2020 Chicago Auto Show recap: Debuts from Hyundai, VW and more

The first auto show of the calendar year kicked off with some big debuts from all corners of the industry.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
8 min read
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The auto show bought a new globe, and this one lights up!

Steven Pham/Roadshow

Now that Detroit's auto show takes place in June, Chicago is home to the first major auto show of the calendar year. Thus, the spotlight is on the Second City, and it appears automakers are plenty keen to bring new metal here, rather than Detroit.

This year's slew of debuts at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show cover all ends of the automotive spectrum. A supercar? Check. A mass-market crossover? Check. A 54-mpg hybrid? Check. Let's run down what's come out of Chicago this year.

2021 Chevy Equinox brings slicker looks to Chicago

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2021 Chevy Equinox

The Chicago Auto Show is always home to a number of the latest and greatest crossovers, which makes sense as it's the largest show in terms of foot traffic and consumers can never get enough crossovers. Chevrolet rolled out a few updates for one of its own at Chicago.

Say hello to the 2021 Chevrolet Equinox. Its refresh is largely aesthetic, with more aggressive taillights and a new front fascia that looks like a mix of the current Chevy Blazer and Honda CR-V. There's also a new RS trim for the Equinox that brings even darker styling cues to this crossover for the first time. There are a few new safety systems installed on the 2021 Equinox, too, including lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica S gets snazzy new looks

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2021 Chrysler Pacifica

It doesn't seem like all that long ago that Chrysler reinvented its minivan with the new Pacifica. But it's already time to run the refresh cycle on this family hauler.

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica brings both new features and a new look. The front end ditches the connection to the now-discontinued 200 sedan, and the rear end sharpens things up with new LED taillights. There's still a V6 under the hood, and a plug-in hybrid will still be available. That said, future Pacificas will come with the option for all-wheel drive, and they also run the latest version of Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment system. The Pacifica is one of our favorite minivans, and it'll be hard to see that change with these new updates.

2020 Ford GT gets an all-carbon-fiber look, updated retro livery

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Ford GT

While Ford still has two years of GTs left to build, that doesn't mean the company isn't making improvements to its sole supercar.

At the Chicago Auto Show, Ford rolled out the 2020 GT. The most notable update comes by way of the 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6, which has been boosted to 660 horsepower thanks to a whole host of upgrades to the engine internals and computer calibrations. The suspension has been revised, too. There's also a new Liquid Carbon motif that replaces the paint with clearcoat over bare carbon fiber. The 2020 model is still part of the standard GT allocation, and some owners should already be receiving the 2020 model on their driveways.

2021 Genesis GV80 hits the streets of Seoul

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Genesis GV80

Shortly after the world rang in 2020, Genesis entered the next step of its business plan and introduced the GV80 SUV. In Chicago, people will get to put their hands on this new luxury utility vehicle for the first time.

The GV80 is a stunner, with an exterior that looks like nothing else and an interior that puts a hefty priority on luxury. Its infotainment screen measures a whopping 14.5 inches, and the SUV will be available in five- and seven-seat configurations. Two engines will be on offer for US buyers -- a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 and a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6. We've already driven the GV80, and we have good things to say thus far.

2020 Honda Civic Type R
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2020 Honda Civic Type R

There's no escaping that wing, folks.


Honda Civic Type R

While many potential Honda Civic Type R buyers have clamored for a wingless version that tones down the boy-racer aesthetic, this hot hatch's 2020 upgrades are more about engineering and enhancing the driving experience even further.

The revised 2020 Honda Civic Type R made its debut in Chicago after first appearing in Tokyo earlier this year. In addition to rocking a new boost blue paint color, the updated CTR gets new brake rotors, new brake pads, new dampers and stiffer bushings. Inside, there's a new steering wheel and a whole suite of standard safety systems.

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is high fashion with low fuel consumption

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Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

What's better than a Hyundai Sonata? A Hyundai Sonata that gets fifty-freakin'-four miles per gallon on the highway, that's what.

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid takes the latest iteration of Sonata and gives it the usual treatment -- slap in a battery and a couple hybrid badges. The Sonata Hybrid is largely the same car as the regular Sonata, save for the electrified powertrain with a net output of 189 horsepower. It'll be capable of an EPA-estimated 54 mpg highway, but that's not even the wildest part. The roof contains solar panels that, over a year of decent sunlight, could add up to 800 miles of electric-only operation.

Here's the updated, 2021 Jaguar F-Type

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Jaguar F-Type

The 2021 Jaguar F-Type gives the automaker's two-door sports car a bit of a nip and tuck, and in Chicago, we finally learned more about its packaging and pricing. It'll start at $61,600 for a base coupe with an inline-4, moving up to $105,900 for a V8 in convertible form.

The F-Type's looks are largely the same, save for a new front end that looks a little more like the rest of the lineup. The interior picks up Jaguar's latest Touch Pro infotainment system that includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The chassis and its supporting bits have been tweaked to provide a little more stiffness and, thus, a little more fun on back roads. A 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 is the standard engine, but the F-Type can be fitted with everything up to a 575-horsepower V8.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave: The desert-rated runner

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Jeep Gladiator Mojave

Jeep loves to tout its whole "Trail Rated" moniker, and now it's devised an entirely new one.

