Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cadillac, Chevy, Saturn power GM

Saturday, January 13, 2007
General Motors Corp.
Cadillac, Chevy, Saturn power GM
Paul and Anita Lienart / Special to The Detroit News

Much of the buzz at General Motors Corp. this year will be shared by Cadillac, Chevrolet and Saturn, although Buick hopes some of the luster will rub off on it, too.

GM is resting its hopes on redesigned editions of the Cadillac CTS and Chevrolet Malibu that take both models toward new horizons for model year 2008. Likewise, Saturn continues to broaden its product portfolio as the brand attempts to resurrect its lackluster image.

Hands-down the sexiest GM entry at the show: the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible.


Cadillac's redesigned entry-level sedan is making its world debut at the North American International Auto Show. The compact four-door gets new styling inside and out, with softer exterior lines and a stunning new cockpit, as well as substantial mechanical upgrades. The '08 CTS is scheduled to reach U.S. showrooms in late summer, with worldwide exports to follow in the fall.


Chevrolet's Camaro convertible, painted in a retro Hugger Orange pearl tri-coat with twin gunmetal gray sport stripes, hews closely to last year's Camaro concept. The Camaro convertible shares exterior dimensions with the Camaro concept, although GM noted that the convertible's windshield surround is changed slightly to fit the convertible top. Design cues include a tonneau cover over the folded top, a rear spoiler, racing-inspired fuel-filler door, front-inlet hood scoop and rear fender "gills."


The redesigned 2008 Malibu sedan is longer and wider than its predecessor, with all-new sheet metal and a beautiful new cabin that features an updated version of the GM brand's classic dual cockpit design. For '08, the front-wheel-drive Malibu will get a 6-inch longer wheelbase than the current model. Styling is bolder, with a dual-port grille that GM says represents "the new face of Chevrolet." Four- and six-cylinder models will be available, but the wagon-like Malibu Maxx hatchback has been dropped. The '08 model rolls into dealerships in mid-2007.


GM rolled out its redesigned full-size SUVs nearly a year ago, but the company's biggest gamble rests on the all-new pickups, the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Like the sport-utes, the big trucks have been extensively overhauled, with new sheet metal, revised cabins, updated suspensions and improved powertrains with better fuel economy. Under the striking new skin are more standard safety features and additional amenities, not to mention more luxurious cabins with higher quality and better materials.


A surprise star of the Detroit show is the Volt, a compact four-door hatchback that boasts sleek styling. But more importantly, it is GM's first plug-in electric vehicle. In addition to the electric motor, the Volt includes a small gasoline engine whose sole purpose is to act as a generator to charge up the car's lithium-ion batteries when the charge drops to 30 percent. You may not see the car hit the streets in exactly this guise, but the plug-in technology could find its way into some future GM production vehicles before the end of the decade.


An all-new entry for Saturn, the Aura sedan took North American Car of the Year honors this week during the North American International Auto Show. Designed to have more European road manners, the Aura comes standard with a 252-horsepower V-6. The styling is clean and uncomplicated and its interior is spacious.


Saturn's redesigned Vue crossover vehicle has been unveiled previously in Europe as the Opel Antara. The Saturn variant will be assembled in Mexico and will go on sale in early summer 2007. Saturn also said it will market Green Line hybrid and Red Line performance editions of the new Vue during the 2008 model year. The base '08 Vue will feature a 164hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine equipped with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Uplevel engine choices include a 215hp 3.5-liter V-6.

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