Inside the Chicago Auto Show

Features - Cover Story

Following massive numbers of new models in 2018 and 2019, 2020 and 2021 should offer updates but few radical changes to vehicles.

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March 30, 2020

There’s a downside to the massive number of new vehicle launches throughout the past three years. Automakers have few all-new products to talk about this year. At the Chicago Auto Show in February, companies talked strategy, discussed new technologies, and showed off cars and trucks, but almost all were models that had debuted elsewhere or were minor updates on existing vehicles. The following highlights include a few from each of those categories.

Chicago Auto Show https://www.chicagoautoshow.com

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of TMV. He can be reached at rschoenberger@gie.net or 216.393.0271.

UPDATED VEHICLES

2020 Nissan Frontier

Cosmetically, little changes on Nissan’s small pickup, but the 2020 Frontier gets a new engine and transmission that will underpin the complete redesign of the next-generation truck. The 3.8L direct injection V-6 is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Nissan is promising a 49% boost to V-6 horsepower, which would put the new engine at 388hp, based on statistics for the 2019 model.

https://www.nissanusa.com (Photo courtesy of Nissan)

2020 Kia Cadenza

Kia’s most luxurious car received several interior updates, while getting a new hood and grille, standard LED headlights, and a redesigned bumper and trunk lid. Inside, the instrument cluster is new, including touchscreens and larger displays. ADAS upgrades include making the sensor fusion system standard – forward-collision warning, forward-collision avoidance assist, smart cruise control, and high-beam assist.

https://www.kia.com (Photo courtesy of Kia)

2021 Volkswagen Atlas

The refreshed 7-seater gets minor cosmetic updates and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) available on more models. Updated front and rear bumpers make the SUV 3" longer than its predecessor, and those front and rear changes allow standard LED headlights and taillights. With ADAS, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitor, and rear-traffic alert are standard on all models. Traffic jam assist and dynamic road sign display will become available later in the model year.

https://www.vw.com (Photo courtesy of Volkswagen)

2021 Chevrolet Equinox

Mostly a cosmetic refresh, the popular crossover gets updated front and rear trim fascia, LED headlamps, a more aggressive grille, and ADAS features available on more trim levels.

https://www.chevrolet.com (Photo courtesy of General Motors)

SPECIALTY EDITIONS

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle

Chrysler’s minivan gets a new premium grade for 2021. The Pinnacle trim level features fancier leather, an integrated center console, and several color accents to denote luxury vehicle trappings.

https://www.chrysler.com/pacifica.html
(Photo courtesy of FCA)

2020 Dodge Durango SRT Black and Redline Stripe

Dodge is offering specialty colors and appearance modifications for the special racing team (SRT) versions of the brand’s Durango mid-sized SUV. The options are entirely cosmetic, but the SRT specialty editions are limited runs, and appearance packages can create greater exclusivity. The SRT Black package includes gray and black exterior accents, a specialized grille, SRT badging, and several other visual cues. It’s a $1,500 option. The $1,300 Redline Stripe appearance package features a black center stripe that runs from front bumper, over the hood and roof, to the rear bumper.

https://www.dodge.com/srt.html (Photo courtesy of FCA)

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Sonata debuted last year, but the hybrid option is new for 2020, and Hyundai set its sights on topping Toyota and Honda in fuel economy. The Blue trim level gets 52mpg in highway/city driving, topping the Honda Accord Hybrid’s 48mpg and matching the Toyota Camry Hybrid while offering more features and a lower sticker price. Blind-spot collision avoidance and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance are standard on the Sonata.

https://www.hyundaiusa.com (Photo courtesy of Hyundai)

2020 Ford GT Liquid Carbon

Ford bumped horsepower on the already ridiculously fast GT to 660hp (a 13hp increase) by tweaking engine and turbo controls. Updated air ducts boost airflow to the engine by 50%. Premium Akrapovic titanium exhaust is now standard. The Liquid Carbon edition tops those features with a color-free carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) body. Eliminating color in favor of a clearcoat highlights the expensive, lightweight material. CFRP wheels and titanium lug nuts are standard.

https://www.ford.com/performance/gt (Photo courtesy of Ford)

NORTH AMERICAN DEBUTS

2021 Genesis GV80

Introduced in Korea in January, Hyundai’s luxury division showed off its upcoming large SUV for the first time in North America at the Chicago show. The interior and exterior styling of GV80 was a collaboration between Genesis Design studios located in South Korea, the United States, and Germany. Available with a 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a 3.5L turbocharged V-6, the Genesis starts at $49,000 and can climb much higher with options.

https://www.genesis.com/us/en/2021/genesis-gv80.html (Photo courtesy of Genesis)

2020 Honda Civic Type R

Introduced at January’s Tokyo Auto Salon, Honda’s racing-inspired Civic Type R has a small but rabidly loyal global audience. Improvements include two-piece brake rotors and brake pads for enhanced high-speed braking efficiency and suspension revisions that enhance ride comfort, grip, and steering. Grille redesigns allow better engine cooling under high demand. The car’s 2L, direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces 306hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.

https://automobiles.honda.com (Photo courtesy of Honda)