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Military shows off MRAP in New York

CNET Car Tech takes a look at a heavily armored personnel carrier at the 2008 New York auto show.

An MRAP on display at the New York auto show. CNET Networks/Sarah Tew

Walking through the lower level of the 2008 New York auto show, we noticed a massive sand-colored vehicle up against the back wall. Thinking it might be a movie prop, like Speed Racer's Mach 5 in a booth nearby, we strolled over, only to have a soldier doing one of the military's better PR gigs inform us that this vehicle is an MRAP, short for "mine-resistant ambush-protected." The military began deploying MRAPs to Iraq last year as a complement to the HMMWV, or Humvee, which, even in armored form, hasn't offered enough protection against roadside bombs. The soldier on duty at the MRAP told us that there have been no casualties in the deployed MRAPs. (Apparently this GI missed the Associated Press report in January about the first MRAP fatality.) The vehicle, based on an International platform and built by Force Protection, gets power from a 330-horsepower Caterpillar diesel engine. The 15-ton truck can drive at 55 mph on highways and has a range of 600 miles. Its armor and glass can withstand small-arms fire, while its underside is designed to deflect blasts. In a personnel carrier configuration, it can hold 8 to 10 people. It is an impressive vehicle, but we hope that it doesn't inspire a civilian version, as the Hummer did.

Click here for more 2008 New York auto show coverage.