There was an abundance of “big” at last month's Chicago auto show, although few of the new production and concept vehicles displayed seemed to add up to anything but small potential sales gains for an industry eager to light a fire under 2005's projected flat sales figures.

The Chrysler Group's Dodge division typically isn't shy, and Chrysler's chief unveiling in Chicago was the appropriately named Dodge Ram Mega Cab, which, Dodge claims, has the largest cab in the history of pickups.

With a cab stretch of 20 ins. (50 cm) over the cab of a Ram 2500 long-box pickup, the new Mega Cab bodystyle will be offered on all Ram pickup lines. Chrysler expects to sell 60,000-70,000 Mega Cabs in the first full year of production.

Chrysler also showed the nifty Dodge Nitro SUV concept, the precursor to a production model expected to give Dodge a competitor for the Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox. Based on the Jeep Liberty platform, Chrysler calls the Nitro a midsize SUV, with seating for up to five.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. unveiled the Civic Si concept, a thinly disguised look at the performance flagship of the much anticipated '06 Civic coming in fall. The concept's edgy styling is “90% of what you'll see when the production model debuts,” says John Mendel, American Honda Motor Co. Inc.'s recently installed senior vice president.

Honda says the Si will spice up the Civic's conservative identity in the market. The '06 Civic Si will have a 200-hp 4-cyl.

General Motors Corp. came with two big cars, the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS, cars meant to update current models.

Lucerne replaces the longstanding Buick LeSabre and remains front-wheel drive. But it is the first Buick car to offer V-8 power in a decade. The '06 Cadillac DTS replaces the DeVille large car and also remains on the DeVille's front-wheel-drive platform.

Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled the retro-leaning, male-baiting '07 FJ Cruiser SUV. The vehicle, built on a shortened version of the 4Runner chassis, is slated to go on sale in first-quarter 2006, built in Japan. Toyota is targeting 40,000 units out of the gate. The vehicle likely will start in the low $20,000 base-price range to compete directly with the Jeep Wrangler and Nissan Xterra.

Kia Motors America showed its new '06 Sedona minivan, which shares underpinnings with Hyundai Motor America's upcoming minivan set to debut in early 2006.

Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury division unwrapped the '06 Milan sedan, one of three domestic Mazda6-based vehicles bowing this year. Milan reportedly will boast a sub-$25,000 base price and sell 40,000 units annually.

Carrying a 2.3L 4-cyl. or 3L V-6, the Milan fills a gap left by the 20-year-old Sable sedan's departure following '05. The Milan shares mechanicals with Ford's upcoming Fusion.