Detroit Auto Show — February 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Although a few small cars have snuck into the spotlight in recent years, the annual January Detroit auto show is still all about big trucks.
The event — officially known as the North American International Auto Show (or NAIAS) — is still the most important US show due to Detroit being home to the big three US vehicle makers' head offices — Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler. We attended the big truck fest to kick the tyres of some of the best of them and also discovered a few interesting vans in the mix too.
Ford used the Detroit show to pledge to “remain USA's favourite truck maker” while unveiling the 2008 model year F-Series Super Duty. It's no idle boast. Ford says the F-Series pick-up model range has been America's best-selling truck for 30 years. The Super Duty variant accounted for some 40 per cent of last year's incredible 800,000 F-series models sold; meaning the Super Duty alone almost tops Ford of Great Britain's 2006 total sales across its whole range.
New features include a new 345 bhp 6.4-litre diesel with a maximum towing ability of 10.9 tonne and an industry-first 'Tailgate Step' for easier pick-up bed access.
The Japanese vehicle manufacturer behind the eco-minded petrol/electric Prius also makes the mighty Tundra pick-up. Larger in very direction than the model it replaces, the 2007 Tundra offers 31 variants and three cab styles, wheelbases, bed lengths, trim levels and engines — a 236 bhp 4.0 V6, plus 271 bhp 4.7-litre and 381 bhp 5.7-litre V8s.
Payload ranges from 640kg to 934kg according to variant and with the optional Tow Package on the i-Force V8 models, the Tundra can yank up to 4.9 tonne.
Better still was Toyota's Tundra Street Concept featuring a TRD Supercharger and intercooler package and 22in black alloys with red pin stripes. With a revised front grille, lower road height plus custom interior, there wasn't another truck to match it for show-stopping ability.
Weirdest car/van hybrid at the show was the Nissan Bevel concept. Aimed at the American male 'everyday hero' retiree, this one-plus-stuff concept even had a space for his trusty dog. The strangely cool Mondeo-sized concept was described by a Nissan source as “halfway between feasible and flight of fancy”.
Like the spiritual US successor to the MG Rover Express, this go-faster striped panel van is a new variant of the Chevrolet HHR car you'll actually be able to buy stateside from early 2007. Metal replacing rear windows creates a great blank canvas on which to put company advertising, as the rear door handles are also dispensed with; a button on the dash opens them.
Other features include 1.9m3 of load space with side and rear access, including flush-mounted lockable floor storage areas, and 149 bhp 2.2 and 175 bhp 2.4 engines. Aimed at small US businesses wanting to make deliveries with a difference, prices will start from $16,750 which at current exchange rates equates to around £8,500.