General Motors Corp. officials say the Chevrolet SSR concept vehicle, a rear-drive roadster with a pickup bed, is headed for production. The concept, an El Camino for the new millenium, wasn't shown here but will be unveiled in Detroit this week (see Ward's Automotive Reports — Oct. 18, '99, p.1). The SSR is powered by a 6L V-8 engine and features a retractable roof. It is one of five concepts GM will roll out this year that the company says are under serious consideration for production. There's no word yet on when the SSR will be launched.

Nissan North America Inc.'s Infiniti division pulls the wraps off the '01 QX4 sport/utility vehicle (SUV). The revamped model gets an all-new 3.5L twin-cam V-6 (based on the I30's 3L) that takes output to 240 hp, up 70 hp from the 3.3L it replaces. The SUV will be available in 2-wheel-drive for the first time when the '01 model goes on sale in March.

Subaru of America joins in the SUV/pickup hybrid free-for-all with the ST-X, a concept, built off the '00 Legacy/Outback platform. The 4-door SUV's 55.5-in. pickup bed can be extended to 76.0 ins. via Subaru's “Switchback” seat. Rear window glass lowers into the back of the seat, roof-mounted headrests swing out of the way and the seat bottom folds into the back of the front seats to form the new rear wall of the cargo area. The seat back folds flat to form the extended floor. Power comes from a supercharged, 230-hp version of the Outback 2.5L boxer 4-cyl.

A high-performance version will be part of Acura's revamped CL line. The 3.2CL Type S will feature a 260-hp version of the car's standard 3.2L, 24-valve aluminum V-6 (with variable valve timing and lift). The base CL's engine delivers 225 hp. Both cars get a 5-speed automatic with the manual shifting Sequential SportShift system. Prices will range from $28,000 to $32,000, with the cars hitting dealerships March 1. Acura will provide a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty on the CL.

Ford Div. is claiming victory in the California sales race for 1999, marking the 17th straight year the division has been the best-selling marque in the state. Ford says it sold 299,607 cars and trucks last year, well ahead of nearest rival Toyota (202,364). F-Series was the top-seller, while Camry was the No.1 car based on R.L. Polk Co. registration data, Ford says.