At this point, we know very little about any new debuts

The Chicago Auto Show is just days away, but to our surprise, there has been very little information released about what cars will be making their long-awaited debuts. So far, we’ve learned that the 2018 Subaru Legacy will be making appearance along with the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT, and the Nissan NV Cargo X Project van. Outside of that, the best information we have is that Acura, Chevy, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Volkswagen are all expected to introduce global vehicles, but outside of this, other new debuts are a complete mystery.

But, even with all of that mystery surrounding this year’s show, there is some interesting things to think about. First off, the total show area has been increased by a total of 100,000 square foot, with Porsche set to double its floor space in comparison to last year. Some of that extra 100,000 square feet will be dedicated to two new test tracks – one by Ram and one by Mercedes-Benz – that will bring the total number of tracks up from three to five. That’s a pretty big deal, and I can tell you from experience that these test tracks are a big deal. Even during the media preview days the tracks were running non-stop from open to close, and it’s definitely not something you want to miss out on.

But, with all of the mystery surrounding what new cars we’ll see at the show, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about what we know is coming, and what just might make an appearance. What do you think will show up in Chicago this year?

Confirmed Debuts

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT High Resolution Exterior
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Note: The image above is a teaser shot of the front end that was released just a week before the show.

Hyundai introduced the sixth-generation Elantra for 2017, complete with an all-new exterior design that’s a little less “fluidic” than before to go with some new technology on the inside and the introduction for two new engines: a 2.0-liter with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque and a 1.4-liter with 128 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. We already know quite a bit about the Elantra GT, as it’s already debuted for other markets as the Hyundai i30, but the Americanized version should feature some minor changes like a cascading grille design and a modified chassis, among other things. We don’t know much about what will power the new GT, but chances are it’ll be that same 2.0-liter with 147 ponies. However, the Elantra Sport does have a 1.6-liter, turbocharged, four-banger that’s good for 200 ponies, so hopefully the GT will be ready for business.

2018 Subaru Legacy

2018 Subaru Legacy High Resolution Exterior
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The current Subaru Legacy has been on the market since 2015, so it should be no surprise that the 2018 model year will bring about a refreshed model that will keep things competitive through at least the turn of the decade. As part of the refresh, the Legacy will get a new front fascia that is complimented by a new grille with wider openings that help make the car just a bit sportier looking. To go along with this it gets redesigned headlights with “Konoji” LED running lights and two new exterior colors. To the rear, you’ll see that the exhaust outlets have been integrated into the rear fascia and are now redesigned. Under the metal, the car gets minor chassis and suspension updates. The same 2.5-liter and 3.6-liter engines carry over with the refresh, so don’t expect any more power, but Subie claims that it has updated the 2.5-liter to help reduce powertrain noise. The inside will get new materials, a redesigned center console, and there’s even a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Nissan NV Cargo X Project Van

At first glance, this just might look like a molester van with some decals and lifted suspension, but it’s really more than that. It’s be far the most extreme version of a Nissan NV Cargo Van ever made, thanks to input from off-road builder Ian Johnson. All told, it stands over 7.5-feet tall and rides on 37-inch tires – just to prove that the lightly beaten path isn’t reserved for SUVs and Trucks. It’s powered by a 5.0-liter Cummins V-8 with 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. It’s even got a custom exterior lighting system and a 10,000 pound winch mounted up front. And, BTW, that Cummins engine is mated to an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission, and power is routed to all four wheels – now that’s a van.

Potential Surprises

So, as I mentioned previously, more than a few automakers are expected to make global car debuts, but as to what those models are, we’re not exactly sure. But, that means we can speculate as much as we want, and who knows, maybe we’ll be right.

Acura

Acura ILX

The most realistic possibility is that Acura will debut the next-gen ILX as the current-gen model went through an update for 2016. This would set the car up to be a 2019 model, so a Chicago appearance would be a little early, but that’s okay. The update would bring an updated exterior look with a new grille, new exterior lights, and a few exterior colors. The interior would get updated technology and maybe even a few extra digital goodies. It’s a good chance that there won’t be any major powertrain updates to come with the facelift, but Acura will likely rework the chassis and suspension a bit while there could be some more NSX styling cues throughout. It would make for a nice surprise at Chicago, but what if there’s something else lurking behind Acura’s curtain of mystery?

