By on February 8, 2014

Kia3

After two days of walking the floor at this relatively quiet show, here’s a recap of what has happened:

KIA: Released the new Soul EV, Optima hybrid, and a concept Niro hybrid car. The Soul EV is all electric, zero-emissions with 109hp that should get 80-100 miles on a charge. It will go on sale in New York, California, Oregon, New Jersey, and Maryland this fall, and others locations in demand grows. The Optima hybrid should achieve a combined 38mpg. The Niro is Kia’s take on future city cars.
Verdict: The “EV” version of the Soul seems to take away some of the attractive lines of Soul with its new grill, but the technology is impressive. It is hard to judge this vehicle without any pricing info yet. The Optima hybrid has some nicely done subtle exterior changes including different aerodynamic wheels and bumper vents, yet the car gets the same mileage as the previous model. The Niro is pretty wild looking, but in a world where the Nissan Juke exists, this car needs to be made.

It might have been residual interest from their Super Bowl ad, but the previously-released K900 seemed to still attract a lot of attention from the media. The car is great looking in person and feels like a true luxury sedan inside. A small problem for Kia was that there were also media members mistakenly around the Cadenza talking about it being from the Super Bowl ad. They aren’t the last people who will confuse the Cadenza and the K900, trust me.

Toyota: Showed and demonstrated the 2015 lineup of their TRD Pro Series Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner. They will be available this fall in black, white, or burnt orange. Although nothing was done to the engine, there are a lot of suspension, cosmetic, and interior upgrades. The press event started a little bumpy as they inadvertently sprayed a few in the media with mud (or was it on purpose?) when the Tundra driver did a burnout so we could hear the sound of the TRD exhaust (it sounded good!). After that, the reaction was nothing but positive. The vehicles look mean, especially the 4Runner. There seemed to be more chatter throughout the day about desiring one of the Toyota trucks than about any other vehicle released. Based on their aggressive appearance, I would guess (read = hope) that these will be purchased by folks who will actually use them off-road and less as a grocery getter. These vehicles definitely go against Toyota’s “boring” image that is often mentioned by enthusiasts.

Nissan: Released the new Versa Note SR and displayed a concept Frontier Diesel Runner truck. The Frontier is a 200hp Cummins 4 cylinder that should get about 35% better fuel mileage than the current V6 Frontier. No one noticed or cared about the Versa Note. Instead everyone rushed around the Frontier solely because it was a diesel, even though it may never be made. We were told to give feedback on the idea because it in still just a study. They also mentioned that a major announcement about the Titan will be coming in one year. Personally, I liked the SR version of the Versa. I have never been a fan of the Versa before, but the SR appearance package seems directly targeted at the Honda Fit Sport or Ford Fiesta hatch. I liked what the changes do for the look of the car.

Subaru: The world premiere of the 2015 Legacy. It will be about the same size as the previous model, all-wheel drive, CVT transmission, and can get 36mpg highway. Offered with a 175hp 4 cylinder of 256hp 6 cylinder. There is an optional extensive list of safety features as part of their EyeSight package.
Verdict: The talk from Subaru was all about how the mid-size sedan segment is very “vanilla”, and Subaru has always been there as an interesting alternative. Except that to me, this car looks a whole lot like the Honda Accord. There is nothing wrong with the Accord, but if they were going for an “interesting alternative to all the other vanilla mid-sized cars”, they didn’t do it with the looks, nor did they do it with the mandatory CVT, which is pretty much what Nissan does with the Altima. I think the new Legacy will blend in with every other mid-sized car on the road when it goes on sale this summer.

Chevrolet: Unveiled their new City Express commercial van and a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Silverado Bi-Fuel truck. The van is a reworked version of the Nissan NV200 to offer their commercial customers a smaller work van than the current full size Express. The CNG truck can achieve 650 miles on a tank of combined use. The van looks good and seems like a no-brainer for Chevy. It is still odd that they would release this and still not offer a passenger variant though. For anyone that bought the HHR with side panels, this is the van for you.

The CNG Silverado can change from regular gas to CNG with the push of a button, is available in all cab configurations, and is fully warranted and serviceable at GM dealers. They say there are 1,300 CNG stations in America with more coming. They plan to release a CNG Impala as well.

Volvo: Brought out their 2015 Polestar versions of the S60 and V60 wagon. Basically these are a very limited run of performance cars. They’re beautiful. For a moment, during the reveal, I was thinking that this could be the wagon enthusiasts are always looking for. Then, after talking about how all the development came from Polestar’s race teams, Volvo PR indicated that the cars will only be offered in an automatic. Shocked, I asked what led to that decision and I was told, “It was because we want these cars to be daily drivers, we want you to be able to drink your Starbucks at the same time.” I honestly felt very sad walking away from that. Are brands really afraid of offering Americans stick-shifts because we may spill our Starbucks? Other than that, there are a lot of great things about these cars, including a pretty cool (for parents) integrated child’s booster seat.

BMW: Showed off the new $83K 740ld xdrive, and the X3 xDrive28d. The diesel 7 series will be about $1,500 more than the gas trim and only comes in AWD long wheel base. It is the same engine that powers the X5 diesel. The X3 uses a 180hp 2 liter turbo diesel.

Lincoln: The new Navigator was on the show floor all day, but no one seemed to notice. That’s hard to believe, since the vehicle is enormous. Possibly this was because it has the same exterior dimensions and most of the same sheet metal as the previous model, except for the hood and tailgate. There aren’t many vehicles left like the Navigator, and this one doesn’t stray too far from the previous model. Although it has the family grill, it really stands out amongst all of Lincolns. The V8 has been replaced with a twin-turbo V6 (the only V6 in that segment) that gets 370hp. We will have to wait and see if it will be better, or better-received, than the Escalade, QX80, or LX570

Volkswagen: VW held a press event to announce that they will be entering the Global Rally Cross series with 2 all-wheel-drive 560hp Beetles. They surprised the crowd by having former F1/NASCAR driver Scott Speed and rally driver/Top Gear star Tanner Foust get out of their respective cars, followed by team owner Michael Andretti.

As a huge race fan, it was nice to see a motor sports announcement and the commitment of VW to this racing series. This was better than when immediately following Toyota held an entire press event just to announce they are sponsoring one entrance of Dayton International Speedway.

Maserati: Showed off the star of their Super Bowl ad, the $66K twin turbo V6 Ghibli. The company is confident to the point of being cocky about how great their cars are. Visually it does stand out against similarly priced mid-sized sedans. The Ghibli has some “hips” over the rear axle that gives it a powerful stance.

And that’s all, folks! The next stop for TTAC auto show coverage will be New York in April. Check out the pictures below.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

34 Comments on “Chicago 2014: A Wrap-Up From The Floor And A Full Gallery...”


  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Funny how a new grille and less chrome turns the Toyota trucks from the least attractive in their segments to the most attractive. I would seriously consider a new TRD Pro 4Runner as a family car if my wife ever had twins.

    As for the Legacy, compared to the last two generations it’s completely par for the course. They have all been bland cars that distinguish themselves by how they drive. I expect Subaru to have zero problems with this one. Now who do I have to sleep with to get Scoobaru to do another Forester XT??

  • avatar
    raph

    Yep its a shame the Polestars are going to be a very limited run and come auto only. Hopefully Volvo is only testing the water.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      If the Polestars prove themselves to be well built and reliable they’ll make great value propositions on the used market in a couple of years.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I suspect that CAFE has something do do with it. It used to be that manuals delivered significantly better fuel economy than automatics, now it seems that automatics do as well or better.

      Also, in a limited-production vehicle, you need to limit the number of variations. In North America, auto-only is an easy way to do that.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I have a prediction for the Volvo Polestars, they are destined to be the greatest car no one will ever buy

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      Compared to the Detroit Auto Show, excuse me, North American International Auto Show, this Chicago show is a real snooze fest this year. When the headliner is the world premier of the next Subaru Legacy (that does not look anywhere NEAR as good as the concept), you are in big trouble. Oh wait, what AM I thinking? Dodge did introduce a new Crossroad trim package for the Journey…Wake me when it’s over.

      ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The most important US auto shows are Detroit and LA. Chicago and New York are second tier, and the remaining local shows don’t matter at all.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Why LA?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The automakers invest most of their resources into the Detroit and LA shows. Most of the major US debuts will happen there, while Chicago and New York get the leftovers.

            Southern California has long been at the head of US car culture, and most automakers have some sort of US HQ or design presence there.

            Also, LA moved its show date from January to November, in order to get a jump on Detroit. The Chicago show always follows Detroit, which helps to lock in its junior position.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx.

      • 0 avatar
        GottaDriveEmAll

        That’s just the way the cookie crumbles here in Chi-town. I used to go every year. That trickled down to every other. Now I don’t think I have gone in 3 years. Everything I would want to get a good look at is roped off or locked. I’ll be able to check out all the other stuff at work 6 months after they hit the street. Dealing with the crowd is just not worth it anymore for me.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    That Starbucks comment really is a shame. Did it come from an American? Time to show some confidence in the new world settler’s abilities. After all, they have come quite far for a bunch of runaways.

    =8^)

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      The air quality in the Carguy Bunker makes you think that way.

      Going out into the world of ordinary car buyers would clear those cobwebs pretty fast.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Fink

      I believe he was Swedish. The guys from Polestar just kept stressing these are supposed to be “365 days a year cars”.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        Kind of a weird angle to push. Why not just say it’s a market share issue? Any 4-door car on the market that is sold with a stick is used as a “365 days a year car”. Only sport coupes/convertibles are sometimes used as secondary cars.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          No, it’s a perfectly understandable angle to push.

          As Kenmore said, step out of the carguy bunker. Think like the 99%. If the 99% see sport coupes as secondary cars, it’s because they don’t think they are as universal or convenient, i.e., they have shortcomings. What you miss is the 99% think the same of manuals. They see automatics as the *better* transmission suited for everyday (i.e., “365 days a year”) tasks.

