Automakers Debut SUV Facelifts at the Chicago Auto Show

Bigger is better in Chicago this week, as automakers debut upgrades to their tried-and-true trucks and SUVs and leave their electric, self-driving technology at home.

The models on display at the Chicago Auto Show—the country’s biggest by square footage—indicate that high-margin, gasoline-powered vehicles still fuel consumer demand, even as they take a backseat to the battery and autonomous technology previewed at high-profile trade shows worldwide. Last year, U.S. sales of new trucks and SUVs outnumbered sedans two to one.

Long a bellwether of popular preference, Chicago’s annual show will play an even larger role once it moves to the top of the industry’s calendar next year. The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the historic season opener, plans to distance itself from January’s increasingly influential Consumer Electronics Show by moving to June, leaving Chicago to lead the lineup.

Here’s a look at the top SUV and truck reveals from the show floor this week.

2020 Nissan Rogue Sport

Nissan showcased its most popular model, the Rogue compact crossover, with an update to its smaller Sport configuration.

The 2020 Rogue Sport featured on the Chicago show floor displayed sportier exterior styling with a modernized grille and LED daytime running lights. All models will come equipped with Nissan Safety Shield 360, the automaker’s suite of driver assistance features including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert and radar-based blind spot warning.

The automaker also exhibited a special edition of its Pathfinder mid-size SUV. The 2019 Rock Creek Edition models a more rugged look with black accents and a standard trailer tow hitch.

2020 Range Rover Evoque

Range Rover launched the next generation of its smallest SUV, the Evoque, with a 16-foot, dirt-encrusted hill on the McCormick Place show floor to show its off-road prowess, terrain management system, and ClearSight Ground View camera system, which projects a 180-degree view beneath the hood to improve visibility.

Starting at $42,650, the compact SUV is also expected to provide an entry to the luxury brand for younger, urban-dwelling customers. Land Rover designed the Evoque’s footprint to maneuver in cramped quarters, while a slightly longer wheelbase adds legroom and cargo space.

Higher trims carry a new hybrid-electric powertrain, the brand’s first 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

Toyota Tacoma

Toyota revealed a refreshed version of its bestselling Tacoma pickup truck to stay sharp in the increasingly crowded midsize segment. For certain trims, the 2020 model receives a new front grille design, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat and an upgraded infotainment system that powers Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa.

Even as consumers prove willing to spend more money on luxury features for midsize pickups, Toyota ranks among several competitors bracing for the stateside arrival of the 2019 Ford Ranger, Europe’s top-selling truck, as well as the forthcoming Jeep Wrangler-based Gladiator.

Kia Sportage

Kia’s new eight-passenger Telluride full-size SUV earned headlines for the South Korean automaker since launching at the Detroit Auto Show last month, but its compact crossover stole the spotlight in Chicago.

Designed to challenge the bestselling Toyota RAV4, the 2020 Kia Sportage debuted a new steering wheel design, a standard 8-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and optional, higher-end upgrades including leatherette upholstery and wireless smartphone charging.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

It’s not an SUV, but Mazda brought the smallest show stealer, a 30th anniversary edition of its Miata in eye-catching racing orange paint, to the same stage where the roadster debuted in 1989.

Starting at $34,995, the MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition displays orange accents, orange brake calipers and forged aluminum wheels. Mazda is capping the sports car’s pearl anniversary production run at 3,000 units, with 500 earmarked for U.S. customers, which the Japanese automaker says were claimed within four hours of opening reservations.

CarsJaclyn TropFortune