The 2015 Chicago Auto Show opened its doors last week, and although the lineup was short on exotics (the fresh-from-Detroit Ford GT did make a showing in silver instead of blue) it still had plenty of interesting production vehicles and concepts.
2016 Honda Pilot
Honda landed one of the bigger hits of the Chicago Auto Show with its all-new Pilot. The Pilot gets bigger (another 3.5 inches in length) while losing 300 pounds. More importantly, it adds a new layer of sophistication with its made-over exterior and vastly improved interior, adding everything from captain’s chairs in the second row to loads of safety features.
Nissan GT-R LM NISMO Race Car
Look out, race world: Nissan is turning things upside down with its all-new front-drive-based GT-R LM NISMO. Powered by a twin-turbo V-6, the GT-R LM NISMO will compete in endurance racing, including Le Mans, where Nissan will field three cars for the 24-hour race. Some are skeptical of how well the car will perform, but one NISMO executive said the company wouldn’t enter it if it didn’t think it would do well.
2016 Acura RDX
The new 2016 Acura RDX can no longer be mistaken for a more upscale version of the Honda CR-V, as the automaker has infused more of what it likes to call “Acura DNA.” And although we like the more stylized approach to the new model, we wish it weren’t a smaller carbon copy of the MDX. However, those looking for an entry-level luxury SUV will enjoy the changes made to the 2016 Acura RDX, inside and out.
2016 Toyota Avalon
Toyota has upgraded its flagship sedan with styling and suspension tweaks to make it more appealing to a wider range of buyers. With two unique suspension setups, customers can choose between comfort and a more dynamic drive. And with a host of new technology features and a more aggressive appearance, we can see why the 2016 Toyota Avalon will continue to be a hit in the premium sedan segment.
Kia Trail’ster Concept
Kia took its popular Soul hatchback and added hybrid power, all-wheel drive, and off-roading prowess to create this unique concept. The model boasts a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder and an electric motor for a combined 220 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. No word if this odd car will make it to production, but if it does, we would definitely like to put those Pirelli snow tires to good use.
Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept
We were expecting to see Mitsubishi debut a re-imagined Montero in Chicago, but instead we got a concept that remains unchanged since its original debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. Yes, its unique exterior design and powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain make it somewhat interesting, but considering Mitsubishi teased this debut as “The Return of a Legacy,” we aren’t so impressed. We still hold out hope for the return of the Montero someday.
2016 Kia Rio
The 2016 Kia Rio receives an updated front and rear end for both the sedan and hatchback versions. Kia also promises less noise and vibration in these cars thanks to the use of high-density foam in the A- and B-pillars. Meanwhile, the Rio continues on with the same 1.6-liter inline-four cylinder as last year, but transmission options have changed. The six-speed manual is still standard equipment on the sedan but will no longer be available on the five-door model.
With yearly sales increases the past five years in a row, the Chevrolet Equinox is the Bow Tie brand’s second-best-selling model behind the full-size Silverado pickup. The automaker gave its compact crossover, on sale since the 2010 model year, a mild refresh to keep it in the public’s eye. Much of the refresh pertains to an exterior makeover and updated interior content. We wonder if it is enough to keep buyers interested.
Chevrolet Colorado GearOn
Buyers of midsize pickups tend to have active lifestyles, and the special-edition 2015 Chevrolet Colorado GearOn model features the GearOn utilities rack package, a divider package, and cargo tie-down rings, and additional accessories are also available. This special-edition model can make the 2015 Truck of the Year more appealing to those in search of their next adventure.
2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Midnight Edition
With its black paint and blacked-out grille, bumpers, wheels, and bowtie badges, the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Midnight edition features a menacing monochromatic exterior. The Midnight special-edition package is available on the Silverado 1500 Z71 model and costs $1,595 to $1,995 depending on cab and bed configuration. This is just the latest in a long line of special-edition Silverado models, but does the blacked-out theme warrant up to $2,000? Buyers will decide.
Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
The 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept takes all of the goodies found on the NISMO Z coupe and transfers them over to the convertible model. It’s a pretty straightforward job, which is why it’s interesting Nissan is billing this as a concept. The automaker is gauging interest before it decides to build the 350-hp drop-top, which also receives a GT-R-inspired exterior treatment, unique suspension, and 19-inch forged alloy wheels. With a next-gen Z car still a couple years out, a 370Z NISMO Roadster might help tide Z fans over if built.
Mazda MX-5 Miata Accessories Concept
The Zoom Zoom company isn’t waiting until launch to ready accessories for the dealer market for everyone’s favorite roadster. For aero parts, Mazda has a complete body kit that adds a front air dam, side sill extensions, a rear bumper skirt, and a rear lip spoiler. There’s also a nifty carbon-fiber luggage rack, among other things. No word on when they’ll hit stores, though the company likely won’t wait to roll these things out.
2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited
Pickups continue to push the limits of luxury with many coming with price tags well above $60,000. Ram upscaled its Limited trim level with another cow’s worth of leather and a distinctive look that stands above other Ram pickups. Check out the new grille and tailgate that shout “Ram” in big block letters.