15 Cars to look for at Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show for consumers, even if most manufacturers don’t use it to unveil their most important new cars and concepts. Still, it’s located in the massive and beautifully designed McCormick Place in downtown Chicago and it has many of the new cars you’ll want to see.

I spent Thursday and Friday walking the show with other members of the media before the show opens to the public today, and a number of cars caught my eye. I’ve listed a number of them below though it’s by no means an exhaustive list of the show’s highlights. Most were not introduced at this show, but you’ll want to look for these cars and see them up close.

2015 Ford Mustang

The 50th Anniversary Mustang was completely redesigned for 2015 and was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show. This was my first opportunity to see it up close, and I have to admit I liked it more after seeing it in person. I’m still not thrilled with the dramatic change with the styling of the front headlights, but they do fit the new design. The more dramatic fastback is easier to appreciate when you see this car in person, and overall it’s an impressive design. Ford only has one at this show so make sure to look for it. You can see more photos of the Mustang from the show here along with official photos here.

2015 Ford Mustang at Chicago Auto Show 1

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Nissan unveils Frontier Diesel Runner at Chicago Auto Show

We were on hand with Nissan today at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show as the company debuted the Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins at a press conference featuring Fred Diaz, senior vice president of Sales & Marketing. Nissan recently announced a partnership with Cummins Inc. to provide a 5.0-liter turbo diesel V8 in the next-generation Titan full-size pickup, which will arrive in calendar year 2015. The Frontier Diesel Runner is being presented as a “technical study” to guage the reaction of consumers and the market to a Nissan mid-size pickup with a diesel engin. The feedback Nissan receives will help the company plot a potential future direction for the Frontier.

As you can see from the photos and the short video below, Nissan put together a unqie and eye-catching design for this vehicle. The color scheme includes a custom “Arrest Me Red” and Matte Silver paint treatment and a transparent acrylic hood insert that provides as a window to the engine bay, where all powertrain-related elements continue the red theme. It also features an aerodynamic full-bed tonneau cover and tailgate spoiler. The 16-inch wheels, borrowed from a Frontier PRO-4X, were also treated with special two-tone paint, with red and black in the rear wheels and sliver and black in the front. The silver and red exterior design carries over into the interior of the Frontier Diesel Runner with red accents throughout and carbon-trimmed seats and panels. I love the overall design of this truck.

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Open the Briefcase

We drove the all-new Nissan Rogue recently and came away impressed, though we didn’t have quite the wild ride you’ll see on this video. Watch it to the end and then “open the briefcase” to see what’s next! If you like contests you’ll want to check it out.

  

First Drive: 2014 Nissan Rogue

I was on hand on a beautiful fall day in Nashville to drive the all-new 2014 Nissan Rogue. The Rogue is the latest in a series of redesigns from Nissan as the entire lineup has been revamped. With the Rogue we see many of the exterior and interior design improvements we’ve seen in other Nissan models we’ve tested.

Exterior

The new Rogue has been completely redesigned with a more muscular look. The new vehicle is taller and wider than its predecessor with a longer wheelbase. All new headlamps and front grille replace the harder edges of the front facia of the current model. The high, muscular ridges along the wheel wells also enhance the styling of this compact CUV. The new model also incorporates new design elements like available LED headlights and standard LED signature daytime running lights. Check out the slideshow above and you’ll see how the vehicle looks great from every angle.

Interior

The Rogue interior was impressive and comfortable. Soft touch materials and premium trim accents were added in all the right places, and I liked the oversized center console that has room for a 10” tablet computer. Nissan emphasized the “Zero Gravity” seats developed from NASA research on natural-stress-free postures measured in zero gravity. They are designed to optimize comfort and reduce fatigue. I spent the good part of the day in the Rogue and can attest to the seat comfort.

For the first time, Rogue will offer optional 3-row/7-passenger seating. This isn’t intended to have this compact CUV compete with larger models, but it offers younger families some flexibility when needed. The cargo area was well put together with the Rogue’s Divide-‘N-Hide cargo system which helps keep wet/dirty items like muddy soccer gear separate from clean dry items with an easily cleaned lower level. The two-piece cargo organizer has 18 possible configurations, and combined with the back seat folding options offers plenty of flexibility.

I particularly liked the class-exclusive Around View Monitor available in the SL model. The ability to have a 360-view of the space around the vehicle along with the rear-view camera makes maneuvering in tight spaces a breeze. Other available features include Moving Object Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning.

Performance

The Rogue features a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that is rated at 170-horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque along with the Xtronic CVT transmission with a sport mode option. The power was adequate for this class of vehicles though acceleration sometimes lagged. But drivers will get a best-in-class highway fuel economy of 33 MPG. The handling was more impressive as the Rogue easily zips around corners. Also, Nissan has added technology features which help to stabilize the vehicle around corners in slippery conditions. The Active Trace Control technology can automatically engage the inner and outer brakes to optimize the line through turns and I was impressed as we tested this on wet surfaces. Drivers can also decide to turn this off.

Overview

The compact CUV segment is growing but it’s also very competitive. With this redesign the Rogue will likely remain a popular choice among consumers and should be on consumers’ test drive list. Pricing for the 2014 Rogue starts out at $22,490 for the base S model with front-wheel drive, and then can go over $32,000 for the SL AWD with the premium option package. However, in order to attract buyers looking at lower pricing options, Nissan will continue to build the 2013 version of the Rogue as a 2014 model called Rogue Select. This vehicle will start at an MSRP below $20,000 and offers an option for customers who want a compact CUV at the lower price point.

Rogue in Nashville

  

Car Review: 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV

nissan_altima_1

We’ve heard so much about the new 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV from press reports and even from some of our staff who already had the chance to drive this sleek offering from Nissan. So naturally, the rest of us wanted to see what all the hype was about, because you normally don’t get to drive that many cars that get 38mpg and rave reviews on looks both inside and out. When it comes to the innovations and advanced technology behind the ground-up, totally new 2013 Nissan Altima design, some things might be considered evolutionary.

EXTERIOR

The design of the 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5 SV is both clean and compelling, which from some angles can rival luxury sedans and stand tall. Proving that premium doesn’t have to be pricey, the new Altima body takes a big step forward in creating a quiet, comfortable foundation for a new benchmark mid-size sedan. While keeping the same basic dimensions as the previous generation with new attention to aerodynamic design, Nissan helps give the totally restyled body a more premium appearance. The front fascia is outright brilliant, conveying confidence and style that will grab the attention of customers.

INTERIOR

When it comes to the new 2013 Altima, revolution also lives in the details. The interior’s premium look and feel comes from a combination of fresh design and quality appointments. Nissan has taken comfort to the next level with seating technology that we could only just imagine a few years back. While the new Altima likes to keep its wheels and tires firmly planted on the road, the standard front bucket seats have a less earthly design. In the desire to help reduce the fatigue experienced during long commutes or extended road trips, Nissan turned to seating and posture research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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