Automotive

Heat wave in the Windy City: A look at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

2015 Chicago Auto Show
2015 Chicago Auto Show
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Shown here at the Chicago Auto Show, the Speedhunters Maximum Attack Scion FR-S debuted at last year's SEMA Show
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Shown here at the Chicago Auto Show, the Speedhunters Maximum Attack Scion FR-S debuted at last year's SEMA Show
Maximum Attack FR-S
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Maximum Attack FR-S
The Maximum Attack FR-S was developed by Speedhunters for Scion's 2014 Tuner Challenge
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The Maximum Attack FR-S was developed by Speedhunters for Scion's 2014 Tuner Challenge
Volkswagen Tanner Foust Racing ENEOS RWB Beetle
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Volkswagen Tanner Foust Racing ENEOS RWB Beetle
Volkswagen Global Rallycross Beetle
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Volkswagen Global Rallycross Beetle
Volkswagen Global Rallycross Beetle
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Volkswagen Global Rallycross Beetle
Volkswagen Tanner Foust Racing ENEOS RWB Beetle
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Volkswagen Tanner Foust Racing ENEOS RWB Beetle
Volkswagen Tanner Foust Racing ENEOS RWB Beetle
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Volkswagen Tanner Foust Racing ENEOS RWB Beetle
Subaru BRZ at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show
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Subaru BRZ at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show
The Porsche 918 Spyder always makes its presence felt
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The Porsche 918 Spyder always makes its presence felt
Porsche 918 Spyder
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Porsche 918 Spyder
Not a new concept, the Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV was first revealed at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show
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Not a new concept, the Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV was first revealed at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show
The Concept GC-PHEV's interior includes a "Tactical Table" that allows occupants to share information from smartphones through the infotainment system
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The Concept GC-PHEV's interior includes a "Tactical Table" that allows occupants to share information from smartphones through the infotainment system
The Concept GC-PHEV shows future Mitsubishi design language
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The Concept GC-PHEV shows future Mitsubishi design language
The Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV makes its North American debut
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The Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV makes its North American debut
The Concept GC-PHEV features a 335-hp supercharged MIVEC V6/electric motor plug-in hybrid powertrain
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The Concept GC-PHEV features a 335-hp supercharged MIVEC V6/electric motor plug-in hybrid powertrain
The Mercedes-AMG GT
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The Mercedes-AMG GT
The Mercedes-AMG GT
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The Mercedes-AMG GT
Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup Race Car
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Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup Race Car
Maserati GranTurismo MC
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Maserati GranTurismo MC
Lingenfelter Corvette
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Lingenfelter Corvette
Lingenfelter Corvette
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Lingenfelter Corvette
Lingenfelter Corvette
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Lingenfelter Corvette
The all-new Kia Trail'ster
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The all-new Kia Trail'ster
Infiniti at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show
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Infiniti at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show
The Kia Trail'ster is an off-road-oriented Soul with e-AWD powertrain
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The Kia Trail'ster is an off-road-oriented Soul with e-AWD powertrain
Hyundai Veloster Rally Edition
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Hyundai Veloster Rally Edition
Based on the Veloster Turbo R-Spec, the new Rally Edition gets upgrades like more performance-focused suspension, RAYS lightweight wheels and unique badging
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Based on the Veloster Turbo R-Spec, the new Rally Edition gets upgrades like more performance-focused suspension, RAYS lightweight wheels and unique badging
Hyundai reveals the Veloster Rally Edition at the Chicago Auto Show
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Hyundai reveals the Veloster Rally Edition at the Chicago Auto Show
Hyundai revealed the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept in Detroit in January
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Hyundai revealed the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept in Detroit in January
Hyundai Veloster Rally Edition
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Hyundai Veloster Rally Edition
Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck
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Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck
Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck
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Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck
Honda reveals the third-generation Pilot at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show
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Honda reveals the third-generation Pilot at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show
Ford reveals the new Police Interceptor Utility
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Ford reveals the new Police Interceptor Utility
World debut of the 2016 Honda Pilot
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World debut of the 2016 Honda Pilot
Ford Police Interceptor Utility
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Ford Police Interceptor Utility
The all-new Ford GT gets a new paint job
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The all-new Ford GT gets a new paint job
The Ford GT made its world debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show
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The Ford GT made its world debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show
Ford GT in "liquid silver"
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Ford GT in "liquid silver"
Ford GT at the Chicago Auto Show
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Ford GT at the Chicago Auto Show
Dodge highlights its Viper 1 of 1 program
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Dodge highlights its Viper 1 of 1 program
A more colorful Dodge Viper in Chicago
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A more colorful Dodge Viper in Chicago
A multi-colored Dodge Viper shows the possibilities
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A multi-colored Dodge Viper shows the possibilities
Dodge Viper 1 of 1
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Dodge Viper 1 of 1
The new Chevy Voltat the Chicago Auto Show
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The new Chevy Voltat the Chicago Auto Show
Chevy Volt
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Chevy Volt
Chevy Volt
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Chevy Volt
Chevy Silverado 1500 Custom
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Chevy Silverado 1500 Custom
Chevy restyles the Equinox
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Chevy restyles the Equinox
Chevy Colorado GearOn special edition
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Chevy Colorado GearOn special edition
BMW X6 M
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BMW X6 M
A look at the GearOn accessory system
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A look at the GearOn accessory system
Buick Cascada
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Buick Cascada
BMW M235i Convertible
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BMW M235i Convertible
Audi at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show
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Audi at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show
Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition
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Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
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Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
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Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
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1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
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1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Acura reveals new 2016 RDX
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Acura reveals new 2016 RDX
1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
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1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Acura reveals new 2016 RDX
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Acura reveals new 2016 RDX
Nissan Titan XD
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Nissan Titan XD
Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
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Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
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Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
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Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
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Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
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Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
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Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
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Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
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Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
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Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
Mazda MX-5 accessories design concept
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Mazda MX-5 accessories design concept
Chevy confirms the new Bolt EV for production
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Chevy confirms the new Bolt EV for production
Hyundai previews the next-gen Ridgeline with a sketch
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Hyundai previews the next-gen Ridgeline with a sketch
2015 Chicago Auto Show
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2015 Chicago Auto Show

