Breaking News

Chicago Auto Show Previews Future Vehicles

By John Stewart

Last week’s Chicago Auto Show media preview gave journalists a chance to see and hear about several vehicles that might be of interest to SEMA-member companies. Here is a quick rundown on what you would have found out if you were there.

’17 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Series.

’17 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Series

Packaged for “extreme off-roading enthusiasts who challenge themselves and their vehicles in some of the harshest conditions,” the new ’17 Tacoma TRD Pro will add an array of new performance equipment and features, making this second-generation TRD Pro product more capable than before.

Powered by a 3.5L DOHC 24-valve direct-injection V6, the Tacoma TRD Pro package also includes position-sensitive Fox 2.5 internal bypass shocks with hardened shafts and redundant dust boots, tuned front springs that provide for 1-in. lift and a TRD-tuned rear suspension with progressive rate leafsprings. Traction will be enhanced via 4WDemand part-time 4WD with a standard electronically controlled locking rear differential to help distribute engine power evenly to both rear wheels.

On the Tacoma TRD Pro with manual transmission, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) uses the 4-channel ABS system to control power flow to the front and rear wheels, all without cutting throttle input, to help make traction no matter where you may be.

Tacoma TRD Pro pickups with automatic trasmissions will get the Toyota Multi-terrain Select system. With five modes to choose from, the system helps regulate wheel spin by automatically adjusting the engine throttle and traction control. Standard tires are Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrains with Kevlar construction.

Along with an exterior appearance package that includes an aluminum front skid plate and black overfenders, the Tacoma TRD Pro will be visually distinguished by 16-in. black alloy wheels, projector-beam headlights, daytime running lights and black bezels. LED fog lights are by Rigid Industries, and a GoPro mount is located on the windshield.

’17 Ram Power Wagon.

’17 Ram Power Wagon

Based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4x4 Crew Cab, the Power Wagon features a number of off-road-specific enhancements, including a unique suspension with more than 2 in. of lift, locking differentials and a 12,000-lb. winch—features intended for those who travel in extreme terrain and also need the towing and payload capability required in a heavy-duty truck. It will be powered by a 6.4L Hemi V8 engine making 410hp at 5,600 rpm and peak torque of 429 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm. The engine calibration is unique to Power Wagon to enhance its off-road maneuverability and finesse. When driving in four-wheel-drive “Low,” the  throttle response softens and the idle speed increases by 100 rpm (from 650 to 750 rpm), providing added control when ascending and descending off-road obstacles at slow speeds.

The 6.4L Hemi is offered with the 66RFE six-speed automatic transmission and connects to a part-time, manual-engagement Borg Warner BW 44-47 transfer case. Hill-descent control allows drivers to control Power Wagon’s speed down steep, rugged grades with the buttons on the column shifter without the need for throttle or brake pedals.

The Power Wagon’s axles are built by American Axle Manufacturing, measuring 9.25 in. in the front and 11.5 in. in the rear (an increase from 10.5 in.), delivering power via a 4.10:1 ring-and-pinion ratio. Rear axle shafts are upgraded to 38 mm, providing rotating force directly to the 33-in. tire/wheel combination. Both axles include electronic-locking differentials driven by electro-magnetic actuators. All Ram Heavy Duty trucks incorporate a segment-exclusive, front-axle disconnect system. When conditions warrant, front drivetrain components are disconnected to reduce parasitic loss and improve overall efficiency. The system provides a gain in fuel efficiency of up to 1 mpg.

The ’17 Ram Power Wagon features a five-link coil spring suspension system, including Bilstein shocks, modified control arms, custom spring rates and more than 2 in. of  lift. Additional suspension flex is achieved via the class-exclusive electronic disconnecting sway bar, which allows the front axle to move more independently of the truck’s frame.

The front bumper mounts a Warn 12,000-lb. winch, roller fairlead and 125 ft. of line with nothing visible except a single heavy-gauge steel cable and dozer-size hook that attaches to one of the two massive front tow hooks. All-new and unique to Power Wagon, the 17-in. forged, multi-surface aluminum wheels with silver outer and matte black inner are bound in 33-in. tires and feature exposed lug nuts with a small center cap.

Chevrolet Camaro 1LE.

Camaro 1LE

The Chevrolet Camaro 1LE performance package offers increased handling and track performance. (The 1LE package was originally developed in 1988 to make the Camaro more competitive in the Showroom Stock road-racing series and officially debuted in 1989. Four examples were reportedly built in 1988, with 111 built in 1989. The 1LE package was also featured on fourth-gen vehicles through the ’99 model year, returning to the fifth-gen Camaro in 2013.) Returning for 2017, two distinct 1LE packages will be offered, for both V6 and V8 models.

For the first time, the 1LE package will be available on Camaro 1LT or 2LT coupes equipped with the 335hp 3.6L V6 matched with the six-speed manual transmission. Featuring more aggressive suspension tuning, standard Brembo brakes and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, the LT 1LE delivers an estimated 0.97G in cornering grip. Available Recaro seats will keep drivers planted through the corners, and an available performance data recorder will allow viewing and sharing track experiences.

“With a curb weight under 3,500 lbs., excellent front-to-rear weight balance and the precision of the FE3 suspension, the Camaro LT 1LE offers unmatched capability in its class,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “As a result, it offers incredible performance for Camaro V6 customers.”  

The new 1LE package for Camaro 1SS V8 models includes magnetic ride control, with a new FE4 suspension tuning and a new, segment-exclusive electronic limited-slip differential (eLSD). Paired with unique forged aluminum wheels that mount 285/30ZR20 front and 305/30ZR20 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, lateral acceleration will exceed 1G. Brembo brakes with new six-piston monobloc front red feature two-piece rotors. Measuring 14.6 in. (370mm) in diameter, the front rotors are 7% larger than Camaro SS. The 6.2L LT1 V8 is rated at 455 hp, and comes only backed by a six-speed manual transmission.

The new 1LE packages will become available in late 2016, on ’17 Camaro SS and LT V6 coupes equipped with manual transmissions. Pricing and performance data will be announced at a later date.