Chicago Auto Show Round-Up: Volkswagen, Ford, Jeep and Ram

2021 Chicago Auto Show “Special Edition” July 15-19

The Chicago Auto Show is snowing the VW ID.4 Roadshow, VW Mk8 Golf GTI & Golf R , Ford F-150 Lightning, Maverick, Mustang Mach-E, E-Transit, Jeep Compass and RAM BackCountry.

The 2021 Chicago Auto Show Special Edition, set to take place July 15-19 at McCormick Place, will feature two indoor test tracks, three outdoor activations, a street fest and dozens of brand-new vehicles that consumers can test drive on city streets. Highlighting its all-electric ID.4, Volkswagen is the latest brand to announce its plans of hosting a test drive at the show. Additional test drive opportunities will be offered by Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Jeep, Kia, Lincoln, Ram and Subaru, allowing attendees plenty chances to jump behind the wheel of the latest vehicles the industry has to offer.

“We’re delighted to be able to bring the ID.4 Roadshow to the Chicago Auto Show,” said Kimberley Gardiner, senior vice president for marketing, Volkswagen of America. “We have found that once people experience how well this car drives as well as its spaciousness and high-tech features, the ID.4 has the potential to bring EVs into the mainstream. We are already seeing that the majority of buyers are being conquested from traditional vehicles.”

In addition, and also located outdoors, Ford is debuting two brand-new consumer experiences, Built Wild and Built to Electrify. Built Wild will feature a 30,000-sq.-ft. custom experience where auto show attendees can participate in a series of hands-on activations to help them understand accessorization, modularity and connectivity of the new Bronco family. Built to Electrify brings consumers a 11,000 sq.-ft. experience showcasing how Ford will charge into the electric revolution with a range of vehicles, both retail and commercial, including the all-new Ford F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit.

“This show’s new outdoor element has been a positive for us, allowing us to pick up new activations and ride-and-drive experiences such as the VW ID.4 Roadshow and Ford’s Built Wild and Built to Electrify experiences,” said Chicago Auto Show General Manager Dave Sloan. “This is a great opportunity for attendees to take a deeper dive into EVs by test driving vehicles such as the ID.4, F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E and speaking with product specialist experts who can help explain what is uncharted territory for many people.”

The outdoor test tracks and test drives will be on Indiana Avenue, just outside of McCormick Place’s West Building, the new home of the 2021 Chicago Auto Show Special Edition. Attendees may register for the test drives on the show floor in the manufacturer exhibits or in the corridor along Indiana Avenue. Attendees’ general show admission ticket also grants access to the outdoor test track, test drive experiences and evening street fest activities. For a full listing of specific vehicles available for test drives, please visit

The 2021 Chicago Auto Show special edition will run Thursday, July 15 through Monday, July 19 and will be held in McCormick Place’s West Building and outdoors along Indiana Avenue. Tickets for the 2021 Chicago Auto Show are sold exclusively online.

Ford News

Ford is arriving to Chicago Auto Show in full force with a fresh new lineup of must-see vehicles, including an all-electric truck, an all-new compact pickup, and iconic nameplates in Bronco and Mustang Mach-E. This week’s Chicago Auto Show, the first major American auto show in nearly 18 months, sees a packed display floor with Ford showing off several exciting new vehicles and thrilling hands-on experiences.

“New vehicle customers are looking for something more than parked cars before deciding what to purchase,” said Raj Register, Ford head of global brand experiences. “We’ve created hand-on experiences that educate and let consumers discover what it’s like to ride off-road in Bronco and Bronco Sport and feel the all-electric performance of Mustang Mach-E. We’ll also have F-150 Lightning so shoppers can see and learn about new features like the Mega Power Frunk and available Ford Intelligent Backup Power.”

Five reasons why you can’t miss Ford at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show are:

1. F-150 Lightning makes an electrifying debut
The all-electric 2022 F-150 Lightning, revealed in May, is making its public introduction this week. Targeted to have the most torque ever in a F-1501, the all-new F-150 Lightning (available Spring 2022) will ride high into Chicago with impressive technology, Built Ford Tough capability and new features never seen before on an F-150, like a 14-cubic-foot-plus mega power frunk and available Ford Intelligent Back-Up Power, providing power for up to three days in an outage with the extended range battery2.

