With Last Call Dodges, new Highlanders, all-electric RAM trucks, the 2023 Chicago Auto Show had more than its share of newsworthy vehicles on display.
The 2023 Chicago Auto Show was held over this past weekend. In contrast to recent auto shows in LA, DC, and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Chicago Auto Show was light on high concept and heavy on updates and new iterations of familiar automotive faces. A decent cross section of upcoming EVs was balanced by more than a few spiritual throwbacks (and hold outs) to the days of unapologetic petrol power. We’ve got the latest on hot new releases, so let’s dive in.
If you’re like me, you’ve long felt the Jeep Wrangler could use a few more trim variants. Good news! Your wish has been granted; Jeep has announced two new Rubicon variants. On opposite ends of the powertrain spectrum are the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Rubicon 4xe and the Rubicon 392 (V8). Both come with a half-inch lift, a unique grille design, beefy front bumpers, and grille guards. 150 of them have been further upgraded by American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) with an additional 2.5-inch lift which helps accommodate 37-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tires, skid plate, an upgraded suspension, and more.
In Chicago, Subaru unveiled the all-new third generation Crosstrek. Like most of Subaru’s incremental approach to generational churn, the Crosstrek retains what makes the all-wheel drive hatchback uniquely appealing. Visual updates are modest as are the two hold-over engine options, a 2.0L and a 2.5L flat-fours with 152 and 182 horsepower, respectively. The manual transmission option has been dropped, leaving just the CVT (continuous variable transmission). Subaru’s EyeSight advanced safety tech suite is now standard equipment.
RAM already revealed their entrant into the emerging electric pickup wars with a visual preview of their new RAM EV at CES in Las Vegas. A more thorough-going look was provided at Chicago, including confirming the name the RAM 1500 REV. RAM is still keeping much a secret (awaiting a full reveal), so things like powertrain specs and other specifics aren’t yet available. There was still plenty to sus from the exterior of the truck alone including a new front end design that lacks a traditional grille, the lack of exterior door handles, rear hinged couch doors, and the new RAM script for the front-end badging. Inside the REV was stripped down aesthetic that centered on a dual paned infotainment screen likely to house many of the vehicles controls a la Tesla. Read more on the upcoming RAM 1500 REV here.
The family-friendly Toyota Highlander is getting a new, more accommodating version in the Grand Highlander. This larger version adds 4 inches to the wheelbase, 6.5-inches in total length. Much of that added space is devoted to expanding the Grand Highlander’s third row and cargo hold. The third row gains 5.5 inches of legroom, 1 inch in headroom, and 2 inches of shoulder space. The Grand Highlander will offer a choice of captain’s chairs or a bench for seating for up to eight passengers. Toyota hasn’t released final details but says the Grand Highlander will feature an exclusive Hybrid Max powertrain that will produce 362 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.
On the more frivolous end of the spectrum, there was the head-turning Rocket League F-150 on display. Designed especially for the Rocket League video game, the Rocket League Edition F-150 was the real life embodiment of the digital truck. The Rocket League Edition F-150 was perfectly styled for the part of video game pickup with a unique grille design, a blue paint job with highlighter green accenting, aggressive black cladding, and a faux rocket launcher in the bed of the truck.
The overarching theme of Dodge’s Last Call internal combustion vehicles is to harken back to the days when mpg was an afterthought. The 807 horsepower Challenger Black Ghost refers to a legendary Challenger owned by one Godfrey Qualls. Qualls once prowled the streets of Detroit in his 1970 426 Hemi-equipped Challenger, blowing the doors off his fellow drag racers before disappearing into the night, which is how his car earned the moniker, the Black Ghost. The Last Call Challenger Black Ghost references the original with cool details like its chrome gas cap, gator skin roof (emulating the original’s vinyl roof), and black-on-black styling with black brake calipers. Read more on Dodge’s Last Call vehicles, click here.
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