS, or want a more sporty driving experience. As such, performance and style is at a premium, and the new 2006 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 should deliver both in spades. Along with its stunning new design - courtesy of the Lexus LF-A design language and concept supercar introduced at the 2005 North American International Auto Show - the IS will offer a driving experience centered on feel and fun. All told, the IS will be available in four trims: the IS 250 and IS 350 with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The difference between the IS 250 and the IS 350 is largely power, with a more robust engine - a V6 displacing 3.5-liters - offered in the IS 350.
Sure, Lexus fans may be a bit put off by the smaller, 2.5-liter V6 engine offered up in the IS 250. Lexus officials, however, claim that the smaller engine will be a better performer than the current 3.0-liter inline six, so we'll see. Those fans - and many more - are sure to love the new design of flowing lines, action and taut pressure in specific areas. With a 3.5-liter V6 engine in the IS 350, the new sedan should hold its own on the track, and technology such as a retuned stability control system - for greater feel and control - will add to its appeal. It is larger than the outgoing model - 3.5 inches longer and 3 inches wider - an increase that looks like it has significantly improved interior space. Watch out, BMW - here is a car that goes right to the heart of your core demographic. The difference between today's IS and the 2006 IS goes deeper than just the car - Lexus has added four models from which to choose, and has embellished the sedan with a variety of uptown features. Here is a car that offers American luxury sedan buyers a choice and other luxury competitors a real dilemma. Given Lexus' track record of making and breaking benchmarks, competitors' slide rules are surely out and in use.
The new 2006 Lexus IS 250 and 350 will be available in the fall of 2005. Pricing has not been announced, but sales goals are ambitious - Lexus would like to sell 45,000 units or more annually, a 600-percent increase over the current IS. So expect competitive pricing, especially for the base IS 250. The IS 350 may be more, as it is considered the halo car in the IS lineup. Thanks to its powertrain upgrade and technology add-ins, such as a Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management System (VDIM). For that price, you get an IS that is larger all the way around, faster than the preceding model, and one that offers more technology, such as a radar-controlled Pre-Crash Safety system (PCS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Intelligent Adaptive Front Lighting System (I-AFS). There will be 10 airbags, including a double knee airbag. The IS 350 will also have a "sport tuned" version of the Lexus VDIM, which Lexus claims is the most complete and intuitive stability control technology available today.
Matching the stride of a fierce competitor such as the BMW 3-Series is among the toughest tasks in the automotive business, and the 2006 IS seems to measure up to the challenge. With its new, exciting, emotive design, more model choices, two new powertrains on an all-new platform, and a plethora of virtually transparent technology, the IS has tossed down the gauntlet to its import rivals. We'll see who, if anyone, picks it up with a ready answer to this intriguing new luxury sports sedan.
--By Brian Chee
2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser
Authenticity, value, and expressiveness define the latest product unveiled by Toyota at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show, a new sport-utility vehicle designed to "go anywhere and do anything," according to Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager, Toyota Division.
The new 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser looks more than tough - it is tough, thanks to a foundation and powertrain shared with the current 4Runner SUV. Shorter in length and wheelbase than the 4Runner, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a two-door SUV with rear access panels like a Honda Element, but is designed for serious off-roading. Judging by the 4Runner's capability in the rough, combined with the FJ Cruiser's greater approach and departure angles, 9.6 inches of ground clearance, standard skid plate, optional locking rear differential, and 17-inch 265/70 all-terrain tires, it appears that Toyota is splitting the difference in terms of capability between the Element and the Nissan Xterra. And like the Element and Xterra, Toyota offers the FJ Cruiser with rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive.
Of course, Toyota knows that styling, in addition to capability, will sell the FJ Cruiser, so this SUV is designed to look like the legendary FJ 40 of the 1960s and 1970s, right down to the "Toyota" badge centered in the grille. Other FJ 40 cues include round headlights, an upright windshield cleared by three wipers, a white-capped roof equipped with a huge utility rack, and wrap-around rear corner windows. The standard full-size spare tire is mounted on the split rear tailgate for easy access as well as a rugged appearance. The effect is at once retro and modern. Anyone familiar with the unforgettable FJ 40 will recognize the design inspiration here, and yet the FJ Cruiser strongly resembles the Honda Element in terms of overall packaging.
Under the hood is the 4Runner's 4.0-liter V6 engine, making 245 horsepower and 282 lb.-ft. of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard, while 4WD versions get a six-speed manual as an option. Toyota says that the 2007 FJ Cruiser can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Inside, the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is designed to be flexible and functional, styled to resemble the bare-bones trucks of yesterday. Body-color trim decorates the dashboard, and the gauges are expected to convey a mechanical appearance. The rear seats fold flat to maximize cargo space, and buyers can opt to add body-color door panels for an enhanced bare-metal look.
Standard equipment on the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser includes basics like air conditioning, a CD player, and a tilt steering wheel. Thankfully, a number of options will be available to tailor the FJ Cruiser to your tastes such as brushed aluminum alloy wheels, running boards, power outside mirrors with "image" lights, cruise control, a CD changer, premium sound system, dark tinted glass, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Toyota covers the safety bases with the 2007 FJ Cruiser, too, which is important since this is a vehicle designed to attract young drivers. Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are standard, as well as stability control with traction assist. Models with 2WD also have an automatic limited slip differential. Options include front side-impact and side-curtain airbags, parking assist sonar, daytime running lights, and a rear wiper to improve outward visibility. FJ Cruisers with 4WD can be equipped with an electronic four-wheel traction control system.
The 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser arrives in dealer showrooms in early 2006, at a price yet to be set. Toyota promises extraordinary value in the FJ Cruiser, and though plans are to build 40,000 units annually, the company thinks it will be an easy sell-out. Based on what we saw in Chicago - an authentic, unique, expressive, value-laden SUV - we have little reason to doubt that the FJ Cruiser will be a tremendous hit.
--By Christian J. Wardlaw
Photos by Erik Hanson