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Unofficial guide to the automotive future

By Jeff Bartlett
Motor Trend

2004 Aston Martin DB7 Speedster: Aston will apply the "Speedster" formula to a special DB7 convertible targeted to the U.S. market by replacing the rear seats with styling bulges. Interior will be dressed with race-style bucket seats and metal trim.

2004 Ford Econoline: Appearance will be updated and more fuel-efficient engines introduced.

2004 Ford Escape: Styling freshened. Continuously variable transmission offered.

2004 Ford Explorer: Both engines available on the 2004 Ford Explorer, the 4.0-liter V-6 and the 4.6-liter V-8, will feature "drive-by-wire." A number of other technologies to be introduced on the 2004 Explorer also help improve its fuel economy by reducing friction and parasitic energy loss. These technologies include coated pistons, torque converter upgrade, electronic returnless fuel system, low-rolling-resistance tires, synthetic rear axle lube, and an advanced exhaust gas return (EGR) system. The fuel economy gain will be about one mile per gallon compared to the 2003 ratings.

2004 Ford F-150: Redesigned with a tougher, hard-edge appearance drawn from the Tonka Truck concept and current Super Duty. A traditional standard cab is replaced with a short extended cab, featuring small rear-cabin doors without glass. Look for more sophisticated V-8 engines to use three-valve cylinder heads, electronically controlled butterfly valves, and variable valve timing to aid fuel economy and boost power. The new 5.4-liter V-8 will produce 300 horsepower with a 365 lb-ft torque peak. The new F-150 will be unveiled at the 2003 Detroit auto show and it goes on sale summer 2003.

2004 Ford GT: Ford will rush the GT into production for 2003 to celebrate the automaker's 100th anniversary. Originally named "GT40," the car will go by the name "GT" since Ford was unable to secure rights to the classic moniker. The GT employs an all-new aluminum spaceframe with a custom suspension, complete with horizontal dampers to permit the essential low profile. Between the rear 19-inch Goodyears rests a supercharged 5.4-liter/500-hp V-8 engine that out-muscles even the strongest of the original series cars.

2004 Ford Hybrid: Ford to offer a hybrid electric/gas-powered sedan.

2004 Ford Ranger: Redesign.

2004 Ford Windstar: Redesign.

2004 Jaguar XJ: Jaguar's new XJ body is manufactured almost entirely from aluminum for reduced weight and improved body stiffness. Its proportions have also been transformed; it is longer, taller, and wider than its predecessor for more interior space for occupants and luggage. Underhood, the new XJ will be available with a choice of two 4.2-liter V-8 engines: The supercharged V-8 in the XJR delivers 390 horsepower, while the naturally aspirated 4.2-liter/294-hp engine sits below it. The XJ features standard self-leveling air suspension, Computer Active Technology Suspension, Dynamic Stability Control, and four-channel anti-lock brakes. Pricing information will be available closer to its on sale date in Spring 2003.

2004 Lincoln Near-Lux Sedan: As Lincoln works to reinvent itself, the rear-drive range will be expanded with a near-lux sedan based on the Jaguar X-type. Codenamed D310, the new sedan is positioned against the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C Class, beneath the LS.

2004 Mazda Miata: Piston-powered sports car to share the RX-8, rear-drive chassis.

2004 Mazda RX-8: The 21st-century "RX-7" will be offered as a rear-drive sedan with "suicide" rear doors to ease passenger ingress/egress. The RX-8 is powered by Mazda's revolutionary RENESIS side-exhaust naturally aspirated rotary engine producing 210 horsepower with an automatic, 250 horsepower with six-speed manual. Signaling a sports car revival, the RX-8 is racing toward production on a platform that will be shared with the next Miata. On sale spring 2003

2004 Mercury Crossover: Now that the contract with Nissan has expired, a FoMoCo-developed, crossover-type vehicle is expected to replace the Mercury Villager.

2004 Mercury Monterey: The Nissan-engineered Villager will be replaced by a larger, Ford-developed minivan derived from the updated Windstar. Power comes from a torquey new 4.2-liter/200-hp V-6. Lux features include heated/cooled front steats, power-adjustable pedals, and dual-zone climate control. Safety features to include side-curtain airbags for all three rows, front and rear object sensors, tire-pressure monitoring system, and self-sealing tires. On sale fall 2003.

2004 Mercury Sable: Recent indications are that the Sable will separate from its Taurus fraternal twin, instead evolving from the new Mondeo or the Mazda 6. Either choice offers a more dynamic vehicle available in multiple body styles.

2004 Volvo S40/V40: Built on a platform shared with the next-generation Ford Focus. A Cross Country variant is expected. We hope for a performance-oriented T4, as is offered currently in Europe.
 

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Ooh, a tiny Lincoln, a very BIG mistake!

Instead, should axe the Navigator, and re-introduse a RWD Continental sedan, and coupe, a four-door convertible, re-style Town Car properly, and a new Super Luxury Limo priced between Big Benz' and Rolls-Royce, called the Lincoln K, and no more
X-over SUV's!! Please!
 

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How would you americans feel if ford used a Australian Falcon chassis as the next mid-size rear drive sedan instead of the small X-type?
 
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