February 7, 2002

Chicago auto show – Day One:

2003 Dodge Ram 2500 & 3500, 2003 Toyota Tundra Stepside, 2003 Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra, 2003 Subaru Forester, 2004 Ford Crosstrainer, 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis, and more..

Chicago, Illinois – A half dozen 2003 models, almost all trucks, were seen for the first time yesterday at a preview for the media at the Chicago auto show. Dodge showed its new, heavy-duty Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks, GM unveiled its restyled, better-equipped full-size half ton pickups, Toyota unveiled a new stepside Tundra model, Ford announced, but didn’t display, a new SUV called the Crosstrainer, Subaru unveiled its redesigned Forester SUV, and Mercury showed a revised Grand Marquis and a convertible version of the Marauder concept car.

2003 Dodge Ram 2500 & 3500

Following the introduction of the redesigned Ram 1500 (half-ton) pickup last year, Dodge unveiled the new heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 models. The heavy duty Rams offer two new powerplants, class-leading safety features and the “big rig” styling introduced on the 2002 Dodge Ram 1500.

A new 5.7 litre HEMI V8 engine will serve as the standard engine. This all-new engine produces an estimated 345 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 365 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm, providing more power than competitive standard V-8 engines. Dodge says it provides best-in-class acceleration and towing capability, as well as significantly improved fuel efficiency over the engine it replaces.

As well, a new, 5.9 litre High Output Cummins Turbo Diesel inline six cylinder engine returns as an optional powerplant. The new High Output Cummins Turbo Diesel is the most powerful turbo diesel engine available in the 2500/3500 segment, producing 305 horsepower at 2,900 rpm and 555 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,400 rpm. Its prodigious torque results in a class-leading towing capability of 23,000 lbs. (GCWR). The Cummins Turbo Diesel has average major overhaul intervals of 350,000 miles, providing a substantial advantage over the competition.

Two new transfer cases, a conventional manual shift and a new electric shift, are available on 2500 and 3500 four-wheel drive models to provide quieter operation, and improved quality. The manual-shift unit is standard on ST and SLT models. The electric-shift unit is standard on SLT Plus models.

A four-wheel drive front axle is all-new, but retains beam construction.

All-new rear axles contribute to a best-in-class payload rating (GVWR) of up to 12,000 lbs. The front suspension on four-wheel-drive 2500 and 3500 Dodge Ram Pickups is a refined version of the five-link, coil-spring suspension with beam axle used on the previous series Dodge Ram Heavy Duty. A link-type sway bar and heavy- duty tubular shock absorbers are standard. The rear suspension, common to both two-wheel and four-wheel drive models, is equipped with new, three-inch longer leaf springs.

The Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 are the first heavy-duty pickups with side curtain air bags. Dodge Ram Heavy Duty also offers the first power adjustable pedals (on both automatic and manual transmission equipped trucks), and the first pre-tensioning, constant-force seat belt retractors in a heavy-duty pickup truck.

The 2003 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty pickups will begin production in the summer of 2002 at the Saltillo, Mexico and St. Louis North Assembly Plants.

2003 Toyota Tundra Stepside

The Toyota Tundra Stepside adds a little style to the generic-looking Tundra pickup. It will arrive in dealers this Fall.

“The Tundra Stepside concept explores the possibilities of broadening the Tundra product line and will show consumers that ruggedness and utility can go hand-in-hand with style and image,” said Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice president and general manager.

The concept is based on the Tundra Limited Access Cab and is painted in a bright blue exterior colour. The show truck features a redesigned front fascia with a grille that extends down into the front bumper and round fog lamps for a bolder, more aggressive look. The tail lamps pull back over the rear wheel arches for a sleeker appearance.

The stepside interior bed width between wheelwells and the bed length remain the same as a regular Tundra bed, while bed depth has been increased from 17.2 inches to 19.0 inches.

The Stepside has a sport suspension package that lowers the vehicle from the stock Tundra by about four inches and includes unique shock absorbers, sport-tuned suspension and rear stabilizer bar. Road-gripping BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW tires are mounted on brawny three-piece chromed alloy 20-inch HRE Performance wheels. The finishing touch is a TRD Tundra dual cat-back exhaust, which adds a distinctive tone upon acceleration as well as approximately six horsepower.

Inside the Tundra Stepside, amenities include power sliding rear window, steering wheel mounted audio controls, wood-grain-style interior trim, leather-trimmed captain’s chairs and a Premium 3-in-1 AM/FM/Cassette/CD with four speakers. A multi-function centre console provides 91.5 cubic inches of storage capacity and features dual front-and-rear cup holders and a double-door that includes a memo pad clip.

The Stepside houses the same 4.7 litre V8 engine as the regular Tundra that delivers 240 horsepower and 315 lbs.-ft. of torque.

2003 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra

Among the improvements to GM’s full-size pickups for 2003 are: the availability of Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system, a passenger-sensing air bag system, advanced electrical architecture, modified instrument panel including a new driver information centre, new redundant steering wheel controls, new centre console, the first industry application of a Bose audio system in a full-size pickup truck, a new rear-seat DVD entertainment system, manual and fully automatic dual-zone climate control systems.

The new Silverado and Sierra also sport redesigned exteriors. The Silverado design is bolder and more expressive than its predecessor, while providing a more unified family appearance for Chevrolet’s truck lineup. The Sierra’s refreshed design supports the GMC brand’s design direction.

