The battle of new pickups gets another contender Thursday at the press preview of the Chicago Auto Show.
Toyota will pull the sheet off the redesigned third generation of its Tundra full-size pickup, the latest in a series of unveilings by truck makers this year as the market for them continues to recover.
Others expected to make debuts include a Kia crossover concept and the first diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze.
Sandwiched between splashier expositions in Detroit in January and New York in the spring, Chicago usually lacks scads of new model intros. But it makes up for it in potential buyers. "The Midwest is a pretty good-sized market" for car sales, says Joseph Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting.
It's a frequent venue for new pickups, or versions of them. "It's a lot closer to farm country than Detroit is," Phillippi says.
The Tundra redesign scheduled to make its debut in Chicago is the first since the current second generation went on sale as a 2007, and a makeover is due. The raft of new-design pickups that it will take on also will be on display at the show.
They include: the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and sibling GMC Sierra, unveiled by General Motors at a media event in December and on display at the Detroit show last month; the significantly updated 2013 Ram pickup that's just getting up to full production now; and the biggest surprise of the Detroit show, the concept for a new Ford F-150 due next year.
Other introductions at Chicago:
Chevrolet Cruze diesel. It's Detroit's first passenger vehicle diesel since the 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD and the first Detroit car with diesel since the 1980s. Chevy says the new high-mileage powerplant for its popular compact -- the 17th-best-selling vehicle last month, according to Autodata -- will give buyers more choices. GM CEO Dan Akerson has forecast that mileage "should make it in the low- to mid-40s."
"Chicago has become one of our strongest small-car markets," Chevy spokeswoman Annalisa Esposito Bluhm says. "We've really made a difference (there) since launching the Cruze, Sonic and Spark."
Kia Cross GT concept. Kia has only released a shadowy teaser image. Kia says its Cross GT is "inspired by nature, driven by technology." It would be considered a "premium," meaning pricey, crossover that's larger than the Sorento.
Dodge Challenger R/T Redline. Chrysler Group shows off an unabashed muscle car, powered by a 375-horsepower Hemi V-8. The Redline "fuses our iconic heritage with a one-of-a-kind customized appearance," said Reid Bigland, CEO of the Dodge division, in a statement.
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