Acura NSX Type R and Baby NSX

2017 Acura NSX Type R
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2019 Baby Acura NSX Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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I’m talking about the potential introduction of the Acura NSX Type R (left) or the Acura Baby NSX (right)– also known as the S2000’s much desired successor. Now, rumors slate the baby NSX for a 2018 debut, but Acura might surprise us with an early 2017 debut, or at least a concept that showcases a near-production model. After all, the Toyota Supra and next BMW Z are in the works and will need some competition from the Acura brand, right? In terms of the Type R, if we see that, there won’t be too many changes to the car, but it should come out to be a bit lighter (the old NSX Type R shed some 200 pounds) and feature some more aggressive aerodynamics to go with some extra horsepower and torque to help satisfy that Type R desire that our manliness begs for and deserves. Again, neither model are really likely this early on, but you never know…

Read our full review on the upcoming Acura NSX Type R here and the Acura Baby NSX here.

Toyota

2018 4Runner

Toyota’s name is also on the list of manufacturers expected to make a global debut in Chicago, but what could that model possibly be? The Camry and Corolla were just recently updated as was the Highlander and Prius. The new CH-R made its debut in L.A. in 2016, so one of the few models that sticks out is the Toyota 4Runner. The current generation has been on the market since 2010, and has yet to see a major update beyond its minor 2014 refresh. But, the current model is now seven years old and SUV sales are booming. In fact, the 4Runner is doing exceptionally well, jumping from just 51,625 models sold for 2013 to 110,970 for the 2016 model year. So, a next-gen model for 2018 sounds like it might be exactly what Toyota needs to keep that ball rolling.

There have been no major spy shots or news about it, so if this is the case, Toyota has done a great job at keeping it a mystery. Updates would include an updated exterior look that is more in line with Toyota’s new design language (think Tacoma and Camry) to go with updated drivetrains that are more powerful and fuel efficient. It will also be tasked with competing against models like the GMC Terrain and Chevy Traverse, so expect it to get Toyota’s latest technology and some more upscale interior materials. Will a new 4Runner grace Toyota’s show floor in just a few days when the 2017 Chicago Auto Show kicks off? We’ll be there and will be sure to find out.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Eclipse SUV

Mitsubishi has been struggling with that fuel economy scandal that has it now set to post its first financial loss in almost a decade. It has discontinued the EVO program and has even signed the Lancer’s death warrant, effectively removing it from the market altogether by the end of the year. The brand is now focusing solely on SUV’s and the only for sure word we have of a new model is an SUV that will sit between the Outlander and Outlander Sport. For now, no name is set in stone – as far as we know – but the current rumor is that Mitsubishi is going to crap on it and give it the Eclipse name… sigh.

That aside, Mitsubishi has said that it will debut in Geneva next month, but with nothing else really on the table, it’s quite possible that it will pull the sheets off of the new SUV early instead of waiting until Geneva kicks off. Outside, it should sport a look that is similar to that of the Outlander duo, but will have its own cues to differentiate it from the pack. The interior, on the other hand, will probably be a scaled-down version of the SUV’s bigger brother. Like the interior, the drivetrain options will probably mirror that of the Outlander Sport, but you can’t really knock Mitsubishi since it’s got a serious cashflow problem at the moment. If so, power output will range from 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet up to as much as 168 ponies and 167 pound-feet. The 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter engines could be massaged to deliver a little more power, but I wouldn’t expect too much. Let’s just hope that if it does debut, it doesn’t do so wearing an Eclipse badge.

Read our full review on the upcoming Mitsubishi Eclipse SUV here.

Nissan

There are two potential debuts that could be show-stoppers in Chicago this year. One, would be a second-gen Nissan GT-R and the other would be an all-new Z-car – both of which we would absolutely love to see show up in Detroit, so let’s talk a little more about them.

2019 Nissan GT-R

2019 Nissan GT-R Exclusive Renderings
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The GT-R was introduced as a successor to the Skyline GT-R back in 2007 but is now a standalone model. Since it’s introduction, it has seen several updates, including a facelift in 2011 and another update in 2017. But, the current model is getting a little long in the tooth, if such a thing can be said for a hand-built performance coupe, that is. The second-gen model feature an all-new exterior look with an updated green house that is more sloped in the rear to go with current trends. The interior will feature the absolute best technology on offer right now to go with exceptional materials and plenty of carbon fiber.

The current model delivers 565 horsepower and 467 pound-feet of torque from a 3.8-liter, 24-valve, V-6 that sounds as menacing as the car looks. The next-gen model will likely see an updated drivetrain that pushes output much closer to the 600 horsepower and 500 pound-foot mark, but outside of various renderings, Nissan has said little about any next-gen model, so it’s all speculation at this point. Either way, the next-gen model should beat out the current model’s 2.9-second sprint to 60 mph by at least one second with top speed finally crossing the 200 mph mark. It’s the kind of thing that makes up our hopes and dreams, but you look me in the eye and say you’re not ready to see a next-gen model. Yeah, I didn’t think you could.

Read our full review on the upcoming 2019 Nissan GT-R here.

2018 Nissan Z-car

2018 Nissan Z Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Nissan’s Z-car game has been on point over the years, with the first model, the 240Z becoming a legend that was followed by other greats like the 300ZX, 350Z, and the most recent Z-car, the 370Z. That model has been on the market since 2009 and has seen various updates over its life cycle. But, with that said, it’s also about time for an all-new Z-car – perhaps called the 390z or 400Z – to make its debut and put the current 370 to rest. So far, we have very little to go by as the information trail has been silen since Shiro Nakamoa – Nissan’s Senior VP – told the world that the Z-car idea needed to be “rethought” back in June of 2015. It’s been over a year and a half since then, and it’s quite possible that Nissan will surprise us with the next Z-car in Chicago.

Word has it the next Z-car will be smaller and true to its roots (think Datsun 240Z, for example) and wil be powered by a small-displacement hybrid engine. That could be that output figures in the range of 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet aren’t exactly out of the question. It will likely look wildly different he the 370Z that we know and love, but it should be a welcomed change for 2018. Will the next Z-car shock us in Chicago? We’ll just have to wait and find out.

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Z-car here.

Chevrolet

Like Nissan, Chevy has two big models that could potentially show up in Chicago this year, and both of them are exceptionally hot items. One potential model will be the 2018 Chevy Camaro Z/28 and the other is the long-awaited Chevy Corvette ZR1.

Chevy Camaro Z/28

2018 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
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Chevy revived the Z/28 namplate back in 2013, but a new-gen model was introduced for 2016 and, so far, Chevy has yet to drop a track-ready Z/28 version. We saw spy shots of the track monster way back in May of 2016, but have heard very little about the model since. That could be good news, and since the model is expected to debut in early 2017, the Chicago Auto Show is just the right venue now that this year’s Detroit Auto Show has come and gone. Expected to sport a more aggressive aerodynamic package, the Z/28 should get a unique body kit all the way around to go with a nightmarish hood and a fairly large, active spoiler out back.

Inside, it should get a pair of Recaro racing seats up front while the rear seats will be removed. There will be a lack of sound insulation, but in exchange you’ll get thinner glass (for weight savings,) carbon fiber trim and GM’s performance data recorder that is tied into the MyLink infotainment systems. Air conditioning won’t likely come standard, but it was available as an option in the fifth-gen Z/28, so I suspect GM will carry the option box over for the sixth-gen model. The Z/28 should feature a naturally aspirated engine that could be a modified version the LT1 V-8. Chevy will swap out the camshaft, and air induction system for performance units, and throw in a nice wide-open exhaust and a fresh ECU remapping. Power output estimated put the Z/28 somewhere around 540 horsepower, a 35-horsepower gain from the last-gen Z/28.

Read our full review on the upcoming Chevy Camaro Z/28 here.

Chevy Corvette ZR1

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
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A range-topping ZR1 version of the Corvette has been a topic of conversation since the C7 Corvette made it’s debut for the 2014 model year. So far, it’s been three years and we have yet to see it, which means that 2017 could be the year that the ZR1 finally rears its gorgeous face for the masses. Like the upcoming Camaro Z/28, the ZR1 should get a more extreme aero package that includes larger air intakes up front to go with an active rear spoiler out back. The undercarriage should be covered, while the rear will get a large diffuser, the front a new splitter, an updated skirts on the side.

Inside, you’ll find a lot of the standard C7, but there should be new upholstery options, racing seats, and some special carbon fiber trim. The infotainment system will be updated as well, and the car should receive GM’s performance data recorder. The ZR1 could get a new twin-turbo V-8 that goes by the name LT5 and will offer great power output to go with decent fuel economy. Power output for the last ZR1 was set at 638 horsepower, so the C7-gen model could be tuned to deliver as much as 700 ponies. Sure, that twin-turbo unit would be a little unorthodox for the Vette, but with 700 horsepower on tap, it’s a tradeoff that is more than fair.

Read our full review on the upcoming Chevy Corvette ZR1 here.

Ford

Ford decided to skip showing off the facelifted Mustang at the Detroit Auto Show, and instead announced it shortly thereafter. That means that it will for sure be shown off on Ford’s show floor in Chicago this year. But, there’s also another big model that’s been underway for some time, and that’s a beefier version of the Ford Focus RS, currently being called the RS500 – a name that was used back in 2010 from a beefed-up version of the last-gen RS.

2018 Ford Mustang

2018 Ford Mustang High Resolution Exterior
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Ford updated the Mustang to keep up with the Joneses, really, and by that I mean to bring it up to speed with is main competitor, the Chevy Camaro. The exterior was updated with a new front fascia and next exterior lighting, while the inside got minor updates that included a new seat design, wrapped knee bolsters with hand stitching, and some new aluminum accents here and there. The biggest news of the new Mustang, however, involves the 3.7-liter V-6 from the lineup, leaving kist the 2.3-liter EcoBoost and the 5.0-liter V-8. Ford hasn’t announced specific output figures, but the 2.3-liter is said to have gained more torque, while the 5.0-liter is now more powerful. There’s also a new 10-speed automatic transmission that is available for both engines. If the updated Mustang shows up in Chicago this year, then we should learn more about those output figures, so make sure you check back with us after the show kicks off for full details.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Mustang here.

Ford Focus RS500

2018 Ford Focus RS500
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We first saw the RS500 testing way back in June, and haven’t heard much else about it. But, it was sporting a slightly modified exterior without any camo, so we’re pretty sure that it’s about production ready. It’s been more than half a year since we last saw it, and that – along with the what we saw in the most recent spy shots – means that a debut in Chicago is quite possible. As far as the exterior goes, there will only be minor differences between the basic RS and the RS500, including functional corner vents up front, a more prominent nose, a more raked stance, and a new spoiler out back. Inside, there should be little changes, but sportier racing seats are probably a given while a new steering wheel is also lightly.

The big news will be under the hood, where the RS500 will have to pump out more than the 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Some estimate that it could pump out as much as 400 horsepower or so, which could be achieved by a different turbo setup, ecu remapping, or some minor internal engine changes. Then again, at least a few people are saying the RS500 could get a V-6 under the hood, but that’s highly unlikely. If the RS500 does show up in Chicago this year, we’ll be sure to get plenty of pictures and as much information as possible.

Read our full review on the upcoming Ford Focus RS500 here.

Chrysler

Chrysler has a very small lineup that includes the Chrysler 200, 300, and the Pacifica. As such, it’s a bit surprising to see that Chrysler is on the list of automakers to be making a global debut in Chicago this year. The 200 has now been officially discontinued, ultimately leaving just two models in the brand’s U.S. lineup. The Pacifica replaced the Town & Country and was debuted for 2017, so no chance of something happening big with it, but the 300 is due for a redesign.

2018 Chrysler 300

2018 Chrysler 300 High Resolution Exterior
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Chrysler let out a few minor details on the 2018 Chrysler 300.

Note: image above shows the current Chrysler 300

With the current 300 getting old, paired with the fact that Chrysler’s lineup is skimpy at best, it’s only fitting that Chrysler will update the 300 in the very near future. As far as information goes, we have next to nothing, and a camo-covered model hasn’t even been spotted in the wild. But, we do know that it will be conceived as a global car but will still sport the “bold exterior” that it has become known for. The outside should get some significant updates including a reshaped nose with a new grille and new exterior lighting. New body lines will encompass the sides while the rear end will maintain the same general look. But, there could be one very interesting detail about the 300 that could be a game changer.

Back when the new Pacific launched, FCA boss Sergio Marchionne hinted that the 300 could be supported by the Pacifica’s platform, which would mean that the next-gen 300 will be front-wheel drive. It would make for a completely different car with more refined handling and the potential for more interior space. An AWD option could still be on the table, but non-AWD models could be pulled along by the front wheels. How this would be received is a mystery, but if the next-gen 300 shows up in Chicago, we’ll certainly find out.

Read our full review on the upcoming 2018 Chrysler 300 here.

Volkswagen

VW has two new models that are for sure set to show up for the 2018 model year, and that’s the new Tiguan and the new Atlas. Both of these models showed up in Detroit and saw a lot of love, so what global debut could Volkswagen be making in Chicago this year?

Volkswagen CC

2018 Volkswagen CC
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The Volkswagen CC has been it’s own model since 2008 when VW decided to make it a standalone model instead of calling it the Passat CC. Since then, it saw an update for 2011 and has soldiered on ever since. So, the 2018 model year is the perfect time for a new-gen model, and Chicago could be the place that where it gets its spotlighted attention. Little is known about it at this point, but we have seen some early spy shots of it being put through the paces in the third quarter of last year, which means VW has had plenty of time to finalize its design and mechanic bits.

If it does make its debut in Chicago this year, it should sport a new exterior design and a more upscale interior with modern technology. Rumors suggest that it will use the same platform as the Passat, so we could see the same 2.0-liter and 3.6-liter carry over, boosting minor output increases that push them beyond 200 horsepower and 280 horsepower, respectively. It could also get the Passat’s 1.8-liter with 170 horsepower on tap, so be on the lookout for that to happen as well.

Read our full review on the upcoming Volkswagen CC here.

Conclusion

With less than a week before the Chicago Auto Show kicks off, it’s surprising that we’ve heard very little about what cars may be debuting at the show. Be that as it may, it should still be a great show, and we’re going to be there to take it all in. I’ve talked about a lot of potential debuts here that would certainly be exciting, but what do you think about them? Is there something I missed, or something you would rather see more? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and talk more about it.

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