F-150 Lightning will be located at the Ford display in the west hall of McCormick Place.

2. Meet Maverick, Ford’s all-new compact pickup
2022 Ford Maverick (available Fall 2021) also makes its public debut – the first standard full-hybrid pickup in America with a targeted EPA-estimated city fuel economy rating of 40 mpg3, all starting at an MSRP of $19,9954. The all-new Maverick reintroduces the compact pickup truck to the masses, bringing smart technology and flexible cargo solutions for a new segment of customers. This truck doesn’t compromise one thing in terms of Built Ford Tough DNA, offering 1,500 pounds of standard payload capacity5 and up to 4,000 pounds of max towing capacity6 – enough for an average 21-foot boat.

Maverick will be on display in the west hall of McCormick Place as well.

3. Treat your wild side with the Built Wild Bronco mountain experience
If you get tired of looking at cars and want to take a ride in one, the Built Wild Bronco mountain experience is calling you.

Making its world debut is a 30,000-square-foot Built Wild experience that invites the public to come out and learn about the modularity, connectivity and hundreds of accessory offerings for the all-new Bronco family of vehicles, including Bronco two-door, four-door and Bronco Sport. The sixth-generation cult classic returns after more than 25 years and here you can experience it where it was meant to be experienced – outdoors.

Visitors can take on a 38-degree steep Bronco mountain with professional drivers. You’ll experience the thrill of climbing while learning more about Bronco tech like G.O.A.T. Modes (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) and feature offerings that make off-roading even more exciting and intelligent, like removable/stowable doors and waterproof interiors with floor drains for easy cleaning.

You’ll find the Built Wild Bronco mountain experience right outside McCormick Place.

4. Charge up your motors for the Built to Electrify experience
Also making its world debut in an 11,000-square-foot outdoor display is Built to Electrify, where visitors can experience the full-hybrid Maverick plus the range of zero-emission Ford vehicles for retail and commercial customers – F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E, and 2022 E-Transit (available late 2021).

F-150 Lightning will showcase new features and capabilities that are possible only through electrification. And for the very first time, consumers can get rides in the all-electric Mustang Mach-E, an icon recently crowned winner of Car and Driver’s 2021 Electric Vehicle of the Year award. This pony goes 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds with the extended range battery and eAWD7, and it has an EPA-estimated range of 270 miles8. Don’t miss the frunk in both F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E, which comes complete with a drain, so it does double duty as a cooler at tailgates.

The Built to Electrify display is located right outside McCormick Place.

5. Visit a video game truck brought to life
F-150 Rocket League Edition concept is making its real-life debut at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show, the first real-life version of any Rocket League vehicle.

The F-150 design team collaborated with designers at Rocket League developer Psyonix to ensure the in-game vehicle maintains the real-world styling cues and Built Ford Tough DNA of the iconic pickup. This includes the signature C-clamp headlight design, rounded wheel arches, drop-down windows and “F-150” stamped in the tailgate. One-of-a-kind features will make kids and adults alike smile with abandon, like thunder flairs, 37-inch tires, taillamp rocket vents, truck bed rocket booster and a stance wider than F-150 Raptor.

F-150 Rocket League Edition can be found center stage of the Ford display in the west hall of McCormick Place.

Media day for the Chicago Auto Show, the nation’s largest, longest-running auto show, is Wednesday. Public days are Thursday through Monday.

1Based on manufacturer testing using computer engineering simulations. Calculated via peak performance of the electric motor(s) at peak battery power. Your results may vary.

2When home is properly equipped and home transfer switch disconnects home from the grid. Based on 30 kWh use per day using the F-150 Lightning with the extended-range battery.  Your results may vary depending on energy usage. Rationing power assumes limiting the number of devices and turning the truck off when not needed.

