2017 Chicago Auto ShowPosted on February 14th, 2017
Nation’s largest consumer show expands family-friendly activities
By Nina Russin
Those of us inside the car industry tend to forget the role consumers play in an auto show. In addition to new product introductions, these events are a rare opportunity for those outside the bubble to get up close and personal with cars they are thinking of buying. The driving public is the meat and potatoes of the Chicago Show, held each February at the McCormick Place convention center. In terms of attendance, it is the largest auto show in the United States.
This year’s show features fun for all members of the family, including those too young to drive: a Lego Batmobile at the Chevrolet booth plus scale replicas of the Y-Wing Starfighter, X-Wing Starfighter, TIE Striker and AT-ACT, all displayed under the Death Star in Nissan’s special Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition Display appeal to the kid in all of us.
Those of driving age can get behind the wheel and have some fun at the show’s five indoor test tracks.
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz include test tracks as part of their displays: an appeal to millennials who value experience over the written word. Mercedes-Benz’s Iron Schockl is a 45-degree grade, demonstrating the outstanding climbing ability of the G-Class, while Camp Jeep brings off-roading indoors with rock crawls, steep inclines and sandy surfaces. A Ram proving ground includes six stations that demonstrate the trucks’ work capabilities while Toyota enthusiasts can test drive the new RAV4 and Highlander midsize crossover.
Appearance packages add sex appeal
Nissan kicked off the media event with its new Midnight Edition series: an exterior appearance package that expands to six core models, including Sentra, Altima, Maxima, Rogue, Murano and Pathfinder. The package includes black wheels, rear spoiler, side mirrors and special floor mats.
Chevrolet’s Redline series adds customization to popular models at the factory. Redline vehicles that made their debut at the 2016 SEMA show include Camaro, Trax, Malibu, Colorado and Silverado 1500.
Toyota showed off its 2018 Tacoma, Sequoia and Tundra TRD Sport models, with appearance, suspension and wheel upgrades. All three come standard with Toyota Safety Sense including emergency autonomous braking.
The automaker also took the wraps off its new RAV4 Adventure, an off-road version of the popular compact crossover inspired by Ryan Millen’s RAV4 Rally team. Millen’s team took the podium six times during the 2016 season, while Millen was named Rookie of the Year. The package includes a unique exterior, high ride height for better ground clearance, sport suspension and tow prep package.
Mopar introduced its ’17 Challenger Limited Edition, to celebrate the company’s 80th anniversary. Mopar will produce 80 vehicles in each of two available colors. The cars feature engine, suspension, wheel, brake and exhaust upgrades, custom paint and interiors. Cars begin shipping the second quarter of this year.
New vehicle introductions
Building on the success of its newest compact sedan, Hyundai introduced the all-new Elantra GT and GT Sport compact hatchbacks, geared towards buyers with active lifestyles who need a more versatile cargo area. Power for the GT comes from a two-liter, gasoline direct injection engine, while the sport gets the 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged block. Buyers can choose between six-speed manual and seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmissions. The cars go on sale this summer.
Ford showed off the all-new 2018 Expedition full-size SUV that the automaker unveiled in Dallas earlier that week. A 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and ten-speed automatic transmission stretch the car’s fuel economy, while three rows of seating which slide fore and aft make the Expedition a great choice for growing families. Infotainment features include the latest version of SYNC, WiFi, wireless charging and more power outlets for vehicle occupants.
Nissan introduced a king cab version of its Titan and Titan XD full-size pickups with 6.5-foot cargo beds. The king cabs have a rear-hinge door design to create an extra wide opening for the second row. Buyers can also choose a second-row delete option to add extra interior cargo space.
The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT gives driving enthusiasts a family-friendly option, with three rows of seating, a Hemi V-8 engine, new hood with functional air scoops, 20-inch wheels and Pirelli tires. Engineers recalibrated the eight-speed automatic transmission for more aggressive performance and then took the car to the track, where it ran a 12.9-second quarter mile. A flat-bottom steering wheel and performance pages on the car’s 8.4-inch touchscreen complete the package.
Chrysler partners with BraunAbility and Canine Companions for Independence
At the Midwest Automotive Media breakfast, the Chrysler Pacifica added to its list of laurels, receiving that organization’s Family Car of the Year award. Later that day, Chrysler unveiled a wheelchair accessible version of the Pacifica: a partnership between the automaker and BraunAbility that specializes in adaptive controls.
Features such as a large interior space, low floor to give wheelchair users more height, an extra wide door opening and side ramp make the BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica one of the most functional options for wheelchair users. The Pacifica is the most recent collaborative effort between Chrysler and Braun: a partnership that has gone on for 25 years. Both Chrysler and BraunAbility have partnered with Canine Companions for Independence on its ‘Give a Dog a Job’ program to train and deliver service dogs to individuals with disabilities.
The Chicago Auto Show runs through February 20. For more information on times, ticket prices and parking, visit the show website.2016, News and Features 2017, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, Auto Shows, CAS17, Chevrolet, Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jeep, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota