2016 Chicago Auto ShowPosted on February 13th, 2016
Year of the truck
By Nina Russin
The Chicago Auto Show held each February at the McCormick Place convention center on the shores of Lake Michigan is epic in every way: it has the biggest show floor and the best consumer attendance of any such show in the US. There’s something for everyone at Chicago, but this year it was the trucks that stole the show. From the world premier of the 2017 Nissan Armada that kicked off the media preview to Ram’s newest Power Wagon, Kia’s new hybrid utility vehicle and Toyota’s TRD Pro Tacoma, automakers unveiled their newest designs for adventurous travel.
Road and trail warriors
Kudos to Nissan for not being afraid to take risks. While the OEM’s primary focus was the full-size Armada sport-utility vehicle, three Winter Warrior concepts got their share of attention. Equiping a Pathfinder, Murano and Rogue with Snow Cat type treads, Nissan suggests that the best road through fresh powder is no road at all. The winter warriors are equipped with the types of accessories outdoor enthusiasts crave: roof rail crossbars, cargo area protectors, all-season floor mats and hatch tents for nights under the stars.
The new Armada that rolls out in September is a logical evolution of the current model, with a redesigned exterior, updated powertrain and enhanced infotainment features. Available active safety features include blind spot monitoring, an around-view monitor, backup collision warning and intervention. Power comes from a 390-horsepower V-8 engine and seven speed automatic transmission.
Nissan also previewed the gasoline version of the Titan light-duty pickup, following its recent introduction of the diesel-powered XD. While they share the same name, the light-duty Titan has a completely different chassis than its bigger sibling: 14.7-inches shorter with a smaller cabin. The light-duty Titan is available in three cab sizes with three beds. Nissan will roll out the newest Titan this summer.
Kia Niro hybrid-utility vehicle
On the heels of its highly successful compact Soul, Kia is taking the greener path to the great outdoors with its new Niro, with a hybrid system expected to deliver 50 mile-per-gallon fuel economy. Engineers cut weight out of the chassis through extensive use of high strength steel, an aluminum hood and tailgate. The Niro has no 12-volt backup battery. The subcompact Niro goes on sale globally at the end of 2016 and comes to the US the beginning of next year. A plug-in hybrid version will follow.
King of the 4X4s
The Ram Power Wagon’s roots go back to 1945, when it became the first mass-produced four-by-four pickup truck. The 2017 model that comes on the heels of the highly successful light-duty Ram Rebel, could well be the biggest, baddest off-road pickup truck on the planet.
Power comes from a 6.4-liter Hemi gas engine rated at 410 horsepower with 429 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity is 10,030 pounds. A 12,000-pound electric winch pulls less capable vehicles out of the mud.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so Ram decided to show off the Power Wagon’s Articulink front suspension by driving the Power Wagon over a series of steps simulating an extreme rock crawl on stage. High movement joints and a disconnecting sway bar system give the Power Wagon 26 inches of axle articulation.
A Tradesman value makes Power Wagon technology available at a lower price point for use as a work truck.
Chevrolet Silverado is back in black
Chevrolet unveiled its Midnight Edition Silverado: an appearance package available on the Z71 off-road version of its light-duty full-size pickup truck. The Midnight Edition adds an all-black front end including grille, headlamp bezels, tow hooks and fog lamps, black side and beltline moldings, 18-inch black alloy wheels with Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac all-terrain tires, black spray-in bedliner and black bowties front and back.
The Z71 off-road package adds an off-road suspension, locking rear differential, hill descent control and a trailering package. To paraphrase Mick Jagger, it’s only rock-n-roll but we like it.
Refreshed Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai hopes to continue sales momentum for within its three-model crossover lineup with a refreshed 2017 Santa Fe. The midsize crossover with three rows of seating gets a redesigned exterior and interior with five new alloy wheel designs, adaptive headlamps, LED taillamps and an electro-luminescent gauge cluster. New infotainment technology includes a third-row USB port, available Android Auto, enhanced eight-inch center stack display and Infinity premium audio system.
The 2016 Chicago Auto Show runs through February 21 at McCormick place. For more information on tickets and show hours, visit the CAS website.