This year’s Chicago Auto Show was a bit scarce in terms of new product announcements, although there were a few notable releases hailing from around the globe with the most significant unveiling being the 2014 Toyota Tundra.
Undergoing its first major redesign since the current generation was first introduced back in 2007, the 2014 edition of the Tundra will sport a more aggressive front end and an interior that has been given more luxurious appointments --- a direction it seems that all full-size truck manufacturers are taking. Powertrain options were not discussed, but you can expect carryovers from the 2013 for most components. The new Tundra demonstrates Toyota’s strong commitment to the large pickup segment, and the brand hopes that it will increasingly turn the heads of Ford, GM, and Dodge pickup owners.
Also for the 2014 model year, Chevrolet will be introducing a clean turbo diesel version of the Cruze. The engine offered in the Cruze will be a version of GM’s 2.0L turbocharged diesel currently found overseas in a number of different Opel models. The US version will produce 148 horsepower and 258 pound feet torque, good for an estimated fuel economy of around 42 MPG on the highway. The diesel Cruze should carry a base price of $26,695 and be available around the second quarter of 2013; estimated production numbers haven’t been released yet.
Another real world introduction was the 2014 Kia Forte 5 door, which will be a hatchback version of the current Forte. The Forte 5 door will come in two flavors, an SX model powered by a 1.6L turbocharged 4 cylinder producing 201 horsepower, or an EX model with a naturally aspirated 2.0L 4 cylinder good for 173 horsepower. Pricing has not yet been announced, but expect to see the new hatch around the third quarter of 2013.
Nissan introduced a Nismo version of their Juke crossover along with a Track Edition GTR. The Track Edition is a bit of a tease because only 150 units will be produced so the chances of actually seeing one on the streets are decidedly slim. The lightweight GTR will come packed with 545 horsepower, a firmer suspension, and other track-worthy components. Nissan also introduced the NV200 compact cargo van, which is set to go on sale here in April. The NV200 will go toe-to-toe with Ford’s Transit Connect van, and will be powered by an economical 2.0L 4 cylinder packing 131 horsepower ticking off average fuel ratings of 24 in the city and 25 on the highway. Initial pricing should be right at $19,900, or about a $1,000 less than Ford’s most inexpensive Transit Connect.
Chrysler group also announced a new van in its lineup. The Ram brand will make use of its relationship with Fiat to offer a version of the Ducato work van. The Ducato will be sold here in the US as the Promaster and come with two different engine options, a 3.0L 4 cylinder diesel or a 2.6L pentastar V6. Again, pricing has not yet been announced for the Promaster.
While this year’s Chicago show proved to be a bit of a disappointment in terms of new product launches, the vehicles that were introduced should be meaningful for their intended segments. That said, we’re looking forward to next month’s New York auto show (www.autoshowny.com) were hopefully we’ll catch a glimpse of Toyota’s next Corolla, Cadillac’s updated CTS, and perhaps Volvo’s latest iteration of the S60.