2010 North American International Auto Show Preview, parte due

So I got a slew of emails this week from the NAIAS show organizers. Here’s a sampling of what to expect!

The first one is regarding the charity preview on the Friday evening before the show officially starts. This year that day is January 15th:

“The Romantics” Set to Rock Charity Preview at 2010 North American International Auto Show – National Recording Artists Coming Home to Help Out

Detroit, MI – January 5, 2010 – The home-grown masters of infectious upbeat, three-chord rock are coming back to Detroit for an exclusive show at the 2010 Charity Preview at Cobo Center, Friday, January 15, 2010.

The annual Charity Preview gala event is once again scheduled for the Friday prior to public days, January 15 from 6-9 p.m. The annual event benefits 12 local children’s charities and has raised more then $79 million since its inception in 1976, with the money raised by ticket sales going to provide medical treatment, clothing and support services for local kids. Tickets for Charity Preview are currently available and can be purchased by calling 888-838-7500, or by visiting www.charitypreview.com. Tickets are $250 each.

Detroit's The Romantics set to play  the 2010 NAIAS Charity Preview on Jan. 15 at Cobo Center

“Entertainment for Charity Preview is great because it provides value for a ticket that does so much good for so many in our tri-county area. But to have The Romantics here to play for the home crowd is beyond our expectations,” said Doug Fox, chairman, 2010 NAIAS. “These guys earned their stripes playing for America’s toughest audiences in the Midwest and specifically Detroit. They understand how to deliver a show that is sure to not only provide an uplifting party, but to draw a crowd to help those in dire need when times are the most difficult – the children of our cities.”

With a driving E-A-D-A chord progression and a raucous refrain of “HEY.uh  huh,” of “What I Like About You,” The Romantics blazed onto airwaves in 1980 and firmly established themselves in the power pop movement. Hits like “Talkin’ in Your Sleep,” “Rock You Up” and “One in a Million” broke to national channels to make the band a staple on the touring circuit to take the Detroit legacy of Iggy Pop melded with The Ramones energy to the masses.

“We are proud to take part in this charitable event. It’s always exciting when we play Detroit, but doing it to help the community in our hometown takes this to another level for us,” said Romantics guitarist/vocalist Wally Palmar. “We know this will be a great show for the Detroit crowd and I know they won’t disappoint in benefiting what’s important to all of us – the children of the Motor City.”

Along with repeats I posted last week was this gem of an announcement:

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood to Attend 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit

U.S. Department of Transportation

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will hold a press conference at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan at 7:00 AM on Monday, January 11, 2010. The North American International Auto Show in Detroit is the largest automotive showcase in America.

Following the press conference, Secretary LaHood will attend the opening ceremony and unveilings for Ford, GM and Toyota, then tour the show floor.

WHO: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood

WHAT: Press Conference at the North American International Auto Show, Detroit, MI

WHEN: 7:00 AM – Monday, January 11, 2010

WHERE: Cobo Center, Michigan Hall Stage
               1 Washington Boulevard
               Detroit, MI  48226

Now I’m really feeling the pain of not going to the press preview this year! I’d love to hear what Mr. LaHood will say about our current transportation needs and what, if anything, the federal government is planning for the future.

Remember, the public show runs January 16 through January 23, 2010. Go here for more info.

And here’s today’s Retro Review, one of my all-time favorite trucks!:

2003 GMC Sierra w/Quadrasteer

A Big Truck with Maneuvers to Spare

By James E. Bryson

Innovation is nothing new for automakers. It’s how they get people to buy more of their product and it grants the innovator bragging rights for at least a few years. Enter what GM is calling Quadrasteer: just like it sounds, it’s four-wheel steering for a pickup truck…pretty neat.

In the light truck category, those that are smaller than a semi and work just as hard, innovation has been slow for the last few years because there’s only so much you can do with a pickup, until the competition bring their version to market.

