2015 Chicago Auto Show - Worst In Show
Even though it’s arguably the largest auto show in North America, the Chicago Auto Show is often overlooked by most automakers. That’s because Chicago takes places between the more important Detroit and Geneva auto shows, and, as a result, manufacturers tend to use the McCormick Place convention complex to introduce new trim levels or mild updates, rather than showcase brand-new production cars or innovative concepts. That’s not to say this year’s Chicago Auto Show had nothing exciting in store for us petrol heads, but, aside from the intriguing Nissan GT-R LM Nismo, the redesigned Honda Pilot, the Kia Trail’ster e-AWD Concept and a few facelifts that included the Toyota Avalon and the Acura RDX, the event was rather dull.
Nevertheless, the 2015 Chicago Auto Show had a fair share of introductions, and, according to TopSpeed tradition after each major automotive event, we talk about the cars that tickled our fancy, as well as the vehicles the Chicago Auto Show would’ve been just fine without having on display. For this piece, I compiled a list of five cars and concepts that should’ve stayed home. Check them out past the jump and be sure to share your opinion on my selection in the comments box below.
Click past the jump to learn which cars were the worst in show this year.
I get it, the Chicago Auto Show is less glamorous than Detroit or Los Angeles, but I still think manufacturers should stop bringing these mildly enhanced special-edition cars to major events. Sure, special- and limited-edition models are welcome additions to a vehicle’s lineup, be it fresh or aging, but slapping a new set of rollers, a couple of new paint colors and a pair of smokey taillights to a Camry is a bit dull for the largest auto show in North America.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware the Camry is a major player in today’s market and I wasn’t expecting a supercar-packed McCormick Place, but this "here, have a Camry SE with new wheels" type of marketing is getting old, especially when showcased on an auto show floor.
But Toyota didn’t settle with just the Camry Special Edition. No! The Japanese came to Chicago with a nearly identical take on the Corolla too. This one is based on the S Plus trim and features... wait for it... exclusive exterior paints and special wheels. And besides a few options now included as standard equipment, the compact features a dull black interior with red stitching here and there. Whoopee.
With no significant updates inside or out and the same 132-pony four-banger from the S Plus model, this Corolla is nothing but a slightly fancier version of your neighbor’s car. It’s a good thing Toyota’s third Chicago vehicle was a significantly refreshed Avalon.
So what’s wrong with a 355-horsepower SUV that returns an average of 35 mpg (on the Japanese cycle) and features a futuristic interior you may ask? Well, nothing really, aside from its bulbous styling and awkward proportions, but it’s Mitsubishi’s misleading PR talk that made me add the GC-PHEV to this list. You see, the Japanese promised Chicago would mark the "return of a legend," which, given the company’s past SUV nameplates, must have been the Montero.
Instead, Mitsubishi used the event to mark the North American debut of an SUV it first introduced back in 2013. Sure, the GC-PHEV could become the next-generation Montero in production guise, but promoting an older concept car under the "Return of a Legend" banner is downright sneaky. I get it, Mitsubishi, you’re in desperate need of competitive new products, especially in the U.S., but show a little class, will you?
While there’s nothing wrong with showing your latest Police-spec products to the world, I still find the presence of the Ford Interceptor Utility in Chicago rather useless. It’s not like Police officers from all over the country took Chicago by storm to check out their future workhorse, and I doubt car enthusiasts spent too much time at the Ford stand learning the new blue-and-red lighting signature. Yes, I know, the Ford Interceptor Utility is impressive in terms of output and fuel economy when compared to its GM competitor, but, unless I can drive it sooner than later, I’d rather have something else to walk around.
And what’s the deal with Ford using the "Interceptor" name on all of its Police-spec vehicles? There’s only one Interceptor worthy of the name. It’s based on a 1973 Ford Falcon, it has a big-block V-8, a supercharger protruding through the hood, and is driven maniacally by Mel Gibson. Period!
I like the new Kia Rio. I really do! It’s a great choice for youngsters looking to purchase that first affordable vehicle that’s bigger than a Mirage. What’s it doing on this list then? Well, aside from being only slightly cheaper than the more popular Chevrolet Sonic and on par with the more attractive Fiesta Sedan, its latest facelift is rather uninspiring considering the nameplate has taken a plunge in terms of sales. Sure, the updated Rio is slightly sportier by appearance and boasts reduced NVH due to better insulation, but it takes more than that to climb up the sales ladder.
A more powerful engine would’ve been a great start, but Kia opted to use the same drivetrain for a few more years. I’m sorry Kia, but that’s not the way to do it. At least not when the Rio is priced about the same as Ford- and Chevy-badged products that benefit from stronger brand cachet. Please use what you’ve learned from developing and selling the current Optima and give us a competitive Rio.
That’s about it. Did I miss anything? Have I been too harsh on anyone? Let me know what you think in the comments section.