2015 Chicago Auto Show - Preview
With the 2015 Detroit Auto Show and its spectacular debuts already behind us, we now need to look forward to the next major U.S. auto show to gaze at what the automotive industry has in store for the 2016 model year. Sure, seeing how Detroit introduced vehicles such as the Ford GT, Shelby GT350R, and the Acura NSX, the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, which will be held from February 14th through 22th, is shaping up as a less-impressive event, but that’s not to say it won’t be packed with a decent number of brand-new and updated cars.
There are more than a dozen automakers on their way to Chicago, with more than 20 global or North American debuts to be on the lookout for. The brand-new Honda Pilot and the facelifted version of the current Acura MDX, Acura RDX, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota Avalon and the Ram Heavy Duty are just a few of the vehicles set to bow at the show. Chicago is, after all, the nation’s largest auto show.
Without further ado, let’s have a closer look at what this year’s event has in store for us petrol heads.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.
Where Is It And When Is It?
The 2015 Chicago Auto Show will be held at McCormick Place, which is located at 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL. The show is open to the public Saturday, February 14th through Sunday, February 22nd. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $6 for seniors aged 62 and older and for children 7-12, and are available for purchase here.
McCormick Place is easily reached by car or public transportation. There is extensive shuttle bus service to and from McCormick Place from all area parking lots, and Weekend and President’s Day shuttle service from the Millennium Park Garage. Weekend shuttles stop in 10-15 minute intervals near Lower Randolph and at Gate 3 at McCormick Place. You can learn more about it here. For more info on parking and public transportation you can also click here.
Toyota will make its presence known at the Chicago Auto Show with three vehicles, one of which is the Corolla Special Edition. Likely created to celebrate the nameplate’s 50th anniversary, the limited-edition sedan is based on the sporty Corolla S Plus trim level and boasts a number of unique features as standard. For starters, Toyota created no fewer than three exclusive colors for it: Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, and Super White. No matter the exterior finish, the 17-inch wheels come in a gloss black paint with a special design for a sportier look.
The sporty exterior is complemented by a black cabin with red contrasting stitching and a red-accented dashboard. A Smart Key System with push-button start, and Special Edition floor mats with logos are standard, while the options list includes the Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite and powered sunroof with tilt and slide functions. There’s nothing special under the hood, however, as the Special Edition is motivated by the Corolla S Plus’ 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine churning out 132 ponies and 128 pound-feet of torque.
The Corolla isn’t the only Toyota receiving a Special Edition suit in Chicago. The Camry, redesigned for the 2015 model year, gets Blizzard Peal and Blue Streak Metallic as exclusive paints and a set of 18-inch wheels which are larger than those found on the SE model it is based on. But unlike the Corolla’s, the Camry’s rollers emphasize an elegant appearance by employing machined spokes with gloss-black accents. The look is rounded off by smoked housings for the taillights.
Inside, be on the lookout for sportier seats with black SofTex lateral supports and blue patterned inserts and blue stitching, as well as a blue/white gauge cluster. Keyless entry, push-button start and the Entune Audio Plus sound system are standard. The drivetrain remains unchanged from the SE, meaning there’s the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque to the wheels through a six-speed automatic.
Unlike the Corolla and the Camry above, the Avalon gets to showcase a full refresh on the Chicago floor. Expect new headlamp graphics, a revised front apron and a thinner grille. A few nips and tucks should alter the usual trims and button configuration. The 3.5-liter V-6 with 268 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque and the six-speed autobox should remain unchanged.
This year’s Chicago Auto Show will bring forth a few concept cars too, one of which is the Kia Trail’ster E-AWD. Based on the familiar Kia Soul, the study’s exterior and interior are still a mystery as of 02/06/2015, with Kia only revealing that it will feature a “fully retractable canvas roof," likely similar to the Fiat 500C’s. More details are available in the drivetrain compartment, where the Trail’ster pairs a turbocharged engine and an electric motor into a “smartly integrated” electric all-wheel-drive system. Whether the Koreans plan to build an AWD production version of the Soul is unknown as of this writing.
The Pilot is the first essentially new vehicle on our list, and judging by the first teaser, Honda is bringing a significantly altered SUV to Chicago. Described as "a dramatic shift in design," the 2016 Pilot ditches the boxy styling of its predecessors in favor of a more rounded design that includes a sloping roof, a redesigned greenhouse area, new headlamps and muscular fenders.
