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The Chicago Auto Show promises Horsepower and fun!

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto Show promises Horsepower and fun!

Joe Salzburg
February 8, 2012

The 2012 Chicago Auto may not get the most fanfair of the North American International Auto Show Tour, but it is STILL the BIGGEST with the most to offer. The Most square footage of any of the shows on the tour.. (That includes LA, Detroit and New York), but also Four Test Tracks indoors and more outside! Several World Debuts will be outed in Chi-Town including the New Beetle TDI coupe, A New Hyundai Concept, and a few surprises that have not been leaked as of yet. Expect about 5 to 8 more in addition to those. Chrysler still leads the pack in the way of test tracks with the Dodge/Chrysler Test Track and the Jeep/Dodge/Ram Test Track. Chevrolet will bring back the Volt Test Track, and expect Toyota to bring back theirs as well. Ford had a small one last year for the debut of the then all-new Explorer, but we don't know if that track will return. Regardless expect to see several all-new cars to be shown in Chicago. For the domestics you can see Ford showing the 2013 Fusion. This car is all-new from the ground up and has already made it's appearance testing it's new body for NASCAR. Ford also has the NEW Escape, the restyled Flex and Taurus and the new "King of the Hill" King Cobra Mustang boasting a heart-pounding 650 Horspower! WOW! Lincoln has a corral of restyled cars, CUVs and SUV's and a concept car that shows their new styling direction. This could be Lincoln's last chance to get it right if it wants to compete and survive in a very difficult and competitive class. Regardless, Lincoln is throwing down the gauntlet with this beautiful design. One not to miss in an otherwise, usually forgettable Lincoln display.

GM is not to be outdone with several NEW cars making their debut on the NAIAST. Chevrolet lays down the horsepower with the debut of the Camaro ZL1 Convertible... 580 Horsepower with top-down fun and amazing performance to match! Corvette will celebrate Chevy's 100 years with the Centennial edition... A Black on black car with a bit of red trim for just the right amount of accent. Two interesting concepts show performance and style with the code130R, a BMWish 3-Series combined with Camaro elements making this an interesting concept, while the TRU 130 is more of an exotic. Both cars are rear-wheel drive, using the Eco-tech Turbo 4. Both cars are very production-ready, while still being styling exercises. Most likely you will be seeing one of these in the Chevy lineup in the near future or at least many of the styling elements. Also new for Chevy is the completely redesigned 2013 Malibu. Chevy refined the car event further with more of evolutionary styling, than revolutionary like the 2008 model design it replaces. Camaro elements are very visible from the rear of the car with a more muscular look and more "Camaro-esque" tail lamp treatments. The Chevy Sonic was released last summer, along with good reviews and strong sales. Chevy adds more zoom to the Sonic with the release of the Sonic RS Turbo model due out this year. The Chevy Spark (Chevy's answer to the Smart car and other micro Sub-Compacts) may be on display. This car is small and most likely will be powered by a 3 cylinder and an all-electric version (Hence the name "Spark"). There isn't much new with the trucks, but expect a NEW Colorado to debut soon, possibly at Chicago or New York in Concept or Pre-Production form. Same goes for the Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban and Avalanche. All are due for a NEW design and test mules have been seen everywhere.

For GMC, a new Denali version of the Acadia will debut along with a revised front and rear end treatment. A completely NEW model of the Acadia and its cousins Chevy Transverse and Buick Enclave are largely a year away or more. So expect revised front and rear facias on all three. The same news for the Chevy truck line goes for the GMC truck line. We are expecting a replacement for the long-in-the-tooth Canyon soon in some form, unless GM decides to only give Chevy a version (The Colorado).

Buick brings us an ALL-NEW sub-compact CUV... A first of its kind for Buick, called the Encore. This is quite possibly the smallest car Buick has ever produced, definitely on the smallest platform. Styling comes straight from the much much larger Encore. Other models remain largely unchanged, and the Lucerne finally hits the pasture of Buicks gone by.

Cadillac finally brings out the long-awaited ATS that will compete directly with BMW's 3-Series and other competitors in that class. The ATS slots below the CTS, and like it will also be rear-wheel drive. Only it will be offered with a turbocharged version of the Ecotech motor. There is room for a V6, and truth be told... even a V8! Look out M3! Eexpect several future variants of the ATS sedan, including a coupe/convertible and a wagon. Gone from the lineup are both the STS and the DTS. Both cars will be replaced by one model that was previewed last year in pre-production/concept form. The upcoming XTS sedan which will feature an all-wheel drive platform. A good competitor for the Audi A6 Quattros and the Chrysler 300 AWD. Look for the XTS on dealer lots sometime this year.

Chrysler has quite the flame under it as it not only has some hot new recent released models, but also a lot of new stuff to come out very very soon! The highlight of the Chrysler display will be its first real compact class competitor for Dodge since it lost the Neon in 2005. Dodge is bringing back the name "Dart" in a highly anticipated sedan with heavy Charger styling that will be built at the Belvidere plant. 1600 NEW employees will be added to the plant to help build this car that will come with triple door seals, four engines and a virtual gauge cluster with high grade materials thoughout the interior. It's sleek and has plenty of attitude, and this is before any kind of R/T model has been even shown yet. Maybe that will be unveiled in Chicago... we can only hope. Chrysler will show several "Mopar" performance versions of their lineup including the new Charger SRT392 Superbee, the Challenger SRT392 Yellow Jacket, the Charger Redline with 575 horsepower, the SRT8, the Chrysler 300 SRT8, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. A lot of Hemi performance will be sure to please those wanting performance from the Pentastar. Other highlights include the debut in Chicago of the Ram 1500 Laramie Limited truck and the recently revised and heavily upgraded Compass, Patriot and Wrangler. Don't forget about the Durango which debuted early last year. Will we see a Hemi R/T version in Chicago... Could happen. Being that Chrysler is largely owned by FIAT now, FIAT will have the all-new high performance version of the 500 on display, known better as the Abarth 500. This car competes directly with the Mini Cooper S Turbo, VW's Golf GTI and the upcoming Chevy Sonic RS Turbo. Like those cars, the Abarth 500 will have a turbocharged engine based on their Multi-Air4. Expect about 160 horspower with agressive bodywork, special trim, racing stripes, accented colored mirrors, wheels, roof, etc. Think Mini Cooper S or the more powerful JCW Mini... Now you get the idea.

We'll continue with the import debuts from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show in the next issue! Stay tuned!

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