It won't be devoid of trucks by any means, but this year's New York International Auto Show (April 3-11) is shaping up to be very much a passenger car exhibition, with no fewer than a half-dozen new models slated for world debuts.

Starring on the light truck half of the slate will be General Motors Corp.'s 2000 GMC Suburban and Chevrolet Tahoe sport/utility vehicles (SUVs). The revamped GM SUVs are the first built off the new GMT800 pickup chassis. Mazda Motor Corp. will show off its all-new MPV minivan.

On the car side of the ledger will be the 2000 Ford Taurus, Infiniti I30, Pontiac Sunfire, new Saturn LS, BMW Z3, Legacy GT sedan and wagon and 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora. Saab Automobile will launch its 9-3 Viggen Coupe.

North American debuts will include the Aston Martin Vantage, Kia KMS4 small car concept and Mercedes CL coupe.

Among concepts taking bows will be Isuzu Motors Ltd.'s VX-02.

Ford Motor Co. is expected to focus on safety innovations in the new Taurus, one of the best selling cars in the U.S. market, including an advanced restraint system that uses sensors to control the level of air bag deployment (see stories, p.1 and p.5).

The Infiniti I30 will feature new styling and more power. Its 6-cyl. engine will generate at least 222 hp. BMW AG's 2000 Z3 will display all-new rear end styling and new wheels. Mazda, which did not offer a 1999 MPV, will debut a 2000 model that carries over only the name of its predecessors. The 2000 MPV has a smaller 2.5L engine that is more powerful and offers better fuel economy than previous MPV engines. An industry first for the MPV is dual sliding doors with roll-down windows.

The new Aurora gets its first remake and will go on sale in spring 2000. It will offer a 4L V-8, as well as its first V-6, a version of the Twin Cam engine already offered in the Intrigue.

The new Mercedes CL replaces the S500 and S600 coupes in the German importer's lineup. It goes on sale during the first quarter of 2000 and may be offered initially as a 2001 model.

Subaru of America Inc.'s 2000 Legacy GT will feature an all-new suspension that drops MacPherson struts. The 2000 model is more European looking and will offer side air bags in the LTD model. Another Legacy first is 6-way power seats. The third generation Legacy goes on sale in July.

The Aston Martin Vantage will be powered by a 420-hp Cosworth supercharged V-12 (see story, p.2). Aston Martin has only built 15,000 cars in the 86 years it has been in business. Ford purchased 75% of Aston Martin in 1987 and bought the company's remaining shares in 1994.