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2001 CHEVROLET K5

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DETROIT: With its removable roof and 180-degree swinging rear demi-doors, the K5 concept truck shown at the auto show here makes it plain that the car industry is not done re-inventing the SUV.

Steve Ramsey, brand manager for the Chevrolet Tahoe SUV that's the base for the all-wheel-drive K5 concept, says it "provides a sneak peek at future opportunities for the two-door model. With its fresh look, open-air rear cargo bed with removable carbon-fiber top, and 180-degree rearward opening rear doors, the K5 offers all of the versatility of a four-door Tahoe with the sporty appearance of a two-door."

At heart, the K5 is a 2-door, 5-seat Tahoe, which means it enjoys the very modest popularity attendant on all such SUV configurations, regardless of manufacturer.

But Ramsey and Chevrolet clearly think the K5 could break out of that soft mold and drum up some new business "Most manufacturers have abandoned the two-door market," he notes correctly, "but with its unique, versatile rear doors, K5 brings a new vision to exploring future applications of a two-door Tahoe."

It won't hurt that the K5 has been given a hopped-up version of the Vortec 6000 V8 that puts out 440 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 450 pound-feet of torque at 4700 rpm through a 4-speed automatic. To get this extra juice, Chevrolet's wrench-heads put in larger heads and a better breathing system, allowing them to up the compression ratio to 10.5:1.

Ramsey's view is that, "K5 clearly would appeal to a younger, on-the-go audience — real 'doers' that appreciate that versatility and desire four-door utility in a two-door appearance."