The 2017 Chicago Auto Show may not have had as many debuts as we saw last month in Detroit, but it still featured some big newsmakers. With lots of special editions, plenty of truck news, and some new SUVs, there’s plenty to see at McCormick Place. As we do with every show, we’ve rounded up the best and worst parts of this year’s Chicago Auto Show.
In case you missed any of it, be sure to check out our Chicago Auto Show page for full coverage of every debut.
Nissan goes all-in on Star Wars
If you’re going to spend money on a marketing tie-in to attract the attention of potential car buyers, it may as well be one that nerds (like us) will adore. We’re talking, of course, about Nissan’s Star Wars promotions. Come to the stand here and see miniature spaceship models, dudes dressed as Storm Troopers, an inflatable Death Star, and a Nissan Rogue decked out – implausibly – as an X-Wing fighter. It’s fun, it’s eye-catching, and it makes us want to go hang out at the Nissan stand. If the Star Wars props have the same effect on potential shoppers attending the show on public days, that’ll be a huge success for Nissan.
Dodge Durango SRT
We’ve always liked the Dodge Durango for its decidedly more muscular approach to the three-row SUV formula. It still offers a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 option. You can get it all murdered out in R/T spec. But Dodge really caught our attention in Chicago with the launch of the Durango SRT, fitted with FCA’s 6.4-liter V8, good for 475 horsepower. This big boy will do a 0-60 run in 4.4 seconds, and it can tow more than 8,000 pounds. The want is strong for this one. We can’t wait to get it out on the road.
Hyundai Elantra GT
Coincidentally enough, senior editor Jake Holmes drove to the show in a Hyundai Elantra Sport sedan. It’s a great car: fun to drive and easy to live with. So we’re really excited by the prospect of this Elantra GT hatchback. It has even more expressive design than the sedan, the base engine has more power, and you can get the same 201-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo engine as on the Elantra Sport sedan. Its spacious hatch is also roomier than most of the competition (including the Honda Civic Hatchback), making it a practical choice for anyone who doesn’t want a crossover. Oh, and did we mention that Hyundai says it tuned the car’s ride-and-handling mix on the Nürburgring?
Where were the Mustangs?
Remember that Ford Mustang convertible we showed you recently? Well, uh, it’s not here at the Chicago show. In fact, Ford appears to have only one example of the refreshed 2018 Ford Mustang on display; the others are all pre-refresh models. (Well, and there’s a gorgeously restored 1971 Mach 1, too, for some reason.) For a car with such broad appeal to a huge segment of the market, it’s really disappointing Ford didn’t do a better job of promoting its redesigned pony car. Instead, the attention appears to be on the brand-new Expedition SUV.
Weaksauce special editions
It’s easy to make a splash with a special edition model at the Chicago Auto Show because, frankly, there isn’t much else here. But some of these are pretty bad. The Limited Edition Outlander Sport builds up on the base, 2.0-liter model, so while you get things like big wheels and HID headlights, it’s still found on one of the most anemic small crossovers on the road today. Chevy’s Redline pack can be had on nine models moving forward, because, you know, what the Trax needs more than anything are some red hash marks on its wheels. Oh, and we can’t wait to look super cool in our Nissan Sentra Midnight Edition.
Nissan still isn’t done rolling out the Titan
We first saw the Titan during a Detroit Auto Show backgrounder in December 2014, before the truck officially debuted in XD Crew Cab trim that following January. That was over two years ago, and while the King Cab’s debut in Chicago marks the final body style, Nissan still isn’t finished. When the Titan launched, we were promised an entry-level V6 powertrain, which is still nowhere to be found. So we'll look forward to seeing that in, who knows, 2018? When Ford debuts a new F-150, it tells us about all the engines and configurations at once. We understand that Nissan’s approach keeps the Titan in the news with a regular pace, but if your truck is good – like the F-150 – it’ll have no problem keeping its name in the headlines.
Photos: Jake Holmes / Nathan Leach-Proffer / Motor1.com