2023 Chicago Auto Show Wrap-up By Thom Cannell
2023 Chicago Auto Show
This week the 115th Chicago Auto Show, first staged in 1901, again filled McCormick Place and featuring 2024 introduction vehicles and concepts; SEE ALL.
Volkswagen introduced the 2024 Atlas and Atlas Cross sport, vehicles we’ve driven for over 3,000 miles, each. Updates include upgrades to interior materials, a newer infotainment system and reliance on four-cylinder, 8-speed powertrains. For 2024, VW capitalizes on turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® I-4 engines with 269 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque coupled to an 8-speed transmission, replacing last year’s six-cylinder motors.
Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport have adopted premium materials throughout, including a leatherette-trimmed soft-touch dash and center console. Front-row door trim flows into the dash panel for an enhanced driver experience. And, top-of-range models feature quilted leather seats with a diamond pattern.
New standard features include a heated steering wheel with shift paddles, ventilated front seats and a height-adjustable passenger seat, automatic climate control and Voice Control. Useful and fun enhancements like a redesigned center console with a storage cubby, available Leather seating surfaces and heated rear seats are now available in more models, as is ambient lighting with 30 color choices.
Toyota globally revealed its all-new 2024 Grand Highlander with three rows of seats, adding choices to the mid-sized three-row SUV cohort. Engines include a 2.4-liter gasoline-only engine, a hybridized 2.5-liter powertrain that Toyota promises delivers “a manufacturer-estimated 34 MPG”, and a 362 horsepower Hybrid MAX with standard All Wheel Drive similar to that in its Tundra pickup, where it delivers a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
There are multiple cup/bottle holders, USB/USB-C outlets, and several support grips or hand supports for ingress and egress for second and third-row occupants. Incidentally, Toyota insists that adults six-feet and taller have comfortable seats in that third row, and sliding second-row seats plus those hand grips make entry and exit easier.
2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Options include heated steering wheel, power folding mirrors, heated and ventilated front and second row seats, a 1,500-Watt power outlet and hands-free back door.
Subaru brought its third-generation 2024 Crosstrek Ute, again featuring Subaru’s renowned Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, a 10-percent stiffer chassis for improved dynamics on and off the road, standard enhanced driver assist and multiple off road modes. Crosstrek retains the 2.0-liter boxer (flat, I-4) direct-injection motor optionally, a 2.5-liter boxer with more power and torque.
2024 Crosstrek models standardize their award-winning EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology which now can identify bicycles and pedestrians at intersections sooner and, when necessary, alert the driver and applie braking. Safety options include Reverse Automatic Braking and Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
Automatic Emergency Steering is now included on models equipped with Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Keep Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. This safety feature works with EyeSight and Blind-Spot Detection to assist with steering control to help avoid a collision within a lane at speeds less than 50 mph.
Jeep announced 20th Anniversary Editions of Wrangler Rubicon, both in two-door and four-door versions of 4Xe electrified (powered by a 375-horsepower 470-lb.-ft. plug-in hybrid engine with 21 miles of all-electric range) and Rubicon 392. Both feature new seven-slot grilles, beadlock-capable wheels, an 83-piece tool kit, triple hoop grille guard, steel bumpers, half-inch suspension lift, and distinctive 20th Anniversary decals.
20th Anniversary Editions boast unique red-and-black leather seats and red leather-wrapped instrument panel bolster. The limited-edition Jeep SUVs also come with a special swing gate plaque and shifter medallion, as well as a Mopar-designed, factory-installed, on-board air compressor exclusive to the Wrangler Rubicon 392.
The limited run of 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe 20th Anniversary and 2023 Wrangler Rubicon 392 20th Anniversary (powered by a 470-horsepower 470-lb.-ft. V-8), are available for order this month and priced at an MSRP of $69,585 and $90,895, respectively (excluding $1,795 destination charge). Rubicon 20th anniversary models are built at the Toledo (Ohio) Assembly Complex beginning this quarter, with vehicles arriving in dealerships in Q2 of 2023.
A third, 150-vehicle limited edition, is the Rubicon 20th Anniversary Level II upfit by American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) with 37-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A® KO2 tires. Jeep executives say this is the most capable Wrangler ever “factory-built”, with unmatched 14.2 inches of ground clearance, 37.1 inches water fording, 50-degree approach angle, 33-degree breakover angle and 43-degree departure angle. The AEV upfit adds an MSRP of $21,983 for the 20th Anniversary Wrangler Rubicon 4xe and $20,135 for the 20th Anniversary Wrangler Rubicon 392 (excluding $995 upfit logistics charge).
Other fun news included a breakdown of an incredible technology platform, RAM’s 1500 Revolution BEV Concept.
A RAM REV badge on the hood presaged the Super Bowl-announced REV production model, which (likely) does not include the concept’s: 3-D printed video side mirrors, Level 1, Level 2 AC and DC fast charging ports, suicide tailgate and side doors, 24-inch wheels with lighted center caps, extendable bed with 18-foot pass-through to the frunk, and with mid-gate, workstation center console, augmented reality (AR) Head Up Display, exterior projectors for work and home movie night, even the capability to follow you on the jobsite or pasture.
We also got a preview of the Dodge Hornet, coming later this year
Ford put its 2024 Mustang Dark Horse on display, its titanium manual shift knob (or silver anodized paddle shifters) commanding a 500 horsepower 5.0-liter V-8.
Chevrolet brought a production Blazer BEV and the 2024 Chevrolet TRAX entry-level SUV, available in four trim levels, and powered by a proven 1.3-liter engine coupled to a 6-speed automatic.
For 2024 Trax is four inches lower with 6-inch longer wheelbase and two additional inches of width. That translates to an 11-inch greater length than the current model, plus more room and cargo capacity, including three inches more rear legroom; maximum cargo capacity increases by nearly 12%.
Significant upgrades include LED headlamps, four-wheel disk brakes and new features on most trims, including push-button start, automatic climate control, and wireless phone charging. For 2024, cruise control is also standard equipment; for some models Adaptive Cruise Control is now an option. Along with available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto LS and 1RS trims feature an 8-inch-diagonal infotainment color touchscreen while LT, 2RS and ACTIV models utilize an 11-inch-diagonal infotainment color touchscreen and an 8-inch-diagonal driver information center.
Hyundai announced that, for the second year in a row, automotive writers Jill Ciminillo and Kristin Shaw will drive a 2022 Santa Cruz Limited in the eighth annual Rebelle Rally, an all-women, off-road navigational challenge. Beginning Oct. 12, Ciminillo and Shaw will return as Team Brute Squad to compete in the Tough X-CROSS™ Class and travel over 1,500 miles across the deserts of California and Nevada.