Quadrasteer was first introduced this year on the Sierra Denali and expanded to include the Silverado and Sierra extended cab pickups. For 2003, Quadrasteer will also be available on the Silverado and Sierra 1500 HD 2WD and 4WD short box pickups – making them the industry’s first full-size crew cabs to offer this revolutionary control and handling technology. Quadrasteer is an electromechanical system that turns the vehicle’s rear wheels (up to 12 degrees) in relation to the front wheels, resulting in unprecedented low-speed maneuverability and high-speed stability.

At lower speeds, Quadrasteer reduces the 1500 HD models’ curb-to-curb turning diameter by up to 21 percent, to 39.2 feet, comparable to the 37.1-feet turning radius of a Saturn S-Series compact car. At higher speeds, Quadrasteer reduces the vehicle’s “yaw,” or rotational motion, for better control during lane changes and when being passed by a large truck.

Quadrasteer also provides significant benefits to customers who trailer, enabling drivers to change lanes with more confidence and with less trailer sway. During low-speed towing maneuvers, such as backing into a boat launch or parking a camper, four-wheel steering greatly improves the trailer response to steering input.

2003 Subaru Forester

In a world debut, Subaru introduced the redesigned 2003 Forester. The new Forester offers significant enhancements in safety, comfort, refinement and driving dynamics – changes include a stronger body structure, new suspension tuning, larger front brake rotors and standard 16-inch wheels across the board. The 2003 Forester arrives in Subaru dealerships this spring.

The more refined styling of the 2003 Forester is identified by a larger, more pronounced grill, contoured multi-reflector halogen headlights and a contoured bumper cover with integral multi-reflector foglights. More sharply defined character lines, flared front fenders and “blister” type rear quarter panels mark the profile of the new Forester. In the rear, the 2003 Forester is newly distinguished by a hexagonal rear gate framed by large, triangular taillights. A lower coefficient of drag (Cd), now 0.35, helps to reduce wind noise and contributes to the vehicle’s excellent fuel efficiency.

Inside, the rear 60/40 seatback can be lowered with one touch to provide a flat cargo floor, and both the cargo floor and rear seatback are fully carpeted.

New safety technology in the 2003 Forester includes a dual-stage deployment passenger front airbag, standard front seat head / chest side impact airbags (SRS), active front head restraints and front seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters. A four-channel, four-sensor anti-lock brake system (ABS) is standard on all models.

Also new for 2003, an Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) system on the 2.5 XS enhances braking performance and stability by actively optimizing braking force distribution between the front and rear wheels.

Two Forester models are offered for the 2003 model year, the 2.5 X and the uplevel 2.5 XS that adds additional function and comfort features. The 2.5 XS is available with an optional Premium Package that includes a power moonroof and monotone body colour, and this package can be ordered with leather-trimmed upholstery (automatic transmission only).

All 2003 Forester models continue to be powered by a 165-horsepower 2.5-litre “boxer” four-cylinder engine and equipped with standard full-time All-Wheel Drive.

Ford CrossTrainer

Ford showed an illustration of a new SUV scheduled to built in 2004. The CrossTrainer has three rows of seats for seven passengers and will be available in front and all-wheel drive. The CrossTrainer will feature a V6 engine and new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The CVT will deliver up to a 10 percent fuel economy improvement over a traditional powertrain.

Ford said the CrossTrainer is designed to meet the needs of an emerging group of car customers who want the image and advantages of a sport utility, but don’t necessarily need the off-road and heavy-duty towing capabilities associated with sport utility vehicles.

2003 Mercury Grand Marquis

A new frame, suspension and steering system for enhanced safety, ride and handling top the list of engineering improvements to the 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis. Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show yesterday, it is one of two new Mercury models and four new Lincolns to be introduced in 2002.

Specific changes include:

  • The new full-perimeter frame uses strong, lightweight hydroformed steel sections for the front rails to improve frontal and offset crash performance.

  • Redesigned frame cross members and new optional side impact air bags improve side impact crash performance.
  • The new frame – combined with a redesigned independent front suspension and new monotube shock absorbers at all four wheels – contributes to a smoother, more controlled ride and improved handling.
  • The new variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering system with variable power assist provides a more precise, smooth and even feel to the driver than the previous recirculating ball design.
  • A new dual-rate brake booster automatically supplies full braking power in a panic stop even if the driver doesn’t initially apply enough pedal pressure to engage the anti-lock brakes.

The 2003 Grand Marquis will be built in St. Thomas near London, Ontario.

Mercury Marauder Convertible concept

This new convertible concept points to future possibilities for Mercury and for the all-new 2003 Mercury Marauder four-door performance sedan that goes on sale this summer in the U.S., but not in Canada.

The Marauder Convertible includes:

  • a supercharged 335-horsepower V8 that delivers more horsepower than any other full size convertible priced less than U.S.$85,000.

  • It is a five-passenger convertible. All other convertibles on the market today only seat two or four passengers.
  • Rear seat room is generous. At approximately 38 inches, the convertible’s rear seat legroom is the same as Marauder sedan’s.

At this time, the convertible is purely a concept, but public reaction will be closely monitored to gauge whether sufficient demand exists to justify a full development program.

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