Best of the 2020 Chicago Auto Show: TCC picks the posh and practical

February 7, 2020

The 2020 Chicago Auto Show kicked off auto show season and gave car shoppers a preview of what they can expect on dealer lots later this year. The new cars shown off on Thursday's media day ranged from pure performance to posh and practical. We'll stick with the latter, even though the $750,000 Liquid Carbon limited edition 2020 Ford GT is auto show eye candy of the highest order. 

Here's a rundown of what's worth an extra look for shoppers during the show from Feb. 8-17, and later in the year at dealers. 

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

2021 Chrysler Pacifica, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Chrysler Pacifica, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Chrysler Pacifica, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Chrysler Pacifica, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

While snow swirled in from Lake Michigan, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles introduced the refreshed 2021 Chrysler Pacifica minivan in a snow globe. In addition to a revised front end, the winning minivan now offers all-wheel drive that can send 100% of the torque to the rear wheels. The Toyota Sienna, which is the only other minivan available with all-wheel drive, is in trouble. It also takes a bite out of the advantage of three-row crossover SUVs. The AWD Pacifica still comes with the clever and convenient Stow-N-Go second row seats that fold into the floor for voluminous cargo space. Interestingly, AWD will be available as soon as April on late 2020 models, before the 2021 rolls into lots in the third quarter. We'd advise waiting, as the 2021 model also features a new 10.1-inch touchscreen that controls the fifth generation of the Uconnect infotainment system, which was already one of the best in the business. The 2021 Pacifica also gets standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control that can bring the van to a stop. 

2021 Volkswagen Atlas

2021 Volkswagen Atlas

2021 Volkswagen Atlas

Volkswagen's large three-row crossover SUV gets a little larger with a 2021 refresh. It still looks conservative, but updated bumpers give it a little more flair. An extra 3 inches of length helps improve interior comfort. Most models will get more driver-assistance features as well as an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.  

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The redesigned 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 54 mpg highway, 52 combined. That represents a whopping 10 mpg improvement over the old model and makes it as efficient as the Toyota Prius Eco. Neat trick for a mid-size sedan that has quickly become one of the best in class. An available solar roof panel can add energy to both the hybrid system and the 12-volt battery and account for up to 700 miles of gas-free driving annually, according to Hyundai. The Sonata Hybrid can go more than 680 miles on a single tank. It's due in summer. 

2021 Genesis GV80, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Genesis GV80, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Genesis GV80, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Genesis GV80, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Genesis GV80, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2021 Genesis GV80, 2020 Chicago Auto Show

2020 Genesis GV80

Launched last week in Miami but shown off in full in Chicago, the first crossover SUV from Hyundai's luxury sub-brand Genesis is a real swell looker. Beyond the massive shield grille, the GV80 swaddles its interior with the finest luxury materials, including available quilted leather seats, a 14.5-inch infotainment touchscreen that can be controlled by a neat haptic dial in the wood-grain console, and all sorts of active safety features. It's powered by either a 2.5-liter turbo-4 or a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, both with an 8-speed automatic. Rear-wheel and all-wheel drive will be offered.

2020 Kia Cadenza

2020 Kia Cadenza

2020 Kia Cadenza

The refreshed 2020 Kia Cadenza was a surprise. Kia doesn't seem to need it as the sort-of full-size sedan splits the market with the Optima mid-size sedan, though with more luxury. Introduced last year in Kia's South Korean home, the 2020 Cadenza is offered in the U.S. in Technology and Limited trims. The subtly attractive Cadenza wears a more fluid front and rear, and the equipment highlights include a standard 12.3-inch infotainment screen and more active safety features.  

2020 Nissan Frontier

2020 Nissan Frontier

2020 Nissan Frontier

Here's an odd one. Nissan's old mid-size pickup truck, which hasn't been redesigned since 2005, gets a new engine and transmission that will carry over into the completely new model, which is set to launch for 2021. It's like dipping your big toe in the water. The 2020 Frontier will be powered by a 310-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 making 281 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired to a new-for-Frontier 9-speed automatic transmission, and buyers can opt for rear- or four-wheel drive. The old 5-speed manual and 2.5-liter inline-4 are history. The 2020 Frontier will arrive in showrooms in late spring and finish its run by the end of the year, so hurry and get it if you want standard manual windows. 


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