The Philadelphia Auto Show – always the place to see the boldest automotive innovations – this year highlights technological advances heading in even more unexpected directions.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, and a Toyota Camry with impressive automated safety features were among the advanced products highlighted at the media preview Friday morning.
The three vehicles are among 18 at the show that are not available to the general public yet, and among nine never seen before on the East Coast, according to show chairman David Kelleher.
Here's a closer look at some of the highlights:
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Already on sale in some parts of the United States, the Bolt EV has beaten Tesla to the sub-$40,000 market with a four-seater boasting a range over 200 miles.
"We like to say we cracked the code on how to build an affordable long-range EV," said Joseph LaMuraglia, Northeast regional communications manager for Chevrolet. LaMuraglia said the car's small footprint is perfect for city driving. Nearly 300 battery cells sit in the floor, allowing for a small hood and maximized passenger space. Expect the Bolt EV to arrive in the Philadelphia area in July.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: The originator of the front-wheel-drive minivan in the 1980s now adds a plug-in hybrid. Chrysler says the Pacifica Hybrid has a 33-mile electric range before the gasoline engine needs to kick in.
"It does all the work for you and it is always in the most efficient mode possible," said Karen Madill, brand manager for Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid.
While the batteries take up the space once devoted to stowing the second-row Stow and Go seats, Pacifica Hybrid passengers will enjoy a middle row with seats that resemble the first-row captain's chairs. Third-row Stow and Go seats remain. The Hybrid comes in Premium and Platinum lines, starting at $41,995 and $44,995 respectively, but the $7,500 federal rebate brings those prices down significantly. The Pacifica Hybrid should be available in just a few weeks.
Other hybrids: BMW offers its well-known i3 electric and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, but also plug-in hybrid versions of the 3 Series and 7 Series models. Volvo has a plug-in version of its XC90 on display as well. (It's right next to the beautiful V90 wagon, which is not a plug-in but certainly warrants notice.)
Toyota has the plug-in Prius Prime on display and available as part of the Ride and Drive program — you can take it for a spin around the Convention Center. And Kia is also showing off the Niro, a handsome Soul-sized crossover. It's not a plug-in hybrid but it does feature an electric motor and gasoline engine.
Toyota: Toyota used its East Coast debut of the svelte new 2018 Camry as a chance to show off Toyota Smart Sense. The system will soon be standard across almost the entire Toyota lineup. It features pre-collision warning and emergency braking, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning for pedestrians, and lane-keeper steering assist. The systems are not unique to Toyota, but making them standard is.
Non-hybrids: The show features about 700 other models, most with standard engines. Some of the more interesting new vehicles include the all-new Jeep Compass, the handsome Kia Stinger five-door sedan, the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, and the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas.