Category: Chicago Auto Show

By on February 12, 2019

Chicago has proven a sleepy show for news for quite some time now.

This year, however, there was a hint of something stirring. While there still wasn’t a wealth of product news, there was more than normal — and most of it didn’t involve minor trim changes (okay, some of it did).

I wandered the halls at massive McCormick Place last week to take in what was a busier show than normal. Starting with Subaru, here’s my “hot takes” about what I saw on the show floor. Just for the hell of it, let’s embrace a grading gimmick.

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By on February 8, 2019

Image: GM

The Cadillac XT5, which happens to be a perfect all-weather urban vehicle, is a major breadwinner for the upscale brand. By far the best-selling vehicle in the Caddy stable, the XT5 midsize crossover out-volumes the bigger and pricier Escalade by a factor of two to one.

Unfortunately, it’s no longer the freshest face at the party. Cadillac’s smaller XT4 bowed last year and the larger XT6 dropped its towel in Detroit. Hoping to return some interest back to its midsize crossover (and have something to reveal in Chicago), Caddy gave the XT5 an emo makeover, launching the 2019 XT5 Sport package. It’s a “limited edition” package, Caddy claims, without offering a specific number. Could it be that it’s limited to the number of Sport packages GM can sell in 2019? Could be. Read More >

By on February 8, 2019

Image: JLR

No longer sharing bits sourced from former owner Ford, Land Rover’s smallest Range Rover-badged vehicle undergoes a comprehensive revamp for 2020. There’s a new, stiffer platform underneath and, while its overall footprint remains pretty much the same, a wheelbase stretch affords occupants a smidgen of extra room to stretch out.

First appearing on our shores in late 2011 as a 2012 model, the compact Evoque offered buyers a cheaper way to enter the tweedy brand. U.S. sales peaked in 2015; not a good thing in a market fueled by crossover lust. Read More >

By on February 7, 2019

Mazda is celebrating the original Miata’s 1989 debut at the Chicago Auto Show by taking the wraps off a 30th Anniversary Edition of the MX-5 at the same locale. Limited to just 3,000 units worldwide, the special edition will be offered as both the ragtop convertible and hardtop RF. Like previous anniversary editions of the famous roadster, Mazda is offering a unique color (Racing Orange, this time) and a handful of upgrades that should help collectors rationalize the elevated price tag.

We’re going to tell you right now that the only way to have this car is with a manual transmission. While we tend to always lean that way with the MX-5, having a clutch is the only way to get the 30th Anniversary Edition’s Bilstein dampers and a mechanical limited-slip differential. Otherwise, you’re basically paying extra to have one of the best parts of the package removed from the vehicle.  Read More >

By on February 7, 2019

At the 2017 North American International Auto Show, Nissan revealed its plans to slot the North American version of its Qashqai crossover between the Juke and Rogue. While the company ultimately decided to call the model the “Rogue Sport” in the United States, replacing the Juke with the Kicks shortly thereafter, the rest of the plan went off without a hitch.

There was just one itty-bitty problem — the North American crossover was based on a model that debuted globally in 2013.

At the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, Nissan has once again decided to give North America the rest of the world’s leftovers. The Qashqai received a mid-life facelift in 2017 and now so will the Rogue Sport. Fortunately, both versions of the crossover should remain worthy of reasonable praise, as the changes help bring the model visually closer to the rest of Nissan’s fleet and further away from looking like a utility version of the 2004 Pontiac Sunfire.  Read More >

By on February 7, 2019

Image: Toyota

After last year’s Camry and Avalon surprise, it should come as no shock that Toyota’s keen to expand TRD branding beyond its body-on-frame trucks and SUVs. Frankly, the automaker ran out of BOF vehicles to tune for the trail.

Enter the RAV4, redesigned for 2019 and still no one’s idea of a hardcore off-roader. While that impression may be valid, Toyota’s at least making an effort to turn up the brawn on the family-friendly crossover. Read More >

By on February 7, 2019

The 2020 Subaru Legacy made its debut at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show on Thursday. While most casual observers will probably assume the model has undergone a mild visual refresh, what’s actually on display is an entirely new vehicle.

Whereas previous incarnations of the Legacy provided more of an upscale WRX experience, the outgoing sixth generation saw the car fitted with a livable continuously variable transmission and engine options that moved it away from anything that could be described as truly sporting. Fortunately, Subaru is attempting to remedy that for the 2020 model year. Read More >

By on February 7, 2019

2020_Sequoia_TRD_Pro_12_B2ACF20E83AD4B33C4DF05470FFE6DBB64480908

Thanks to Toyota’s glacier-like design cycle, the full-sized Sequoia SUV looks largely the same as it did when it rolled off the ark in 2008. With seating for seven, the big body-on-frame rig harkens back to the days when SUVs were unapologetically truck-based. For 2020, the Big T is tossing some of its TRD Pro toys at its house-on-wheels, including a set of dandy internal-bypass Fox shock absorbers.

