Chicago Auto Show Highlights

SEMA News—April 2013 

By John Stewart

Chicago Auto Show Highlights

Automakers Predict Growth, Show Newest Models

Auto-sales analysts are predicting growth in car sales overall—some to levels as high as 15.4 million for 2013. That would be good news for aftermarket manufacturers and retailers, as unit growth in the types of vehicles that enthusiasts tend to customize continues to gain momentum.


The ’14 Toyota Tundra, as revealed at the Chicago Auto Show.
The ’14 Toyota Tundra, as revealed at the Chicago Auto Show. 


Truck sales will be a positive factor for 2014, according to Toyota officials speaking at the Chicago Auto Show. They estimated that the fullsize pickup segment exceeded 1.6 million units in 2012 and could hit 1.8 million by 2015. According to statistics offered by Toyota, the fullsize truck segment has typically been one of the most loyal in the industry, with owners usually replacing their old trucks with new ones of the same type and brand. However, Toyota marketing spokespeople were encouraged by the fact that truck owners are taking the opportunity to change brands in today’s market. They also report greater segment switching as people move from SUVs and cars to gain the unique capabilities and increasing comfort of fullsize pickups. With a return to personal-use pickups, the mix of 1/2-ton crew cabs has grown from 48% to almost 60% over the last five years, according to Toyota.

Among the vehicles expected to lend growth potential for the pickup segment is the ’14 Toyota Tundra. Toyota unveiled a new exterior design that features a muscular front view and a wider, taller grille, with headlamps that interlock with the rest of the front fascia. The hood was raised by 1.6 in., contributing to the bolder appearance. A new bed design helps carry the character lines down the side, leading to a new tailgate that has an integrated spoiler and “Tundra” embossed into the sheet metal. A new bumper goes from one to three pieces, allowing for grade differentiation and lower replacement costs.

The ’14 Ram Commercial ProMaster
The ’14 Ram Commercial ProMaster.


To satisfy the growing number of premium fullsize truck buyers, the redesigned Tundra will offer five distinct grades, each with a unique flavor that is immediately recognizable—including a different front grille for each rather than just an equipment buildup from grade to grade. The grades range from an entry-level SR for the work-use buyer, to the high-end Platinum edition that will offer premium interior design. The SR5 will continue to be the volume model, and Toyota also announced a 1794 Edition, inspired by the ranch founded in 1794 where the Tundra plant is now located in San Antonio. The new trim reflects a western lifestyle, with saddle-brown premium leather seating and Ultrasuede accents.

Chrysler debuted the all-new ’14 Ram Commercial ProMaster at the Chicago show. It is a fullsize van for the North American market and is an example of Ram and Fiat joining forces to expand the market internationally with offerings for businesses across the globe.

“As Ram takes a larger presence in the commercial truck market, the ’14 Ram ProMaster is a great addition, contributing to a one-stop shop of commercial-duty Ram trucks and vans,” said Fred Diaz, president and CEO of the Ram truck brand. Diaz cited durability, capability and low total cost of ownership as advantages for the Ram ProMaster commercial truck.

Inspired by the Fiat Ducato, the Ram ProMaster offers the North American segment the first six-speed automated manual transmission controlled by high-tech software that responds to road conditions. The ’14 Ram ProMaster’s powertrain features a 3.6L Pentastar V6 rated at 280 hp or a 3.0L, four-cylinder EcoDiesel engine rated at 174 hp and featuring an 18,500-mile oil-change interval.


The ’14 Kia Forte five-door.
The ’14 Kia Forte five-door.


Thirteen chassis configurations will be offered for the ProMaster, including a 1500-series, short-wheelbase, low-roof cargo van and a 3500-series chassis-cab cutaway. Ram’s new fullsize van will offer more than 35 safety features, including a ParkView backup camera and ParkSense parking-assistance system. Another advanced technology system, Uconnect, will offer drivers a hands-free text-reply feature and a global positioning satellite to provide time-saving routes.

