Truth be told, this year’s Chicago Auto Show brought out a lot of good stuff. We even cataloged the best of the best right here in a convenient list format, just in case you wanted to see what we’re on about. But, given CAS’s positioning between the Detroit Auto Show and Geneva Motor Show, events considered to be two of the most important auto shows in the domestic and international markets respectively, there’s always bound to be a few throwaway debuts in Chi Town. And that’s exactly what we saw in 2018, where the big makes brought out disappointments that included an update which was basically a rehash, plus a pair of yawn-worthy new crossover trim levels. Hell, there was even an entire booth that had us scratching our heads as to why it was there. So put on your troll face and click on as we explore the worst in show at CAS 2018.
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The “New” Fiat 500
There’s a lot to like about the Fiat 500. It’s small and stylish, with just the right measurements and aesthetic to tackle the rigors of urban driving. So when Fiat announced it was bringing the turbo 1.4-liter MultiAir engine to the entire 500 line, our first reaction was a positive one. Because of course, who wouldn’t want forced induction motivation on a platform like this, right? After all, it works so well for the Abarth…
Not so fast. As it turns out, the turbo four-banger in question is actually four years old, first dropping on the 500 Turbo model back in 2013. Output is more or less identical to what we saw back then, topping out at 135 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. Granted, that’s a massive 34 ponies and 52 pound-feet over the naturally aspirated powerplant it replaces, but it leaves us asking why Fiat didn’t just keep the turbo ’four as standard from the start.
To compound the issue, Fiat says the new 500 arrives with a “sportier appearance,” but we’re struggling to see it. Sure, there’s a few tweaks to the front and rear fascias, new fog lamps, and a subtle roof spoiler, but to our eyes, it’s pretty much the same Italian sub-compact we’ve seen in the past.
At least it still sounds great, right?
Read our full story on the turbo 2018 Fiat 500C.
Over the course of the past few years, Chicago has established itself as a popular venue to debut both new trim levels and new crossovers. With the Chevy Traverse RS, we got both.
This latest RS kicks off with the traditional round of black trim upgrades, including dark finishes for the grille, window surrounds, and roof rails. In the corners, you’ll find 20-inch wheels in a Dark Android gun metal finish. All told, the aesthetic changes improve the look, although we’re struggling to figure out why Chevy didn’t offer it like this from the factory. Strike one.
While the new trim bits are to be expected, Chevy also felt the need to introduce a new turbocharged engine spec with the model. Mounted under the hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 257 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, with output routed through a nine-speed automatic transmission, all of which hits the ground through the front wheels exclusively. Compared to the 3.6-liter V-6 option, that’s a gain of 29 pound-feet, but a loss of a whopping 53 ponies. Strike two.
In our opinion, the new engine definitely makes the Traverse RS a better daily driver, but at the end of the day, there’s really nothing sporty at all about this mid-size SUV. In reality, it just feels like Chevy is changing up the configuration and adding performance cues to see if it can squeeze out a few more sales, and that’s a strike three. Instead, we think the Bow Tie should reserve the RS “Rally Sport” connotation for its more exciting models. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again – adding black trim does not make something a sports car!
Read our full story on the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse RS.
Following the reveal of the performance-minded Edge ST in Detroit, Ford brought out a new trim level for the popular crossover in Chicago, introducing a prim and proper luxury version dubbed the Titanium Elite. Updates include further body-colored trim pieces, a “premium” skid plate, and unique 20-inch wheels. There’s also a few bits and bobs in the interior as well. The rest of the mechanical spec goes unchanged.
It definitely makes sense. After all, Ford has seen an uptick in top-trim level sales as of late, so why not just add another option for consumers to pick through? Thing is, we’re not really digging the Titanium Elite. The upgrades are just so, well, lame – I mean, a premium skid plate? Seriously? We all knew the vast majority of off-roader design cues on modern SUVs and crossovers were nothing more than aesthetics, but this is getting out of hand, don’tcha think?
Read our full story on 2018 Ford Edge Titanium Elite.
Auto shows are expensive, but if it means getting a ton of eyeballs on a new product, the high costs might be worth it. Unfortunately for Maserati, the Italian brand really hasn’t had anything new to offer since it revealed the Levante SUV at the Geneva Motor Show back in 2016. Regardless, Maserati still felt it was necessary to attend Chicago with its full lineup.
Seriously, why even bother to show up, Maserati? We’ve already see all these things before, and the updates you’re touting as model refreshes are so small, we can barely even notice them. To be honest, you’re copping this haughty, Ferrari-esque attitude, which would be fine if, you know, you were actually Ferrari.
Read the full story here.
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