Toyota, Subaru, VW launch new vehicles, but there’s much more …
Chicago’s Auto Show is always amazing and also a drain as Paul Daniel and I walk a good 5 miles a day to take photos and video.
This year it was worth it as there were four new production models introduced, plus some new Jeep trim packages and, well, a bevy of concept cars and new electrics on tap. Our trade group, Midwest Automobile Media Association (yes, MAMA) also handed out its annual awards.
Here’s a quick look recap.
MAMA’s Family Vehicle of the Year (263 of us Midwest journalists vote) is the Hyundai Palisade, a large midsize SUV that wins on price, looks and features.
The MAMA Luxury Family Vehicle of the Year is the Genesis (Hyundai’s luxury brand) GV60, a stylish and well-equipped all-electric model with AWD, a ton of power and decent range. PLUS it has a crystal ball shifter on the console that rotates. That’s not essential, but it’s cool and Paul and I love it.
Note: Watch for my annual Zoomie Top 10 Vehicle awards on WUWM.com and then here on Savageonwheels.com, very soon!
Toyota launched its first Grand Highlander, a three-row SUV that’s an extended version of its popular Highlander. If the name sounds sort of familiar, thing Grand Wagoneer from Jeep. But this is more in competition with the Jeep Grand Cherokee L and the above mentioned Hyundai Palisade and its cousin, the Kia Telluride.
RELATED Video: See the reveal here.
Toyota touted the fact that adults can fit in the Grand Highlander’s third-row seat, and that seven suitcases would still fit behind that seat for family adventures. Well, several 6-5 folks climbed aboard during a preview and found indeed their foot and headroom were OK, but knee space still a bit tight. Yet if you’re not an NBA-dna gifted family, you’ll fit fine. At 5-5 I was more comfy than in most other utes with three rows.
A big plus too is the option of three powerplants, the newest being a 362-horsepower (most ever for a Toyota SUV) hybrid system that improves mileage and delivers more oomph. This is the same powertrain as in Toyota’s new Crown sedan. Grand Highlander will be built at Toyota’s southern Indiana plant.
Subaru, in addition to having the coolest display, including puppies and National Park digital that spread wide and also covered a chunk of floor, launched its new Indiana-built CrossTrek. That compact AWD crossover has taken over as Subaru’s No. 1 seller, edging out Outback, so Subaru freshened its look outside and inside, adding a giant nearly 12-inch infoscreen as it offers in other models.
Pricing still starts at an attractive $26,290 and it should be at dealers this spring. Two engine choices remain, a 2.0-liter boxer 4 and a 2.5-liter boxer 4. Questions of a hybrid being offered nationwide were put on hold. One can hope!
Manual transmission fans, sorry, it’s gone.
Volkswagen, which has gone from about 91% sedans in its lineup in 2013 to about 83% of crossovers and SUVs now, launched its 2024 Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport models. Atlas is the mid-size 7-seater offering with Cross Sport being slightly smaller and seating five. Both have already been selling well, along with Tiguan, but moving them more upscale in appearance was one of the goals here.
Like others, it’s also all about adding a 12-inch screen inside, and fancier noses and tails, including a lightbar atop the vehicles’ grilles and a lighted VW logo on the nose. Get ready for a LOT more of those from all carmakers as hybrid and electric offerings expand. The VWs now will only offer a 2.0-liter I4 turbo making 269 horsepower. Its V6 engine has gone bye-bye.
JEEP, plus the REST
That’s it for the all-new models, but Jeep got into the act too, while its parent, Stellantis showed off the upcoming Dodge Hornet and some future electrics in concept form.
RELATED Video: See Mark’s walkaround
In case you didn’t realize it, this is the 20th anniversary of the Jeep Rubicon editions of the off-road favorite Wrangler. Rubicon was meant to answer all the off-roaders needs and go as extreme as technology and budgets would permit.
The 20th Anniversary Wrangler Rubicons are only available in 4xe and 392 trim, so a plug-in hybrid and the horsiest V8, just 470 horses. Talk about extremes. They are lifted another half inch and get a restyled 7-bar grille, plus cost extra, of course. As a limited edition just 4,000 anniversary models will be made, but starting at $71 grand for the 4xe and about $93,000 for the V8 model, one wouldn’t expect 100,000 to be sold.
