If we had to choose the most improved area of the 2014 refreshed Toyota Tundra on display at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, it would be the new instrument gauge cluster (below). Gone are the deep barrel gauges (bottom below) that had drivers looking down a long tube to get engine and speed information, not to mention other important warning lights that sometimes were difficult to read because of odd angles. Welcome to the modern instrument panel Toyota.
Buick partnered with Chicago Sky WNBA superstar Tamera Young and Samaritan’s Feet to put more than 300 girls into new socks and athletic shoes. It’s not every day you see dozens of grade-school-aged girls get their feet washed by Buick and Samaritan’s Feet volunteers, as well as Tamera Young herself. “It’s always about the men in sports, so this day is special,” said Young, who flew to Chicago for the opening weekend. “This day gives us the opportunity to show kids what’s out there and what women athletes are capable of doing.”
We can’t tell you how disappointing it was not to be able to get into the two new premium-level trucks (the Platinum and 1794) to see how sharp or dull the new interiors looked. This photo was taken through smoked glass. Both Ford and Ram truck have done a pretty good job of getting a number of top-of-the-line option package choices in front of their core buyers — and they’ve been reaping big profits ever since. It’s good to see Toyota figuring this out too. We’ll let you know as soon as we see a real pre-production truck we can take a closer look at.
Ram Commercial did a good job of having several different vehicle configurations on hand at the press conference to reveal the ProMaster. ProMaster is claiming the most cargo volume of any vehicle in the segment — which includes the Sprinter and Transit that look to have larger vehicles in their fleets — but we’re fairly certain there are several ways to calculate that number, one of which is supposed to be a Society of Automotive Engineers standard. When we hear more, we’ll pass it along.
The Chicago Tribune had a small display to promote the newspaper that included a gorgeously reconditioned 1923 Model T flatbed that was reportedly used to deliver the newspapers through several downtown Chicago neighborhoods. The truck uses a 20-horsepower inline four-cylinder engine and should have a top speed somewhere near 45 mph.
Both Chevy and GMC had several new 2014 vehicles on display, with the extended cab version getting most of the attention from dealers during preview days. From what we heard from the groups that walked by, there seems to be a debate as to whether changing to a more conventional second-row door (and away from the wide-mouth dual-pivot doors) was a good idea. Several 2013 heavy-duty models were on display as well.
This is the same Power Wagon we saw when the 2013 Ram HDs were introduced at the Texas State Fair last year but this time Ram truck is putting a truck expert next to the pickup to answer questions throughout the show. We were told the truck had a custom 4-inch suspension lift, 37-inch-tall tires and 4.56:1 gears (the latter we know to be stock). He also told us this one did have a custom 6.5-foot RamBox tied into the key fob so you can lock the tailgate, side boxes and all the doors at one time, something that the 2013 could do even though this Power Wagon was a 2012.
The new ProMaster commercial vans can be ordered as high- or low-roof cargo vans, chassis cabs or chassis cab cutaways, the latter of which comes only as a one-ton in either the medium- or long-wheelbase version. The chassis cab on display had its own spokesperson, who told us about the eight reinforced cross-members exclusive to the cutaway, pointing out the 3500 uses only two longish leaf springs and a tag axle to distribute more than 5,000 pounds of maximum payload. All that and a nice tool belt too? Well done.
Nissan showed that its little commercial van is several feet shorter and hundreds of pounds lighter than the larger, full-size Nissan NV that comes in 1500, 2500 and 3500 cargo and passenger configurations. The NV200 had originally won the Taxi of Tomorrow competition earlier last year, and Nissan is hoping to sell a good number of the smaller NVs to the city of New York. In the meantime, this compact cargo van is likely to be quite popular with small businesses and owner-operators than with huge fleet buyers. The NV200 is a front-wheel-drive platform and uses an efficient 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder. MSRP, including delivery, will be just less than $21,000.
*Editor's Note: We mistakenly identified the 1923 Model T as being at a Chicago Sun-Times booth. It was the Chicago Tribune.