LET IT SHOW
Auto shows typically focus on what’s down the road, product-wise. But every so often they provide an opportunity to reflect. This year’s Chicago Auto Show, which today starts its 10-day run at the Windy City’s McCormick Place convention center, is one of those occasions.
Peer into the rearview mirror and think back to 1984. The Los Angeles summer Olympics proved a resounding success despite the Soviet Union boycotting the games. Apple’s masterful Super Bowl commercial heralded the advent of the Macintosh computer, promising that George Orwell’s vision of 1984 wouldn’t come to pass. The national median sales price of a new house in February was $79,200.
1984 also happens to be when the Plymouth Voyager ushered in the age of the modern minivan.
In Chicago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is displaying upcoming 35th anniversary editions of its 2019 Chrysler Pacifica, Pacifica Hybrid and Dodge Grand Caravan.
The Pacifica anniversary editions, available with the Touring L, Touring L Plus and Limited trims, will have all-black interiors with cranberry wine accent stitching on perforated leather seats, steering wheel and door trim. Outside are a 35th Anniversary badge and “liquid chrome” Chrysler wing badges.
On gas-powered Pacificas, the eight-passenger Touring L has memory driver’s seat, 18-inch wheels and an overhead DVD system. The Touring L Plus adds a dual-pane sunroof, while the Limited gets 20-inch wheels. The 35th anniversary hybrid Pacifica comes as either a Touring L or Limited. The former includes Uconnect 4C navigation with 8.4-inch display, 17-inch wheels and a 13-speaker audio system. The hybrid Pacifica Limited adds 20-inch wheels.
The SE or SXT trims are the starting points for Dodge’s Grand Caravan anniversary special. The special edition includes 17-inch aluminum wheels, 35th anniversary fender badges and a bright grille. The all-black interior again features cranberry wine accent stitching on the seats, steering wheel and door trim, and piano-black console and instrument panel accents. The front floor mats of all 35th anniversary editions will feature special embroidered logos. The SE Grand Caravans come with Stow ’n Go second-row bucket seats and a power driver’s seat. The SXT, meanwhile, adds navigation radio, heated front seats and steering wheel and window shades for the second row.
Ordering will open in the spring with the anniversary minivans arriving this summer.
It’s a given Chicago will be cold outside, but FCA’s Ram division is betting that its “Mopar-ized” Ram 2500 heavy duty will be warmly received by pickup fans. Mopar, FCA’s parts and service arm, will offer more than 170 items for the revamped 2500 HD.
The monochromatic blue show pickup, based on the revamped 2019 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Big Horn with 6.4-liter V8, is enhanced with Mopar accessories that will be ready when the new heavy duty arrives this spring. There are also some goodies that Ram calls “conceptual products.”
Mopar parts include a black powder-coated Ram Bar in the bed that’s topped with five 5-inch LED off-road lights, each rated at 4,800 lumens. There’s also a switch bank inside the cab to integrate the Mopar LED lights and auxiliary equipment.
A rear bed step, a production Mopar option, lowers for easy access when the tailgate is up or down and retracts with a gentle push. A set of Mopar off-road wheel flares offers additional protection and is designed to heighten the 2500 HD’s rugged appearance.
One-off (for now) off-road rock rails are powder-coated and provide protection for driving trails, while aggressive Goodyear tires are mounted on custom-milled concept beadlock 17-inch wheels. In the bed area, a spare tire carrier accommodates tires with diameters of up to 37 inches.
The redesigned Ram heavy Duty’s interior is complemented by Mopar brushed stainless steel doorsill guards, while waterproof Mopar all-weather floor mats help defend against water, slush and spills from wayward stacks of take-out meals.
Working closely with Ram engineers and product designers, Mopar invested thousands of hours of testing and validation, using information it doesn’t share with the aftermarket, so that its parts for the new 2019 Ram heavy duty meet the manufacturer’s strict standards.
Versatile new tailgate
For truck users, a showstopper has to be Ram’s nifty new multifunction tailgate for Ram 1500s. Not only do owners keep the capabilities of a fully dampened, drop-down tailgate with remote release options, the new tailgate has 60-40 split dual side-hinged doors that ease access to the Ram 1500’s bed, making loading bulky item easier. Being able to get closer to the bumper also makes unloading and cleaning out the bed a snap. Ram says the trailer-friendly tailgate — the trailer and hitch don’t have to be removed before opening — also allows forklift loading.
“The bed is a feature that makes pickup trucks unique, so pioneering innovations such as RamBox, payload camera, bed divider, and now our new multi-function tailgate, capitalize on the space, giving customers one more reason to cross-shop a Ram 1500 against a number of vehicles,” said Nick Cappa, a Ram spokesman.
Packaged with a spray-in liner, the Ram multifunction tailgate has four configurations: open flat, open left door only, open right door only and open both doors. Each door swings open 88 degrees. An optional center-mounted step improves access even further.
Nissan ‘Rock Creek’ Pathfinder
Nissan always has a presence at the Chicago Auto Show and this year it unveiled its new Rock Creek Edition package for the 2019 Pathfinder. Priced at $995, the Rock Creek bundle includes dark 18-inch wheels with 255/60R18 all-season tires, black mesh grille, black roof rails, black door handles and outside rearview mirrors, black front and rear fascia accents and license plate finisher.
Interior updates include unique Rock Creek Edition two-tone seating surfaces and badging, high-contrast stitching on seats, door, console lid and steering wheel and upgraded metallic interior trim.
Every Rock Creek Edition will also have a standard trailer tow hitch and harness and splashguards. Both 2WD and 4WD Pathfinders have 6,000-pound tow ratings.
The package will be available this spring on both 4WD and 2WD Pathfinders.
2020 Rogue Sport
Nissan also took the wraps off its updated 2020 Rogue Sport. The compact crossover utility vehicle gets a new front-end, redesigned rear tail lamps, revised trim level and option packages. On sale this fall, the 2020 Rogue Sport will offer ProPILOT Assist and an updated audio system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Nissan’s Safety Shield 360, available with current SV and SL grades, will be standard on all 2020 Rogue Sports, including the entry S grade. Part of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility strategy, Safety Shield 360 includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, lane departure warning, radar-based blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and high beam assist.