Acura pushes power into RL; Dodge debuts Challenger

2009 International LoneStar semi-tractor: Big-truck maker International loves to waltz into a car show and pull the covers off a huge commercial truck, as if it's the most natural thing in the world. This year at Chicago, it's the 2009 LoneStar, a semi-tractor rig that the company says combines the aerodynamic advantages of streamliners favored by penny-wise trucking fleets, but has the long hood and the mega-chrome beloved by truckers who buy their own machines, instead of driving somebody else's. International says the huge, laid-back grille is meant to recall 1930s-era International D-series trucks.

New-tech clean-diesel engines and the sleeker design are good for about 1 mile per gallon more – 6 instead of 5, more or less, depending on which engine and what the tractor's pulling. Truckers can order them in April, starting at $115,000, and get delivery beginning this fall.

The equipment list reads like a luxury liner's: Wood floor in the sleeper cab, Monsoon killer stereo, microwave and mini-frig, leather. Plus the gamut of auto-style safety hardware such as anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, Bluetooth hands-free phone link.

2009 Hummer H3T: If you like the idea of coming full circle, pay attention. General Motors, which owns the Hummer brand name, used the Chevrolet Colorado compact pickup as the base for the Hummer H3 SUV. That's the small (relatively) Hummer. Now, GM is stretching and tweaking the H3 back into a pickup, called H3T.

It goes into production third quarter this year at Shreveport, La., and will be available with the Colorado/H3 in-line five-cylinder engine (242 hp, 242 lbs.-ft. of torque) and in the Hummer Alpha version. That's the V-8 – 5.3 liters, 300 hp, 320 lbs.-ft. Thus equipped, GM says, the H3T Alpha tows up to 5,900 lbs., or 900 pounds more than a V-6 Jeep Liberty. Cargo bed's 5 feet long, which GM says is plenty for dirt bikes and the like.

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