TodayApril 16, 2022

My top picks of luxury vehicles from the 2005 Chicago Auto show

2005 Chicago Auto show CAS

Top picks from the 2005 Chicago Auto show is the most civilized show of the year. Less than twenty new reveals with enough time to look at them and talk to the executives. The reveals in the windy city were;

2005 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

2005 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG
2005 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG

One in twenty Mercedes’ is AMG cars, according to Rob Allan, Manager of Product Management. AMG stands for Aufrecht Melcher Grossasbach, basically two guys and a city. A&M were two Mercedes engineers that moonlighted as independent developers (known today as tuners). In 1990 they went into a limited partnership with Mercedes, first with parts than with cars. In the industry, AMG is known as a factory hotrod with exclusivity and power.

If you have driven the SL65 or CL65 you’ll love the engine in the S65 AMG; it’s the same. The V-12 twin-turbo 6-liter pounds out 604 horsepower, 738 lb.-ft of torque at a screaming 0-60mph of 4.2 seconds. It is the most powerful engine in the sedan segment. According to Rob Allan, manager of Product Management the S65 AMG, – has very few options; four-place seating, in case people don’t want to touch each other. Distronics is their adaptive cruise control that is becoming a standard option on many cars.

You’ll be able to tell if the S65 AMG has the optional distronics by the front grille. They have to put the radar in the front grille and that will change the look slightly. We also have an option for an integrated cell phone with voice control. The engine is hand-built by one of seven engine makers in Sindelfingen, Germany.

Mercedes had one of their engineers building the S65 AMG engine during the show. Interior leather is only the best, a tan-colored Nappa leather is what I sat on. You can tell good leather by the grain indentations. the poorer quality leather has grain indentations applied to make the leather softer.

One couldn’t have a true luxury car without a fan on the bum (FOTB). There are many little fans in the seat that cool or heat your bum just the way you like it. As if that isn’t enough Mercedes has added a massager as well, with different degrees of strength. Unverified EPA mpg ratings are 13-15 mpg.

The basic package is $169,000 but with all options added the total package is $177,000. Expected to go on sale in March 2005. Run, don’t walk; there are only 500 projected for production.2005 Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe (ADHC)

2005 Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe (ADHC)

2005 Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe (ADHC)
2005 Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe (ADHC)

The successor to the $300,000 Bentley Azure was shown first at the 2005 Los Angeles show and again in the windy city at the 2005 Chicago Auto show. Technically, it is a concept, but expect to see it go into production in spring of ’06. Its selling point isn’t that it seats four adults, it’s that it seats four very wealthy adults in complete comfort. The interior, designed by Robin Page, is designed simply and elegantly.

If you look down over the car with the hood down you will see the symmetrical lines, burr oak wood veneer with a boxwood inlay caressing the tip of the leather. The exterior, designed by Rob Peires, compliments the coupe while it sings its own song. The roof is lowered 35mm and the fully automated canvas roof stows perfectly flush in 25 seconds. The Arnage ADHC retains its cachet of exclusivity and elegance.

Best yet, the V-8 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged engine produces 450 horsepower with a 0-60 of 5.5 seconds. Bentley offers an array of tailor-made offerings and according to Andrew Stuart, President of Bentley, “we can even replace leather with some other fabric if you wish.” The price will be somewhere around $225,000-$250,000.

2005 Maserati Quattroporte Top picks

2005 <a href=
Chicago Auto Show CAS

The Quattroporte is the flagship of Maserati. Of course, one would expect an Italian car to be the car of choice for the Italian President and Government representatives and they have picked the Quattroporte as their representative of all things Italian. Shown last year exclusively in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas Book it took just three minutes for all sixty Quattroportes to sell. Maseratis can be seen in The Sopranos and Desperate Housewives. The current Quattroporte goes 0-60 in 4.5 seconds and only costs $100,000.

2005 Ferrari F430 Top picks

2005 Ferrari F430
2005 Ferrari F430 – 2005 Chicago Auto show CAS

Ferrari is the epitome of a prancing racing machine that hasn’t been gilded. In commemoration of its past 50 years in the United States Ferrari opened a showroom – not a dealership – on Park Avenue. The showroom is more of a museum, not a dealership. Ferrari’s V-8 490 horsepower Berlinetta does 0-60 in a horse-hoofing stomp of 3.5 seconds.

The F430 replaces the 360 modena. Get your pocketbook ready – this horse isn’t cheap at a $185,000. Of course, that’s chump change to Michael Schumacher, winner of yet another Formula One year.

2006 Cadillac DTS Top picks

2006 Cadillac DTS
2006 Cadillac DTS

If you’re having a hard time remembering which Cadillac is which don’t feel bad, I am too. We have the CTS (entry-luxury sport sedan), STS (luxury sport sedan), SRX (sports crossover wagon), XLR (two-seater convertible), and now the DTS (full-size luxury sedan).

The DTS takes over where the DeVille left off and there wasn’t much change on the exterior except some front and rear restyling to give it that big bad voodoo daddy look that Cadillac is becoming known for. The engine is the same 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 in the DeVille.

You probably wouldn’t have seen President Bush in his inaugural walk in the DeVille, but you did see him in the DTS limousine. The vehicle is a considerably longer, wider, and taller version of the production model. You can buy your miniaturized version of Americana heritage when the DTS goes on sale this fall.

2006 International RXT Top picks

2006 International RXT
2006 International RXT

Oops, I did it again. It’s bad enough that International built the CXT, the 1 pound shy of needing a commercial license in your face pickup on a dump truck now they’re doing it again. International actually had the huevos to call this vehicle sleek. This is another in your face, the world is damned and my neighbors too.

