Chicago Auto Show Highlights

By SEMA Editors

The Chicago Auto Show provided an occasion for manufacturers to announce new special packages and show off one-of-a-kind project vehicles. Here are a few that caught our eye following last week’s press days.

 Forza Civic SI Coupe
Forza Civic SI Coupe

Honda Builds Real-Life Forza Civic SI Coupe

Honda teamed up with Forza Motorsport, considered by many to be the world's hottest racing game franchise, to unveil the winning entry of the Forza Motorsport Civic Si Design Contest. This one-of-a-kind Civic is among the first vehicles from the Forza Motorsport community to be brought from virtual world to the real world.

Selected from nearly 170 entries, the winning 2014 Civic Si Coupe design was created by Forza gamer Tiffany Labedz of Phoenix, and was selected as the top design by more than 17,000 members of the Xbox Forza community.

"At Honda, we love meeting our customers where their passion lies, and the racing and custom car design in Forza Motorsport is definitely a passion for so many Honda and Civic enthusiasts," said Tom Peyton, assistant vice president of advertising with American Honda Motor Co. Inc. "Taking an immersive gaming experience like Forza and bringing it to life here at the Chicago Auto Show will make for an exciting exhibition and a real-life demonstration of how cars and gaming are increasingly intertwined."

In addition to the custom Civic on display, Chicago Auto Show attendees can be among the first to play the new Honda Legends Car Pack for Forza Motorsport 5 on Xbox One. The new car pack features the redesigned ’14 Civic Si Coupe, the ’84 Mugen CRX and the ’94 Prelude, all available for download on Xbox One. This is the second straight year that Honda and Forza Motorsport have teamed up to bring gamers exclusive Honda-branded content.

Nissan Shows Diesel Powered Nissan Frontier

Diesel Powered Nissan Frontier
Diesel-powered Nissan Frontier

The Frontier Diesel Runner, which is based on a Frontier Desert Runner 4x2 model, was created to gauge the market reaction to a Nissan mid-size pickup with a diesel engine and plot a potential future direction for the Frontier. It arrives a mere six months after the announcement of a partnership with Cummins Inc. to provide a 5.0L turbo diesel V8 in the next-generation Titan full-size pickup, which will arrive in calendar year 2015.

At the heart of the Frontier Diesel Runner is a 2.8L four-cylinder diesel engine producing nearly 200 hp and more than 350 lb.-ft. of torque, while increasing fuel economy 35% over a V6-powered ’14 Frontier 4x2. Special exterior modifications include a custom "Arrest Me Red" and Matte Silver paint treatment, aerodynamic full-bed tonneau cover and tailgate spoiler, and a transparent acrylic hood insert that provides a window to the engine bay, where all powertrain-related elements continue the red theme.

The 16-in. wheels, borrowed from a Frontier PRO-4X, have been treated with a special two-tone paint—Arrest Me Red for the rear wheels and silver in front, each accented by satin black paint. The brake calipers have also been custom painted in contrasting colors—silver rear and red front.

The Frontier Diesel Runner's interior mirrors the silver and red exterior design, with red accents throughout and carbon-trimmed seats and panels. The front and rear seats feature carbon-print leather appointments with grey accent stitching and black-on-black "Tracks" embroidery. The carbon film-wrapped instrument panel is highlighted by red-tined gauges and a special black-faced diesel-specific three-gauge pod on top of the C-cluster.

Toyota Debuts All-New TRD Pro Series Off-Road Vehicles

 Toyota TRD, Chicago Auto Show
TRD's Off-Road Lineup

The 2015 Toyota Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner will get new, aggressive off-road packages designed by the experts at Toyota Racing Development (TRD).
The new factory-installed TRD Pro Series is aimed squarely at extreme off-roading enthusiasts who push their trucks and SUVs to the limit. Available on 4X4 models of Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner, all TRD Pro Series vehicles will be equipped with TRD Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs, TRD-tuned front springs, TRD front skid plate, plus a unique grille, TRD floor mats and shift knobs, and black wheels.

In addition to the shared features, the Tundra TRD Pro will be equipped exclusively with TRD-tuned springs with 2-in. lift at the front and featuring a decreased spring rate to improve ride quality over harsh terrain. Other equipment will include all-black 18-in. alloy wheels with Michelin ORP tires, TRD dual exhaust system, and styling cues such as TRD PRO quarter-panel bed stamping, unique interior seat color with red stitching and a unique instrument panel ornament insert.

Tacoma TRD adds TRD-tuned springs with 2-in. lift for the front with decreased spring rate, 16-in. black beadlock-style wheels, BFGoodrich All-Terrain LT265/75R16 tires, TRD Exhaust and a Black TRD PRO badge. 

The 4Runner TRD PRO will be exclusively equipped with 1.5-in. lift for the front of the vehicle and 1-in. of additional wheel travel, all-new 17-in. TRD all-black alloy wheels, black TRD Pro badges, plus black front and rear lower bumper accents.

SRT Debuts “Satin Vapor” Editions

Chrysler Group LLC’s SRT Models
Chrysler Group LLC’s SRT Models

The Chrysler Group LLC’s SRT (Street and Racing Technology) brand announced an expansion of its 2014 vehicle lineup by offering new Satin Vapor Editions of its Chrysler 300 SRT, Dodge Challenger SRT and Dodge Charger SRT models.

On the exterior, the new Satin Vapor Edition includes such niceities as 20x9 forged-aluminum split five-spoke wheels with a Black Satin Vapor Chrome finish, Satin Black mirrors, Satin Black spoiler, grey 6.4L HEMI badge, Satin Black roof and red Brembo calipers. 
The interiors feature upgrades such as seats with unique trim in Nappa leather with ultra-suede accents surrounding the instrument panel, door bezels and center console.
 Under the hood of every 300 SRT model is the 6.4L HEMI V8 delivering 470 hp and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. On the highway, up to 23 mpg is achieved by use of an active valve exhaust system that allows the standard Fuel Saver Technology (four-cylinder mode) to engage over a wide rpm range. The active exhaust system also allows for straight-through mid and rear mufflers for a throaty exhaust note under engine load.

The 2014 SRT lineup features five vehicles and brings the latest in safety technologies and creature comforts. The Chrysler 300 SRT, Dodge Challenger SRT, Dodge Charger SRT and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT join the flagship SRT Viper, returned to the high-performance sports car market in 2013.

Katzkin Teams Up With Saleen on 30th Anniversary Vehicles

 Katzkin Saleen, Chicago Auto Show
Katzkin Leather Interiors teamed with Saleen to provide custom interior-design patterns for Saleen’s 30th anniversary vehicles.

Katzkin has teamed with Saleen to provide unique custom interior design patterns created for Saleen’s 30th anniversary vehicles. The vehicles were unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show. Katzkin, a global leather seat and interior design company, and Saleen, an iconic high-performance automobile manufacturer, are both celebrating 30 years in the business.

Saleen offers a range of high-performance vehicles, including the Saleen 302 and 351 Mustang, Saleen 570 Challenger, and Saleen 620 Camaro.

Both the Saleen SA-30 (30th Anniversary) 620 Camaro and 570 Challenger, complete with Katzkin designed “snowball black and white” interiors, remained on display at the Chicago auto show through the week.

Only 10 each of the 302, 570 and 620 models will be produced, and the 302 has already sold out, with very few remaining of the 570 and 620 limited production models.

Consumers can view the 620 Camaro and 570 Challenger, along with several other specialty Saleen vehicles, during the Chicago Show.