While they were at it, Toyota engineers took the opportunity to breathe on the hot-selling Tacoma. You’ll have to look closely to see those changes but, if past sales performance is any indication, the company didn’t need to spend much money on a refresh, anyways.

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By on February 7, 2019

Big, hulking trucks may have stolen the spotlight in the lead-up to the Chicago Auto Show, but Volkswagen still holds an interest in plain ol’ cars. In the interest of preserving your interest in said cars, VW took its new-for-2019 Jetta sedan into the shop and hauled out the surgical instruments.

The first component removed was the standard, thrifty 1.4-liter four-cylinder. Then, VW engineers went to town on the rear suspension, scrapping the low-cost torsion-beam setup. What emerged from the operating room was the 2019 Jetta GLI — a GTI for people who like trunks. Read More >

By on February 7, 2019

Image: FCA

Dropping its third truck shoe for 2019, Ram unveiled its light- and medium-duty chassis cab options at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday.

Built to take on whatever application the buyers chooses, the stripped-down trucks offer up the same updates seen on the 2019 Ram HD, including its newly upgraded Cummins inline-six diesel. Read More >

By on February 6, 2019

The Chicago Auto Show is less a trade event for showcasing new models and more of an industry dumping ground for special editions and appearance packages. Toyota is already bringing one of those to the party with the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, but that’s not all it plans to unload from its trailer.

With the event just hours away, Toyota felt compelled to issue a last-minute teaser of an unidentified TRD Pro model. However, we’re disinclined to believe it’s destined for the updated Tacoma display. Read More >

By on February 6, 2019

Image: VW

Following its diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen leaned hard into electrification. The automaker needed to look environmentally conscious after being caught cheating on emissions tests, and promising a glut of electric vehicles seemed like a good way to accomplish that goal. Of course, building EVs also allows companies to offset fleet-wide emissions — protecting the existence of highly profitable crossovers using the internal combustion engines that most people still prefer.

However, Volkswagen isn’t talking about chucking in a few zero-emission vehicles under its I.D. sub-brand. Back in 2017, the automaker promised $84 billion for EV development after announcing an initial investment of $10 billion. VW Group subsidiaries like Audi and Porsche are busy readying electrics of their own. While incredibly ambitious, the swift change in direction means Volkswagen is effectively gambling with its future. Read More >

By on January 24, 2019

Eager to celebrate the Land Cruiser’s 60th birthday (in America), Toyota has released preliminary details on the 2020 model year’s Heritage Edition before its official debut at the Chicago Auto Show. While technically an appearance package with a handful of retro-themed clues hinting at the model’s lengthy lifespan, it’s one of the more endearing makeovers in recent times.

Suckers for nostalgia will love the vintage-looking Land Cruiser badge on the SUV’s D-pillars. But the limited-production model also comes with bronze 18-inch BBS wheels with some throwback charms of their own. Heritage Editions also receive widespread black accenting on the exterior and nixed running boards for a cleaner look.  Read More >

By on January 9, 2019

Mazda’s whipping something up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the MX-5, issuing a teaser to elicit some excitement. Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t give us much to go on. The only meaningful conclusions we can pry from the series of streaks provided by the automaker is that the special-edition Miata can still fit inside a parking garage (phew) and will have a hardtop.

Where has Mazda chosen to celebrate the MX-5’s 30th birthday? The Chicago Auto Show, naturally. That was where the Miata first debuted in 1989, and that is where the manufacturer wants to preview the special edition on its big day. While we still think forgoing a hilarious Chuck E. Cheese tie-in was a minor mistake, both roadster and brand have matured to a point where the more tasteful choice was bound to win. We also have no evidence to support the idea that the pizza party venue was ever under consideration.  Read More >

By on February 9, 2018

Image: Hyundai

Hold on a minute, you’re thinking — you’re pretty sure you’ve seen this vehicle before. Yes, you have, as the conventional gas-powered 2018 Hyundai Sonata went on sale last summer with a revamped face, tail, and assorted other goodies.

What didn’t launch alongside the refreshed midsize sedan was its hybrid and plug-in hybrid siblings, which soldiered on with a 2017 face until just now. At the Chicago Auto Show Thursday, Hyundai had the distinct pleasure of pulling the wraps off a body already familiar to the buying public, just with different internals. Don’t worry, though, there’s still something new to talk about. Read More >

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