2019 Chicago Auto Show recap: Big debuts from Mazda, Toyota, Subaru and more

Chicago might not be the biggest event on this year's auto show calendar, but several automakers are nevertheless bringing a number of important debuts.

Manuel Carrillo III Automotive Reviews Editor
A Porsche 911 S brought Manuel Carrillo III home from the hospital after he was born, so it's no surprise his lifelong trajectory has centered on cars, leading him to a robust career creating rich automotive media for publications prior to joining CNET.

The Southern California native briefly lived in Sydney, and is proud to have developed a barely passable Aussie accent. He also serves on the board of directors of the Motor Press Guild. When not reviewing cars or nerding out on OEM premium audio, you can find manual-labor-averse Manuel doing his best to convince his closest friends to fix the very Porsche that delivered him home.
Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Manuel Carrillo III
Steven Ewing
9 min read

The 2019 Chicago Auto Show media days have come and gone. And while the Windy City expo wasn't quite as impressive as the Detroit Auto Show last month, a number of important cars greeted the world under the McCormick Place lights this week.

The show officially opens to the public from Feb. 9 to 18. Before you go, here's our spotter's guide to all the new hotness. Be sure to scroll through our Chicago Auto Show landing page for all of our coverage from the past week.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo used the Chicago Auto Show to debut a new variant of its 4C Spider. This special Italia edition of Alfa's two-seater was first seen at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, but its US-specific information remained a mystery until this week.

You'll be able to spot the 4C Spider Italia thanks to its exclusive Misano Blue Metallic paint job, piano black front air intake and rear diffuser, and special graphics on its sides. That said, you probably won't see many at all, since only 15 are destined for US soil.

Watch this: 2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia will be an exclusive specimen

2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia: Sports car exclusivity for 15

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Cadillac's XT4 and XT6 crossovers may earn the bulk of headlines these days, but the midsize XT5 is still a strong seller. To that end, Cadillac is giving its XT5 a Sport package for 2019, though it's sporty in name only.

Available on the Luxury and Premium Luxury trims, the XT5 Sport Package gets a new grille, LED headlights, clear taillight lenses, some side steps and 20-inch wheels. Click here to read more.

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Borrowing a little bit of the Escalade's fancy chrome isn't a bad idea.



Back in December when Chevrolet revealed the 2020 Silverado HD, we called it "910 pound-feet of ugly," with the kind of face that borrows too much DNA from the 5-ton air conditioning condenser unit sitting outside your house.

Does Chevy's big, honkin' pickup look better in the flesh? Not really. Regardless, it's sure to get a lot of work done. For now, Chevrolet is saying this will be the most capable Silverado HD yet, and with the ability to tow as much as 35,500 pounds, that's a claim we surely believe. Head over here to get the full Silverado HD details.

Watch this: 2020 Chevy Silverado HD is a 35,500-pound-towing brute

The 2020 Chevy Silverado HD gets a new look to match its capability

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Chrysler is celebrating 35 years of making minivans with the 2019 35th anniversary edition. It all really amounts to an appearance package, but a nice one, at that, featuring a black, Nappa leather interior spiced up with some Cranberry Wine accent stitching. The 35th Anniversary Edition Pacifica hits dealerships this summer, with pricing starting around $38,000, and $46,000 for the top-shelf Limited trim. For more about the 35th Anniversary Edition Pacifica birthday van, head here.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Caravan special editions are minivan marvels

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With one of the most maniacal product lineups in the history of the automobile, you can always trust Dodge to bring plenty of color to wherever it shows up. This year in Chicago, the brand is quite literally bringing some color to the show floor in the form of Sublime green paint for the Challenger and Charger. This specific hue hasn't seen duty on a Challenger since 2015 and since 2007 for the Charger. For more about this color's availability in 2019, head over to our Challenger and Charger coverage here.

Like the Chrysler Pacifica mentioned earlier, the 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan also gets a similar 35th Anniversary Edition treatment, which you can read more about here.

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You green with envy, brah?



The current generation of the F-Series Super Duty has been on sale for three years. That means it's due for a mid-cycle refresh, which will be shown to the public for the first time at the Chicago Auto Show.

The visual updates are light, but the tech updates are more significant as the Super Duty will be adding features like pedestrian-detecting collision-mitigation braking, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams and Pro Trailer Backup Assist. New features inside include wireless smartphone charging and USB Type C ports. There are also two new V8 engines -- including a 7.3-liter monster -- and a new 10-speed automatic transmission, which you can read about in our F-Series Super Duty article here.

Watch this: The 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty gets new engines and way more safety tech

The 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty gets a new look and more capability

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The Chicago Auto Show isn't a motorcycle show, nor is Harley-Davidson getting into the business of making automobiles, but you may recall a time when the bar and shield adorned Ford F-Series pickups. That co-branding is making a comeback, as Harley-Davidson is using the Chicago show to debut its new take on the Ford F-150.

