Posted Feb 8th 2013 7:00PM
On the international circuit, the Chicago Auto Show often gets slighted for being a rather dull show in terms of actual news and major vehicle debuts. But the Chicago expo is still hugely important. Not only is it the largest show in terms of overall square footage, it serves as the largest consumer showcase, with the highest amount of foot traffic from consumers. Sure, a lot of what's new here pales in comparison to all of the shiny sheetmetal we saw in Detroit last month, but it's all still very important.
As is our tradition, we've picked our favourite cars of the show (personal opinions, mind you – no fancy official-type or "most important" stuff here) and have compiled them in our usual Editors' Choice format for your perusal. Have a look below to see what caught our eyes.
#5: 2013 Volkswagen GTI Driver's Edition
The Volkswagen GTI may have been dethroned as the king of the hot hatches in our minds, but that doesn't mean we've lost our affection for the little scamp. It's due to be overhauled next year, but for 2013, this new Driver's Edition (known as the Wolfsburg Edition in Canada) adds unique wheels, a retro-minded "Golf ball" shift knob, partial leather seats, and red accent stitching on the floor mats (yep). It might just be a special edition package (limited to 3,000 examples, by the way), but it's enough to hold our interest as one of our favorite Chicago debuts.
#4: 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo
Despite the fact that Autoblog managing editor Jeremy Korzeniewski hates the way the Juke Nismo looks, there are a good number of us who find it, well... awesome. And why wouldn't we? Most of us really like the funky, what-the-hell-did-I-just-look-at appearance of the Juke, and these Nismo aero extras (and red mirrors!) really emphasize the car's freaky appeal. Beyond that, the bulbous Nissan gets a power bump up to 197 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque from its turbocharged 1.6-litre inline-four, and we fully expect it to be a total hoot to drive. Sorry, Jeremy. You've been outvoted.
#3: 2014 Kia Forte 5-Door
We just had our first stint behind the wheel of the new-for-2014 Kia Forte and walked away generally pleased with the Korean automaker's latest attempt at building a cool, competent C-segment sedan. This new five-door model adds a bit of functionality to the svelte package, and the fact that the car can be had with a punchy little turbo-four makes us eager to get behind the wheel. Nothing terribly exciting here, but the five-door Forte certainly piqued our interest enough to make this list.
#2: 2014 Chevrolet Cruze TD
Hey there, diesel Cruze. No, there aren't any big updates to the pleasant Chevrolet compact outside of its oil-burning engine, but that's fine. We like the Cruze as-is, and having a 2.0-litre turbodiesel inline-four under the hood should only make things better. That mill offers 148 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and will return 5.6 L/100km (42 miles per gallon) on the highway. Unfortunately, that isn't anything better than what you get in the gas-powered Cruze Eco (with a manual transmission, too), but we're all in favor of boosting the availability of diesel cars here in North America.
#1: 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core Edition
Only at the Chicago Auto Show can a special edition of an already old car come away with the most votes in our poll of what's hot. But just because something isn't flashy and new doesn't mean it isn't really special. We really, really like the whole idea behind this Core model of the Chrysler 300 SRT8 – everything you need, nothing you don't, with several thousand dollars removed from the car's bottom line. It's a totally baller machine, its 6.4-litre Hemi V8 still producing 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, and despite being decontented with things like cloth seats, the Core model utilizes unique 20-inch alloy wheels with black-painted Brembo brake calipers underneath. We'll take ours in Phantom Black.
With so much to see and do in Chicago, there's always a few cars that landed fairly close to landing our Top 5 list. After careful consideration, here are a few of the automotive highlights well worth a second look.
- Ford Focus TrackSTer
- Dodge Charger from Defiance
- Kia Cross GT concept
- Nissan GT-R Track Edition
- Nissan 370Z Nismo
- Volkswagen Beetle GSR
- Superman Kia Optima Hybrid
- Scion FR-S Pro/Celebrity race car
- Ram Promaster