Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Auto Show’

Refreshed 2016 Toyota Avalon Shown in Chicago

Posted by Stephen On Friday, February 20th, 2015

2016 Toyota Avalon

Since 2012, the fourth-generation Avalon has stood out in Toyota’s lineup as their most refined sedan of any size. Now at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, the Japanese automaker has pulled the wraps off a mid-cycle refresh of their upmarket saloon for the 2016 model year.

2016 Toyota Avalon rear

The exterior updates are easiest to see. Toyota’s added a downturned, extra-wide horizontal grille with a bold chrome outline, while the neighboring slanted turn signals have taken the place of the current model’s bulky fog lights. This fits nicely with the new slanted LED headlights, while the chrome accent lines extending from the Toyota logo above the grille naturally blend into the body lines of the car. All in all, an extremely sporty front fascia, with new dark grey 18-inch alloys to complete the look. The Limited trim will get upgraded Super Chrome alloys instead.

2016 Toyota Avalon tires

Speaking of trims, there will be five trim levels for the 2016 model year, up from the four available in 2015. The new trim is XLE Plus, which slots above the existing base XLE trim. From there it goes XLE Premium, Touring and Limited.

With all that being said, the biggest change to the 2016 Toyota Avalon isn’t to the styling, but to be suspension. Toyota has retuned the Avalon’s underpinnings to “better align with diverse customer preferences.” Practically speaking, this means that every trim of the Avalon except the Touring model gets a softer suspension with a smoother ride. This should better serve the priorities of the average Avalon driver. However, the Touring trim’s tuning will remain a bit stiffer to accommodate the sportier and more rigorous ride.

2016 Toyota Avalon interior

Other than that, the Avalon remains mostly the same. The interior gets some slight styling updates with chrome accents and grey accent stitching. Some trims get new tech options too, like the advanced safety features in the Limited, including automatic high-beams, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and pre-collision warning.

Everything under the hood stays the same with a 3.5L V6 outputting 268 hp being the primary powertrain option. We wouldn’t be surprised if a smaller 2.5L powertrain was confirmed closer to the new model’s production.


Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept Makes US Debut in Chicago

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept 2

Remember a couple weeks ago when Mitsubishi gave us that neat little teaser for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show with the tagline, “The Return of a Legend”?

At the time, we and the rest of the Internet speculated that this meant some sort of preview for a revived Mitsubishi Montero. Turns out, the “Legend” that they were referring to is the Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept, that overly futuristic SUV concept you’ve probably forgotten about by now, since it was first shown all the way back from the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept rear

But surely they made some cool new changes to the GC-PHEV Concept, right? After all, it has been a full year and a half since the crossover’s debut.

Unfortunately, no. The car Mitsubishi chose to show off in Chicago – the “Return of a Legend” they were referring to – was literally the exact same model they brought to Tokyo in 2013. No changes. No technology updates. No nothing new. Talk about unsubstantiated hype; we’re actually kind of miffed.

2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept profile

In case you don’t remember, the Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept runs on a supercharged 3.0L V6 that outputs 335 hp on its own, paired up with a 94 hp electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The futuristic crossover can reportedly run a full 25 miles on electric-only power thanks to a hyper efficient 12-kWh lithium-ion battery.

Talking about the design or the interior is a fruitless endeavor, since Mitsubishi has added so much unrealistic fluff that identifying key themes is nearly impossible.

2015 Mitsubishi GC-PHEV Concept

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. Why would Mitsubishi want to remind us about their GC-PHEV Concept?

For three reasons:

  1. To build hype for their upcoming Outlander PHEV, which is expected to finally make it into the US as a 2016 model year.
  2. To showcase key design themes Mitsubishi plans to integrate into the refreshed Outlander and Outlander Sport, which are also expected to hit showroom floors later this year.
  3. The GC-PHEV Concept really does in fact herald a return of the Mitsubishi Montero – that part still stands true.

Plus, among the more realistic technologies shown inside the GC-PHEV are a bevy of new safety features that we expect will soon come standard in most of the Japanese automaker’s lineup. These include blind-spot warning, anti-collision braking, and ACC (adaptive cruise control), as well as new additions to the field with a senior-friendly “unintentional vehicle move-off” monitor, which basically prevents accidental acceleration or braking.

Want to learn more about the Mitsubishi GV-PHEV Concept? You can read Mitsubishi’s official press release for the Chicago Auto Show here.


Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept Drops Jaws in Chicago

Posted by Stephen On Friday, February 13th, 2015

Today doors opened at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. There’s lots to see from just about every Japanese automaker, but the first car to catch our eye is the Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept, seen below:

Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept

Nissan says that this 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept is a one-off concept study to gauge interest in a NISMO roadster. But we’re calling their bluff – this car looks way too close to production to be a “study”. This is just a coy marketing tactic from Nissan to get everyone psyched up for their new car.

Either way, the 370Z NISMO Roadster is so good looking that we don’t mind the ploy… Whatever it takes to get this thing on the road. As you can see, this is pretty much a topless 370Z NISMO coupe. It’s got that classic NISMO front fascia with blood red front spoilers and an aggressively styled grille. We love the LED running lights and red accented side sills too. And you can’t help but admire those sleek lightweight 19-inch alloys.

Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept rear

From the back, Nissan’s added a sizeable carbon fiber spoiler to keep those super lightweight alloys on the road. The rear bumper boasts slim side vents and more of the red NISMO accent above each of the chrome exhausts.

Under the hood, Nissan’s sport-tuning firm has installed the same 3.7L V6 engine that’s in the normal 370Z roadster. However, they’ve upped the output to a full 350 horsepower and 276 lb-ft of torque. They’ve also paired it with their 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which they say is the most popular option in the normal 370Z roadster. In fact, Nissan says that so many of their roadster drivers prefer the automatic that it wouldn’t make sense to offer a manual transmission, but we’ll have to wait and see what’s in the production model.

Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept profile

Either way, you’ll find a couple other goodies under the hood, including a NISMO-brand tower strut, performance-tuned springs and stabilizers in the suspension, and extra-large sport brakes to help handle the car’s massive acceleration. A limited-slip differential also helps improve on-road performance.

Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept interior

Finally, moving inside the 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept you’ll find a couple of black Recaro leather bucket seats with red accent stitching and white Ultrasuede inserts. The driver gets a three-spoke Alcantara and leather-wrapped steering wheel complete with wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and both driver and passenger will enjoy the luxurious infotainment system with a vivid 7-inch touchscreen.

In the end, Nissan, we’re happy to play your little game. We’re saying it loud and proud – give us a Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster! We want it, and so does everyone else!