BMW X5 crosses the border
BMW's five-passenger X5 is federally listed as a light truck, but company officials promise it will drive and handle with the crispness and power of a BMW car.
The front-engine, four-wheel-drive vehicle comes with a 4.4-liter dual-overhead-cam, 32-valve V-8 aluminum engine with port fuel injection. The engine is controlled by Bosch's HFM-Motronic M5.2.1 system and is expected to put out 282 hp at 5,400 rpm.
Performance estimates peg the X5 as having 0 to 60 mph performance of 7.3 seconds and a top governed speed of 128 mph.
The powerplant is coupled with the ZF five-speed automatic Steptronic transmission with lockup torque converter. The transmission lets drivers override automatic shifting to choose gears.
Full-time all-wheel drive is accomplished using a version of BMW's DSCX dynamic stability control, which electronically diverts power to the wheels with the most grip. A special hill descent mode lets drivers take their feet off the accelerator and brake pedals, maintaining the
X5's speed at about 5 to 7 mph for steep off-road slopes.
The X5's wheelbase is 111 inches, and overall length is 183.5 inches. Vehicle height is nearly 68 inches, body width is almost 74 inches and curb weight is 4,828 pounds.
Standard equipment includes BMW's Car & Key Memory system, which uses a memory chip on the key to
'remember' a driver's preferred seat and mirror position, and eight-way power seats for driver and front passenger. Drivers can choose from a number of lighting options, including daytime running lights on or off.
Controls for audio, cruise control and an optional BMW-specified voice-activated cellular phone are located on the steering wheel. The instrument panel is equipped to accept an onboard GPS navigation system, also available as an option.
Dual front and side airbags are standard, with rear side airbags available as an option.
Optional Sport and Activity packages can be ordered separately or combined. The Sport package provides bolstered and adjustable front seats, a stiffer suspension, 19-inch wheels, different tire aspect ratios for front and rear wheels and V speed-rated tires. The activity package includes high-pressure headlight washers, automatic rain sensing for windshield wiper operation, heated seats and a special ski passthrough opening into the rear cargo area.
Chevy Suburban is stiffer, smoother
The redesigned 2000 Chevrolet Suburban has a new, hydroformed frame design that provides increased stiffness.
The frame is equipped with 'crush cap' ends that minimize damage and reduce repair costs in mild collisions.
Chevy's small-block Vortec engines power the Suburban, with the 5300 V-8 standard and the 300-hp Vortec 6000 available as an option. A four-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission is standard.
The optional Autoride suspension includes an instrument panel-mounted tow/haul button that eliminates excessive shifting on hilly roads. The Suburban can tow up to 10,500 pounds, depending on engine and suspension package.
Four-wheel-drive versions use the Autotrac active transfer case to control wheel slip; 2wd can be ordered with optional electronic traction assist. A transmission temperature gauge is now standard in Suburban 2500 models.
Independent front torsion bar suspension and five-link coil spring rear suspension give a smoother ride than previous Suburban models. Options include a load-leveling rear suspension and active shock absorber control to compensate for rough road surfaces. Antilock brakes are standard.
Front- and side-impact airbags are standard for driver and outboard passenger. The driver's seat has increased adjustment travel and improved seat-back angles. A driver message center displays up to 19 safety and maintenance functions.
Second-row reclining bucket seats are available as an option. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning are quieter and more effective than previous Suburban systems. The spare tire now is stored under the vehicle rather than inside the cargo area.
Chevy Tahoe shows strength
Chevrolet's full-sized Tahoe sport-utility features stiffer, more rugged frame, sheet metal and powertrain. The truck has a more durable rear axle, strengthened differential case, stiffer axle shafts and increased tube thickness. Dent- and corrosion-resistant sheet steel rides on a new modular frame.
The Tahoe's standard powerplant is the 4800 Vortec V-8 engine, with the more powerful 5300 V-8 available as an option. The truck shares most of the features of the Chevrolet Suburban but offers a Z71 off-road package that includes wheel flares, skid plates and OnStar navigation system. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard, as are front side-impact airbags.
Interior options include a 50/50 split third-row bench seat with flip-forward capability for self-storage.
Dodge Dakota goes quad
The new four-door Quad Cab version of the popular Dodge Dakota pickup will hold up to six people. Full-sized, front-hinged rear doors offer full, roll-down windows. The resized pickup box holds a 1,450-pound payload.
Standard power remains a 3.9-liter, 175-hp V-6 Magnum engine.
Two optional V-8 engines from Dodge's Magnum line are available: a 4.7-liter Next-Generation engine producing 235 hp and a 5.9-liter, 245-hp engine.
A new electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission with a dual-ratio second gear is available as an option with the 4.7-liter engine. The dual-ratio transmission uses a higher second-gear ratio for normal acceleration and a lower ratio for kick-down shifting for more power and passing performance. Also available with either V-8 engine is an improved five-speed manual transmission.
The Dakota is available with two-wheel-, part-time four-wheel-, or full-time four-wheel-drive systems. A revised lightweight independent front suspension and a new rack-and-pinion steering system on 4wd models give more precise on-center feel and extend front tire tread life.
Ford goes long with Excursion
Ford's new Excursion is the largest sport-utility on the market.
The Excursion bowed Sept. 30 in Limited and up-level XLT versions. The nine-passenger vehicle is offered with a 5.4-liter V-8, a 6.8-liter V-10 and a 7.3-liter V-8 diesel.