3Actual mileage will vary. Final EPA-estimated ratings available later in the 2021 calendar year.

4MSRP for base vehicle. Excludes destination/delivery fee plus government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer processing charge, any electronic filing charge, and any emission testing charge. Optional equipment not included.

5Max payload varies and is based on accessories and vehicle configuration.  See label on door jamb for carrying capacity of a specific vehicle.

6Available 4K towing with available 2.0L EcoBoost engine and 4K Tow Package. Max towing varies based on cargo, vehicle configuration, accessories and number of passengers. EPA-estimated fuel economy, payload and towing are independent attributes and may not be achieved simultaneously.

7Ford test data based on typical industry methodology using 1-ft rollout. Your results may vary.

8Based on full charge. Actual range varies with conditions such as external environment, vehicle use, vehicle maintenance, lithium ion battery age and state of health.

Volkswagen Premiers Mk8 Golf GTI and Golf R

Today, Volkswagen of America introduced the Mk8 Golf GTI and Golf R at the Chicago Auto Show, along with full pricing and model details. The model year 2022 GTI introduces a plethora of interior and handling upgrades for the eighth generation of the original hot hatch, and has a starting MSRP of $29,545 for the S model with manual transmission. The fifth iteration of Volkswagen’s performance halo, the 2022 Golf R offers new performance-oriented content, premium features and further differentiation from the GTI, with a starting MSRP of $43,645 with manual transmission.

“The previous Golf GTI and Golf R models were widely regarded as the best hot hatches you could buy, but the Mark 8 versions up the ante,” said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America. “Now built in Wolfsburg, the cars have more performance, better handling, more standard equipment and improved tech features, yet minimal price increases.”

The 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R are an evolution of the Golf-family design formula. They are slightly longer and sportier, but still carry the styling hallmarks of their predecessors, such as the distinctive C-pillar. The Mark 8 cars have a fresh face courtesy of a more sharply raked hood, new signature LED headlights and an available light bar in the grille either side of the updated VW logo. The GTI bears distinctive new X-shaped foglights and new wheel designs along with the classic honeycomb lower grille, red grille line, red brake calipers and dual exhaust tips. Inside, GTI models still incorporate the golf ball design into the manual shift knob and boast standard plaid seats, though the eighth-generation car wears a new “Scalepaper” tartan pattern.

Golf R models feature a blue grille line and brake calipers, a new wheel design, more aggressive front and rear bumpers and diffusers than on GTI, a large two-piece rear spoiler, body-colored side sill extensions, and a quad-tipped exhaust system. The GTI is available in Oryx White Pearl, Moonstone Gray, Kings Red Metallic, Atlantic Blue Metallic, Reflex Silver Metallic, and Deep Black Pearl, as well as Pomelo Yellow Metallic, a special Autobahn-only launch color. Golf R is available in signature Lapiz Blue Metallic, as well as Pure White and Deep Black Pearl.

Wheelbases on both cars remain unchanged from the previous generation, at 103.6 inches for Golf GTI and 103.5 for Golf R. The Golf GTI is 168.8 inches long, and 57.6 inches high, with Golf R at 168.9 and 57.7 inches respectively, and both cars are 70.4 inches wide. Passengers have 91.9 cubic feet of interior space, with 41.2 inches of legroom in the front and 35.0 inches in the rear. With the rear seats up, there is 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space, which increases to 34.5 with the rear seats folded.

The latest iteration of the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection TSI® engine is found in both U.S.-bound 2022 Golf models, making them the most powerful versions of the brand’s performance vehicles to date. In either model, the engine can be paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic. The GTI produces 241 horsepower—up 13 from the Mk7—and 273 lb-ft of torque (achieved with premium fuel). The Golf R now makes 315 horsepower—27 more than the previous generation—and 295 lb-ft of torque with the DSG transmission, or 280 lb-ft with the manual. Both models have an electronically limited top track speed of 155 mph.

On the Mk8 models, new vehicle dynamics settings closely integrate the electronic stability control (ESC) with the electronic differential lock (XDS®) and the optional DCC® adaptive damping system. By adapting the individual wheel damping 200 times a second, it can deliver particularly agile and accurate handling.

