February 27, 2017 at 11:48 am EDT | by Marvin Bowser
Cool picks from the Chicago Auto Show
Chicago Auto Show, gay news, Washington Blade

The Chicago Auto Show was held earlier this month. (Photo courtesy Chicago Auto Show)

CHICAGO — I attended the Chicago Auto Show media preview on Feb. 9-10 and got to hear from automobile manufacturers and sample vehicles ranging from family haulers to supercars. The nation’s largest auto show was in the nation’s largest convention center, McCormick Place, which boasts five indoor test tracks. The show ran from Feb. 11-20.

A cool hybrid, a fast and sexy SUV and an updated favorite were the highlights of the show.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivan

Price: $41,995

Mpg: 84 MPGe

0 to 60 mph: Not available

Chrysler Pacifica left, Pacifica Hybrid right (Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler)

Chrysler Pacifica left, Pacifica Hybrid right (Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler)

Looking for a mini van for the kids, dogs, bikes and garden center trips? The Pacifica Hybrid is the world’s only 84-mpg equivalent mini van; and has a 30-mile electric-only range, great for running errands in the neighborhood. This seven-passenger mini van automatically switches over to the gas engine when the battery draws down to a predetermined level. The combined gas/electric range is a whopping 530 miles. No range anxiety here. Technically, Pacifica is a plug in hybrid. The battery pack requires less than two hours to charge using the available 240-volt charger. Regenerative braking extends battery life. The middle seats do not  “stow ’n’ go” because of the battery pack but the seats are easily removed to create a flat load floor.

Nearly every comfort and safety feature on the market is available including Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Hands Free lift gate and side doors and a built in vacuum system. Depending on your state, the Pacifica Hybrid may qualify for a tax credit up to $7,500. Is this the vehicle for your active lifestyle?

2017 Maserati Levante

Price: $73,250

Mpg:14 city/20 Highway

0 to 60 mph: 5.8 seconds

I drove a Maserati Levante in a massive, empty indoor space at McCormick Place. I could not put the vehicle through its paces because I was inside; but I had a “perma grin” the entire time I was behind the wheel. The interior is beautiful to see, touch and smell. The engine delivers a deep-throated snarl and wants to be unleashed to run on the open road.

Levante was created from engines, the Q4 all-wheel drive system and suspension components from the Ghibli sedan. The more powerful Levante S ($83,800) increases output from the 3.0 liter twin-turbo engine to 424 horsepower which is good for 0-60 times of 5.0 seconds. A ZF eight-speed automatic transmission is standard on both models.

Maserati is a latecomer to the premium, high-performance SUV market. Porsche delivered the first Cayenne SUVs in 2002. A nicely optioned Levante S costs nearly $100,000, which puts it in Cayenne territory, along with Tesla Model X, BMW X5, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Mercedes Benz GLE. Levante, “The Maserati of SUVs,” offers sexy styling and exclusivity that the more familiar brands do not.

The Maserati Levante (Photo courtesy Maserati)

The Maserati Levante (Photo courtesy Maserati)

2018 Subaru Legacy

Price: $23,00 (est.)

Mpg: 25 city/ 34 highway

0 to 60 mph: 8.8 seconds (est.)

The Subaru Legacy (Washington Blade photo by Marvin Bowser)

The Subaru Legacy (Washington Blade photo by Marvin Bowser)

Subaru introduced a refreshed and refined 2018 Legacy at the Chicago Auto Show. A number of styling and engineering enhancements combine to improve the driving experience of this popular mid-sized sedan that goes on sale this summer.

Two models and four trim levels are offered. The 2.5i model has a 175-horsepower engine and is available in Base, Premium, Sport and Limited trims. The 3.6R model has a more powerful 256-horsepower engine and is only available in the luxurious Limited trim. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard on all models.

Interior upgrades include premium materials, a redesigned center console, a sportier steering wheel and real stitching on the dash, seats and door panels of Premium and Limited trims.  STARLINK Multimedia system with Bluetooth wireless capability provides a more smartphone like look and feel and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.   

EyeSight Driver Assist technology is available on most trims and includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collsion Breaking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist among other features.

Legacy sales are up and the new model with its more elegant styling, upgraded interior and advanced multimedia options will likely continue the trend.

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