Back in September, we reported that the  Tuscany Motor Company revealed an H-D F-150 concept. As it turns out, the Harley-Davidson version looks pretty similar, and costs a whopping $85,000. Power comes from Ford's 5.0-liter V8, though buyers can opt for a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 if they wish. Click here to read the full details.

Watch this: Harley-Davidson-themed 2019 Ford F-150 debuts at the Chicago Auto Show

You can now get a Harley-Davidson-inspired 2019 Ford F-150

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Kia will mostly use the Chicago show to bring its 2020 Telluride to another city, the big SUV having just debuted in Detroit. But we'll also see a couple of updates to mainstay Kia cars, including the Forte and Sportage.

First up, the Forte gets a new GT-Line treatment, which is mostly a styling upgrade. If you're looking for the 201-horsepower, turbocharged version of the Forte sedan, that's just called the GT, and it debuted at SEMA last year.

Watch this: 2020 Kia Forte GT-Line focuses on the bark, not the bite

2020 Kia Forte GT-Line debuts at Chicago Auto Show with racy accents

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Kia is also using the Chicago Auto Show to bring us the updated, 2020 Sportage. The overall package doesn't change too much, but the Sportage wears new front and rear fascias, and gets a smattering of new driver assistance tech.

Click here to learn more about the Forte GT-Line, and head over here to get all the details about the updated Sportage.

Watch this: 2020 Kia Sportage grows up for the Chicago Auto Show

2020 Kia Sportage wears a fresh new look at the Chicago Auto Show

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Land Rover

Days before the LA Auto Show last November, Land Rover unveiled the all-new 2020 Range Rover Evoque in London. We initially assumed we'd see the US-spec version shortly thereafter, but then Land Rover folks confirmed the small SUV wouldn't see US soil until the Chicago show.

The new Evoque gets improved (more Velar-inspired) looks, a higher-quality interior, an available mild-hybrid powertrain and a significant infusion of the latest and greatest tech, including an AI-infused Smart Setting system that can learn a driver's preferred settings for things like music, interior climate and seat adjustments. Find out more about the all-new Evoque here.

Watch this: 2020 Range Rover Evoque brings new mild hybrid tech

2020 Range Rover Evoque looks more like a Range Rover than ever

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Lexus is bringing another Inspiration Series model into the world -- this time, in the form of the seductive LC 500 coupe. Whereas the last Lexus LX Inspiration Series made the Lexus LX 570 look as though it was in mourning, the LC, instead, is dressed decidedly brighter, wearing Flare Yellow paint, yellow accents adorning the cockpit and a dash of extra carbon fiber inside and out.

Like every Inspiration Series vehicle preceding it, this really only amounts to an appearance package, but with a 5.0-liter, 471-horsepower V8 engine powering what looks like a barely road-legal concept car, $106,210 is a small price to pay for a machine that easily competes with Aston Martins costing twice as much. Oh, but if you want this special LC, you'll have to act with haste; Lexus is only building 100 of them. Read more about the LC 500 Inspiration Series here.

If you're looking for something more practical, Lexus is also debuting the 2019 NX F Sport Black Line Special Edition. The special model, limited to a production run of 1,000, will add accouterments like a 14-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system. You can read all about the special NX here.

2019 Lexus LC Inspiration is all about that yellow

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Thirty years ago at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, Mazda revealed the MX-5 Miata, a car that was built specifically to yank at the heartstrings of car enthusiasts the world over. Ever since then, the Miata has yet to lift off the throttle. It arguably looks better than ever, and with a recent 26-pony shot in the arm for its 2.0-liter, 181-horsepower four-cylinder engine, it performs better than ever, too.

To commemorate 30 visceral years, Mazda is debuting the MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition in the same city where the Miata's story (at least in the public eye) first began. It builds on the Grand Touring trim, but adds a special Racing Orange exterior color, dark-finish Rays wheels, Recaro seats, Brembo front brakes and Bilstein dampers (on manual transmission models, anyway). Only 3,000 will be made, with just 500 coming to the US. For more information, read our full story on this very special Miata.

Watch this: 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition is a vibrant celebration

Orange you glad it's time for a 30th Anniversary Edition Mazda MX-5 Miata?

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Mopar -- Fiat-Chrysler's parts and accessories division -- usually brings a nice updo or two to the Chicago show. This year, Mopar's attention focuses on the recently revealed Ram HD pickup; some 170 add-ons will soon be available for the heavy-duty truck.

The show truck wears Blue Streak paint and comes with a 6.4-liter V8, and Mopar adds a sport bar in the bed, with 5-inch LED off-road lights mounted on top. A rear bed step and fender flares are also along for the ride, as well as 17-inch beadlock wheels. Click here to read about all the Mopar upgrades for the Ram HD.