The new GTI comes standard with the electronically controlled torque-sensing limited-slip VAQ differential. Compared with mechanically operated differentials, the system in the GTI offers a variable degree of intervention depending on the actual driving situation and ESC, EDS and XDS+ functions. This makes it possible to avoid steering corruption, as is the case with purely mechanical differentials. The VAQ differential optimizes grip and handling in fast corners, thus enhancing the performance and helping to decrease understeer, a traditional weakness of front-drive cars.

On the Golf R, Volkswagen engineers have designed a new 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system with rear-axle torque vectoring. This serves as the foundation for the updated handling abilities of the Golf R, delivering a new level of performance for its category. The previous generation’s 4Motion system could send up to 50 percent of the engine’s total power to the rear axle via a multi-plate clutch. The new torque vectoring system in the 2022 Golf R uses a rear differential with two multi-plate clutches that can distribute up to 100 percent of the rear torque to an individual rear wheel. This system is designed to apportion power between the wheels based on speed, power application, yaw and other factors. In a typical corner, the system can direct more power to the wheel on the outside of the curve in a matter of milliseconds, reducing the cornering radius.

Inside, the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R feature entirely new electronic architecture, enabling a digitally networked world of displays and controls. The 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro is standard, allowing drivers to create a customized display of pertinent information, including car status, driving data, phone information, album art, driver assistance features and more. Models equipped with the Discover Pro infotainment system with navigation are able to display a full screen map in the digital cluster and simultaneously on the 10-inch center display.

The cockpit digitalization includes touch panels that control the lighting, defrost, HVAC and audio functions, as well as operation of the available sunroof. An available head-up display digitally projects onto the windshield, virtually floating in front of the driver. Thirty-color ambient lighting comes standard on the Mk 8 GTI and Golf R, washing the interior as well as the digital instruments and infotainment system with the selected color or mood setting.

The IQ.DRIVE® suite of driver assistance technology is available on GTI and Golf R models, and features hands-on semi-automated capability. The system utilizes front and rear radar, a front camera and several ultrasound sensors to collect data from the surrounding area, enabling a full complement of driver assist features: Travel Assist (semi-automated driving assistance); Front Assist (Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Cyclist Monitoring); Active Blind Spot Monitor; Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Lane Assist (Lane Keeping System); and Emergency Assist (semi-automated vehicle assistance in a medical emergency, DSG only). High Beam Control (Light Assist), the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), Park Assist with Park Distance Control, and Dynamic Road Sign Display are also available.

The 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R are expected to reach U.S. dealers in Q4 2021.

Jeep Compass 2022

The Jeep® brand took the wraps off its new 2022 Jeep Compass today at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show, showcasing an authentic, new premium design and an all-new modern interior with advanced safety and security features, including semi-autonomous driving and a host of next-generation technologies, to make it the most connected, technologically advanced Compass ever.

The new 2022 Jeep® Compass is the most connected and technically advanced yet

  • Two Jeep 4×4 systems and Selec-Terrain traction management system continue the tradition of legendary off-road capability
  • Modern, spacious interior features double the storage, a new 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 center stack display, new available 10.25-inch frameless full-color thin-film transistor (TFT) digital cluster, plus heated rear seats available for the first time on Compass
  • New Latitude LUX trim delivers a long list of premium amenities, standard safety features and legendary Jeep 4×4 capability for an incredible value
  • Debuts with an authentic Jeep exterior and more premium design
  • More than 75 advanced safety and security features – the most available safety features in its class – and a host of next-generation technologies
  • Advanced safety features now standard across all trims include Full-speed Collision Warning with active brake and pedestrian/cyclist detection, Active Lane Management with LaneSense Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist and Blind-spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path detection
  • New Highway Assist semi-autonomous driving system (late availability) delivers hands-on-wheel and eyes-on-road automated driving
  • New suspension tuning delivers smooth ride and handling; upgraded steering provides improved on-road responsiveness
  • Jeep Wave® customer service program comes standard with all 2022 Jeep models and includes premium benefits, such as three years of worry-free maintenance, same-day vehicle rentals, 24/7 roadside assistance and dedicated owner support
  • The 2022 Jeep Compass arrives in dealerships fall 2021.