The Excursion is meant to appeal to drivers who move both cargo and passengers while towing a recreational or commercial trailer. Towing capacity is 6,200 pounds with the base-level powerplant and up to 10,000 pounds with larger engines. Rear cargo doors are designed to remain openable when trailers are attached.
At 226.7 inches, the Excursion is 7.4 inches longer than its competition, the 2000 Chevrolet Suburban and GMC*Yukon XL.
Optional four-wheel drive includes electronic shift-on-the-fly capability. The diesel version includes an interior and exterior sound-deadening package.
Interior features include five power outlets, 10 cupholders, privacy glass, separate reading lights and front and rear air conditioning. Split bench seats recline individually; second-row seats can be tipped forward and slide forward to offer third-row access. The Limited model includes power rear quarter windows, also available as an option on the XLT model.
GMC's big utes are now Yukons
GMC's full-sized sport-utilities have been redesigned, and one version gains a new name for the 2000 model year. The GMC Suburban is now called the Yukon XL.
The standard engine on the Yukon and Yukon XL is the Vortec 4800 V-8; half-ton models come with the 5300 V-8; and three-quarter-ton models with the 6000 V-8. Engine controls include a 'limp home' mode that allows up to 50 miles of driving at reduced speeds in case of overheating.
Transmissions include the 4L60-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic overdrive for models up to half-ton and the 4L80E four-speed automatic for three-quarter-ton models.
Two-wheel-drive Yukons and Yukon XLs have GM's electronic traction assist system that uses engine controls and the locking, limited-slip rear axle to control wheel slip.
Four-wheel-drive versions use the Autotrac active transfer case that offers full-time or automatic 4wd.
Trailer towing capacity rises by 1,000 to 2,000 pounds from limits on the 1999 Suburban, depending on engine and equipment packages. Self-leveling rear shocks and touring tires are part of the standard Premium Smooth Ride suspension package. The optional Off-Road suspension package has more aggressive tires and active suspension control system. Towing suspension packages are available.
Standard brakes are four-wheel discs; the front rotors and brake pads are 40 percent larger than in the 1999 GMC Suburban.
The Yukon and Yukon XL carry up to nine people with the optional third-row split-folding bench seat. The flip-and-fold seat design lets the third-row seat be stored within the vehicle.
Standard lighting includes halogen reflector fog lamps and ground-illumination lighting mounted in the outside rear-view mirror housings. Heated power mirrors are an option.
A driver's message center provides up to 19 service or safety alerts. Factory-installed OnStar navigation and communications system is available as an option.
Front airbags for the driver and center and outboard passengers and side airbags for the driver and outboard passenger are standard.
Seats are standouts in Mazda MPV
Mazda product planners charged with redesigning the MPV were given a mission: Appeal to buyers in Japan, Europe and the United States.
The all-for-one and one-for-all mentality resulted in a contemporary-looking, front-wheel-drive, seven-passenger minivan that offers many innovative features.
In what is a first for a minivan, the windows on the sliding doors can be raised or lowered. Roll-up windows are standard on the entry model, the DX, while the windows are power-operated on the LX and ES trim levels.
All MPVs include what Mazda calls Side-by-Slide removable second-row seats that offer the advantage of both captain's chairs and a bench seat. The seats move fore-and-aft and side-to-side while a passenger is seated.
The MPV's flat floor rises a few inches from the front of the vehicle to the back. This results in 'theater seating,' with passengers in the second row positioned higher than the first row, and passengers in the third row a little higher than those in the second. The seating configuration gives riders a better view out the front of the vehicle.
A novel feature is the design of the third seat, which can pivot 90 degrees rearward when the tailgate is open, becoming a bench seat for a picnic. The third seat also folds into the floor when additional space is needed.
Ford Motor Co.'s influence in operating Mazda can be found under the hood of the new MPV, which went on sale in July. Power for MPVs sold in North America comes from Ford's 24-valve, dohc, 2.5-liter V-6, rated at 170 hp and 165 pounds-feet of torque. Only one transmission is offered: a four-speed Mazda automatic.
Nissan brings Xterra out to play
Based on the Frontier pickup chassis, the Xterra is Nissan's newest entry in the sport-utility field.
Buyers have a choice of a 170-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 or a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that gives 143 hp to power the 104.3-inch-wheelbase vehicle.
The engines are coupled with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive are available.
Standard equipment includes antilock brakes, dual supplemental airbags, engine and fuel tank skid plates, 4x4 ride height on all models, power-assisted recirculating-ball steering and double-wishbone front/ dual leaf-spring rear suspension.
The Xterra seats five front bucket seats and split fold-down rear bench seats with removable bottom cushions.
Toyota Tundra offers variety
Toyota's new full-sized pickup, the Tundra, offers enough engine, drivetrain and cab configurations to make it appealing to a wide variety of buyers.
Standard equipment includes a 3.4-liter, 24-valve V-6 engine delivering 190 hp. An optional 4.7-liter, 32-valve V-8 i-Force engine offers 245 hp and still achieves low-emission vehicle classification.
The pickup is available in two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions. The V-8-powered 4wd models include Toyota's 'touch select' system with shift-on-the-fly pushbutton-controlled transfer case to choose between 2wd and the high or low ranges of 4wd. V-6-powered versions use either four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmissions.