2016 Chicago Auto Show: Highlights

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceShowtime in Chicago
A few short weeks following the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit finds us back on the auto show circuit — this time in the Windy City for the next major show of the season. In terms of square footage, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in America, which means there’s plenty of room for the new models on display. Exciting vehicles debuted from Nissan, Ram, Hyundai, Chevrolet and others. Enjoy this quick look at highlights from the 2016 Chicago Auto Show.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE
The 1LE package for the Camaro returns for 2017 with suspension and performance upgrades to improve handling and performance on the track. Previously only available on Camaro SS with the V8 engine, the 1LE package is now offered for the Camaro LT equipped with the 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine with a 6-speed manual transmission, distinguished by a black satin hood, front splitter and a 3-piece rear spoiler.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE
For Camaro LT, the 1LE package includes FE3 suspension components from the SS, Brembo 4-piston front brakes, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, a track cooling package, a suede steering wheel, a short-throw shifter, dual-mode exhaust, available Recaro seats and available video/data recording system. For Camaro SS equipped with the 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine and a 6-speed manual transmission, the 1LE package includes similar equipment as well as Magnetic Ride Control, electronic limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes with 6-piston Monobloc front calipers, 2-piece front rotors, and satin graphite front splitter and rear diffuser.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Chevrolet Trax
In the Second City Chevrolet debuted a new version of the Trax compact crossover, updated just 13 months after its U.S. introduction, although Trax has been on sale in other markets since 2012. The 2017 Trax features a new front-end design, interior upgrades, new available safety technology and a new infotainment system with available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Chevrolet Trax
The new front-end design includes a dual-port grille and headlights, following the styling elements of other Chevrolet models such as Malibu, Cruze and Volt. Trax LT and Premier trim levels include halogen projector headlights with LED signature lighting. At the rear are a new fascia and dual element taillights with LED lighting on the Premier version. Inside, the instrument panel has been redesigned and the center stack includes a 7-inch MyLink color touchscreen. New available safety features include Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Chrysler 200S / 300S Alloy Editions
Chrysler may have announced that the 200 will be discontinued after this year, but that didn’t stop the company from showcasing a special edition of this midsize sedan and its larger sibling, the 300. The Alloy Editions feature dark bronze and titanium finishes that adorn the grilles, badging and wheels — all designed to enhance the dark trim already associated with the S trims. “Chrysler brand embodies Detroit style, and our new 200S and 300S Alloy Editions are a perfect meld of our engineering innovation and craftsmanship, forged with cutting-edge colors and materials inspired by the Motor City’s ingenuity and creativity,” said Tim Kuniskis, FCA’s head of passenger car brands for Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Ford Explorer
For the 2017 model year, Ford adds a new Explorer XLT Sport Appearance package beginning this summer, which gives buyers a new option for a sporty look with dark exterior accents. The XLT Sport Appearance package includes 20-inch Magnetic Gray wheels, a Magnetic Gray grille, Magnetic Gray rear applique, Magnetic Gray mirror caps, Ebony Black body side cladding, and a black roof rack and Explorer hood badge.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Ford Explorer
Inside, the Explorer’s XLT Sport Appearance Package adds Dark Earth Gray leather for the front seats with Salerno premium leather bolsters, Miko suede inserts and contrast stitching. Standard XLT features include a 3.5-liter V6 engine, Intelligent Access with pushbutton start, a 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, SYNC 3 and LED fog lights.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2017 Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai debuted the 2017 Santa Fe 7-passenger crossover at the Chicago Auto Show with a refreshed exterior design, new standard Drive Mode Select, a standard 7-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto, a redesigned center stack and a standard rearview camera. Exterior updates include a new front fascia with a brushed grille, a revised headlight design, new rocker panel trim with silver accents, new taillights and a new exhaust outlet design. LED daytime running lights and LED fog lights are now available, as well as an available 8-inch touchscreen navigation system with Android Auto. Santa Fe also gets new alloy wheel designs.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Hyundai Santa Fe
New safety features for Santa Fe include an available Multi-View Camera system, available Smart Cruise Control with Start/Stop function, available Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and available Dynamic Bending Lights with High Beam Assist. Santa Fe is powered by a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter Lambda II V6 engine combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission and Drive Mode Select with Sport, Eco and Normal settings.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
In the Windy City Hyundai also debuted the 2017 Santa Fe Sport 5-passenger crossover alongside the 7-passenger Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Sport also receives a refreshed exterior design, new standard Drive Mode Select, a standard 5-inch color LCD display audio system, a redesigned center stack and a standard rearview camera. Exterior updates include a new front fascia with brushed grille, a revised headlight design, new rocker panel trim with silver accents, new taillights and a new exhaust outlet design. LED daytime running lights and LED fog lights are now available, as well as new designs for 17-, 18- and 19-inch alloy wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
New safety features the Santa Fe Sport include an available Multi-View Camera system, available Smart Cruise Control with Start/Stop function, available Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and available Dynamic Bending Lights with High Beam Assist. Santa Fe Sport gets power from either a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter or a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission and Drive Mode Select with Sport, Eco and Normal settings.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHyundai Vision G Coupe Concept
When the Hyundai Vision G Coupe first debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, it predated the announcement at the Detroit Auto Show in January that Genesis would become the new luxury brand from Hyundai. On display at the Chicago Auto Show, the elegant Vision G Coupe design combines luxury and performance with advanced connectivity and new technologies that now indicate what to expect in future Genesis models.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceHyundai Vision G Coupe Concept
From a performance standpoint, the Vision G is powered by Hyundai’s 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine. Inside, new technology includes the Remote Wheel, which is an ergonomically designed semi-sphere haptic touchpad in the center console that offers intuitive touch and gesture interaction, responding to a simple wave of the hand to minimize driver distraction. In the center of the instrument panel is a curved display for a high level of detailed information, and all physical buttons have been removed for a simple overall appearance.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Infiniti Q50
Nissan’s luxury brand introduced its midsize sport sedan that for the first time is available with one of three different engines, all of which are turbocharged. Q50 will be sold as the Q50 2.0t, Q50 3.0t and Q50 Red Sport 400. The 2.0t is powered by 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine putting out 208 horsepower, while the Q50 3.0t bumps up to a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces 300 horsepower. The 3.0t is expected to be the volume model, but for those who need a bit more oomph there’s the Q50 Red Sport 400 which is rated — as its eponymous name suggests — at 400 horsepower. All three will be available with rear- or all-wheel drive when they go on sale this spring.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2017 Kia Niro
Making its global debut at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the 2017 Kia Niro offers an attractive crossover design — with a new hybrid powertrain — engineered for a dynamic driving experience while delivering excellent fuel economy. A joint effort between Kia’s design centers in Irvine, California, and Namyang, Korea, the Niro is designed to not look like a typical hybrid but to compete against other compact crossovers. Niro gets motivation from a new hybrid powertrain that combines a 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injection engine specifically designed for hybrid applications that produces 103 horsepower, combined with a 43-horsepower transmission-mounted electric motor for a combined output of 146 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2017 Kia Niro
Niro’s power gets delivered to the front wheels through a new 6-speed dual-clutch transmission that provides a more dynamic driving experience than other CVT hybrid models. Electrical energy is stored in a compact, lightweight 1.56-kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery located underneath the rear seat to reduce the impact on cargo capacity. The power and energy density of the high-voltage battery allowed engineers to use a smaller gasoline engine to maximize fuel economy. Niro’s interior features a clean, uncluttered instrument panel and glossy white or black accents. The 2017 Kia Niro is scheduled to go on sale later this year globally and early in 2017 for the U.S. market.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2017 Kia Optima Hybrid
In Chicago Kia also debuted the redesigned 2017 Optima Hybrid, and for the first time an Optima Plug-In Hybrid will be offered as well. The new Optima Hybrid has the same full redesign as the gasoline-powered Optima, and a new hybrid powertrain that targets a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy over the previous Optima Hybrid. The powertrain combines a 2.0-liter gasoline direct-injection engine that produces 154 horsepower with a 38 kW electric motor and clutch to replace the torque converter, for an estimated combined output of 193 horsepower.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content Experience2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid
The 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid drivetrain combines the 2.0-liter gasoline engine with the electrical power of a transmission-mounted 50 kW electric motor to provide fast and easy transition between full-electric, gasoline and hybrid modes. Electricity is stored in a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack with approximately 60 percent more power output than the battery pack in the previous Optima Hybrid. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid is expected to have a range of 27 miles in EV mode, with a total driving range of 600 miles.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-Benz Sprinter Extreme Concept
Sprinter vans are big vehicles providing excellent cargo-carrying capabilities. This Sprinter Concept makes standard Sprinters look tiny. Measuring 20 feet long and almost eight feet tall, this custom Sprinter Cab Chassis can carry 6,400 pounds of cargo or tow 7,500 pounds. Mercedes-Benz’ customizing partner RENNtech added a number of elements to make this Sprinter extreme, including a custom roof rack to support the six forward-facing spotlights, a custom brush guard with additional fog lights, and a powerful winch located on the front bumper.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-Benz Sprinter Extreme Concept
A suspension lift package raises the Sprinter Extreme, helping to fit the six G-Class-inspired beadlock wheels and aggressive off-road tires. Custom rear fenders provide additional clearance for suspension travel and tire clearance. A head-turning bright green vinyl wrap and chrome exhaust stacks situated on either side of the cab complete the extreme packaging.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-Benz Sprinter WORKER
Not as over the top as the Extreme Concept, the Sprinter WORKER still brings a lot of capability to table. Designed for the commercial van market including plumbers, electricians and general contractors, the Sprinter WORKER has a cargo floor more than 11 feet long with 66.5 inches of standing room. Power comes from a fuel-efficient 2.1-liter diesel teamed with a 7-speed automatic transmission. Not only does this combination delivery more than 23 miles per gallon, the WORKER can haul more than 3,500 pounds or tow up to 5,000 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes-Benz Sprinter WORKER
The Sprinter can also go up to 20,000 miles before scheduled service — extremely valuable for the commercial van operator. And it may be a work truck, but that doesn’t mean the Sprinter WORKER can’t be equipped for comfort and convenience as well. Available features include Bluetooth connectivity, rain-sensing wipers, an upgraded Audio System, Highbeam Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Rear View Camera and a First Aid Kit.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Nissan Armada
The annual Chicago Auto Show is one of the biggest auto salons in the world, so it’s appropriate that Nissan chose this venue to debut the latest version of its largest SUV, the aptly-named Armada. The last of the Nissan SUVs to receive the brand’s new design styling, Armada features the now-familiar V-motion grille and signature LED running lights. Rear lights are much larger than the outgoing version, now with LEDs as well.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Nissan Armada
Even though many redesigned SUVs have moved to more passenger-car-like unibody construction, the Armada remains a body-on-frame design capable of handling considerable cargo and towing duties. The Armada’s 5.6-liter V8 engine has been completely reengineered for a major boost in power. Output is now rated at 390 horsepower — that’s 73 more ponies than the previous version. With this much power on tap, the Armada can tow up to 8,500 pounds. The 2017 Nissan Armada will be available with 2WD or 4WD in SV, SL or Platinum trims when it arrives in showrooms this summer.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Winter Warrior Concepts
There wasn’t much snow on the ground at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, which was too bad for Nissan since they brought the perfect snow vehicles. The company outfitted a Pathfinder, Murano and Rogue to conquer extreme winter conditions with a full snow-track system. The DOMINATOR Tracks come from American Track Truck, Inc. The tracks are 48 inches long, 30 inches high and 15 inches wide, replacing the vehicles’ wheels and tires. The suspensions and wheelwells were modified to fit the snow tracks, but otherwise all drivetrain components remain stock.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Winter Warrior Concepts
Nissan Design America created identical, custom matte-red chrome body wraps for each vehicle, featuring a unique “track” design and Nissan “Winter Warrior” signage. “With their solid Nissan underpinnings and exceptional ground clearance, these Winter Warriors are serious, extreme weather machines, not toys,” said Christian Meunier, senior vice president of Nissan sales, marketing and operations for Nissan North America, Inc.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Ram Power Wagon
The Power Wagon is Ram’s ultimate off-road pickup, and for 2017 this behemoth gets styling updates as well as a number of new features. The Power Wagon’s grille departs from the typical Ram crosshairs and incorporates a large version of the grille first seen on the off-road Rebel. A nice touch inside is the pattern of the seat material — it matches the tread of the big 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Ram Power Wagon
Power for the new Ram wagon comes from the standard 6.4-liter V8 putting out 410 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. Power Wagon also features standard front and rear electronic-locking differentials, a Warn 12,000-pound-capacity electric winch mounted behind the front bumper, and a sway-bar disconnecting system, which allows for additional flexibility and axle articulation. A Tradesman trim will also be available, providing the capability without the styling and interior design elements.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
After introducing an all-new Tacoma last year, Toyota took the wraps off the all-new Toyota Racing Development Pro version of the midsize pickup. This special Tacoma is designed for extreme off-roading, joining the TRD Pro versions of the full-size Tundra and 4Runner SUV. Based on the Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4 Double Cab Short Bed, the TRD Pro adds 16-inch TRD black alloy wheels with Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Kevlar-reinforced tires.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
The Tacoma TRD Pro also sports an aluminum front skidplate, LED fog lights, projector-beam headlights with black bezels, LED running lights, taillights with black bezels and unique TRD Pro badging. Black TRD Pro leather-trimmed heated front seats with TRD Pro logo located in the headrests complete the look. A fun added touch: a GoPro mount is located on the windshield for serious off-roaders who like to document their exploits.

Luxury

Most Expensive New Cars in America

Feast your eyes on these high-priced rid…

Read more

SUV

Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs of 2017

A rundown of 4WD sport-utility vehicles …

Read more

Enthusiast

2017 Geneva Motor Show: High-Performance Rides

Sports cars abound at this annual auto e…

Read more