Here’s Our Take on the 2024 Chicago Auto ShowFebruary 9, 2024
We’re down on the show floor at the 2024 Chicago Auto Show, checking out a couple of reveals and a few models making their first public debut. Even in an automotive world that revolves around digital reveals more than ever, auto shows provide the public and media alike a chance to get up close to the latest models– and right now, Chicago is the place to be!
2025 Kia Carnival and K5
Starting off with the Carnival, the big news here is that the 3.5-liter V6 engine will be joined by an available 1.6-liter turbo-hybrid powertrain. This setup, which uses a 54kW electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission, is capable of 242 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. For comparison’s sake, the aforementioned V6 is capable of 287 horsepower and 260 lb-ft.
The aerodynamically designed 17-inch wheels are unique to the Carnival Hybrid, as are a few other features like regenerative braking; and E-Handling mode, said to improve vehicle responsiveness when cornering; and E-Ride, said to smooth out the ride thanks to tuned shocks; and E-Evasive Handling Assist, which kicks in during emergency steering to better control the vehicle.
The rest of the new design, however, is not unique to the hybrid. The Carnival takes on more design language from Kia’s SUV portfolio, introducing a bolder front fascia and new lighting elements all around. Moving inside, the dual 12.3-inch screens are still available for the infotainment/instrument panel combo; however, the base infotainment offering has grown to a 12-inch display, joined by a 4.2-inch TFT display with the gauges.
Moving on to Kia’s midsize sedan, the 1.6-liter turbo that once powered the K5 has been replaced by a 2.5-liter, naturally-aspirated motor. This results in a net gain of 11 horsepower, now up to 191 total; and torque is up to 181 lb-ft total. An eight-speed automatic channels power to the front wheels, though all-wheel drive is available on the GT-Line trim. For those wondering, the K5 GT’s powertrain is the same: A 2.5-liter turbo-4 producing 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, sent to the front wheels through an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission.
As expected, a new fascia and headlights gussy up the front, joined by new taillights in back. A few changes to the wheel lineup and trim-specific accents round out this exterior refresh, but nothing earth-shattering. Moving inside, a curved unit housing a digital 12-inch panel and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen is now available. The cabin sees a new HVAC and audio display with physical knobs, a revised center console with larger cup holders, and USB-C charge ports.
Pricing on both of these products is yet to be determined, but we’ll keep you posted when that news breaks. And in the meantime, be sure to go back and check out our nearly year-long test of this 2023 Kia Carnival, which won many of us over with its multi-purpose design.
2025 Ford Explorer
Making its first auto show debut is the 2025 Ford Explorer, refreshed and digitally unveiled prior to the festivities.
We’ve already covered it in greater detail, so be sure to check out the extended rundown. The TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) is that this midsize utility is not seeing any significant powertrain updates. Instead, a streamlined trim lineup, new looks and some fresh tech are the focal points. The exterior design mostly speaks for itself with the updated fascias and lighting elements; and the interior, while altered, remains largely the same. That’s barring the standard 12.3-inch instrument panel and 13.2-inch infotainment screen, the latter featuring smartphone integration and expanded voice assistance options. Ford’s hands-free driving suite, BlueCruise, is also available.
The 2025 Ford Explorer starts at $41,220, made in Chicago and available for order now.
Nissan Frontier Forsberg Edition and Ariya “Pole-to-Pole”
Another vehicle we’ve covered is the limited-edition Forsberg Edition package for the Nissan Frontier pickup. The kit, inspired by the truck that won the 2023 NORRA 500 stock production class, includes a slew of off-road add-ons. That means a NISMO suspension lift, forged upper control arms, 17-inch beadlock wheels and Yokohama Geolandar tires– just to name a few of the performance goodies buyers can expect. This kit can be installed by a dealership on any 2022 or newer Frontier, starting at $9,999.
Just over a year back, we covered this Nissan Ariya tricked out to traverse the globe, starting at the 1823 Magnetic North Pole and ending at the South Pole in Antarctica. Well, they’ve done it– Chris and Julie Ramsey, the husband and wife team, have completed their 10-month journey, circumnavigating 30,000 kilometers (at least 18,640 miles). The Ariya’s powertrain and battery was unmodified, with the only major changes being the widened fenders and 39-inch BF Goodrich tires.
Not exactly a new product reveal, but an interesting exhibit worth checking out.
2025 Chevrolet Equinox
The fourth-generation Chevrolet Equinox also technically isn’t a new product reveal, as we covered it a few weeks back; but, it is making its first auto show debut in Chicago, so it’s certainly worth covering the cliffnotes.
The new Equinox stays the course as a compact two-row utility. Under the hood, expect the same 1.5-liter turbo-4 pumping out 175 horsepower and up to 203 lb-ft of torque on all-wheel drive models. Those AWD units receive an eight-speed automatic transmission, while standard front-wheel drive models will rock a CVT.
The exterior is appropriately within the bounds of Chevrolet’s modern design themes, and the overall dimensions have stayed mostly the same, barring a 2.3-inch wider stance. Inside, the tech is appropriately updated. Expect an 11-inch instrument panel and an 11.3-inch infotainment screen featuring built-in Google services. Space in the center console has been freed up by moving the shifter to the column, and the dashboard itself has been pulled back for extra room upfront.
We expect these models to arrive by the end of the year.