Chicago Auto Show Blog

Summer Drive Event: Chicago Auto Show Featured Vehicle Roundup

Posted by: Jennifer Morand

Earlier this month, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) hosted a Summer Drive event, which brought together automotive journalists and manufacturer representatives for the first time in quite a while. The exception, of course, was last month’s Chicago Auto Show, where many folks were reconnected for the first time since the 2020 Chicago Auto Show prior to the pandemic. Still, MAMA typically hosts two “Rallies” in a calendar year, with three in a row being cancelled over the last year and half.  
The Summer Drive event was a great opportunity to allow auto journalists the chance to take a deeper dive into the vehicles they first saw at the Chicago Auto Show but perhaps didn’t get the chance to test drive. A handful of vehicles in particular were featured for the first time at the Chicago Auto Show that also appeared at the MAMA Summer Drive – ranging from EVs, hybrids, trucks to minivans – including the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Kia Carnival, Nissan Frontier, Nissan Pathfinder and the Volkswagen ID.4. 
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Plug-in Hybrid: 4xe is the next 4x4
Jeeps are known for their 4x4 capability and, moving forward, Jeep says the new “4xe is the next 4x4.” Launching into the brand’s 80th anniversary year, Jeep paves its electrified path forward with the introduction of the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid, the first hybrid Jeep to come to the U.S. market. The Wrangler 4xe marks the arrival of Jeep’s most capable, technically advanced and eco-friendly Wrangler ever. 
The Wrangler 4xe powertrain offers 375 hp, 470 lb.-ft. of torque and an estimated 49 mpg equivalent. When its battery is fully charged, the Wrangler 4xe can drive in all-electric mode for up to 22 miles. The Wrangler 4xe hybrid powertrain has three driving modes of operation: hybrid, electric or eSave. The driver can select the desired powertrain mode via buttons mounted on the instrument panel. Regardless of the drive mode selected, the Wrangler 4xe operates as hybrid once the battery nears its minimum state of charge.
The Wrangler 4xe is available in three trims including Sahara 4xe, Rubicon 4xe and High Altitude 4xe. The Sahara 4xe and High Altitude 4xe models are equipped with full-time 4x4 systems, front and rear next-generation Dana 44 axles and are fitted with the Selec-Trac two-speed transfer case. 
Available driver-assist technology includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rearview camera with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. Pricing ranges from $51,000 to $77,000.
Chicago Auto Show attendees who also took a ride on the indoor Camp Jeep test track might even have had the opportunity to ride along in a Wrangler 4xe, as it was one of the featured vehicles running on the track.
2022 Kia Carnival: Minivan or Multi-Purpose Vehicle?
For people who don’t want the minivan status yet desire all of the convenience features associated with that segment, Kia introduced the 2022 Carnival, what the brand has dubbed a “multi-purpose vehicle” (or MPV). The Carnival replaces the outgoing Kia Sedona minivan with the goal of claiming the space between SUV and family hauler, with similar features to those found in a minivan.
Inside the MPV, three rows are offered to accommodate either seven or eight passengers. Kia claims refinement, savvy tech and flexibility in the new Carnival. Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 with a best-in-class 290 hp (according to the brand). The powertrain offers up to 3,500 lbs. of towing capacity to accommodate a boat or a camper, for example.
Available convenience features include:
  • Driver and rear passenger talk system
  • Driver view of second and third rows with night vision
  • Smart power sliding doors
  • Power liftgate
  • Dual power sunroof
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Dual 12-inch displays
  • Rear seat entertainment with device mirroring   
  • 9 USB chargers with front wireless charger 
Safety features include standard blind-spot monitoring and forward collision avoidance, available blind spot view mirror, available smart cruise control and highway driving assist technology. 
The 2022 Carnival is offered in four trim levels: LX, EX, SX and SX-Prestige. The starting MSRP for the Carnival is $32,100. 
MPV or the real MVP? Kia wants you to decide.
2022 Nissan Frontier: Reinvented for the 2022 MY
2020 Chicago Auto Show attendees might recall the 2020 Frontier that debuted at that year’s show. While the 2020 Frontier was slightly updated, it primarily laid the groundwork for what would be the next-generation Frontier. So, what’s new for 2022? A lot, actually. The truck has been completely re-invented for 2022 aiming to deliver on midsize truck buyers’ current needs. Its all-new design features a wide, elevated stance; large vertical fenders; and precision lighting in the rear. 
On the interior, each 2022 Frontier comes standard with front Zero Gravity seats, designed to help drivers feel more refreshed after their commute. Based on science, the Zero Gravity seating natural, ergonomic design helps to maximize blood flow and keep energy levels increased. Also standard is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with an available, largest-in-class 9-inch color touchscreen display. The new Frontier also offers available Wi-Fi Hotspot and wireless smartphone charging. 