RELATED Video: See the reveal here.
Oh, and there’s also a higher-end souped up American Expedition Vehicles version, limited to 150 vehicles. It’ll tout a tweaked suspension and ride on giant 37-inch tires. Like the 32s on the other models wasn’t enough.
For the rest of us on lower budgets, there were a couple new Dodge Hornets on display. Using a vintage name from its Hudson roots and later AMC, the Hornet is a cute compact crossover that will jump into that huge market dominated by the likes of Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV-4.
Pricing starts below $30 grand when it goes on sale this spring and Dodge, in keeping with its performance image, plans to offer a GLH model with more power and racier trim. I hear GLH means Goes Like Hell. Remember, these folks gave birth to the crazy horsepower Hellcat models.
Speaking of which, the last run of the gas-only powered Dodge Chargers and Challengers is going on now. But the new electric Dodge Daytona Charger was on hand and wow is it sleek, but with definite Charger styling.
Ram, the Stellantis truck brand, also showed its concept for the Ram 1500 Revolution, already being dubbed Rev. It’s electric and looks more futuristic than any other mainstream pickup on the market. Ram has moved past Chevy into the No.2 truck selling spot and Rev, to be available in 2024, will do nothing to hurt the brand’s progress. Sharp!
MORE YET …
Naturally there was more to see, and some may make it to the Milwaukee show coming up Feb. 25.
A smattering of thoughts on the other models we saw.
Coolest design we saw was the Buick concept Wildcat. It’s a silver bullet that features Audi R8 sleekness, but with snazzy Volvo-esque rear lights and removable roof panels.
Rumor has it a production model is in the works and if it comes close to this concept it’ll be a hot commodity, sort of a Vette-like halo car for Buick, which fashions itself as a luxury brand, although currently with a 3 ute lineup.
Impressive too was the new Chevy Corvette Z06 model. The mid-engine Vette has been out a couple years now and remains the most affordable stellar and racy design, but Z06 moves it way upscale, starting just below $120k and the show model was nearly $170,000. Not so affordable, but then it has a 5.5-liter V8 making 670 horsepower. So for supercar power I suppose $120 grand or so isn’t bad.
Also on hand was the E-Ray, the new electric hybrid version of the Corvette. Looks a bit different, but adds the hybrid to that monster V8, plus all-wheel-drive for the first time. Same horsepower basically, 655 horses, but a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds. That’s hard to beat, and this one starts just short of $105k!
Alfa Romeo, another branch of Stellantis, put its new Tonale SUV on display. This is a plug-in hybrid starting about $45,000. It has 180 hp and is slightly smaller than the current Stelvio model. Still, it has the Alfa look, logo and Italian styling accents.
I know we’ve been talking a bit more about Stellantis and GM brands this year, but there’s more new coming for them than many others. I’d note too a surprising number of manufacturers didn’t exhibit at the show, including Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Mazda, Mini, and Land Rover/Jaguar, to name a few.
Chevy, for instance, has a new electrified Equinox, the emphasis on E, so maybe a hyphen is needed, E-quinox. It’ll start around $30,000 and is due out in the next year. But again it’s a looker that should add to the popular model’s sales.
Finally, and maybe the biggest surprise to us, was the new Cadillac LYRIQ luxury SUV starting in the $60,000 range and being full electric. Paul and I had seen pictures, but it looks way better in person. Nice fastback profile and spiffy nose and taillights. It’s due in dealerships this spring.
One thing we’ll all have to adjust too is light bars front and rear on cars, glowing logos, and SUVs that offer similar profiles, but with interiors that speak to the brand’s potential customers. Since most electrics will feature awesome acceleration, and batteries will provide a lower center of gravity they’ll handle better in turns. So it will be range and interior looks, comfort, and features that will be their selling points.
Stand by for more hybrids and electrics from all brands. Watch out Tesla, the big boys are comin’ for ya!