Outsiders Perspetive: 2015 Chicago Auto Show

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The slogan of the 2015 Chicago Auto Show is “The Nation’s Largest Auto Show”. That’s funny, last I checked New York was in the same nation as Chicago. [Ed. Note – Chicago is the largest by way of public attendance. Chicago folks love their auto show.] Nevertheless, the Chicago Auto Show or CAS as nobody calls it really did have some new interesting metal that will make its way to the roads across the nation. For instance…

The full-size truck may be the most important and profitable segment for the American market on these shores. For the last 32 years a full-size truck has been the best selling vehicles in America and for many families anything else simply won’t do. Even before the advent of the $60,000 ‘lifestyle’ truck it was also one of the most profitable segments. But in the chase of that customer that needs a truck because he’s an accountant we have this: the Ram Laramie Limited.
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For this model, Ram has finally gotten around to solve one of the biggest problems that plagued the earlier model. With its enormous crosshair grille and Ram ornament it was becoming far too difficult to distinguish it from more pedestrian offerings or worse, other full-size trucks. But it’s okay now prospective customer, because Ram has addressed this by replacing the front grille with the marvelous number you see above. Never again will other motorists think they’re being chased by a giant cheese grater.
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If the Ram is the poster child for trying too hard, the 2016 Chevrolet Equinox is the poster child for not trying hard enough. I’m sure the focus groups that saw the design were completely pleased with it. Nobody rated it as particularly ugly and nobody found it desperately pretty either. GM’s trying really hard and they’ve been having some hits in your author’s opinion, but this is not one of them. Thankfully this is just the end-cycle facelift and there’s sure to be something more exciting brewing deep inside the vaults of GM.
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The line between mediocrity and sensibility is a very fine one indeed, and one that Honda has been capable of walking admirably well. The products are seldom the most exciting ones out there but they’re always good enough to be noticed by the media. The Civic Wagon (CR-V…but it’s a Civic wagon and you know it.) is the king of the wagon crossover hill with 335,000+ sales in 2014 because people with little to no interest in cars found them good enough to go to the mall and get the kids to school without spending too much money on fuel or maintenance. The bigger Pilot has been due for an update since 2011 or thereabouts but it took until now to get it and boy is it pleasingly average. With enough USB chargers and LED’s to keep even the geekiest kid entertained on a cross country trip it will definitely be a hit among the people for whom a test drive is labeled as just a waste of time.
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Mitsubishi, babe, we need to talk. I love you, I really do but you’re losing it dear. The technology in your GC-PHEV concept is very impressive and wouldn’t be out of place in say…a new galant which you desperately need or even a new Montero. But not in a concept that looks like it melted slightly before getting it to the show. Come on, you make the Lancer Evolution, you’re better than this.
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Do they still make the 370Z? That’s nice. What’s that? This NISMO Roadster would start at around $5,000 more than a BMW M235i Roadster? Moving on…
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Speaking of love, the Toyota Avalon. I know it’s about as exciting as a bag of flour and driven by elderly people with about the same driving capabilities as one. But it’s the closest thing you can get on this side of the pond to a Toyota Crown so it holds a special place for me. The new facelift gives it a more aggressive appearance, a new grille, and other tweaks. Hopefully it’ll bring the average age of its buyers to the right side of 55.
But of course the best thing about the show is this: the GT-R LM NISMO Le Mans prototype. A 1,250-horsepower hybrid LeMans racer with the engine up front as a middle finger to the mid-engine…everything else in its class. Unlike the NISMO Roadster this one is something that has a chance of being genuinely successful at what it’s set to do. I look forward to not watching it race on TV.

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