Additional convenience features include more interior storage (51.2 liters on the 2022 model, up from 48.8 liters on the previous model), up to eight beverage holders and added insulation reducing outside noise for a softer cabin.
The 2022 Frontier puts out a best-in-class 310-hp from a 3.8-liter V6 engine, which was all-new for 2020 with 93% new or redesigned parts. Torque is rated at 281 lb.-ft.
Advanced technology is integrated throughout with the first-ever Nissan to feature Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode. Intelligent Forward Collision Warning comes standard and class-exclusive Traffic Sign Recognition and Nissan Safety Shield 360 are available on any trim level. 
Pricing for the 2022 Frontier's entry-level S trim starts at $29,015.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder: Reinvented from the Ground Up
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is also all-new from the ground up. According to Nissan, every inch of the family-focused SUV was carefully designed to convey a sense of strength and capability with a strong front face, wide stance, blister fenders and a shorter front overhang. Highlights include an all-new 9-speed transmission, all-new Intelligent 4WD with 7-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector; best-in-class available 6,000-lb. maximum towing capacity; seating for up to eight with new captain’s chairs option; new EZ FLEX one-touch release for seats; an all-new available 10.8-inch Head-Up Display; 12.3-inch digital dashboard; ProPILOT Assist with Navi-Link; and standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of convenience and safety technology. 
It has been 35 years since the original Pathfinder debuted, and Nissan says the 2022 model holds true to its “rugged” roots with a larger overall design and larger tires. A total of 14 color combinations are offered, including five new two-tone treatments like Obsidian Green Pearl – designed to portray “rugged adventure.” Every 2022 Pathfinder features a 284-hp 3.5-liter V6 with 259 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 23 mpg combined for both 2WD and 4WD models (22 mpg combined for Platinum). 
In terms of tech integration, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on all 2022 Pathfinders. Also, for the first time ever, the 2022 Pathfinder SV and SL grades offer ProPILOT Assist, a hands-on, driver-assist technology that – according to Nissan – reduces the hassle of stop-and-go highway driving and makes long drives on the open highway easier.
The 2022 Pathfinder is offered in 2WD and 4WD and in four trim levels (S, SV, SL and Platinum). Two packages are also available. The SV premium package includes the panoramic moonroof, power liftgate with position memory, receiver hitch with 6,000-lb. towing capacity, second row captain's chairs and second row removable center console. The SL premium package adds heated rear seats, wireless charging pad and Bose Premium Audio with 13 speakers (in addition to the SV premium offerings). 
Pricing begins at $33,410 for the base trim and climbs to $48,090 for the Platinum 4WD top trim level.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4: VW’s First All-Electric SUV
For those who attended the 2021 Chicago Auto Show Special Edition, they had they chance to test drive Volkswagen’s brand-new, first-ever all-electric SUV – the ID.4 – on the streets of Chicago. Product specialists from VW were onsite to address any questions, such as range anxiety, to help the general public better understand the reasons owning or leasing an electric vehicle might be advantageous. 
The ID.4 is VW’s first-ever all-electric vehicle, and the first of a flurry of EVs by the brand to head to the U.S. The ID.4 was built as a battery-electric vehicle from the ground up. It seats five passengers and rides a similar wheelbase to the VW Tiguan, though it is slightly shorter and lower than the Tiguan.  
The 2021 ID.4 offers an 82kWh battery and a rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor with a 201-hp electric motor and 229 lb.-ft. of torque. VW claims the range to be 250 miles. All models are equipped with a Combined Charging System (CCS) socket, which allows for both home and public charging. According to VW, the ID.4 can be DC fast charged from 5 to 80 percent charged in 40 minutes. Additionally, the ID.4 comes with three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC fast chargers at no additional cost. 
The ID.4 also comes with IQ.DRIVE advanced driver assistance technology, featuring hands-on semi-automated capability. Other tech and safety features include 10- or 12-inch touch-screen infotainment display, “Hello ID.” natural voice control, ID. Light system and a standard wireless charging pad for mobile devices. Later this year, VW says the ID.4 will be offered with a second electric motor on the rear wheels, giving it more power and all-wheel drive. 
Prices start at $39,995 and the vehicle is eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. 
Did you see in person, ride along in or drive any of these vehicles at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show? If so, we’d love to hear what you thought! Comment below or send the Chicago Auto Show a message or tweet via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
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