The Chicago Auto Show, in the massive McCormick Center, was once again the place with the space to show big trucks and commercial vehicles outfitted in every way. It’s also a show where automakers like to introduce special editions, anniversary models, and performance variants. The 2019 show followed suit with heavy-duty trucks from Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, and Ram, all boasting big-time power, towing, and payload numbers.
And there were anniversaries to celebrate: Acura was popping champagne to mark 30 years since the NSX concept (then spelled NS-X) debuted in the Windy City. Over at Mazda the celebration surrounded the 30th anniversary of the MX-5 Miata and introduction of a Racing Orange limited edition to mark the occasion. FCA had the original Plymouth Voyager minivan alongside the Chrysler Pacifica 35th Anniversary Edition.
Here are the vehicles that caught our eye in Chicago.
Racing Orange is a first for the popular sports car offered with soft or hardtop, manual or automatic transmission. Mazda is only making 3,000 of these special editions and the 500 allocated for the U.S. were sold out within hours of announcing orders were being taken on the Mazda website. If you got one, the serial number will be on the 30th Anniversary badge. Upgrades include the Club trim’s limited-slip differential, Bilstein shocks with the manual, and Recaro seats of Alcantara and leather. Orange piping and stitching match the trim encircling the air vents as well as the color of the brake calipers. Yum. –Alisa Priddle
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
The Jetta is a conservatively styled sedan, but add the letters GLI and there is a big jump in power with the 2.0-liter turbo-four engine from the Golf GTI, producing 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That is a big jump from the 147-hp, 1.4-liter turbo-four in a regular Jetta. The GLI goes on sale this spring with a choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. In addition to the GTI engine, the hot sedan gets a limited-slip differential, 18-inch wheels, and the requisite red accent stripe across the grille. There will be 2,400 Limited Edition 35th anniversary models with a black roof, black spoiler, and unique wheels. –Alisa Priddle
For the last several years, the Jetta GLI has been seriously overshadowed by the Golf GTI. Unless you desperately wanted a sedan, there was no reason to pick the GLI over the GTI. Now, it looks like that’s changed. I’m still a big hot hatch fan, but sedan fans deserve to have some fun, too. –Collin Woodard
1984 Plymouth Voyager/2019 Chrysler Pacifica 35th Anniversary Edition
Families drove station wagons in 1980 when Chrysler decided to proceed with a funny-looking vehicle it called the “garageable van.” It was a huge gamble on a nameless vehicle by a company on the brink of financial collapse and assembled by a nervous work force staking their livelihoods on its success. Chrysler staked its claim when the first minivan, a blue Plymouth Voyager with wood trim, rolled off the line on October 3, 1983. Within a month, there was a four-month backlog of orders, and the minivan became Chrysler’s first signature vehicle. Compare it to the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica 35th Anniversary Edition and it looks downright tiny, but the wood trim takes us down memory lane. The 2019 anniversary models get appropriate badging, some glossy trim pieces, and other accents to denote their place in life. –Alisa Priddle
After seeing the photos, I didn’t expect to like the Legacy as much as I do. But in person, it’s a nice update. The interior looks and feels great, and the Subaru Global Platform-based sedan should be fun to drive with the available 260-hp turbo-four. Mostly, though, I’m interested in getting an opportunity to use the new, massive infotainment display. Does it work well? Is it distracting? Does the sun wash it out? There’s only one way to find out. –Collin Woodard
2019 Ram Chassis Cab Limited
I highly doubt I’ll ever personally need a truck like this, but I love the idea. Ram’s killing it with its interiors right now, so why not offer a luxury version of its chassis cab? There are plenty of people who could use a premium place to sit on the way to the race track or the next RV campsite. Something tells me this thing is going to print money for Ram. –Collin Woodard
See even more 2019 Chicago Auto Show photos right here.
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