The Chicago Auto Show is the largest new-car auto show in the United States. It also holds bragging rights to being the third largest new-car auto show in the world. Translation: It's a major player.
With an impressive portfolio like this, it's no wonder it has the undivided attention of the auto industry. Heck, a few days after the '07 show, DaimlerChrysler was already pimping the fact that they would be unveiling the production version of the long-awaited Dodge Challenger at next year's Chicago Auto Show (not to rain on their parade, but we're holding out for the retro Plymouth Superbird).
The Chicago Auto Show has always been chocked full of new truck and SUV unveilings, and this year was no different. We ran our loafers off getting from one intro to another. Heck, the two media days were a blur.
Dodge Dakota Crew Cab
August is the magic month when you'll be able to get your hands on the restyled '08 Dakota. It features a newly styled hood, grille, front fascia, rear spoiler, fenders, and headlamps. Inside, it gets a new instrument panel, center-console accent finishes, and several new interior storage choices. Under the hood is a new 4.7L V-8 that makes 290 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. This is 25 percent more horsepower and 10 percent more torque than the engine it replaces. DaimlerChrysler also says it gets significantly better fuel economy. Yes, it'll be available with the TRX4 Off-Road package.
Nissan Titan PRO-4X Off Road
Nissan revamped the off-road package on the Titan, and they gave it a snappy new name. The package includes Rancho shocks, two additional skidplates, 3.356:1 gear ratio, an Eaton E-Locker electric-locking rear differential, 18-inch wheels, 270/75-18 all-terrain tires, specially tuned suspension, unique interior gauges, body-color exterior trim, black wheel arch moldings, and special interior features like red seat stitching and white-faced gauges. In a small but welcome move, the PRO-4X Off Road package deletes the side step rails. Other big Titan news: A new longbed option comes standard with a whompin' 37-gallon fuel tank.
Toyota says its new Highlander moves away from traditional SUV styling cues of "tough" and "rugged" to a look and feel that is "intelligent" and "advanced." It's significantly larger, roomier, and more powerful than the vehicle it replaces, yet Toyota says the new 3.5L V-6 engine retains the same fuel efficiency. It has an inch more ground clearance and optional full-time four-wheel drive. The Highlander will be available in July, followed by an extensively upgraded and refined hybrid version in September.
Nissan Pathfinder V-8
Nissan continued its impressive rollout of new products with the V-8 Pathfinder. This is the first time in the history of the Pathfinder that a V-8 engine will be available, and it's the outstanding 5.6L Endurance V-8. This engine will generate in excess of 300 hp, which should make Pathfinder drivers even gigglier. For '08, the 'Finder also gets new front and rear styling, new wheel designs, new trim packages and various other tech and convenience upgrades.
The Chicago Auto Show was the perfect place for Four Wheeler Senior Editor Ken Brubaker to formally congratulate Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper on the '07 Chevy Avalanche's win of the '07 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year award. We know the Avalanche team is proud of their new truck, and we think they should be.
Ford Taurus X
If you're a Ford Taurus fan who is still bereaved over the demise of the Taurus (and Ford seems to think there are a bunch of you), wow, are you in luck. Ford is not only resuscitating the Taurus nameplate (by putting it on an upgraded Ford Five Hundred), they're also gluing it to a crossover that will have an all-wheel-drive option. We're so excited. We're hoping for an FX4 package.