2012 Chicago Auto Show Wrap-up +VIDEO


2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Chicago Auto Show

The 104th Annual Chicago Auto Show - Complete Press Pass Coverage, every vehicle, every video, everthing!

By Steve Purdy (Detroit Bureau)
Thom Cannell (Detroit Bureau)
Larry Nutson (Chicago Bureau)
The Auto Channel


First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. This year marks the 104th edition of the show.

After the intensity of the Detroit show in January, auto industry executives and PR folk as well as we auto writers look forward to a show that is lots of fun and a little more laid back. The two days of media previews kick off with a breakfast sponsored by the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). At this event MAMA announced the 2012 Volkswagen Passat has been named by their members as Family Vehicle of the Year.


2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

The breakfast keynote address was by president and CEO of Volvo Cars North America, John Malony, who revealed an interesting announcement - that from now on all Volvo vehicles will be powered by 4-cylinder engines. Taking advantage of the brands safety image Malony also said that “by the year 2020 no one will be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo.” Volvo will do this by expanding on its systems that automatically stop a car to prevent a low-speed crash by using sonar and video sensors to recognize automobiles and trucks. Now they’re adding recognition of stray animals—while we worry about deer, Swedes are concerned with moose! That’s a mighty big goal, but with an amazing array of passive safety technology they may get close.

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

VIDEO: Nissan previewed their next entry into the commercial vehicle market with the NV 200, a compact van, going up against the only other that comes to mind – Ford Transit Connect. Mercedes Sprinter, Ford’s E-series vans and Chevy’s Express vans compete with Nissan’s much bigger NV vans. This NV 200 is equipped with 60/40 rear doors, 40X48 cargo space, and powered by a 4-cylinder engine with CVT. Nissan thinks this van can displace small pickups and typical “B-van” cargo vans as fuel costs escalate. Eventually Nissan will offer an all-electric version of the 200 based on the Leaf EV, and one variant of NV 200 has been chosen to be the preferred new NYC taxi. That version will be shown at the NY Auto Show in April. Nissan says the NV200 is its third cargo van, joining the NV Cargo and NV Passenger vans.

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

Ford news included a convertible version of the hotshot Shelby GT500 boasting 650 horsepower and a 200mph top speed. The Mustang features a lighted “SVT” on the sill plate. The Ford exhibit includes its all-new Escape that will be in dealers in late spring and its outstanding new 2013 Fusion that was revealed in Detroit and will be in US dealers this fall. Both vehicles exhibit Ford’s “One Ford” philosophy in that they will be sold around the world with only minor changes for different markets. The Escape closely resembles the Vertrek concept it showed last year.

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

At the Economic Club of Chicago-hosted luncheon, Yoshi Inaba Toyota’s US boss announced they’ll shift the Highlander Hybrid production from Japan to their Indiana plant with a $400 million investment and hiring of 400 workers. He said each auto job creates 3 1/2 “spinoff” jobs. Toyota is creating an export hub in North America to help manage the currency exchange due to the stronger yen. They’ve been partnering with Ford, Tesla, Microsoft, BMW and others.

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

In their display Toyota debuted an updated Land Cruiser with a revised grille and HID headlamps, LED daytime running lights, more chrome and new tail lamps and outside mirrors. The near-luxury full sized eight-passenger SUV receives an interior makeover; new colors, perforated leather seats, new displays that includes a Multi-Terrain monitor with selectable front, rear, or side views, Eco driving light, a 110-V outlet and another 12-V for second seat passengers, and chrome plated air registers.

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

Subaru brought the BRZ, developmental sibling of Toyota’s FR-S. Both sports cars feature similar powertrains developed by Subaru and, for Toyota, with their fuel system. Suspensions is where they differ. Those who have tested the long-awaited and much hyped vehicles report the Toyota as smoother, Subaru as far more attitudinal. Photo Subaru BRZ

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

Nissan brought the Pathfinder Concept from Detroit, revealing that it is almost production ready as you can see in our photos. Interiors are yet undecided, hence the locked doors. We expect a more open rear window, better to see what’s behind you and allow kids to wave at truckers.

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

Chrysler and Fiat focused their displays on the 75th Anniversary Edition Mopar Vehicles we told you about last week including the Dodge Dart GTS 210 Tribute, Jeep Compass True North, Fiat 500 Stinger, and the dealer-only Chrysler 300 Moper ’12.

VIDEO: Kia showed the waaaay cool Track’ster concept. Based on the popular Soul compact CUV we can see the overall shape but all the design details are nicely exaggerated - flashy, wheels extended out to the rear, gulping grille,

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

bright white with ‘inferno’ orange trim, beautiful suede, gille vents front and rear, 19-inch HRE wheels with Brembo calipers showing through, and 250 horsepower. The design theme is “a wild boar with a backpack.”

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

Kia will also soon have an “SXL” trim package for the well-contented turbocharged Optima SX mid-size sedan with an MSRP around 35 grand with wood trim, Napa leather, 18-inch wheels and their “UVO” voice-activated infotainment system.

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

VIDEO:GMC showed the modest restyle of their Acadia, large CUV made in Lansing, MI alongside Chevy and Buick variants. All three have been very successful products for GM and it’s certainly time for updates. GMC also reveled a new Denali upscale trim package for Acadia.

2012 Chicago Auto Show (select to view enlarged photo)

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

One of the most interesting concept cars here - one we saw only briefly in Detroit as they kept it in a glass enclosure only shepherding a few enthusiasts at a time - is the Volvo Concept YOU, featuring the next generation design language by Peter Horbury and an amazing interior with floating console and seats.


2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

VIDEO. Hyundai, after apologizing for not being able to make enough of the hot-selling Elantra compact sedan, announced new Coupe and GT (hatchback) versions of the car. John Krafcik, the company’s suave U.S. boss thinks that’s a good problem to have. The new versions of Elanta will be available later this year. An intriguing styling detail of Elantra, executed within the “fluidic sculpture” design language, is the subtle but distinctive differences in the grill treatment.

2012 Chicago Auto Show (select to view enlarged photo)

Acura unveiled its all-new production version ILX luxury compact targeted at Gen-Y buyers and to be priced under $30,000. On the next display is a redesigned and reengineered RDX SUV that the company says is more comfortable, larger inside, and equipped with a V-6 engine that offers more power and better fuel economy then the turbocharged I-4 it replaces.

2012 Chicago Auto Show  (select to view enlarged photo)

The PBS auto enthusiasts’ program annually designates their Drivers’ Choice Awards in a dozen different categories culminating in their Best of the Year award, which this year goes to the Mustang Boss 302. A spokesman said, “The Boss 302 just does everything right.”


Watch the show highlights video



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