Chicago Auto Show showcases newest trends, future vehicle stars
By Jeff Taylor For Sun-Times Media February 5, 2014 9:30AM
Ford Motor Company’s stand at the 2014 North American International Auto Show includes a 37.5-ton display that simulates a moving assembly line, as well as a chance to see the all-new Mustang next to the original pony car.
The 106th edition of the Chicago Auto Show (February 8-17, McCormick Place) is an annual sensory extravaganza combining new vehicles with auto-themed attractions, rides, drives, technology displays, contests and celebrity meet and greets.
“It’s been amazing to see how (automotive) engineers have been able to combine new weight saving measures and green technology to increase the fuel economy and horsepower of the internal combustion engine,” said David Sloan, CATA president and auto show general manager. “The average age of vehicles on the road is 11 years, so the auto show is a big opportunity to get up to speed with (newest) advancements.”
The trucks debuting in Chicago are: the all-new (aluminum) 2015 Ford F150 pickup; Chevrolet introduces the City Express (small van) and Bi-Fuel Silverado HD; and Lincoln shows off a refreshed Navigator.
Horsepower takes the form of a 2015 Mustang, while the Corvette Z06 and Camaro Z/28 get revised styling. Subaru cranks up a spunky WRX STi and Porsche shows off a 911 Targa. Sedans include the swoopy Chrysler 200 sedan and VW’s high-efficiency Passat.
Luxury brands have seen improving sales and new models like Acura’s TLX sedan, Audi’s A3, BMW’s new 2 Series coupe, Cadillac’s striking ATS coupe and Hyundai’s revised Genesis sedan. Kia’s K900 premium sedan will tempt auto show visitors with higher degrees of tech, luxury and performance.
Race-bred technology, as applied to the street, will be prominent in numerous manufacturer displays including Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Toyota and Mazda. A growing horsepower trend is the emergence of smaller engines making big power, with models from Cadillac to Mazda showcasing how automakers are doing more with less.
For the technology-focused car shopper, each manufacturer will be strutting their tech stuff from connectivity, engine/vehicle controls, green solutions and even new luxury/convenience features. Going a “tech step” further is the Auto Show Connected Pavilion, which showcases start-up app developers and budding auto technology companies innovations to present pioneering mobility solutions.
Affordable luxury is prominently displayed at this year’s show. Luxury nameplates from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and even Land Rover are expanding their product portfolios, offering vehicles to consumers to fill in the gap between the upper limits of mass market vehicles and the luxury segment.
The Auto Show offers outdoor test drives and three indoor tracks highlighted by the very popular Camp Jeep off-road simulated course, and Toyota’s proving ground with full-size vehicle teeter/totter.
To help navigate the Chicago Auto Show, check out the official smartphone app. Kurt Schiele, 2014 Chicago Auto Show chairman, said the new app, “is intended to provide attendees with a richer and more informational experience.” App features include show details, floor map, sponsor listing, breaking news and vehicle lineup.