Rounding up the 2016 Chicago Auto Show
Didn’t catch our coverage of the show? We’ll tell you what you missed.
Coming about one month after one of the largest auto shows of the year, the Chicago Auto Show tends to play second fiddle to Detroit. But that doesn’t mean that automakers are content to leave the show filled with older product. There are still several debuts that take place in the Second City each year, and we’ve got the important ones rounded up here for you.
Whether you’re looking for sports cars, off-road trucks or one of the weirdest, greenest concepts we’ve ever come across, there was something for everyone in Chicago this year. Crowd favorites came over from Chicago, but there was plenty of new metal to get excited over. Didn’t get a chance to catch our live coverage? Here’s what you missed.
Chevrolet: 2017 Camaro 1LE
The 1LE isn’t a specific trim level. Rather, it’s a package that can be applied to both V-6 and V-8 Camaro models. V-6 models are privy to performance-oriented upgrades to the suspension, chassis and exhaust systems.
V-8 models also gain Chevrolet’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a limited-slip differential and bigger wheels and brakes. The easiest way to spot one on the road will be looking for its satin-black hood.
Chevrolet: 2017 Trax
The Trax arrived in the US very late in its lifecycle, so it’s already receiving a refresh. Its front and rear ends are revised to bring it more in line with Chevy’s current vehicle lineup, and the interior gets some much-needed attention with a new gauge cluster, a revised center stack and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity.
It remains powered by the same 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine as before.
Chevrolet: Midnight Edition trucks
Chevrolet’s murdered-out Midnight Edition is so popular, the company quickly sold out of last year’s batch. This year, the trim package extends to new offerings, covering three in total — the Colorado, the Silverado 1500 and the Silverado 2500.
Based on the off-road-capable Z71 trim, the Midnight Edition adds an aggressive look to a truck that’s already fairly angry.
Ford: New SUV announcements
While this isn’t an actual vehicle debut, it’s still important. Over the next four years, Ford announced that it would add four new SUVs to its global catalog. There are no specific names mentioned, but we’re holding out hope that Bronco is one of them. There are rumors circulating that both the Bronco and Ranger badges will reappear, and that both will be built on the same platform in Michigan.
Honda: 2017 Ridgeline accessories
Honda released the 2017 Ridgeline in Detroit, but the company isn’t done building hype just yet. To give its truck some extra life in Chicago, Honda showed off a Ridgeline equipped with all manner of accessories, from tonneau covers to front-fascia skid plates and fender flares.
If you’re the kind of person who can’t leave a truck stock for very long, don’t count out Honda’s forthcoming mid-sized offering.
Hyundai: 2017 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport
Hyundai rolled out refreshes for both its three-row Santa Fe and its two-row Santa Fe Sport crossover. Revised headlights, taillights and fasciae represent the bulk of the aesthetic changes, but a fair bit of technology’s been thrown into the mix, too.
There’s a new version of Hyundai’s Blue Link infotainment system on offer, along with updates to Hyundai’s suite of active and passive safety systems.
Kia: 2017 Niro
The Niro is Kia’s first dedicated hybrid platform, which it will share with the forthcoming Hyundai Ioniq. This rugged little ute packs a hybrid drivetrain that Kia hopes will achieve 50 mpg combined. Going on sale early next year, the Niro follows the idea that hybrid vehicles don’t need to look like they’ve rolled out of a time machine.
It’s a pretty “regular” crossover for a world where electrification is the new regular.
Kia: 2017 Optima Hybrid/PHEV
The Optima Hybrid picks up the same refreshed look as the gas-powered 2016 Optima sedan, but tweaks to its underpinnings (including a new gas engine) should boost efficiency by 10 percent or so. There’s also an all-new, plug-in hybrid variant, with a total range of 600 miles and an electric-only range of 27 miles.
Both vehicles offer a new driver assistance system that helps you use the gas and brake pedals to further increase efficiency.
Nissan: 2017 Armada
After a 13-year run, the Armada finally enters its second generation. It’s built on the same platform as the QX80, which underpins the Nissan Patrol in other markets. It’s larger, stiffer and more capable, thanks in part to a new 5.6-liter V-8 engine.
Infiniti design cues are apparent throughout, but that’s not a bad thing — if anything, it’ll make QX80 owners wonder why they didn’t save some money and opt for the Nissan instead.
Nissan: 2017 Titan half-ton
The Titan XD straddled the line between light- and heavy-duty pickups. For more traditional buyers, however, there will soon be a more traditional half-ton variant. This Titan will pack either a V-6 or V-8 engine, and despite looking just like the larger XD, the two trucks actually share zero chassis components.
The half-ton Titan will be available in three cab configurations, three bed lengths and five trim levels.
Nissan: Winter Warrior concepts
Nissan unveiled the Rogue Warrior concept up in Canada, but it’s added two more models in Chicago. The Warrior concepts, which include the Rogue, Murano and Pathfinder, replace standard wheels with snow-ready tracks.
They’ll scale steep ski slopes, blast over moguls and generally make a lot of noise wherever they go. You can’t buy a Warrior straight out of the factory, but you can spend a few thousand bucks to get a kit for your own car — just don’t expect the warranty to stay intact.
Ram: 2017 Power Wagon
Ram’s Power Wagon is one seriously intense truck. It’s a mashup between the hardcore aesthetic of the Ram 1500 Rebel and the towing and hauling prowess of a Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup. It’s packing a lifted suspension with several upgraded components, some cool throwback vinyl on the side and an interior with a few unique touches.
It’s America, distilled down into a pickup.
Ram: Off-Road HD package
If you’re not looking for something as completely ridiculous as the Power Wagon, Ram will sell you most of its upgrades under a separate off-road package. Whereas the Power Wagon is limited to a single gas engine and trim level, you can pick up Ram’s off-road package for any 2500 trim level and engine combination.
You can still opt for a small fender decal, if you’re desperate to show off just a little bit.
Sprinter: 2016 Worker
The Sprinter Worker fits between the smaller Mercedes-Benz Metris and the larger Sprinter 2500. Offered with just one engine and a very straightforward options list, the Worker undercuts the 2500 by $4,000. It’s meant to appeal to tradesmen who don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with a heavy-duty cargo van.
Sadly, it won’t be available in 4×4.
Sprinter: Extreme Concept
Based on Sprinter’s 3500 chassis, this concept looks like a refugee from a “Jurassic Park” movie. It’s over 95 inches tall, more than 20 feet long and its “Tipper Bed” will dump up to 5,200 pounds of whatever you throw in there.
Yet, despite all this heft, it remains powered by a small, 2.1-liter diesel engine. But the engine isn’t really the point, here — just look at the darn thing! It’s ludicrous!
Toyota: 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro
The TRD Pro family expands once more with the addition of Toyota’s all-new Tacoma pickup. Based on the TRD Off-Road 4×4 double cab short bed model, the TRD Pro features upgraded suspension, new wheels and tires, a locking rear differential and a crawl-control system that takes the guesswork out of off-roading.
There’s also a heritage-style grille up front.