Finally, back in warm and sunny So Cal! After a week in Detroit we were ready to come home, but not before checking out all of the goods on display at the NAIAS. Here are the highlights of our trip that will be of interest to the FW readers. Anyone sense that the 2009 FW PTOTY will be one hot contest?
The all-new Ram 1500 debuted to much fanfare and excitement, at least by the steer on hand. High points are an upgraded 5.7L Hemi now making 380hp, a classy interior, class-leading storage options, and a revolutionary shift in rear suspension design, namely a 5-link coil arrangement, similar to that on the Jeep Wrangler JK. That’s right, no more leaf springs in the half-ton Rams. This should make for a much better handling and riding truck and we can’t wait to test it! 2010 should bring the much anticipated 5.0L Cummins V-8 to the light duty Ram.
Ford: The mostly new Ford F-150 get a gorgeous new interior that brings it in line with the Super Duty, SuperCrew models get a flat rear floor and a six-inch step, and all models get a new lightweight frame and updated styling. Powertrains are most carry over, with the 2V 4.6L becoming the base engine, a 3V 4.6L the upgrade and a mildly massaged 5.4L remaining at the top of the list. Big news for powertrain will be in the 2010 model year when the EcoBoost 3.5L twin turbo V-6 becomes the base engine, with a new 6.2L Boss V-8 becoming available, as well as the 4.4L turbo diesel V-8.
Hummer: The Hummer HX was the star of the concept vehicles at the show with great styling and awesome capability hinting at the design direction of the upcoming H4 Wrangler-fighter. Whether you love it or hate it, no one could ignore the Hummer. We hear the production H4 will probably lose the HX’s IRS in favor of a 5-link design.
Jeep: Uncharacteristically quiet this year, Jeep debuted the Renegade concept, which explore electric powertrains in the off-road environment.
Land Rover: Land Rover introduced the LRX, which is a thinly disguised upcoming production model. Don’t expect a high level of off-roadability in this vehicle, it is oriented more at the street and all-weather crowd, however, you can’t fault the clean, yet aggressive design.
Suzuki: Suzuki brought it’s quirky X-head concept from Tokyo to NAIAS to judge reaction from the crowd, and it was more than favorable. This may have been the coolest machine at the entire show, and with petite proportions, it just makes you want to grab it and play with it in a sand box. The cab-over and solid-axled 4WD truck would be a great little utility truck for those who don’t need today’s monsters (anyone remember the Toyota Truck or Nissan Hardbody mini-trucks?)Bottom line: Suzuki needs to build this vehicle.
Toyota: Toyota had its new Sequoia on display, along with a limited production 2008 Trail Team FJ Cruiser. But the big news was a unibody hybrid pick-up truck that looks like it was the love child of a Honda Ridgeline and FJ Cruiser. The A-BAT hints at a future unibody truck for the Scion brand.
--Sean P. Holman
Tech Editor – Four Wheeler Magazine