Chicago Auto Show — best of vanishing breed?

February 13, 2020 by
Filed under: New car introductions, Autos 

It may not look like a Mustang, but the new Mustang “mach e” is pure-electric.

By John Gilbert

CHICAGO, ILL.
As February speeds past, car fanciers have until Monday, February 17th to catch a flight or drive to Chicago to get to McCormick Place for the final weekend of the Chicago Auto Show. It remains something of a prize in the diminishing role auto shows are having around the world and in this country.

Those of us in the also-diminishing world of automotive journalists got a chance to attend the preliminary media days last week — two days of previews of what is to come in the public part of the show, last Wednesday and Thursday.

There is not an overwhelming number of new and flashy cars, but certainly enough to keep any car enthusiast on the move for several hours. For highlights, I found the new Ford Mustang Mach E fascinating. Ford has made major headlines about not building cars, eliminating the Taurus, Fusion, Focus and Escort, and continuing on with only the Mustang, and its ever-expanding fleet of trucks and SUVs.

Is it a sports car, or a 4-.door sedan, or an all-electric car? The answer is “Yes,” for the new Porsche Taycan  (Photo: Jack Gilbert.)

The Mach E is a pure electric car, and it may hint at how Ford will handle things. Eliminate all those slow-selling cars, and if you want to make an all-new car, go ahead; we’ll just call it a model of the Mustang. The familiar hot-rod pony car remains, of course, in various levels of performance, but the Mach E will be a pure electric car that will run without pistons or valves, using electric rechargeable motors to move on out.

That sets the stage for assorted hybrid and electric models, which even include an all-new Porsche Taycan that blends sports-car, sedan and electric vehicle.

General Motors has pinned its hopes on the flashy new Corvette, with its mid-engine layout, and it has used its considerable promotion and marketing clout to persuade virtually every U.S. entity to name the new Vette as Car of the Year for 2021, despite it being powered by an aging 6.2-liter pushrod V8. Production is just starting on the new Corvette, and it might find its way to showrooms by summertime.

The Ford GT is upgraded to Liquid Carbon style, and only 12 per year will be built.

Ford is not resting on its considerable laurels, upgrading the Ford GT, which has  It has been around for a decade, and it’s a low-slung, mid-engine, 2-seat sports car, with new power and build-quality called “Liquid Carbon” that will restrict it to only 12 vehicles built per year. Wonder what Henry Ford I would have thought of such elitism. Makes it easy to see what Chevrolet’s real target was for going mid-engine with the Corvette.

We can’t even guess at the car-end of GM’s arsenal, but the SUVs keep on coming. There’s a new Escalade from Cadillac, and midsize Equinox from Chevrolet.

Pacifica becomes more than “just” a minivan, adding hybrid, and all-wheel-drive models.

Chrysler, or rather FCA, which is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and which has just merged with Renault, to make it a huge and varied conglomerate also goes back to an old familiar nameplate — the Pacifica, which used to be the Caravan. The 2021 Pacifica is coming out in various new forms, including a hybrid, and an all-wheel-drive model that seems made just for us in the Great White North.

Hyundai and Kia are adding to the impressive cars and SUVs they’ve developed, and while the new Sonata gets a hybrid, the Genesis luxury arm of the Hyundai-Kia arrangement adds an all-new luxury SUV, the GV-80.

That will be more than competitive with the newest vehicles from Japan, and from Europe, and all of them are on display at Chicago. The easiest way to tell you what’s there is to show your. My son, Jack, is my trusty photo assistant, and he and I got to just about everything in some way, shape or form, after driving from Minnesota into a blizzard in the Windy City.

So the best way to describe the newest hits of the show is to show them off in photos.

Cadillac shows off its new CT4-V. (Photo: Jack Gilbert.)

Highlander gets upscale
XSE for 2021.

The world of auto shows is undergoing every bit as much upheaval as the auto business this year. Which is plenty. Cars are driving themselves, running silently with electric power, advancing hybrid causes, adding every-more power and handling, and fitting into fewer and fewer cars and more and more trucks and SUVs. And the world’s biggest auto shows — Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, and New York, if you follow the industry closely — are changing just as much.

 

Genesis, Hyundai’s upscale brand, adds the GV-80 luxury SUV.  (Photo: Jack Gilbert.)

Meanwhile, the biggest show in the world always has been Frankfurt, and despite having a dozen buildings to house the extravaganza every other year, it will now move to either Berlin or Munich. The Frankfurt show is so impressive it made the world appreciate Frankfurt as something more than a somewhat dreary industrial city. There will be no need to try to promote either Berlin or Munich, two of the world’s most impressive cities.

Civic Type R raises performance level.

The result of all this is that the annual February Chicago Auto Show now becomes enhanced as  the biggest, from the standpoint of spectators, who will keep clicking the through Monday

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