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2009 Chicago Auto Show: Chrysler Intros Commercial Ram; Toyota, Hyundai, Acura Unveil New Models

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CHICAGO Februaary 12, 2009; The AP reported that Chrysler LLC unveiled a new line of commercial versions of its Dodge Ram truck on Wednesday, the 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty trucks and the 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs.

Executive Vice President for Product Development Frank Klegon said at the Chicago Auto Show that the 2010 trucks, due out in the fall, give Dodge the newest truck lineup in the industry.

The commercial work trucks, with the Ram's trademark semi look, are targeted toward small-business-tradesmen, as well as users who need to customize the trucks to their work needs.

The trucks will be available for the first time with crew cabs to carry five or six passengers.

"This is a great opportunity for us" since crew cabs are half the heavy-duty truck market, Klegon said.

Buyers will have a choice between a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine and a 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel.

Pricing was not released.

Toyota unveils 2010 Tundra at Chicago Auto Show

CHICAGO (AP) -- Toyota unveiled the 2010 Tundra pickup at the Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday, featuring an optional smaller, more fuel-efficient V-8 engine and other features.

The truck, which will arrive at Toyota dealerships in April, can be equipped with a 4.6-liter V-8 engine.

For an added price, the truck will also feature a flex-fuel power train, which allows vehicles to run on gasoline-ethanol blends, and upgrades to the vehicle's exterior.

Toyota said it will release pricing in the spring. The 2009 Tundra starts at $22,490, according to Toyota's Web site.

Sales of pickup trucks like the Tundra have taken a beating over the last year, first from last summer's spike in gasoline prices, then from the slowdown in new construction. Last year, passenger cars outsold light trucks -- a category that includes sport utility vehicles -- for the first time since 2000.

Tundra sales in the U.S. fell 41 percent last month. Toyota sales overall declined 32 percent during the same period.

Hyundai unveils sport coupe version of Genesis

CHICAGO (AP) -- Hyundai Motor America on Wednesday expanded its model lineup into performance cars when it pulled the cover off its Genesis two-door sport coupe.

The car, unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, will hit showrooms in late February or early March to compete against the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Infiniti G37.

The rear-wheel-drive coupe is priced starting at $22,000, far less than the Genesis Luxury sedan, which runs $42,000 fully equipped.

Acting Chief Executive John Krafcik said the car doesn't have the fine leather interior or higher-cost multilink suspension of the luxury sedan. Its MacPherson Strut suspension handles well, and its mainly cloth interior should appeal to a buyer seeking a more sporty look and feel, he said.

The coupe is powered by a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or an optional 3.8-liter V-6.

Krafcik said the car should get Hyundai on the minds of performance-oriented enthusiasts who influence other car buyers.

Acura unveils V-6 version of TSX sport sedan

CHICAGO (AP) -- Acura hopes its new souped up TSX model will be a hit with youthful drivers when sales of the V-6 model begin this summer.

The sport sedan, which debuted Wednesday at the Chicago Auto Show, is equipped with a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter engine, five-spoke aluminum wheels, double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension system, and standard leather interior.

It's targeted at "youthful buyers who want a performance-oriented sports sedan in a more personal size," according to executives who say the vehicle will fill a niche between the four-cylinder TSX and the luxury TL sedan.

The company did not release pricing or the fuel economy information for the new model.

Wednesday's announcement is the first in a series of updates to Acura's 2010 line up.

Jeff Conrad, Acura's vice president of sales, said the automotive company planned to announce enhancements to most of its fleet of sedans and SUVs in the coming months.

5 GM vehicles are in new 'Transformers' movie

CHICAGO (AP) -- Cars from General Motors Corp. will once again play a dominant role in the sequel to the 2007 action movie "Transformers."

The Detroit automaker announced at the Chicago Auto Show Wednesday that its Chevrolet Volt rechargeable electric car will appear in the movie, as will the Chevrolet Camaro muscle car, its Beat and Trax subcompact concept cars and a Stingray concept that looks like the next generation Chevrolet Corvette.

The sequel, due out in the spring, is called "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Both movies are about humans caught in an intergalactic war between armies of giant robots that can change into cars, planes and other technological creations.

The first movie helped GM reach younger car buyers in the 18 to 34 age group, and GM hopes to replicate that with the sequel.

Ed Peper, North American vice president for Chevrolet, said the second movie will debut about the time the 2010 Camaro reaches showrooms. After the first movie, Camaro awareness nearly doubled, he said.

The Volt, which can travel up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) on an electric charge and has a small gas engine to generate power after that, will be called the "Jolt" and show off its electric power source in the show, according to Peper.

The Stingray concept looks like a bulked-up Corvette with wide shoulders and vertical headlights in the sculpted fenders.

The Beat concept car will become the Chevrolet Trax and appear in showrooms in 2011.