Kia Motors America (KMA) rolled out an all-new Forte five-door. The Forte five-door SX’s European-inspired hatchback design is complemented by an all-new 1.6L, gasoline direct-injected (GDI), turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 201 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, making the ’14 Forte five-door SX the most powerful Forte from KMA to date. The Forte five-door is expected to go on sale in the third quarter of 2013. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.

“We received very positive feedback after the all-new Forte sedan made its debut at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, and we expect the all-new Forte five-door will build upon that success,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing and communications
for KMA.

The ’14 Ford Fiesta ST.
The ’14 Ford Fiesta ST.


Presented in two trim levels, EX and SX, with two distinct engine choices, the Forte five-door will offer customers premium amenities and features not normally found in the compact segment. Under the hood, the Forte five-door buyer will have a 2.0L GDI four-cylinder engine putting out 173 hp and 154 lb.-ft. of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. The performance-oriented SX comes standard with a 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder, a first for the Forte line. The SX also offers buyers the chance to pick their own gears with a standard six-speed manual transmission, or they may opt for the six-speed automatic featuring steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Ford countered with the ’14 Fiesta ST—in many ways a race car built for the street. With Ford’s global launch of Fiesta ST under way, Ford Racing will introduce the ST performance badge in the 2013 season of the Global RallyCross Championship and Global X Games events. The move is part of an expanded Global RallyCross program for Ford as it capitalizes on the popularity of the series and its increased visibility through X Game personalities that include Tanner Foust, Brian Deegan and Ken Block.

Fiesta ST is the result of a combined effort from Team RS in Europe and SVT in the United States. Available exclusively as a five-door hatchback in North America and with a six-speed manual transmission, Fiesta ST is projected to achieve up to 34 mpg. A new high-output variant of the award-winning 1.6L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine propels Fiesta ST with an estimated 197 hp and 214 lb.-ft. of torque. This compact performance machine sports a unique grille and chin spoiler with a new rear diffuser and fascia extensions. Bright-tipped dual exhaust pipes and a high-mount spoiler along with unique 17-in. wheels complete the package.


The ’14 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel’s 2.0L turbo-diesel engine produces an estimated 148 hp and 258 lb.-ft. torque.
The ’14 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel’s 2.0L turbo-diesel engine produces an estimated 148 hp and 258 lb.-ft. torque.


Chevrolet debuted the ’14 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel at Chicago, entering the U.S. and Canadian diesel-car markets this summer with a 2.0L turbo-diesel version of its hottest-selling sedan. The Cruze will feature the cleanest diesel passenger-car engine General Motors has ever produced.

Built in Lordstown, Ohio, the ’14 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel delivers a combination of segment-leading features and efficiency. Based on GM testing, the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel has demonstrated an estimated 42 mpg on the highway and best-in-segment range. The compact sedan’s new 2.0L turbodiesel engine produces an estimated 148 hp and estimated 258 lb.-ft. of torque, with 0–60 performance of 8.6 seconds. In addition, Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel’s emissions will be below stringent U.S. environmental standards, including Tier 2, bin 5 emissions standards.

“Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel fills an important role in Chevrolet’s diverse four-cylinder lineup and is primed to win over diesel devotees and compact-car buyers with its performance, torque and fuel economy,” said Perry. “We leveraged engineering expertise from around the globe to develop a world-class, low-emissions engine to give U.S. and Canadian customers a car that’s both fun to drive and practical at the pump.”

With a starting price of $25,695, including an $810 destination charge (excludes tax, title, license and dealer fees), Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, a 3.20 final drive ratio, a 140-amp alternator, an 800 cold-cranking amps battery, 17-in. alloy wheels, ultra-low-rolling resistance all-season tires, a rear spoiler, an aero performance package and leather-appointed seating. Other standard features include Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, a two-year maintenance plan and a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

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