Ram BackCountry Edition

Ram introduced a new BackCountry Edition for the popular Ram 1500 Big Horn and Lone Star models and will be on display this week at the Chicago Auto Show.

The Ram 1500 BackCountry joins the light-duty lineup and is the latest example of how Ram Truck is North America’s off-road truck leader. BackCountry combines convenience, comfort and off-road capability in one package with a name that resonates among truck buyers.

“We’re constantly expanding and exploring new ideas to meet the needs and fuel the imagination of our passionate customers while offering the segment’s best combination of performance, capability and technology,” said Mike Koval Jr., Ram Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. “Ram 1500 BackCountry will resonate positively with customers who live an active lifestyle and this is the latest example of how Ram trucks deliver features and durability that will continue to win over more and more buyers.”

The 2022 Ram 1500 BackCountry Edition features robust off-road features straight from the factory while staying true to the hardworking nature of the Ram 1500.

Ram 1500 BackCountry
The 2022 Ram 1500 BackCountry Edition features 18-inch black wheels, black tu-tone exterior paint, black badging, exhaust tips, headlamp bezels, mirrors and running boards. A body-color grille surround and tonneau cover also are included and help set BackCountry up from the rest of the light-duty lineup.

Standard functional features include the 4×4 Off-Road Group, which includes tow hooks, skid plates for the front suspension, transfer case, power steering and fuel tank, rear electronic locking axle, off-road calibrated shocks, hill-descent control and all-terrain tires, and Bed Utility Group, which includes upper adjustable tie downs, bed extender (available with RamBox only) deployable bed step, bed lighting and spray-in bed liner.

Inside, the 2022 Ram 1500 BackCountry offers a black interior with bucket seats. A 7-inch touchscreen, BackCountry badge on the instrument panel and all-weather slush mats from Mopar round out the distinctive interior content.

The 2022 Ram 1500 BackCountry is available in 4×4 Quad and 4×4 Crew Cab configurations with both the 5.7-liter V-8 and 5.7-liter V-8 engine with eTorque mild-hybrid assist.

Ram 1500 BackCountry manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starts at $40,085, plus $1,695 destination.

The new 2022 Ram 1500 BackCountry Edition goes on sale in the third quarter of 2021. Ram Truck Brand In 2009, the Ram Truck brand launched as a stand-alone division, focused on meeting the demands of truck buyers and delivering benchmark-quality vehicles. With a full lineup of trucks, the Ram 1500, 2500/3500 Heavy Duty, 3500/4500/5500 Chassis Cab, ProMaster and ProMaster City, the Ram brand builds trucks that get the hard work done and families where they need to go.

Ram continues to outperform the competition and sets the benchmarks for:

  • 1,075 lb.-ft. of torque with Cummins Turbo Diesel
  • Towing capacity of 37,100 lbs. with Ram 3500
  • Segment first 1,000 lb.-ft of torque with Cummins Turbo Diesel
  • Payload of 7,680 lbs. with Ram 3500
  • Most luxurious: Ram Limited with real wood, real leather and 12-inch Uconnect touchscreen
  • Best ride and handling with exclusive link coil rear and auto-level air suspensions
  • Most interior space with Ram Mega Cab
  • Most capable full-size off-road pickup – Ram Power Wagon
  • Ram 1500, America’s most powerful half-ton diesel pickup with 480 lb.-ft. of torque, achieves an unsurpassed 33 mpg highway and delivers up to 1,000 miles of range on a single tank of fuel
  • Ram 1500 TRX is the quickest, fastest and most powerful mass-produced pickup truck in the world
  • Most awarded light-duty truck in America
  • Highest owner loyalty of any half-ton pickup
  • Over the last 30 years, Ram has the highest percentage of pickups still on the road