With all the fanfare around trucks and utilities, let’s not forget about the good old fashioned car. Except there’s nothing old fashioned about these new selections you can see at the Chicago Auto Show from Chrysler, Mazda, Acura, and Mercedes-Benz.
For 2015, the award winning Chrysler 300 has seen some major updates. The front and rear ends are redone. The new mesh grille has been made 33% larger with new LED fog lights and daytime running lights, and a cleaner headlamp design. On the new rear fascia, the use chrome has been toned down around new Led taillights with a halo design. Exhaust tips are oval. In between is a new series of wheels to choose from.
Both V6 and Hemi V8 models now get the eight-speed automatic transmission with a new rotary shifter. This makes the Hemi get one mile per gallon more, and shaves time off 0-to-60 mph acceleration. Interiors have been upgraded with new material choices and a new steering wheel. Trim options for 2015 are 300 Limited, the sporty 300S, 300C and 300C Platinum, which replaces the Luxury Edition. All-wheel drive is available with the Pentastar V6.
Mazda’s flagship sedan, the Mazda6 gets new refinements for the 2016 model year. The first thing you’ll notice are enhancements to the exterior design, especially in the more sophisticated grille design and signature wing shape, with new headlights. Taillights are new LED units as well. A new dark high-gloss painted 19-inch wheel option joins two new paint colors. The interior sees a completely reshaped center console and instrument panel with a freestanding seven-inch center display. Quality standards are higher for tighter gaps and a more finely finished interior.
In the mechanical department, engine and both the automatic and manual transmissions are carried over, but the automatic transmission has a new drive mode selector. An electric parking brake is now used. Sound deadening was increased with an up to 25% noise reduction inside. The front and rear seats were improved for more comfort.
Built at Honda’s Greensburg, Indiana plant, the entry-luxury Acura ILX is restyled and reengineered for 2016. You may remember the original production version of the ILX debuted at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show. For 2016, three new grades have been added for a total of six to choose an ILX equipped the way you want it. Two new sporty A-SPEC packages are added as well as the AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver assistance technologies. All ILXs get a new grille and LED headlights and a new rear end treatment with LED taillights.
A new 201-hp 2.4-liter direct injection engine is a 51-horsepower increase over the previous model. An advanced new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is the only one in its class. Dual-clutch transmissions promise quick shifts and improved fuel economy; this one is also the world’s first with a torque converter, which should smooth out the quirks some competitors’ dual-clutch transmissions have. Engineering changes to the body and chassis improved crash safety, reduced noise, and improved handling. “With the improvements Acura made to the 2016 ILX I can’t imagine why it would not be on everyone’s shopping list,” said Glenn Muller, owner of Muller Acura in Merrillville. “After they see and drive it I feel the ILX will be their choice.”
We first caught a glimpse of the all-new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class at last year’s show, but the variations keep rolling out this year with a new AMG-Sport and a plug-in hybrid. The C-Class has been Mercedes-Benz’s entry model in the US and its best selling. Mercedes-Benz shook things up by introducing the lower priced CLA-Class, starting at $29,900, so they brought the new C-Class upmarket. We hit the road in one of the first ones available, a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic this past fall. With a base price of only $40,400, we were thoroughly impressed that it has the quality feel of its larger and more expensive stablemates.