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Highlights from the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Highlights from the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

By Jeff Youngs, February 13, 2015

If you've been to Chicago in the middle of winter, you realize it can be a brutally inhospitable place. However, inside the McCormick Place convention center, where the annual Chicago Auto Show is held, the environment is considerably more inviting. Every major automaker is there to show off its models, but, this year's headlines focus on updated and completely redesigned family-friendly crossovers from Chevrolet and Honda, Hyundais delivering extra doses of refinement, Ram's unwavering belief in the "bigger is better" mantra, and Kia's idea of an efficient off-roader. Following are 10 of the most significant vehicles on display at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

2016 Acura RDX
Acura's midsize crossover, the RDX, has been updated for 2016 and will go on sale this spring. Compared to last year's model, the 2016 RDX features a bit more power from its 3.5-liter V-6 engine, mild styling tweaks including new LED headlights, and broader availability of advanced safety systems.

2016 Acura RDX Preview

2016 Chevrolet Equinox
Set to arrive on dealer lots later this year, the freshened 2016 Chevrolet Equinox has been treated to subtle styling updates and can be ordered in L, LS, LT, and LTZ trim levels with either front- wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Chevy has also treated its popular crossover to a standard 7-in. center touch screen and rearview camera.

2016 Chevrolet Equinox Preview

2016 Honda Pilot
Looking much like an oversized CR-V, the redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot ditches its boxy duds and replaces them with smoother, more refined exterior styling. In addition to its new appearance, the 2016 Pilot now offers an optional panoramic sunroof, second-row captain's chairs, 8-in. touch-screen infotainment system, available 9-speed automatic transmission, all-new AWD system, and more interior space than the 2015 model.

2016 Honda Pilot Preview

Honda Ridgeline
While fans of the uniquely functional Ridgeline truck were undoubtedly disappointed to hear of its recent discontinuation, they can take comfort in knowing that Honda is working to fill that gap in its lineup. Shown in sketch form at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, the next-generation Ridgeline offers what the company describes as "completely new styling that communicates unmistakably that it's a pickup." Indeed, it appears the new Ridgeline will have a separate cab and bed, unlike the previous version.

2016 Hyundai Veloster
Hyundai used the 2015 Chicago Auto Show as the backdrop for a couple of debuts, including the updated 2016 Elantra GT and 2016 Veloster. The latter is highlighted by a few exterior changes and the introduction of a Rally Edition variant equipped with a more aggressively tuned chassis, unique 18-in. alloy wheels, Matte Blue paint color, short-throw manual gear lever, and more. Also noteworthy is the availability of a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission on 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo models.

2016 Kia Rio
Kia's entry-level sedan and wagon, the Rio and Rio 5-door, have undergone minor facelifts for the 2016 model year. Along with those styling changes are upgraded materials designed to make the cabin quieter, and the latest iteration of the company's telematics system.

Kia Trail'ster Concept
Concept cars are meant to stretch the imagination and explore new ideas, a point well made by the Kia Trail'ster. Based on the existing FWD Kia Soul, the Trail'ster features a 185-horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, electric motor-driven AWD system, 1.2-kWh Lithium-ion polymer battery, LED headlights and taillights, and a retractable canvas roof panel. Though a production version of the Trail'ster is unlikely, Kia does suggest that it further defines the "near future perspective of Soul as a capable and efficient all-wheel-drive runner."

Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept
Offered as a possible counterpart to the production 370Z Nismo Coupe, the Nissan 370Z Nismo Roadster Concept takes an already enticing 2-passenger drop top and amps it up with a lower body kit, carbon fiber rear spoiler, lightweight 19-in. alloy wheels, leather-wrapped Recaro sport bucket seats with suede inserts, performance-tuned chassis and 350-horsepower V-6 engine, and a long list of standard premium features.

2015 Ram Laramie Limited
As full-size pickups dive even deeper into the luxury-grade pond, trucks like the all-new 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited are sure to follow. Like the Chevy Silverado High Country, GMC Sierra Denali, and Ford F-150 Platinum, this latest offering from Ram pulls out all of the stops with genuine wood interior trim, French-stitched leather, Berber floor mats, navigation, heated front and rear seats, and more. Accompanying those amenities are a revised grille and perhaps the largest (20 in. wide, according to Ram officials) tailgate badge in the history of trucks.

2016 Toyota Avalon
During the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota took the opportunity to unveil a few important product updates, such as Special Edition versions of the Camry and Corolla. The Windy City also served as host to the debut of the updated 2016 Toyota Avalon, highlighted by revised styling, comfort- and sport-tuned suspensions, available LED headlights, and additional standard features.

2016 Toyota Avalon Preview

Highlights From the 2015 Detroit Auto Show
Highlights From the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show

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