This week, we went to the Chicago Auto Show, which is both the biggest and smallest auto show of the year in the U.S. In terms of size, space, and the quality of the show, Chicago is among the best for the show-going public. It’s expansive, allowing automakers to bring their fleets without having to worry about space. In the heart of the Midwest, it’s generally thought of as the consumers’ show with more down-to-earth debuts.
Alas, it’s also the smallest show of the year. The Detroit Auto Show came a week later this year than normal, and the New York Auto Show is a week early. Chicago got the short end of the stick, debuting just a handful of new cars and trucks. Fortunately, there was plenty of important news around the industry to make up for it.
Click here to see the all-new cars and trucks of the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.
Without further ado:
Monday, February 4
Anti-lock brakes, adaptive cruise control, and airbags. The alliteration is killing us, but the three aforementioned technologies are designed to keep you as safe as can be. In our latest edition of our video series Cars, Simplified, following our first video talking about the different octane values of gasoline, we talk about what each of them does and how it helps keep you safer. It’s only a minute and a half, providing you with a quiz show format. It’ll probably be the most education per minute you’ll have all day.
Tuesday, January 5
Consumer Reports has its own testing loop that is uses to judge manufacturers’ EPA mpg claims. It’s a pretty big deal. So when the publication says that a car is failing to deliver its fuel economy claims, there’s some reason to draw ire. In its latest round of conspiracy theorizing, CR is saying that turbo engines aren’t delivering on their fuel economy promise. Because the engines are smaller, they have to work harder to achieve the power output of larger engines. When the turbo kicks in, it feeds more air into the engine. To make use of that air, it needs more fuel to burn. Putting Hyundai’s 2.0-liter turbo engine and Ford’s EcoBoost engines in the hot spot, CR says the turbo engines don’t deliver fuel economy as good as the regular four-cylinders which they compete against, despite the fact that they’re designed to be alternatives for V-6s. What do you think? Maybe Ford should rebrand its engine “Eco-or-Boost”?
Wednesday, February 6
BMW isn’t done expanding its lineup, evidenced by the next iteration of the 3 Series, the Gran Turismo. While based on the same platform, the BMW 3 Series GT is longer, wider, and taller than the sedan, dwarfing the wagon model even. Much of the extra room goes towards rear-passenger and cargo space because, for the first time since the 318ti of the 1990s, this is is a BMW 3 Series hatchback offered in the U.S. Looking decidedly more cohesive than the larger 5 Series GT, the 3 will carry the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter inline-6 as the rest of the 3 Series lineup. No word on whether it’ll get the detuned four-cylinder that recently debuted in the BMW 320i or the diesel engine from the upcoming 320d, but we’ll be looking out for them.
Thursday, February 7
Did you know that Nissan sells a full-size pickup truck in the U.S.? At least 21,000 takers figured that out, perhaps by accident. After all, Toyota sold more than 100,000 Tundras last year, Ram moved 300,000 trucks, and GM and Ford both posted numbers much higher than any of the other brands. Nissan is down but certainly not out. In what was an odd announcement during the Chicago Auto Show, Nissan says it is fully committed to introducing a new Titan that will take it to the power players. To us, it sounded a bit “Remember me!” desperate. We’ll certainly see, as Nissan is expected to introduce the next Titan within the 2014 or 2015 model year.
Friday, February 8
The big news from Chevrolet at the Chicago Auto Show came not from an all-new vehicle, but from an all-new engine for North America. Chevrolet is introducing a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine for the 2014 Cruze that will deliver 148 horsepower–up 20 horses on the gas-powered Cruze–and as much as 280 lb.-ft. of torque–twisting force. For those keeping score at home, that’s about double what the gas cars make. It’ll do all of this while delivering an estimated 42 mpg with a six-speed automatic. All of these numbers put it at or better than the figures from the VW Jetta TDI, which will make things interesting. Trevor Dorchies went on assignment to speak with Mike Siegrist, assistant chief engineer for the vehicle. Why now? How will it do? How different is it from the standard Cruze? Read Trevor’s interview here.