2017 Chicago Auto Show has innovations for everyone

February 16, 2017
3 min read

America’s largest auto show, the 2017 Chicago Auto Show opened to the public Saturday, February 11 and, with over a million square feet of showroom space, it has something for everyone. Here, Mintel Automotive Analyst Buddy Lo highlights the standouts.

Big trucks and SUVs

Americans love big trucks and SUVs and manufacturers were happy to exhibit them. Pickups were well-represented by the Big 3, with Ford, Chevrolet and Ram all showcasing impressive displays. Technology was a prominent theme throughout the show and the rugged pickup segment was no exception. Ford showed off the new 2018 F-150, resplendent in a new design and loaded with the latest technology features, including collision avoidance systems and adaptive cruise control. Toyota introduced the TRD trim model to the 2018 Tundra, which also comes with the Toyota Safety Sense, a comparable safety package. Ram’s display allowed consumers to ride in a Ram truck and experience features such as towing, hill descent and suspension testing.

Full-size SUVs were also an eye catcher. The Ford Expedition, which has been relatively the same since 2003, underwent a new makeover for the 2018 model, including a new aluminum body. Volkswagen showed off the Atlas, a large seven passenger SUV that will be a new addition on showroom floors later this year.

While big trucks and SUVs remain popular, nothing has sold better in recent years than the more modest crossover SUV. Manufacturers debuted tons of crossover models, hoping to cash in on the latest trend in consumer preference, as highlighted in Mintel’s Automotive Marketing Trend ‘Supersized Rides.’ Alfa Romeo, fresh off its Super Bowl commercials for the Giulia, introduced the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, one of the brands’ many planned entrants in the US by 2020.

Minivans getting some love

Minivans garnered some serious attention, with standouts including the Chrysler Pacifica and the Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey had a central placement in Honda’s display and featured a bevy of features and technology, such as configurable second row seating and in-cabin cameras. Chrysler built a play area around the Pacifica to appeal to families bringing their children to the show to allow parents to check out the Pacifica Hybrid, which gets a whopping 84 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) and 35 miles of range on a single charge, while their kids play.

Connectivity and safety technology

Two in five US new car buyers say they want the latest safety innovations in their next vehicle
Nearly every manufacturer was proud to point out innovative safety features, such as forward collision avoidance systems, lane keeping assist, cross traffic alerts and blind spot detection systems. Preventative safety technology was a major theme throughout the auto show as the technology has made its way into entry level brands. According to Mintel research, two in five US new car buyers say they want the latest safety innovations in their next vehicle.

Another major theme was connectivity. With many brand showcasing USB ports, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, smartphone owners can rejoice now that they can connect their phones without having to deal with clunky user interfaces.

Needless to say, the Chicago Auto Show featured numerous areas of new product innovation and is one of many signs that the US automotive industry will continue to move at a breakneck pace.

Buddy Lo is an Automotive Analyst for the Mintel US Reports team. With experience in automotive marketing, Buddy has developed an intimate knowledge of the automotive landscape, as well as the dealership business model.

Buddy Lo
Buddy Lo

Buddy Lo is a Senior. Technology and Consumer Electronics analyst at Mintel. He is responsible for researching and writing reports on technology and consumer electronics.

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