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Wide range of SUVs, trucks take centre stage at Chicago

MANUFACTURERS focused on delivering a wide range of SUVs and trucks at the ongoing Chicago Auto Show.

There were trucks that can tackle trails, luxury trucks, all-black trucks, trucks that can haul heavy payloads, trucks that can tow and big SUVs on truck frames that can transport large families, the Detroit Free Press is reporting.

Brands that showed new trucks or SUVs included Chevrolet, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Ram, and Toyota.

The exception? Kia and Chevrolet.

Kia revealed three new hybrid vehicles including its new Niro crossover while Chevrolet showed an updated version of its Trax subcompact crossover.

But the big trucks caught the eye, overshadowing the petite crossovers.

“Ram always receives a warm welcome in the Windy City,” said Bob Hegbloom, head of the Ram brand, before he introduced the 2017 Ram Power Wagon.

Nissan arguably pulled off the biggest surprise with news that it will launch an all-new Titan by mid-year.

Meanwhile, Ford said it plans to introduce four new SUVs globally over the next four years.

“These are in segments of the SUV market where we currently do not compete,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Historically, the Chicago Auto Show has been a magnet for new-truck unveilings. Pickups and SUVs traditionally sell well here, and the city has plenty of businesses that need delivery vans and heavy-duty pickups.

For years, Toyota saved its big truck news for Chicago show, viewing it as a better venue than Detroit where the Detroit Three hold court on pickups.

“We’ve always brought trucks here. It’s just kind of turned into our truck show,” said Toyota Group Vice President Bill Fay.

Some of the trucks automakers revealed included the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

The 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is a trail-ready, off-road version of its the Japanese automaker’s mid-size pickup.


With 16-inch off-road tyres, an aluminium front skid plate, fog lights and projector headlights the Tacoma TRD Pro is “aimed squarely at extreme off-road enthusiasts who challenge themselves and their trucks and SUV’s in some of the harshest conditions.”

The nimble Tacoma TRD Pro will be powered by a 3.5-litre V-6 direct-injection Atkinson-cycle engine that produces 278 hp and 265 pound feet of torque.

Joining the Tacoma on the trails was the 2017 Ram Power Wagon. While the Tacoma is nimble, the Power Wagon is a brute.


The Power Wagon is equipped with a 6.4-litre Hemi V-8 engine that kicks out 410 horsepower and 429 pound feet of torque. The Power Wagon is capable of going pretty much anywhere, so long as it can fit.

“Our mission is to be the ultimate off-road truck,” Hegbloom said.

Chevrolet Colorado and Silverado Z71 Midnight Editions

The Chevrolet Colorado midsize truck and Silverado Z71 Midnight Editions of the full size truck represent an extreme study in black.

Chevrolet will now offer three trucks in the Midnight Edition after introducing a Midnight Edition of the Silverado 1500 last year.

Nissan surprised most of the media and analysts with news that the long-awaited update of its Titan half-ton pickup will hit dealerships by June.

While Nissan introduced its new, larger Titan XD in December, the automaker hasn’t overhauled its Titan since it was first introduced in 2004.


“Titan will compete in the heart of the full-size pickup segment – the half-ton – while the Titan XD provides a unique solution for customers by bridging the cost and capability gap between traditional half-ton and full heavy-duty pickups,” said Rich Miller, Nissan’s director of product planning in North America.

Nissan also revealed an all-new version of its eight-passenger Armada SUV.The new Armada includes a new exterior design and a new 390-horsepower, 5.6-litre V-8 engine that is mated with a new 7-speed automatic transmission.

2017 Nissan Armada

The platform of the new Armada was derived from the Infinti QX80, Nissan’s sister brand, and the Nissan Patrol, a rugged SUV Nissan sells globally but not in the U.S.

“While the new Armada is intended primarily for family adventures here in North America, Armada owners will benefit from its underpinnings as a strong, durable and authentic full-size SUV with ruggedness to spare,” said Michael Bunce, Nissan’s vice president of product planning.

Hyundai showed a refreshed version of its Santa Fe mid-size crossover and Santa Fe Sport.

The Korean automaker updated the Santa Fe’s front end, front grille and headlights as well as its rear design, rear headlights and added a dual exhaust outlet.

One of the most competitive segments in the U.S. auto industry is a type of vehicle few people spend much time thinking about — commercial vans. Mercedes-Benz, with its Sprinter lineup, has been among the market leaders for years, and wants to keep it that way.

That’s why Mercedes-Benz announced that it will expand its commercial van lineup with the Sprinter Worker. The Worker is aimed at the heart of the commercial van market for plumbers, electricians, general contractors and HVAC specialists.


Mercedes-Benz also showed the “Sprinter Extreme Concept,” a huge, green customised version of the heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cab Chassis.

The Extreme Concept is big. It is more than 6 metres rrom end to end. It’s 2.4m tall. And it has a payload capacity of 2900kg and can tow nearly four tons.

Images: Manufacturers


About Nigel Andretti

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