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Chicago Auto Show Becomes Truck City

By John Stewart

  pilot’16 Honda Pilot

Trucks and SUVs took center stage at the Chicago Auto Show, which will open to the public February 14–22. Included were a number of vehicles that might be relevant to SEMA-member companies, along with some interesting concepts.

Kia Motors America unveiled the Trail’Ster, an all-wheel-drive concept designed in California. The SUV is based on the Soul, but lifted 2.5 in., and intended to enable urban residents to make the occasional foray outside the city. The concept has a number of original features, including a fully retractable canvas roof, and 35-hp rear-mounted electric motor to supplement the turbocharged 1.6L engine. There is no immediate plan for production.

The Colorado GearOn Special Edition was revealed by Chevrolet, and offered as a special factory accessory package. Available accessories include a cargo-bed divider, tie-downs, bedliner, running boards, and in-bed mounting systems for bicycles or outdoor equipment. The GearOn Special Edition builds on the Chevrolet LT trim package, in 2WD or 4WD, in extended-cab and crew-cab bodies. The plan is for Chevy dealers to offer the package starting at $31,125 starting in the spring.

Chevrolet also introduced the Silverado Custom, a $33,820 double-cab pickup for customers who want a well-equipped pickup at an affordable price. Chevrolet marketing spokesperson Sandra Pszar said that the Custom will suit millions of customers in the heart of the market.

Also unveiled Thursday in Chicago was the all-new ’16 Honda Pilot—Honda’s latest entry into the hot crossover SUV market. The Pilot will be available as a seven-passenger vehicle with captain’s chairs in the second row or with a bench seat to accommodate eight passengers. A new 3.5L direct-injection V6 mated to a six-speed automatic is standard; a nine-speed auto transmission that comes with a start/stop system to boost fuel efficiency is also available. A newly designed AWD system is among the available amenities.

The ’16 Acura RDX will go on sale this spring, offering a new 3.5L, 279-hp V6 engine. Available in both AWD and front-wheel drive, the newest RDX is rated to deliver up to 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, with 1 mpg better for the FWD version. The Acura crossover has been updated with new LED headlights, heated front seats and black-and-silver trim, and features available amenities such as remote keyless start, parking sensors, ventilated front seats and a suite of advanced safety features.

Mitsubishi’s GC-PHV concept made its North American debut at the Chicago Auto Show. The SUV is designed with hinged rear doors, no center pillar and an advanced interior. The hybrid powertrain combines a supercharged 3.0L V6 with a 94-hp electric motor. The battery pack is rated at 12 kilowatt-hours for an electric range of about 25 miles. The GC-PHV features the Super All Wheel Control full-time 4WD system.

Chevy Colorado GearOn Special Edition
’16 Acura RDX
Kia Trail’Ster concept
Mitsubishi GC-PHV concept