As the cold wind blew through The Windy City, automakers ensconced themselves inside McCormick Place to debut a round of new models. From Kia's first dedicated hybrid to a track-ready Camaro, dune-bounding Toyota, handsome Chevy crossover, and full-framed Nissans, there was plenty of glistening sheetmetal on display. Here are the highlights.
2017 Kia Niro
Designed with wide, sporty proportions, the small crossover utilizes an all-new hybrid architecture shared with Hyundai. The powertrain combines a 1.6-liter engine and 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack for 146 horsepower. Kia targets 50-MPG combined. A full sutie of crash avoidance systems will be on-board. There's also a plug-in Niro under development.
2017 Nissan Armada
Meet NIssan's version of the Infiniti QX80. It may be built in Japan instead of Mississippi, but it's more refined with 13-speaker Bose audio, heated/cooled seats, and acoustic glass to reduce interior noise. All models roll with a 390 horsepower 5.6-liter V8 and 7-speed transmission. Towing capacity reaches 8,500 lbs. Safety is enhanced with Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Backup Collision Intervention, Around View Monitor, and adaptive cruise.
2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
TRD Pro channels Toyota's Baja racing experience. Beyond the bruiser body, heritage TOYOTA grille, and 16-inch alloys, the truck is fortified with FOX shocks, TRD-tuned suspension, skid plates, and kevlar-reinforced tires. A 3.5-liter V6, CRAWL control, and 5-mode Multi-terrain Select system keep it moving; an inclinometer and tilt gauge monitor progress.
2017 Hyundai Santa Fe/Santa Fe Sport
Exterior design is freshened with LED lighting and brushed grilles. Infotainment adds Android Auto compatibility while safety is enhanced with standard rearview camera, available adaptive cruise, and lane departure warning. The new Drive Mode selection calibrates the powertrain for Sport, Eco, and Normal. Prices rise from $25,350.
2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid
Kia is spending $10 billion through 2020 to increase fuel economy by 25 percent, and this is part of the effort. The plug-in Optima utilizes a 2.0-liter engine, 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, and electric motor to deliver 193 horsepower. Expect 27 miles in full EV mode, 600 miles total range. Sales begin in the fourth quarter of 2016.
2017 Nissan Titan
With the Cummins diesel-powered Titan XD launched, Nissan turns to light duty models. Built on a separate chassis and 14.7 inches shorter, Titan will be available in 4x2 or 4x4, three bed lengths, and three cab configuraitons. It's powered by a 390 horsepower V8 with 7-speed transmission or available V6. Production begins in Canton, Mississippi this summer.
2017 Chevrolet Trax
Chevy's little crossover gets updated styling highlighted by an all new grille, LED lighting, and redesigned instrument panel. Interiors gain Galvano chrome trim, contrasting color stitched leatherette, and available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Get it with 4G LTE Wi-Fi and safety tech including blind zone alert, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert.
2017 Ram Power Wagon
Ram's heavy-duty off-roader dresses like a Rebel, wharing its blacked-out RAM-lettered grille and adding gloss black graphics across the restyled hood. A unique interior cribs Rebel with seat tire tread pattern and bed camera. Capability is enhanced with raised grouund clearance HEMI V8, and 8-speed transmission delivering 410 horsepower and 429 lbs.-ft. of torque to tow up to 10,030 lbs.
2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE
Trading raw power for track performance, this Camaro grabs pavement with available magnetic ride control, electronic limited slip differential, and Brembo brakes. Recaro seats grip your sides in corners while an available Performance Data Recorder lets you view and share your track skills with friends. Visual enhancements include a satin black hood, 20-inch wheels, and sinister ground affects.
2017 Ford Explorer XLT Sport Appearance
With Explorer sales up nearly 20 percent last year, Ford's steppin' it up. This special package comes with 20-inch magnetic gray wheels, gray grille/mirror caps, black body cladding, and gray interior trim. Suspension tuning remains unchanged, as does the 280 horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Look for a similar treatment on the 2017 Escape this fall.