The Best Cars and Trucks (And One Cool Camper) At The 2020 Chicago Auto Show


With the annual Detroit Auto Show officially moved from January to June, many in the industry reasoned that the 2020 Chicago Auto Show (which runs from February 8 to February 17) would experience an uptick in the number of debuts. They were half-right. While the rescheduling failed to produce a glut of high-profile world premieres for the Windy City, a wave of special editions and model refreshes filled the void.

From a sleek, carbon fiber finish for the Ford GT to a luxurious new SUV from Genesis to a seriously rugged Jeep Gladiator, the sheer diversity of vehicles speaks volumes about the size and scope of the Chicago Auto Show. Here are eight models that stand out this year.

2021 Jaguar F-Type

Of all the models in Jaguar’s current lineup, the F-Type represents the purest modern interpretation of the iconic sports cars of its heyday. Refreshed for 2021 with a larger grille, slimmer headlamps and reshaped front and rear bumpers, the base F-Type P300 model with a 296-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder and rear-wheel drive is priced at $61,600. The convertible variant is $64,700. A First Edition P300 model with specific trim bits is available in black, gray or white for $73,100 for the coupe or $75,400 for the convertible.

The F-Type R-Dynamic offers a 380-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6, standard all-wheel drive, brake-based torque vectoring and a limited-slip differential is on offer for $81,800 for the coupe and $84,900 for the convertible. Power mongers will certainly appreciate the F-Type R, which sports a 575-horsepower supercharged 5.0-liter V8 under the hood—that’s 25 more ponies than the 2020 model, but who’s counting? Pricing starts at $103,200, for the coupe and $105,900 for the convertible. Jaguar is claiming the car will sprint from 0 mph to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, on to a top speed of 186 mph.

2021 Genesis GV80

Hyundai’s premium division, Genesis, continues to spread its wings, the new GV80 marking its entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Revealed at media events first in Korea and shortly after in Miami, the Chicago Auto Show is the first opportunity for the general public to get up close with GV80 Flagship SUV.

Positioned to take the fight to the BMW X5, Lexus RX and Mercedes-Benz GLE, the rear- or all-wheel drive GV80 is offered with a choice of two of either a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, each paired with 8-speed automatic transmission. The GV80 features the brand’s familiar styling inside and out and is expected to hit showrooms in the summer. Pricing is not known, but expect the GV80 to start at around $50,000, with top-tier models at the $70,000 mark.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave

The Jeep Gladiator has proven itself as a capable factory trail rig, but it lacks the specialized hardware necessary for high-speed desert travel. The new 2020 Gladiator—which was introduced in a hilarious Super Bowl commercial starring Bill Murray—aims to right that wrong. Featuring a laundry list of hardware including FOX 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks with external reservoirs, a reinforced frame, stronger axles with cast-iron steering knuckles, a 1-inch front suspension lift, standard 33-inch all-terrain tires and more, the Gladiator Mojave is prepared to take the fight to the sand­­—quickly. To commemorate the Mojave, Jeep conjured up the “Desert Rated” jargon, complete with requisite badging, to accompany its long-serving “Trail Rated 4×4” nomenclature. Look for it to hit showrooms in the second quarter of 2020.

Mercedes Weekender Pop-Up Camper

Vanning is experiencing a resurgence in popularity—this time without the Frank Frazetta-inspired murals, sadly—and Mercedes-Benz has dreamed up the Weekender pop-up camper to get in on the fun. Built on the Metris van chassis, it’s upfitted by Driverge Vehicle Innovations in collaboration with Peace Vans, one of the nation’s largest classic camper shops. The pop-top provides a sleeping loft for two, while the rear bench folds into an additional berth. The front seats swivel 180 degrees to facilitate conversation, and an extra battery provides juice for devices. Numerous options are available, including mosquito screens, an awning, solar panels, and, for traveling gourmands, a rear-mounted pull-out kitchen.

While pricing is not yet available, the most expensive Metris passenger van currently on sale carries a $35,580 price tag, so expect the Weekender to command a considerable premium. The Weekender can be ordered from authorized Mercedes-Benz Vans dealers starting this spring.  As a bonus, the first 100 customers will receive a free National Parks Pass to help ensure their camper receives a proper outdoor christening.

2020 Jeep Wrangler JPP 20

With a rabid fan base and the build sensibility of an Erector Set, few vehicles leave the factory as ripe for customizing as the Jeep Wrangler. Now, buyers without the time or skills to build their own can get in on the action with Jeep Wrangler JPP 20.

Featuring a cherry-picked assortment of items from Jeep’s Performance Parts (JPP) division, JPP steel tube doors and rock rails, front bumper and a waterproof JPP Rubicon winch headline the modifications. Each vehicle will include a custom owner’s manual and kit with credit for an as-of-yet unspecified amount that can be redeemed for one of the following: A JPP 2-inch lift kit, the buyer’s choice of five available JPP off-road wheel styles and four different tires, or an LED lighting kit. Color choices are limited to Ocean Blue or white.

Production will be limited to the 2020 model year. Pricing is not currently available, but dealers will begin taking orders in the second quarter, with vehicles slated to arrive in dealerships during the summer.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler invented the minivan segment and reestablished its dominance with the introduction of the 2017 Pacifica. Now it’s expanding on that success with a face-lifted 2021 Pacifica. For the first time in more than a decade, all-wheel drive is available in a Chrysler minivan. Plus, there is a new top trim: the Pinnacle edition. Fresh lighting elements front and rear and a new grille give the entire lineup a new look, and the new, faster Uconnect 5 infotainment system is standard.

The Pinnacle adds a touch of hedonism to daily family transportation, offering Nappa leather seating for all three rows with matching second-row lumbar pillows, a new integrated console and more. The Pacifica hybrid returns, too, this time as trim rather than a stand-alone model.

2020 Honda Civic Type R

Honda fans, take note—the 2020 Civic Type R is significantly upgraded, though it may not be immediately obvious as the sole exterior tweak involves a slightly larger grille opening that provided superior engine cooling. Underneath all that boy-racer bodywork resides a set of upgraded dampers for an improved ride, revised rear bushings to aid grip, and some tweaks to the front suspension for better steering feel. A new two-piece brake rotor design teams with a new brake pad specification to reduce fade and improve high-speed braking. Interior upgrades include a new Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and a new shifter with shorter shift throws and freshly designed knob. Pricing information and additional details will be available when it goes on sale later later this winter.

Ford GT Liquid Carbon

Even low-volume supercars can benefit from a little midlife tweaking to maintain their allure. In the case of the Ford GT, which carries a lifetime production cap of just 1,350 units, Ford is spicing things up with the new Liquid Carbon finish. Eschewing paint, it instead exposes the GT’s carbon fiber bodywork in all its raw, woven glory. Carbon fiber wheels add to the visceral mission statement.

Ford also upped the output of the twin-turbo, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 to an even 660-horsepower, a gain of 13. Credit revised engine calibration and high-energy ignition coils, among other improvements, picked up from the track-only GT Mk II. There is already a full roster of approved GT buyers, and the Liquid Carbon finish is available for order immediately.