Other manufacturers have tried this type of thing before, most notably the Nissan 300ZX with HICAS (High Capacity Actively Controlled Suspension) rear steering. But where Nissan failed to attract buyers to a high performance sports car that could corner better, this new iteration from The General is actually useful to a larger percentage of the truck populace.

We tested Quadrasteer on a 2003 GMC Sierra Heavy Duty crew cab with four full-sized doors and a standard bed. It was pretty long and sat really high…what a great truck should be.

For the price of a decent used car ($5,525) you get the four-wheel steering package: Quadrasteer, roof marker lamps (like a semi), heavy duty trailering equipment, manually selected ride control, a limited slip differential and a 145-amp alternator. All of this must be accompanied by the heavy-duty package as well. Hopefully it won’t be long before this option will be available on regular trucks so that more of the population can take advantage of this class-leading feature.

The funny thing is…Quadrasteer is well worth the money. We found that we were able to run circles around some family sedans and we even made a few u-turns that no other truck could conceivably accomplish without two or three tries doing the old three-point maneuver.

This new system is supposed to be great for towing (the rear wheels turn with the fronts on the road so the trailer will follow more easily). Unfortunately for us we didn’t get a chance to test the Sierra’s towing ability but we’re sure that with the ride control, big engine and Quadrasteer we could have towed anything including a fifth-wheel trailer with ease (mostly because the truck sits really high).

Inside the Sierra HD is just like any other GM truck, which isn’t as bad as you might think. On the contrary, it’s a very livable, useable place. Our tester was equipped with many neat options that would make travel a delight. For the kids, there was a DVD entertainment system with connections for gaming systems. For the adults, there was an upgraded radio with CD, Bose speakers and XM satellite radio.

The real distinguishing factor to tell the Quadrasteer vehicle from more plebian Sierras is the rear fender bulges and semi-like lights adorning the top of the cab and bulged fenders. One thing we really missed with this truck was running boards. It’s a fairly tall vehicle and we ended up having to practically jump into it every time. While not an issue to keep us from buying, this was getting old by the end of our visit with the Sierra.

One startling thing we found with our tester was the bouncy ride this truck affords. We had to keep telling ourselves that this is a work truck and not something designed for daily commuting, unless your commute takes you onto a construction site or you haul a trailer as part of your occupation. With that in mind we found it a bit easier to swallow the as-tested price of $45,095, which included a $745 destination charge.

Options on our tester, which ended up bumping the test vehicles price by 12-large, included the $1600 SLT décor group (front leather seats, air and dual-zone climate controls, cruise control, CD radio, power windows and locks, transfer case and steering wheel controls for almost everything); the aforementioned Quadrasteer package; rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1295); front reclining buckets with power driver seat ($1135); $595 for the totally awesome Bose CD stereo; $325 for an equally awesome XM satellite receiver; polished aluminum wheels ($150); LT245/75R16 tires ($55); and a 4.10 rear axle ($50).

Funny thing is, without all the frilly stuff and Quadrasteer, a heavy-duty GMC bases at $33,620.00. For the price you get basic necessities like 6.0-liter V8, four-wheel ABS, rear heat ducts and a 60/40 split rear seat, full gauges with tachometer, trailer wire harness and tilt wheel.

Our bottom line comes down to this: even if this Sierra came without Quadrasteer and the XM Radio package it would still be a great vehicle, albeit a much less expensive one.

Today’s Car of the Day:

concept_cadillac_converj concept_cadillac_converj (6)

Here’s the Cadillac Converj electric vehicle concept from the 2009 NAIAS. It’s basically an electric-powered CTS coupe.

concept_cadillac_converj (5) concept_cadillac_converj (3)

This is one of those concepts that I really wish the company would build…unadulterated and unchanged form concept form. Too bad that rarely happens.concept_cadillac_converj (2)

Thanks for stopping by!!

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James E. Bryson

Cars make the world go 'round!

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