Please join me back here on Saturday for a first look at an intriguing new hybrid crossover coming from Kia. Hint. It loves music from Laura Niro.
Toyota has announced an off-road version of the Tacoma pickup at the Chicago Auto Show. The TRD is said to be “aimed squarely” at extreme off-roading enthusiasts with 16-inch all-terrain tires, aluminum front skid plate, a 3.6-liter V6 with either a six speed automatic or manual transmission. The automatic will feature a “Crawl Control” that modulates throttle and brakes on five low-speed settings when rugged terrain is encountered. Underpinnings will include FOX Internal Bypass shocks, specially tuned front springs with a 1-inch lift, and rear suspension with progressive-rate off-road spring. All models will be equipped with part-time 4WD with transfer case and Automatic Limited-Slip Differential both electronically controlled. Also standard will be a towing package, and Trailer-Sway Control. Prices to be announced closer to introduction in the fall.
Ram truck, not to be outdone, showed off a beefed up off-road version of its Power Wagon, a legendary name for a truck that could conquer just about anything Mother Nature could throw at it. I saw this first hand during my Air Force days in the Aleutian Islands, where the Power Wagon was, on many winter days, the only thing that kept the mission going. Based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4×4 Crew Cab, the 2017 model features a unique suspension with more than two inches of lift, locking differentials and a 12,000-lb winch, “giving this beast a significant advantage over all production pickups,” Ram claims. Under the hood is a best in class 410 horsepower, 6.4-liter HEMI V8. Its maker calls the exterior design, “can’t stop me looks.” Ground clearance comes in at 14.3 inches. No word yet on prices. The new model will appear in showrooms in the fourth quarter.
Nissan surprised some in Chicago by showing pictures of its “standard” full size Titan pickup, not be confused with the larger Titan XD. The half-ton truck is expected to go on sale this summer with three cabin styles, and three bed lengths, not to mention five trim levels. A 5.6-liter, 390 horsepower V8 with 401 lb-ft of torque will be the standard power with a 7-speed automatic transmission.
Automotive News reports Mercedes will invest $2.9 million to develop next-generation diesel engines by 2019.
Mazda has started production in Japan of its redesigned MX-9 crossover. It should arrive here in the spring.
Ford said European sales rose 10 percent in January with strong demand for SUV’s. It’s another sign that European demand is picking up after a long lull.