We had a good time at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, and after getting back home and sifting through our dirty clothes, press materials and notebooks, we found a few interesting photos and notes we wanted to share. Here are some of the most compelling from our outing.
Toyota Sequoia and Tundra TRD Sport
In the past, Toyota has treated the Chicago Auto Show well, revealing many of its biggest debuts there. This year, it added two in the form of a Tundra TRD Sport pickup truck and Sequoia TRD Sport SUV. Both packages include blackout badging and unique exterior features, bigger wheels and tires, Bilstein monotube shocks, and front and rear, bright-red TRD high-performance anti-sway bars.
The only problem we see is that the TRD brand lately has meant better four-wheel-drive performance, as with the popular Tacoma packages; however, anti-sway bars are typically meant to improve street performance. So a TRD Sport package on a Tacoma, clearly meant to improve its backcountry 4x4 performance, seems to have the exact opposite definition when applied to the full-size Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV. That seems weird.
Nissan Titan Wants to Grow
During a clever bit of marketing and media outreach, Fred Diaz, Nissan truck and SUV guru (actually the division vice president and general manager for Nissan North America Trucks and Light Commercial Vehicles), had a "tailgate talk" press event in the Nissan booth. He noted there that with the addition of the final piece in its commercial truck lineup — the Titan and Titan XD King Cab models — Nissan would now be ready to start targeting its competition with a full portfolio of offerings for vans and pickups. In fact, he added, Nissan already has started to outsell the Toyota Tundra in several mid-level markets such as Omaha, Neb., and Salt Lake City. It seems like a small first step, especially since Nissan is only selling a few thousand full-size pickups a month so far, but you can't blame it for aiming high.
State Farm Chevrolet Silverado 3500 RoadHouse
There we were, wandering the aisles of the auto show, when this Chevrolet loomed ahead of us. We get that it's part marketing exercise, part traveling display, part just plain crazy custom pickup modification, but this Silverado 3500 has a pretty cool story behind it: Essentially, State Farm added about 10 feet of frame rail to the middle of the truck, extending all the other important pieces (wiring, brake lines, driveshaft, etc.) to make the beast run. The techniques aren't that unusual, though, when you think about other limousine-type vehicles.
And yes, it travels to auto shows, fairgrounds and other widely attended events to spread interesting home and auto (Get it? It's both a house and an auto) insurance news on its own power quite legally. Maybe you'll see this mobile display "house-gating" at the next big football game. Check out this YouTube link to see the build.
New Ford Expedition Has a Lot of F-150
This was our first chance to see Ford's all-new 2018 Expedition that now weighs about 300 pounds less than the vehicle its replaces. Much of the underpinnings and electrical architecture are directly from the upgrades made to the current-generation F-150 — that means aluminum body panels and use of the new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine and 10-speed transmission.
We have no doubt this new Expedition will be exactly what big-family SUV buyers are looking for, especially when there's so much room in the third row for both cargo and extra passengers. Much of that room comes from the fact that the Expedition has improved its independent rear suspension to allow for more legroom and headroom for ipassengers. We did a quick comparison with the 2017 Chevy Tahoe (which uses a live rear axle and, along with the Suburban, dominates the segment) so you could see how the two direct competitors match up.
Nissan Titan XD Accessory Truck
There's no question Nissan will have its hands full for a few years trying to lure faithful full-size pickup buyers away from their preferred brands, but that challenge may be easier if it can offer things the other truck makers can't — interesting and unique accessories with a factory warranty, for example.
To explore that point, Nissan displayed two different modified full-size pickups (one a Titan half ton and the other a Titan XD) to show off some ideas. The half-ton Titan had a small lift to accommodate more aggressive tires and a number of existing accessory parts available through Nissan dealers, including 20-inch wheels, side steps, a bed step, in-bed lockable storage, a tonneau cover and a bed-lip cover. The more muscular Titan XD had a taller lift, bigger tires and wheels, a new front bumper and light system, as well as a custom bed light bar and heavy-duty spare tire carrier.
These accessories were more about what Nissan could offer in the future, exactly what it needs to better differentiate from its mainstream competitors. We hope it offers both as special-edition packages.
Mercedes-Benz Tower of Terror, Graz, Austria
It wouldn't be the Chicago Auto Show if you didn't have a number of interactive driving experiences right in the middle of the new-vehicle displays, and Mercedes-Benz had the thrill ride of the show with its "tower of terror." In order to give interested customers a chance to see what lengths it goes to in testing its top-level 4x4, the G-Wagen, Mercedes set up a mock proving ground theoretically designed to duplicate some of the same types of rough terrain and steep hill climbs it has at its test facility in Graz, Austria, on a 5,000-foot mountain called the Schoeckl. Mercedes-Benz has been testing both military and personal-use Gelandewagens (now called the G-Class) there for decades.
Best Booth of the 2017 CAS: Ram Activity Booth
We have to say that Ram had the best, most action-packed drive event display of the show with its multistage, multitask pickup truck test drive. Depending on the route you wanted to take, you could pull a massive wall down, lift a hefty concrete block 30 feet into the air, run an industrial-size 4x4 obstacle course or check out how well an air suspension can carry a stack of concrete blocks. Combining the Ram truck display and Jeep Drive Experience, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had the most popular displays and highest approval ratings based on the lengths of the lines we saw.
Other 2017 Chicago Auto Show Stories:
- What to Expect
- Nissan NV Cargo X Preview
- Ram to Debut Night Edition for HDs
- 2017 Ram 1500 Copper Sport
- 2017 Ram 1500 Copper Sport Video
- 2017 Nissan Titan, Titan XD King Cab Video
- Nissan Titan, Titan XD King Cab
- 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Colorado Redline: Photo Gallery
- 2017 Ram 2500/3500 Night Edition Video
- 2018 Toyota Tundra TRD Sport Video
- 2018 Toyota Tundra Preview
- Nissan NV Cargo X Concept Van Video
- Cars.com Best in Show
Cars.com photos by Mark Williams