The RXT is built on a tow-truck platform instead of the dump-truck platform for the CXT. But the CXT is selling 25 behemoths a month. There are journalists saying that it is only a fad, but they said the same thing about the Cadillac Escalade. Full-size pickups are booming. According to J.D. Powers, Power Information Network, sales were up 6.5% from 2003 to 2004 on full-size pickups and the marketshare increased from 14.2 to 14.9 percent in one year. And, hey, this is a steal, 300 horsepower for only $70,000.

2006 Buick Lucerne

2006 Buick Lucerne
2006 Buick Lucerne

Ed Welburn, the chief designer for General Motors, loves the design of the Buick Lucerne. Welburn thinks the Lucerne is, “grace and refinement, a well-executed car with a sculpted metal line that goes from one end of the car, over the top all the way to the front.”

Welburn is a creative man. You see it in the way he touches a car as he explains the design and how he connects to it on an emotional level. I personally like the Buicks in China better. Buick is huge in China. The Regal is a major seller. General Motors owns ten percent of the market in China and it is because of Buick. Buick is just not as relevant in the United States as they are in China.

It’s great that they have the 32-valve double overhead cam (DOHC) 4.6-liter V-8 that pours out 275 horsepower, but haven’t they seen the success of Cadillac? Buick is trying to appeal to the import luxury crowd, but even Lexus is changing its styling. The Lucerne is taking over in size where the LeSabre left off.

It still has the cues on the exterior of Buick of America, though the two-toning red with black was a welcome newcomer, something I would have expected on a Chinese Buick.

An appeal for the younger folks is that the Lucerne is the first Buick to offer a V-8 in more than a decade. There are three trim levels available on the Lucerne, CX, CXL, CXS. The Lucerne will be manufactured at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center along with the Cadillac DTS. There will be lots of room as soon as General Motors stops production of the Pontiac Bonneville. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.

2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

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Chicago Auto Show CAS

The Ford Escape is doing so well Ford decided to let their sister, the Mercury Mariner join in the fun. The environmentally conscious SUV with remarkable fuel economy – an estimated 33 miles per gallon (mpg) city, 29 mpg highway “ is expected to meet the cleanest emissions rating achievable by a fossil-fuel vehicle (California’s Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standard).

It utilizes the same 2.3-liter engine with an electric motor found in the Escape and will be offered in all-wheel drive. Ford didn’t expect to bring the Mariner hybrid out this early, but the gas-sipping fuel-efficient SUV was doing so well Bill decided to pull the due date forward to somewhere before the end of the year.

2005 Dodge Ram Mega Cab

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Top picks Chicago Auto Show CAS

Vice President George Murphy hosted the Daimler Chrysler World Introduction of Dodge’s largest and longest pickup cab ever, the 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab. The Mega Cab’s interior cargo volume at 71 cubic-ft. comfortably seats six and has the largest second-row leg space room ever, of 44.2 inches.

The 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab’s crosshair grille and big-rig styling make it easily recognizable. The Dodge Ram Mega Cab features a 111.1-inch long cab. The Ram Mega’s rear door opening is 34.5 inches wide and 35.5 inches high. The 2006 Dodge Mega Cab offers maximum power, maximum torque, and maximum towing capability.

The Mega Cab will be available with either a 345-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi gasoline V8, or a 5.9-liter, inline-six Cummins turbo-diesel producing a rip-roaring 325 horsepower.

The Mega Cab can tow up to 15,800 pounds. For those “made in the USA” types, you’ll be importing this from Daimler Chrysler’s Saltillo, Mexico assembly plant if you buy it this fall.

The entire top picks of vehicles shown at the 2005 Chicago CAS and Detroit Auto Show were;

2005 Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe
2005 BMW M5
BMW 530xi station wagon
2005 Cadillac STS-V
2005 Ferrari SuperAmerica
2005 Ferrari F430
2005 Ford Mustang Convertible
2005 International RXT
2005 Lexus RX 330 Thundercloud
2005 Maserati Quattroporte
2005 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG
2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP
2005 Porsche 911 Cabriolet
2005 Porsche 911 Cabriolet S
2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo
2006 Buick Lucerne
2006 Cadillac DTS
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
2006 Chevrolet Impala
2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Dodge Charger
2006 Ford Fusion
2006 Ford Harley F-150
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2006 Hummer H1 Alpha
2006 Hummer H3
2006 Hyundai Portico
2006 Hyundai Sonata
2006 Kia Rio
2006 Land Rover Range Rover
2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
2006 Lincoln Mark LT
2006 Lincoln Zephyr
2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class
2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse
2006 Mitsubishi Raider
2006 Pontiac Torrent
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
2006 Toyota Avalon
2006 Volkswagen Jetta
2007 Saturn Aura
2007 Saturn Sky
Acura RD-X Concept
ASC Helios
Aston Martin Vanquish S
Audi Allroad Quattro
Chevrolet Corvette C6-R
Chrysler Firepower
Dodge Viper SRT10 Coupe
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Ford Fairlane
Ford Shelby GR-1
Ford SYNus
GMC Graphyte
Infiniti Kuraza
Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Concept
Jeep Gladiator
Jeep Hurricane
Kia KCD II Concept
Lexus LF-A
Mazda MX-Crossport Concept
Mazda5 Multi-Activity Vehicle
Mercedes-Benz R-Class
Mercury Meta One
Nissan Azeal Coupe
Segway Centaur
Suzuki Concept-X
Toyota FT-SX
Volkswagen New Beetle Ragster
Volvo 3CC Concept

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.