The Jeep Gladiator Mojave became the first Jeep to earn a "Desert Rated" badge, promising more motive force in the dirt. It makes sense, then, that this vehicle debuted at both the Chicago Auto Show and The King of the Hammers off-road race simultaneously. To give the Gladiator this extra prowess, Jeep added in a Command-Trac four-wheel-drive system with a 2.72:1 low range, 2.5-inch internal bypass Fox shocks with external reservoirs, a 1-inch lift and more. It's only available with a 3.6-liter V6, but both manual and automatic transmissions are available.

Jeep Wrangler, Gladiator High Altitude models rock some big wheels

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Jeep High Altitude models

Some special editions cover more than one model. In this case, Jeep rolled out not one but two models with a new High Altitude trim.

The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Gladiator both picked up High Altitude trims at the Chicago Auto Show. Not only does this trim include the first 20-inch wheels offered on either of these models, it places a higher focus on comfort with a Nappa leather interior, body-colored parts galore and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. These fraternal twins go on sale later this year.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon
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Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon

A little extra style never hurts, although neither do Dana axles.


Jeep Wrangler Recon

There's always room for another special-edition Jeep . The latest generation of Jeep Wrangler is still mighty fresh, but at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, Jeep will bring a new trim level that offers different looks and capabilities.

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon blends off-road prowess with a little more style. Under the body live two Dana solid axles, in addition to a Rock-Trac transfer case and electronically locking differentials. To give it a little bit of thrift, the Rubicon Recon will rock FCA's 2.0-liter mild hybrid system.

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The Cadenza basically looks a bigger Optima, and that's great.


Kia Cadenza

Bet you didn't see this one coming. Heck, I bet you might not even know what a Kia Cadenza is. But you should.

Kia's 2020 Cadenza lives just above the Optima, and most of its changes bring the former closer to the aesthetic of the latter. That's a very good thing, and it appears to work well with the Cadenza's larger size. The interior is mighty fine, too, with more wood and better materials. If you love screens, you'll dig the 12.3-incher that can hang out smack dab in the middle of the dashboard. Safety tech has also been given a big boost, with a whole bunch of kit now coming standard.

Mercedes-Benz Metris Weekender is working for the weekend

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Mercedes-Benz Metris Weekender

The Mercedes-Benz Metris is a mighty capable cargo van, and now, it's spawning a variant that will appeal to a whole new segment: avid campers.

The Mercedes-Benz Metris Weekender takes all the benefits of a spacious van and adds some additional camping flexibility on top. Literally -- there's a pop-up camper atop the van that lets the whole shebang sleep four adults without succumbing to cabin fever. If you're worried about power, there's a second battery to keep things juiced up. Heck, you can even opt for solar panels if you're really venturing off the grid.

Toyota's sexed-up Highlander XSE debuts at the Chicago Auto Show

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Toyota Highlander XSE

A sportier Toyota Highlander? You better believe it, bub.

In today's edition of "Things We Didn't Know We Needed Until the 2020 Chicago Auto Show," we have the 2021 Toyota Highlander XSE. Like other XSE trims across Toyota's lineup, this one is about sporting pretensions. To that end, the Highlander XSE has some more aggressive body panels, stiffer springs and a 295-horsepower V6. Front- and all-wheel drive are both available, as is some seriously loud red leather.

Nightshade editions of the Toyota Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia are in the works

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Toyota Nightshade editions

Not everyone likes brightwork. For those among us, Toyota's Nightshade special-edition trucks are for you.

Toyota will offer Nightshade variants on the Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner and Sequoia. These trims ditch the shiny stuff and opt for darkness throughout. Blacked-out exterior trim abounds, and dark chrome extends to the grille. Inside, there's (surprise!) black leather, and... that's about it. It's nothing too crazy, just a fun option to pick if you want to stand out a bit more in the Hy-Vee parking lot.

Toyota offers yet another special edition of the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner

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Toyota Trail editions

Special editions, special editions, special editions. Not only does the Chicago Auto Show love these lightly tweaked creations, Toyota is happy to deliver 'em.

Toyota rolled out Trail editions of its Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner. Meant, like many special editions are, to add a bit of style and substance but not too much, these vehicles are offered in four colors and come with a buyer's choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. Based on the not-too-high SR5 trim of each vehicle, there are differences between each model, but most are gussied up similarly with unique wheels, new trim bits and other light stuff. All three should be out in the summer, just in time to hit the trails.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas has sharper looks and more safety features

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VW Atlas

might have just unveiled the Atlas Cross Sport, a two-row variant of its three-row crossover, so the OEM returned to the drawing board to give the larger Atlas a little bit of a freshening.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas picks up new looks that bring its style closer in line with the Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are standard, and the whole aesthetic is just a bit beefier than before. Inside, there's a new steering wheel (with the new VW logo, natch) and an 8-inch infotainment screen with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard on all but the bottom trim. It'll be on sale later this year.

Originally published earlier this week and updated as new vehicles are announced.