Watch this: The 2019 Ram 2500 HD gets 170 new aftermarket parts from Mopar

2019 Ram 2500 HD gets accessorized with Mopar goodies

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Nissan has a pair of crossover-shaped debuts for the Chicago Auto Show. The first is a special edition of a well-liked SUV, and the other is a substantial refresh of a smaller crossover.

The Rock Creek Edition is simply a $995 rugged interior and exterior appearance package, but your extra dough also gets you a sweet set of wheels, along with splash guards and a trailer hitch with a wiring harness. You can read more about the Rock Creek Pathfinder here.

2019 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek package debuts in Chicago

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Next, the Rogue Sport gets a slight overhaul for 2020, though the compact crossover largely stays the course. You'll be able to spot an updated Rogue Sport thanks to its slimmer, more attractive headlamps.

The Rogue Sport's big upgrade is on the safety tech front. Nissan now makes its Safety Shield package standard, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and automatic high beams. Read more about the new Rogue Sport here.

Watch this: 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport brings a fresh face to Chicago

2020 Nissan Rogue Sport looks sharp in its refreshed skin

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Fiat-Chrysler's truck manufacturer has a couple of big news items for this year's Chicago show. After all, the Chevy and Ford truck folks can't have all the fun, right?

For the light-duty 1500 truck, Ram introduces a new multifunction tailgate that has a 60/40 split down the middle. This means owners can raise or lower the tailgate as usual, or swing either side open to access smaller items. It's a pretty nifty solution, and certainly offers an alternative to the GMC Sierra's trick new tailgate.

Finally, after showing the full-on Ram 2500 and 3500 Heavy Duty models in Detroit, the truckmaker is bringing its Chassis Cab configurations to Chicago. The upfit-ready trucks get more power, better tech and a lot more safety features. Read all about 'em, here.

Watch this: 2019 Ram 1500 adds split-opening Multifunction tailgate for easier bed access

Ram's Multifunction Tailgate adds a 60-40 split

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One of the most significant reveals in Chicago is the new Subaru Legacy. We were initially wowed by the Legacy's large, portrait-oriented Starlink infotainment system touchscreen, which takes a page from the vertically oriented units in the Tesla Model S and Model X as well as the Ram 1500 and Volvo's Sensus Connect interface. Thankfully, Subaru has left us physical buttons for often-tinkered-with functions such as the volume, radio tuning and temperature controls.

But there's more good news for Legacy fans. The turbocharged engine is back. In addition to a base, 2.5-liter H4 engine, the Legacy is available with the 2.4-liter turbocharged H4 engine we first tested in the Ascent SUV. All-wheel drive is, of course, standard, and every single Legacy gets the company's suite of EyeSight driver assistance tech. Click here for more details.

Watch this: 2020 Subaru Legacy becomes a more interesting midsize sedan

2020 Subaru Legacy: A new platform and turbo perk up Subaru's midsize sedan

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Toyota has a healthy lineup of debuts this year in Chicago, the biggest of which is the refreshed 2020 Tacoma. The updates aren't too extensive, but hey, the truck finally gets Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even Amazon Alexa. Otherwise, it's the same Tacoma we've known for a while, but for pickup buyers, that's just fine.

Toyota will also be debuting the 2020 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition to celebrate the storied off-roader's 60 years -- one-sixth of which have been consumed by the current-gen beast. Yep, it's due for a redesign.

Watch this: 2020 Toyota Tacoma piles on the tech in Chicago

2020 Toyota Tacoma takes a bow at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show

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A pair of new TRD-badged SUVs make their debut in Chicago, as well. First, the Sequoia gets a new TRD Pro trim, which adds some cool design and off-road worthiness the older-than-dirt, last-generation Tundra-based SUV. In fact, the entire TRD Pro lineup gets a few changes as we head into the 2020 model year -- most importantly, better infotainment tech with smartphone compatibility.

Finally, the TRD badge gets slapped on the RAV4 crossover, for a new Off-Road trim that looks to slot above the Adventure model. The biggest upgrade here is a beefier suspension that should be better, um, off road. Read more about it here.

Watch this: 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road is ready to get dirty

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro joins an off-road-friendly family

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The Jetta GLI is back, as the sedan-shaped brother to the wonderful Golf GTI. The GLI builds on all of the things we like about the Jetta -- mostly its onboard tech -- and adds some great performance upgrades.

For starters, the Jetta GLI gets the same 2.0-liter turbo I4 engine as the GTI, with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available as an option. A multilink rear suspension, electronic front differential and larger brakes will help it be a whole lot better to drive, too. Read more about the new Jetta GLI here.

Watch this: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI finally packs GTI power and performance

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI gets sporty looks to match its 228 hp

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