Nissan needs an image-builder in America. Could the next-generation Skyline be it? The latest Skyline unveiled in Tokyo last week - the 10th in the line - has impressive halo-car credentials.
Available in two- and four-door versions, the Skyline offers three inline-six engine options, including a range-topping 280-hp turbo version. Nissan is targeting sales of 5,000 a month at a price of about $15,550 to $23,750 at current exchange rates.
The Skyline has been sold only in Japan. But as Nissan moves forward with plans to consolidate its light vehicles onto 10 platforms by 2003, the automaker may not be able to justify an 11th-generation Japan-only Sky-line. That argues for export sales to other markets.
Toyota, meanwhile, bills its new Gaia minivan as a luxury family vehicle. The six-seater, also unveiled last week, has such touches as a 5.8-inch display for the voice navigation system and flip-up center tables to accompany flip-out cupholders.
The Gaia is 187.9 inches long, 64.6 inches high, 66.7 inches wide and rides on 107.7-inch wheelbase. Those dimensions make it slightly smaller than Toyota's U.S.-market Sienna. Toyota did not rule out exports, but the Gaia's standard, four-cylinder 2.0-liter powerplant would not be much of a draw in the United States.