2018 Chicago Auto Show – Best In Show
The stuff that blew us away in the Windy Cityby Jonathan Lopez, on
Tucked between the domestic frenzy that is the Detroit Auto Show and the international insanity of the Geneva Motor Show, the Chicago Auto Show (CAS) is a bit of an oddball on the auto show circuit schedule. Despite this, CAS is still the best-attended auto show in the States, regularly drawing over a million attendees ready to feast upon a cornucopia of fresh metal. Once again, the automakers have obliged, offering up a healthy selection of debuts for the new year, and in response, we’ve assembled a list of the best from this year’s Chicago Auto Show right here for your enjoyment. In addition to the latest production models and updates, we also threw in some highly desirable upgrades and even a few random old-school rides to ogle along the way. Read on for more.
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First seen at the Geneva Motor Show last year, the Arteon is now arriving stateside with a debut at the Chicago Auto Show. Offered as Volkswagen’s latest upscale compact sedan, the Arteon gets a four-door fastback profile that’s loaded with tons of little visual details, which is quite the departure from the ultra-understated aesthetic we usually get from the German automaker. Under the skin is the latest MQB architecture, while a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is added under the hood. Output is rated at 270 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Inside is a premium interior, with top-shelf materials and an Audi-esque layout. Tech like a digital cockpit, a heads-up display, and a 9.2-inch infotainment screen with gesture control make the list of optional equipment.
“The Arteon is among the coolest cars there and a bit of a surprise,” says TopSpeed’s Ciprian Florea. It’s not often we enjoy VW’s efforts in this segment, but this time, we think the brand did it right.
Read our full review of the 2018 Volkswagen Arteon.
Factory Options That Kick Ass And Won’t Void Your Warranty
Vehicle customization is as popular as ever, and Chicago drove the point home with a variety of tricked-out trucks and SUVs in Chicago – all with factory-approved parts that won’t void your warranty.
First up is a new lift kit from Nissan, which adds inches to the ride height of its Titan and Titan XD pickup trucks. The kit comes from Icon Vehicle Dynamics, a well-known parts maker in the off-road community, and it boosts the Titan a full 3 inches when it’s all said and done. You can have it installed right at your local Nissan dealer in about four hours, and it comes with adjustable coilovers, custom rod end bearings, and special upper ball joints. What’s more, it’s all bolt-on components, so you can swap it out if you decide to sell your truck or give it up at the end of your lease.
Up next is a slew of upgrades from Mopar, which debuted new parts for the Dodge Durango SUV and Ram 1500 pick-up truck in Chicago. The Ram showed its stuff on the show floor with a 2-inch lift, huge wheels and tires, new fender flares in flat black, a cargo system up top, and a step-up at the side, plus all-weather mats in the cabin matched with Katskin leather upholstery.
And given Mopar is Chrysler's go-to go-faster division, you better believe Chicago brought a splash of extra performance stuff as well.
The Durango three-row SUV also gets leather upholstery (either in red or in black), as well as soft-touch surfaces throughout, plus carbon fiber trim. Outside, you’ll find a set of racing stripes in one of five colors, which really enhances the SUV’s visual aggression.
And given Mopar is Chrysler’s go-to go-faster division, you better believe Chicago brought a splash of extra performance stuff as well, including lowered suspension bits for the Durango that cut 0.6 inches from the ride height, and a high-flow exhaust that’s sure to add a nice throaty growl out back. The same goes for the Ram, which gets a new intake and exhaust, all in the name of extra aural pleasure and a few newfound ponies to boot.
Toyota TRD Pro Lineup Gets Some Love
Toyota also got in on the off-roading fun in Chicago, offering up a variety of updates to its TRD-branded trucks and SUVs. Previewed prior to the show by a single pic depicting a dusty, snorkel-wearing Tacoma blasting through the dunes, Toyota brought along new gear for the Tundra and 4Runner as well.
Unfortunately, the Taco was the only model of the three to get the snorkel, which is great for enhancing river wading depth, but also is used to keep the intake away from the dirt and grit that has a habit of flying around when attacking the great outdoors.
Still, we like what we see from all three of these vehicles. The big-ticket items are the new 2.5-inch Fox shocks, which come with piggyback reservoirs in case the trails gets really rough. With the new parts installed, the Tacoma gets a 1-inch lift, plus specs like three rebound and five compression zones in front, and four rebound and seven compression zones in the rear.
Meanwhile, the Tundra gets a 2-inch lift and up to 2 inches of extra suspension travel as well. Rounding out the package are new skid plates and upgraded high-intensity headlights.
Of course, it bears mentioning that Toyota might have some hard-hitting competition just over the horizon. “Toyota made waves updating the TRD Pro line,” says our resident truck expert Mark McNabb, “but none of them can compete with rivals like the F-150 Raptor, the Jeep Wrangler, the Chevy Colorado ZR2, or the upcoming Ford Ranger Raptor.”
Ya hear that Toyota? Consider the gauntlet thrown.
This wouldn’t be a true TopSpeed Best of List if we didn’t include at least one ridiculously fast machine, right?
Taking the honor this time around is a pumped-up Hyundai hatchback, which looks ready to roll and take on all challengers in the Touring Car Racing class of the Pirelli World Challenge race series this year. The story is that Hyundai is teaming up with Bryan Herta Autosport to sponsor a pair of racers in the popular series, and as such, this thing is nothing less than a full competition-spec racer. It’s got a stripped-out interior, a full roll cage, enormous rear aero, slick-shod lightweight wheels, and a fire extinguisher system as well. Making it go is the same 2.0-liter four-banger you’d find in the road car, but this time around, it comes with a re-tuned ECU and supporting mods, all of which conspire to crank up output to 350 ponies, far exceeding the 271 ponies you get in the top-trim road car. Routed through a six-speed sequential gearbox, you can bet this thing is an absolute rocket ship.
Unfortunately, Hyundai isn’t offering the i30 N to stateside consumers, but hopefully its presence in the TCR class will inspire customers to explore the brand’s sportier side.
Read the full story on the Hyundai i30 N TCR Race Car.
Yeah, we know this isn’t exactly a “fresh debut,” but we just had to include it in this list. Why you ask? Well, just look at it! The Subaru 360 is one of the six-star brand’s very first products and its 12 different shades of weird. For starters, it’s tiny, with dimensions that’ll make a modern Mini double-check the nearest mirror. It’s also got suicide doors and a curb weight of just 900 pounds. Hell, when it arrived in the States, it was even advertised as “Cheap and Ugly.”
We could go on and on about the quirkiness of the Subaru 360. It’s a true oddball, and because of that, we love it.
Read the full story on the 1968 Subaru 360.
The Original Batmobile
Consider this an extra double bonus for ’ya. Straight out of the ’60s, it doesn’t get much more iconic than the original Batmobile. Designed by the legendary George Barris, this black-and-red crime fighter is actually an adaptation of a Ford concept car called Lincoln Futura, which was created ten years prior by Ghia of Italy. Fast forward to 1965, and as ABC was gearing up to shoot the show, it needed a proper car to do so. The network went to Barris to accomplish the task, but with only three weeks to complete the project, he decided to reuse the Futura, which he happened to purchase from Ford for $1, and the rest is history.
Stay tuned for a full written review on this awesome machine. Same TopSpeed time, same TopSpeed channel!
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