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BIZ AUTO-SHOW TB

A giant Toyota symbol hangs from the rafters as workers set up in preparation for the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

 

The Chicago Auto Show is usually viewed as the “truck and crossover” show, due in part to its pull as the largest domestic auto show in terms of public-day attendance. Problem is, trucks and SUVs dominated Detroit just one month earlier, so let’s see what the Second City has in store this time around. (The show runs through Feb. 19 at McCormick Place.)

Volkswagen

If you’ve been wondering when the Arteon will replace the CC here in the U.S., the answer will be right in front of you in Chi-Town. Volkswagen will use CAS to unveil the U.S. version of the 2019 Arteon. Built on the same MQB platform that underpins the Golf and 2019 Jetta, the Arteon looks sharp and, according to Roadshow’s own Jon Wong, drives pretty nicely to boot.

Ford

It’s possible that Ford will bring an updated version of the Transit Connect van to the Chicago Auto Show. Available in both work-oriented Cargo and passenger-oriented Wagon variants, the Transit Connect is the closest thing you’ll get to another Ford minivan in the U.S.

Ford actually revealed the updated Transit Connect back in December for the European market, although it’s unclear if every single update will arrive stateside. The front end is a bit sharper and more in line with new Ford front ends. Available with either a diesel and gasoline engine, the new TC also sports updates to its in-car tech. Additions include automatic emergency braking and the newest Sync 3 infotainment system.

Subaru

2018 marks 50 years since Subaru came to the U.S., and the automaker could be planning to celebrate that anniversary with a slew of special-edition trims for its vehicles. These limited-edition vehicles will sport a special new color and equipment from other high-end trims. There’ll probably be a 50th-anniversary badge on there, because automakers never turn down an opportunity to put a new badge on something.

Now, let’s move on to the stuff we already know about, or at least have a good idea about.

Hyundai

The most important consumer-related reveal will be updated Sonata Hybrid variants, which should include both the standard Sonata Hybrid and the Sonata Plug-In. Hyundai updated the standard Sonata for the 2018 model year with tweaks to its aesthetics both inside and out. There are also a few choice tech additions such as rear-seat USB ports and Amazon Alexa integration.

There’s also a mention of a new motorsports program, but I have no idea what to expect there. And even if I did, I’m held to strict embargoes and couldn’t tell you if I wanted to.

Toyota

Toyota’s staying true to the Chicago Auto Show’s usual theme by bringing a bunch of trucks and SUVs to the show. It’s possible that Toyota will debut updates to its TRD Pro lineup, which represents the most off-road-ready vehicles in its lineup. Right now, there are TRD Pro versions of the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner.

While a TRD Pro version of the body-on-frame Sequoia SUV would be neat, I wouldn’t bet on it happening in Chicago. That said, Toyota may still whip out a surprise or two — both the Tundra and 4Runner are getting old, so they’d be best suited for extra updates.

Nissan

Nissan loves to bring out a ridiculous concept for the Chicago Auto Show. It struck gold with the track-equipped Winter Warrior concepts last year, and its two new concepts are equally funky and intriguing.

The Armada Snow Patrol concept is on the lighter side, as far as modifications are concerned. It’s packing some beefier wheels and tires for superior handling in the snow, and it’s littered with LED light bars to maximize visibility. Inside, there are some reskinned leather front seats with the Snow Patrol emblem on ‘em.

The 370Zki concept is a bit wilder. It takes a 370Z convertible and replaces the wheels with a set of skis and tracks. Nissan had to seriously modify the body and suspension to make it work, but the result is something you’re not about to see on any ol’ street across the U.S.



 

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