On the inside, I expect a host of new convenience and safety features to complement the refreshed center stack and dashboard. The rock-solid plastic surfaces should also be replaced by softer materials to keep the Pilot competitive against the likes of the Toyota Highlander and the Chevrolet Traverse. Don’t get your hopes up for a new drivetrain though, as Honda is likely to drop the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine between the front wheels — not necessarily a bad thing.
After showcasing the highly anticipated NSX supercar at the Detroit Auto Show, Acura joins Chicago to introduce a refresh to the RDX SUV. While it may be less exciting than the second-gen NSX, the RDX is equally important in the automaker’s grand scheme, especially with the SUV having led its class in 2014 with more than 40,000 units sold. The 2016 model-year facelift will refresh a three-year-old SUV that has what it takes to give the Audi Q5 a run for its money.
I expect the update to feature jewel-eye headlamps, a larger front grille, and mildly revised rear section. The cabin should receive a simplified center stack, a push-button gear shifter and added convenience goodies. The venerable 3.5-liter V-6 is also expected to receive a power bump to around 280 ponies, but the main highlights will be the introduction of the nine-speed automatic transmission and the revised Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system.
Nissan’s new Nismo street concept vehicle is arguably the biggest mystery waiting to be solved in Chicago. The Japanese declined to elaborate as to what it might have in store in the performance department, meaning we could see anything from a Note Versa Nismo concept or a preview of the next-generation GT-R.
If you’re into racing, then you should know Nissan is bringing an intriguing track car to the Chicago Auto Show. Developed to compete in the LMP1-H class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the GT-R LM Nismo is more than just a beefed-up GT-R. In fact, the racer is rather strange compared to its future competitors, as it represents a radical departure from the traditional prototype layout. Not only its engine is mounted at the front, power also travels to the front wheels, making it the only front-engine, front-wheel-drive Le Mans prototype.
Under the long front hood lurks Nismo’s 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6 gasoline engine, which sends 550 horsepower to the wheels through a five-speed sequential gearbox and a hydraulic limited-slip differential. An extra 700 ponies are obtained from the GT-R LM’s electric power unit, brining the total output to 1,250 horses. Is this impressive or what?
Judging by its brand-new poster signaling "the return of a legend" on U.S. soil, Mitsubishi has prepared something big for the Chicago Auto Show. Unfortunately, there aren’t many hints as to what this new vehicle might, except for a silhouette shaped like an SUV. If you’re the optimistic type, you can go ahead a keep your fingers crossed for a new Montero, but I’m 99-percent positive that’s not going to happen.
Instead, Mitsubishi could very well introduce a near production-ready version of the GC-PHEV concept, a plug-in hybrid utilizing a supercharged V-6 engine, an electric motor connected to a high-capacity battery, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Whatever Mitsubishi brings to Chicago, it will be a nice addition to its small crossover lineup, consisting of only the Outlander and the Outlander Sport.
There’s plenty of news to expect truck-wise, as Ram has announced it will conduct a "product unveiling" at the McCormick Place convention complex. And although the brand was careful enough not to provide any hints as to what new truck we’ll meet in Chicago, it’s a sure bet Ram will bring forth a revised Heavy Duty hauler. Expect the lineup to receive an updated front fascia, bumper, and taillight assembly, and maybe a more powerful version of the 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel.
The long string of refreshed models set to make their debut in Chicago continues with the Chevy Equinox. Details are slim as of 02/06/2015 except for a teaser showing the updated front fascia, but the number of changes made to the front, passenger corner of the SUV suggests the Equinox is to receive an extensive update. New features include reshaped headlamps, larger fog lights with LED inserts and a redesigned front apron.
Interior changes should only include minor trim changes and repositioned buttons, as well as, hopefully, improved cargo room. As with most GM facelifts, the drivetrains of the Equinox are likely to remain the same, meaning customers will get to choose between the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder and the 3.6-liter V-6 powerplants, The former produces 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, while the latter delivers 301 ponies and 272 pound-feet of twist.
The Silverado Midnight Edition is one of the very few new debuts to have been showcased ahead of the Chicago Auto Show. As the name suggests, the Midnight Edition comes with a blacked-out grille, bumpers, wheels, mirror caps, door handles, and bowtie emblems. If those updates sound familiar, it’s because the truck follows in the footsteps of the Impala Midnight Edition, revealed at the 2014 SEMA Show. A Z71 package adds an upgraded suspension, Hill Decent Control, locking rear differential, skid plates, tow hooks, and the trailering package for enhanced capability. Only 5,000 examples are set for production for the 2015 model year. The package is available on Double-Cab and Crew-Cab Silverado 1500 trucks.