Personal Finance > Autos
More new cars from the New York show
Nissan rolls out a convertible 350Z, new full-sized pick-up, and SUV. Plus: a preview of the Mazda3.
April 18, 2003: 11:12 AM EDT
By Lawrence Ulrich, Money Magazine

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - On Thursday, the second of two media-only days for the 2003 New York International Auto Show at Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Center, lots of attention went to Nissan's attempt to crack the all-American big pick-up market. Nissan also revealed a drop-top version of the 350Z sports car.

The New York show opens to the public with a "sneak preview" April 18 and runs through April 27. The highlights so far:

Nissan Titan Crew Cab

Toyota tried and failed for years to crack the code of full-size pickup buyers. Nissan thinks it can do better on its first try, and showed the four-door, Crew Cab version of the 2004 Titan pickup first unveiled in Detroit. Claiming best-in-class rear legroom and towing capacity of 9,400 pounds, the Titan draws burly power from a new 5.6-liter V-8 with more than 300 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque. On sale in December, the Titan will be built alongside the Quest minivan and Pathfinder Armada SUV at Nissan's new Canton, Miss. facility.

New York Auto Show
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Heartland loyalists of Ford and Chevy may be a tough crowd, but Nissan officials said a pickup with the right size, power and features could do the job. "If it's a real-deal truck, they'll give us a shot," said Jed Connelly, Nissan North America's senior VP. The Titan also features a spray-in bedliner, electronic stability control, and a lockable storage bin behind the driver's side rear wheelwell.

Nissan 350Z Roadster

Already topping the sports-car charts after just seven months on the market -- outselling even the Chevrolet Corvette -- Nissan's revived Z gets a 2004 convertible version that reaches dealers in late July. Two models are offered, an enthusiast model that starts around $34,000, and a touring model priced $2,000 to $3,000 higher.

Sharing the hardtop's 287-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, the roadster features a power-folding soft top with a glass rear window that stows or erects in just 20 seconds. Optional seats feature mesh inserts designed to stay cooler in the sun, along with built-in heaters for chillier days.

Nissan Pathfinder Armada

Nissan's non-stop product blitz continued with the 2004 Pathfinder Armada, the Japanese automaker's first full-size SUV. About the size of a Ford Expedition, the Armada goes on sale in October in seven- or eight-passenger configurations. Using the same rugged steel frame as the Titan pickup, the Pathfinder Armada also shares its 5.6-liter V-8 with more than 300 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque.

Nissan's class-leading claims include the Armada's ample rear legroom and 9,100-pound towing capacity. Second and third row seats fold flat. Standard gear includes electronic stability control, adjustable brake and accelerator pedals and side-curtain air bags for all three rows; a DVD navigation system and entertainment system are options.

Chevrolet Malibu Maxx

Sharing its basic structure with the new Saab 9-3, the 2004 Malibu Maxx is a five-door hatch version of the Malibu sedan, on sale late this year. Overall length actually drops a half-inch compared to the outgoing Malibu, but the wheelbase is up six inches, a package that delivers generous interior space. Engine is a 3.5-liter, 200-horsepower V-6. Rear seats can slide seven inches fore and aft, and a fixed rear skylight brightens up the back.

The cargo area, accessed by a lightweight aluminum tailgate, features a moveable panel that allows two-tier loading or doubles as a tailgate table. And an optional factory-installed remote starter system lets the driver warm up the car without leaving the comfort of the house.

Mazda MX Sportif

Mazda calls the MX Sportif a concept, but it's essentially the car consumers will see as the 2004 Mazda3 when it goes on sale around November. The sprightly-looking hatchback replaces the Protege, and will be paired in showrooms with a sedan version Mazda will unveil in Frankfurt later this year.

The Sportif is powered by the same 2.0-liter, 150-horsepower four-cylinder found in the midsize Mazda6, mated to a five-speed manual transmission with a short-throw shifter. Like the latest Ford Focus, which uses a version of the same engine, the Mazda is expected to meet Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) standards in the U.S.

Toyota Camry Solara coupe

Coupes may be out of favor with many buyers, but Toyota will soldier on with its second-generation Solara, on sale in mid-August. The two-door version of the latest Camry sedan gets a base 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 157 horsepower, and an optional 225-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6.

As with the Camry, each of three models -- SLE, SE and SE Sport -- gets its own interior treatment. The SE Sport adds special body work, sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and more.

Mercury Mariner

Still striving to get out from under Ford's shadow, the Mercury division offered its Mariner compact SUV. The mildly upscale version of the popular Ford Escape goes on sale in 2004 as a 2005 model, borrowing familiar satin aluminum and satin nickel trim pieces from the larger Mountaineer. Base engine is a 2.3-liter four-cylinder, or an optional 3.0-liter V-6 with about 200 horsepower.

Like the latest Escape, the Mariner gets an all-new electronic four-wheel-drive system, and the automatic shifter is moved from the steering column to the floor.

Lincoln Navigator K

Take a humongous Lincoln Navigator. Add a 385-horsepower supercharged engine, 20-inch chrome wheels and accents for added "bling-bling," and you've got the Navigator K, a concept vehicle from Ford's newly minted Performance Group.

Inside, the Navigator replaces its standard wood accents with satin nickel finish pieces, along with garnet-colored leather seats and high-pile luxury carpet. Chris Theodore, Ford vice president for advanced product, said the Performance Group would deliver showroom versions of some Lincoln models.  Top of page

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