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Old 02-16-2019, 12:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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2019 CAS: The State of the Industry is Venty (and Long and Picture-Heavy)

As in years past, I've braved the Chicago cold in search of the most egregious aerodynamic details from the current fleet of cars available for sale in the US. Noticeably absent this year: BMW/MINI, Mercedes-Benz, and Mitsubishi. I expect two of those companies will still have a US presence in ten years.

On to it!

This year's show was dominated by trucks, SUVs, and crossovers, including two I've wanted to get a look at for a while now. First, the new Silverado was there, with its enormous air curtain vents:

And RAM finally brought a truck with the movable airdam, seen here in its stowed position:

Air Dams

Sticking with air dams for a moment, there were some unusual arrangements. The Ford Ecosport, similar to the Fiesta, uses a deeply inset air dam and no engine bay pan:

The soon-to-be-dead Volt has an inset air dam, plus wheel strakes behind that:

A few cars used a combination of full or partial air dams with an engine pan. The 2019 Acura RDX, for example:

This is an interesting arrangement, on the Lexus LX570:

Air Curtains

There have been some interesting developments in air curtains over the last year. These things have gone from a novelty just a few years ago to ubiquitous today. Some cars wear them with pride, like the new Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV:

...and the Hyundai Veloster N:

Others try to hide them with the smallest inlet possible. The Mustang, one of the first production vehicles with air curtains:

Blink and you'll miss it. Similarly, the new Ranger hides its curtains well, and has an outlet far inboard of where these usually are in relation to the wheel arch edge:

Rear wheel air curtains are now officially A Thing. I noted last year that the Honda Clarity was the first and, at the time, only car to use them, but there are now others. The Veloster N again:

And, ladies and gentlemen, a new first in the industry--a car with air curtains only in the rear: the Lexus LC500.

The front of the car has what appears to be inlets:

...that are, in fact, blanking plates with no duct.

Venty Galore

Of course, the LC500 wasn't the only car at the show using strategically-placed "vents" as a stylistic device. Everybody's kow-towing to BIG VENT apparently. Here are some of the others.

2019 Audi Q8 front bumper cover vent. Fake...or not?

Even though the duct looks real, there's no curtain behind it and the "duct" itself is solid:

How about the apparent rear wheel housing vent on the aging Dodge Charger?

There is no duct, but that is open to the vented wheel housing!

Try the hood vents on the RAM 1500. Outboard:


That's right, the outboard vents are functional and the center hood "vent," near the base of the windshield, is just for looks.

One last one. The Silverado's platform mate, the GMC Sierra:

Until I looked at this truck close up, I assumed it didn't have the air curtains that the Silverado does. They aren't as large (the Silverado's are more than a foot tall!), but they are definitely there:


With the rise of crossovers, we are nearing Peak Spoiler as well. Most designs are basic, ranging from the vestigial on the Ford Escape: the quite large, as on the Lexus NX300:

Many crossovers have slotted spoilers now, like the Toyota C-HR:

Lip spoilers on cars are slapped on anything with any sporting pretensions at all. Here's the 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE:

Grill Blocks

As last year, manufacturers continue to try and hide the actual cooling air opening behind apparent grills. The most honest car at the show was the NASCAR Camry, just about the only car to wear its cooling inlet area with pride:

All the production cars hide behind giant plastic maws. The 2020 Corolla Hybrid:

The Acura TSX hides it better; it's hard to tell what's open and what isn't:

Vents, Just Vents, More Vents, Stupid Vents

Vented wheel strakes on the Jeep Grand Cherokee:

Functional hood vents on the Dodge Challenger:

Functional wheel housing vents on the Jaguar F-Pace:

...and Kia Stinger:

Grill/hood vent on the Jaguar I-Pace:

Odds and Ends

For Daox, the 2019 Toyota Sienna's hood gasketing:

Flush door handles on the Acura NSX:

Open grill over the 2020 Porsche 911's engine bay:

Aerodynamic lip on the 2019 Kia Niro plug-in's muffler:

Interesting rocker shaping aft of the front wheel housing, Jaguar F-Pace:

The End

Since the Mercedes guys weren't there to heckle me this year, I had a pretty easy time of getting under cars. However, a Jaguar rep, seeing me take that last picture of the F-Pace, asked what manufacturer I was with!

I have literally hundreds more pictures, so if there's something you want to see, let me know--I may have it.

Keep your stick on the ice.


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