It’s no secret that auto shows are in trouble, but we think the doom and gloom is a bit overblown. Instead, major shows could transition into something like the Chicago Auto Show.
That’s not a knock on the windy city, but Chicago is used to playing second fiddle to Detroit, Los Angeles and New York. However, Detroit’s struggles are well known and New York appears to be in trouble as Audi and Mercedes have decided to bow out this year.
The Chicago Auto Show, on the other hand, has found a niche as a truck and minivan event. That was particularly true this year as Jeep unveiled special edition Gladiators and Toyota introduced special editions of the Tundra and Tacoma.
Oddly enough, the most exciting truck was also the oldest. We’re talking about the 2020 Nissan Frontier which has body of a 15 year old and the heart of an infant.
Since the redesigned truck is still a year off, Nissan decided to give the current model an all-new 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces 310 hp (231 kW / 314 PS) and 281 lb-ft (381 Nm) of torque. It’s connected to a new nine-speed automatic transmission which replaces the ancient five-speed gearboxes. Unsurprisingly, these bits will also carryover to the all-new pickup.
On the van side of things, there were a couple of surprises including a camper from Mercedes and the facelifted Chrysler Pacifica. The latter is notable as the 2021 model gains all-wheel drive, a 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 infotainment system and a luxurious Pinnacle trim complete with Nappa leather pillows.
Besides trucks and vans, there were a handful of crossovers. Toyota introduced a sportier Highlander XSE, while Volkswagen gave the Atlas some personality. Chevrolet also showed off the facelifted Equinox which gains a new RS trim and additional safety features.
Lastly, there were a handful of cars. The star was the 2020 Ford GT which features an upgraded twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 660 hp (492 kW / 669 PS). The model also gains a newly standard Akrapovic titanium exhaust, a revised Track mode and a Liquid Carbon special edition.
While the Kia Cadenza isn’t a super car, it has become a lot more attractive thanks to a facelift. Besides the exterior styling changes, the cabin has been updated with a new dashboard and instrument cluster as well as a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Finally, there was the all-new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Sporting a solar roof, the car has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor and high voltage battery pack. This enable the sedan to produce a combined output of 192 hp (143 kW / 194 PS). While those numbers won’t blow you away, the model has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 50 mpg city, 54 mpg highway and 52 mpg combined.