          One of my friends, a rather extreme car fanatic admitted that recently. Previously, he wouldn’t even consider an automatic, but when I said that one day soon automatics would do everything as well as manuals, he replied that day was already here. He still uses a manual for his racecar, but after hearing how much he enjoyed driving an automatic on his daily driver, I understand exactly that Volvo employee’s intent.

          Volvo knows full well what market this is. Buying habits & perspectives of buyers in Europe are irrelevant. It would be folly to think trends in Europe would exist in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            Sjalabais

            I’d expect that tiny Volvo doesn’t have a manual gearbox at hand that can cope with that amount of power.

            When did a limited edition, high power, odd colour model become a thing for the 99%? Sounds “car guy”* to me.

            *Being Volvo, including “car gal” is mandatory.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “When did a limited edition, high power, odd colour model become a thing for the 99%? Sounds “car guy”* to me.”

            You’re right.. my bad. I misinterpreted your first comment to include all American buying preferences. Certainly a Polestar is for carfolk and not ordinary buyers.

            And I actually agree with you about MTs.. I’ve always preferred them and drove nothing but for my first 15 years on the road. I know from experience that it’s possible to juggle a burger, shake and cigarette while keeping up with traffic in an old Beetle or pickup truck. And fiddle with a primitive radio, too.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is probably more of a scale issue. Volvo doesn’t sell enough cars in the US to offer too many choices.

            Manual transmission drivers are few in number, but are more likely to be brand evangelists. Without the stick, that word-of-mouth benefit is lost.

            Offering specialty performance versions without a stick is probably a mistake, even if few people end up buying them. It does help to have some enthusiasts in the fold; they end up being tastemakers for the regular customers.

      • 0 avatar
        Atum

        That’s ironic from a Swedish dude, considering there are more stick shift vehicles in Europe.

        • 0 avatar
          Sjalabais

          I haven’t met one (1!) person in Europe who has a driver’s license and who can’t drive a stick. There might be some, but the point is: It’s not hard. That’s what’s baffling me. Americans are not stupid, and highly diverse. Why do we Europeans continue to live with that stereotype of a fat-saturated, one-footed, gun-crazy corporatist? You can drink coffee in a manual transmission car, too, damnit.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            I’ve heard that in Europe, automatic transmissions are for those with disabilities. Now there’s a thought: 90% of US drivers can have a special license and can park in spots reserved for the handicapped.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            With how Americans drive I’m surprised anyone can get a licence. Fellow Americans aren’t exactly gun toting fats, but a lot of them are awful drivers, and getting a licence is becoming easier and easier (you don’t have to even drive a stick).

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I think that you’ll find that European countries won’t issue a full license to someone who doesn’t take the driver’s test with a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Compared to the Detroit Auto Show, excuse me, North American International Auto Show, this Chicago show is a real snooze fest this year. When the headliner is the world premier of the next Subaru Legacy (that does not look anywhere NEAR as good as the concept), you are in big trouble. Oh wait, what AM I thinking? Dodge did introduce a new Crossroad trim package for the Journey…Wake me when it’s over.

    ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • avatar
    Atum

    The City Express isn’t an all new surprise; it’s been on the Chevy website for months.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Chicago re-enforces the fact that some manufacturers are taking diesel seriously, especially in the midsize market.

    The Nissan with the little ISF Cummins looks promising, the Cummins Frontier is only a ‘concept’, sort of, as we already have a 2.5 four diesel. Considering the amount of research Cummins/Nissan/EPA have done with this engine for the US market the probability is high the US will see it in the next generation Navara/Frontier.

    I would love to see a Cummins Navara here in Australia, it would be a positive for Nissan and Cummins.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    As someone who isn’t what I call a “stick head” I do appreciate automatics for faily driving, but I still I didn’t care for Volvos comment, I absolutely refuse to eat/drink AND drive, encouraging the current “fast food restaurant” driving style isn’t exactly a safe thing to do.

    Just this week a dozey Chevy truck driver almost hit me, had I been slurping Starbucks I’d be filling out papers right now.

    Not much else interested me though, good sum up Derek, I like the blend of facts and your honest opinion, though I disagree on the Niro.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “CVT transmission”

    Aw sh*t where’s davefromcalgary?!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “It was because we want these cars to be daily drivers, we want you to be able to drink your Starbucks at the same time.”

    Brilliant further evidence that Volvo has lost its way entirely.

    What’s the deal with the speaker on the arm rest, in the rear LH side shot of the BMW? Is that what they’re really doing now? It looks like someone left a speaker there and forgot to install it.

    I feel the indented TRD logos on the truck will most certainly collect/hold dirt.

    The Ghibli doesn’t have a locking glove box, so that’s a nice oversight – but DAYUM that ultramarine color is nice.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “and others locations in demand grows. ”

    Kewl!

    “entrance of Dayton International Speedway.”

    Lots of tracks in Dayton, Ohio?

    “We will have to wait and see if it will be better, or better-received, than the Escalade, QX80, or LX570″

    It won’t be, and you need a (.).


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India