The Chicago Auto Show has long been a haven for truck introductions, and this year’s edition was no exception. Chevrolet, Nissan, and Toyota all showed off new trucks, while competitors rolled out concept cars and production vehicles.
We were there and are now bringing it to you! From pickups and concepts to hybrids and electrics, we offer some of the eye-catching new designs from the nation’s largest auto show.
Click on Nissan's Frontier Diesel Runner pickup below to start the slideshow.
At the Chicago show, Nissan rolled out the Frontier Diesel Runner pickup, a “project truck” that will help the company’s executives gauge market reaction to a Nissan mid-size pickup with a diesel engine. Its 2.8-liter, four-cylinder Cummins diesel produces about 200 HP and 350 lb-ft of torque, while boosting fuel economy by 35 percent over a V-6-powered, two-wheel drive version of the Frontier. (Source: Jeff Granbery for Nissan)
What I find interesting on the off-road angle is that they are all huge trucks, which if you really did alot of off-roading you would find them problematic as far as the long wheelbase and wide body is concerned. I'm sure they have limited approach and departure angles, and not as well suited as short-wheelbase vehicles in tight turning situations, such as tight wooded trails. As far as the farm angle is concerned, don't really see how that fits in to the whole off-road category, any wide bed truck is suitable for farming, and certainly not necessary to be all 'rigged-out' like these trucks. Think this is more of playing into 'macho' psyche.
I agree for the most part, however you do have to give kudos to truck Mfg's for trying to be more fuel efficient. Sure why own a truck when a more efficient car would suffice, however I feel this line of thinking gives Mfg's an 'out' for actually trying to develop an efficient truck. On the other hand I also despise those touting supposedly "efficient" cars that get less than 40MPG.
But if there was a small truck that got 40+ mpg why not opt for something like that which might me more versatile to some, so I do think one has to give credit where credit is due, but then again most people only interested in trucks is because they look "manly". But I especially liked the small Nissan diesel; the Kia Niro hybrid had some impressive ground clearance if your into the outdoors. However its unlikely that either will see the light of day. Think 2 years ago Toyota had a prius "truck", and Jeep had a diesel electric hybrid wrangler – both with impressive MPG for the time but sadly neither went anywhere.
You make a good cultural point. Trucks aren't purpose-driven vehicles anymore. I think this trend started in the early 1970's when "powder puff" trucks began to appear. Before that, trucks were the cheapest vehicles on the dealers' lots and you could clean out the cab with a garden hose.
Many pickups seem to be driven for purposes where a compact car would serve just as well. If the drivers' goal is simply to waste gas, why not drive a little car and punch a leak in the fuel tank to accomplish the same waste? Or skip the leak and just burn the saved money.
I don't think there's a growing emphasis on off-road, naperlou. The Chicago Auto Show has always been the show where new trucks are introduced, presumably because the Midwest (outside Chicago) is less urban. Years ago, I even talked to auto companies that went out of their way to hire Midwestern graduates -- kids from Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, etc -- to design and engineer their pickup trucks.
Chuck, I am interested in the off-road emphasis. Do you see a lot more of this going on? I get out into the country and most people there going off-road use older vehicles. The idea of banging around off-road in a new vehicle seems a little crazy to me. Of course, these are mostly farmers, and they are generally very practical.
The Maserati is really nice. Actually, we just got a new Maserati dealer here in Naperville. I guess that means we are moving up in the world.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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