CHICAGO - The spotlight at the Chicago Auto Show this week will be squarely on Toyota's redesigned 2007 Tundra - a bigger, bolder pickup aimed at the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado.
Toyota is so confident of the Tundra's success that two U.S. plants are being prepared to assemble the truck.
Trucks account for most of the world debuts at Chicago's McCormick Place:
- Lincoln will unveil the re-engineered 2007 Navigator along with a new stretched version.
- Dodge will expand its SUV line with the Nitro.
- Hyundai will introduce its first minivan.
- Nissan will unveil the Quest minivan with an upgraded interior.
- Chevrolet spotlights the 2007 Avalanche.
Press conferences are scheduled Wednesday, Feb. 8, and Thursday, Feb. 9. Here are the significant world debuts planned.
General Motors will unveil its restyled and re-engineered Chevrolet Avalanche. The multifunctional pickup gets enhancements similar to those GM made on the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade.
Three world debuts are scheduled for the Dodge stand, including the Nitro SUV. (See story, at right.) Dodge also will unveil an SRT performance version of an unspecified existing model and a truck concept that executives say would take the brand in a new direction.
A concept car that is a variation of an existing model will be unveiled, but Honda is offering no details.
The production version of the 2007 Entourage minivan will be unveiled. The Entourage is a sibling of Kia's Sedona minivan.
The Sedona goes on sale this month in a long-wheelbase version. A short-wheelbase version arrives in late summer. The Hyundai edition will be in long-wheelbase format only, and will go on sale this summer. The Sedona will compete with the Dodge Grand Caravan, while the Entourage - with more upscale touches - goes against the Chrysler Town & Country.
Navistar International Corp. will take the wraps off two trucks: the redesigned 2007 International MXT, a large, four-door Hummer-like pickup and the production version of the four-door RXT concept that debuted at last year's Chicago show. The RXT featured a 22-foot pickup bed.
The fifth generation of its ES 350 mid-sized near-luxury sedan will debut. The redesigned car, based on the Avalon platform, remains front-wheel drive. Lexus says the ES 350 will arrive in showrooms in late spring. There is no word on prices.
Ford Motor Co. is putting Lincoln front and center.
Lincoln will unveil the re-engineered 2007 Lincoln Navigator and its new companion, the extended-length Navigator L that targets Cadillac Escalade ESV buyers. The versions of the Navigator receive freshened front and rear styling, a new interior, a new frame and steering and handling improvements.
The Navigator and its sibling, the Ford Expedition, are the first vehicles on Ford's T1 architecture. The F-150 pickup eventually will move to this architecture and share front-end components.
Lincoln also will announce the availability of all-wheel drive and Ford's new 250-plus-hp 3.5-liter V-6 for the 2007 Zephyr.
The horsepower gets cranked up on Mercedes' six-passenger R-class crossover with the addition of a performance model, the 503-hp R63 AMG.
The 6.3-liter V-8 engine produces 465 pounds-feet of torque. Standard equipment includes awd and a seven-speed automatic transmission. Sales begin in August. This V-8 is the first engine developed entirely by AMG, Mercedes' performance arm.
The high-performance 2007 Galant Ralliart has a 258-hp, 3.8-liter V-6. The car features 18-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension.
Ralliart, Mitsubishi's motor sports group, also is responsible for the Lancer Evolution and Lancer Ralliart.
The Galant Ralliart has exterior styling changes that will be used in the restyled 2007 Galant. The car will be built at Mitsubishi's assembly plant in Normal, Ill.
Nissan is counting on the 2007 Quest's new interior to boost the minivan's disappointing sales. One of the highlights of the interior is a new instrument panel, which positions the gauges in front of the driver. In the current Quest, gauges are in the center of the instrument panel. Some potential buyers said that was inconvenient and distracting.
The most important introduction at the Chicago show will be the 2007 Toyota Tundra pickup.
The new Tundra, first seen as a concept at the Detroit auto show two years ago as the FTX, will be much larger than the current Tundra. Toyota is tired of criticism that the current Tundra is a seven-eighths-scale pickup. The new one is expected to be larger than existing Ford, GM and Dodge pickups.
The V-8 engine size is expected to grow from its current 4.7 liters to the 5.5-liter range, although there is a possibility of keeping the smaller engine as a price and fuel economy leader.
The pickup will be assembled in Princeton, Ind., and San Antonio. Sales are scheduled to begin early next year.
Mary Connelly, Rick Kranz, Jamie LaReau, Mark Rechtin and Amy Wilson contributed to this report