While the Chicago Auto Show is always eager to advertise its claim of being the largest auto show in the United States (by square footage), it usually takes a back seat to the likes of Detroit, New York and LA when it comes to important, exciting product and concept debuts. This year's show holds its own, however, hosting a variety of interesting new production cars, concepts and special editions. Take a look at the new cars and trucks that have Chicagoland talking.

The Ford GT goes silver

Ford GT in "liquid silver"
Ford GT in "liquid silver"

Although it isn't new in design or spec, having had its debut at last month's North American International Auto Show (Detroit), the Ford GT at the Chicago Auto Show does wear a new "liquid silver" paint job and racing stripes. As such, it's easily one of the most visually exciting concepts of the show, "old" news or not. The 600-hp+ twin-turbo EcoBoost V6-powered Ford GT will hit production sometime in 2016.

Concept cars and special editions show new possibilities

Among the Chicago debuts that we looked at in more depth, the AWD, off-road-ready hybrid Soul that Kia calls the Trail'ster is an easy show favorite. The small, nimble SUV pairs a rear electric drive with a 1.6-liter turbo up front, offering "through the road" all-wheel drive that delivers traction, acceleration and all-electric driving whenever conditions warrant.

The Kia Trail'ster is an off-road-oriented Soul with e-AWD powertrain
The Kia Trail'ster is an off-road-oriented Soul with e-AWD powertrain

A few other other concepts and special editions showcase new performance and aesthetic possibilities.

Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept

Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept
Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept

Nissan's performance arm has its hands full in Chicago, revealing both the GT-R LM NISMO race car and the 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept. The latter tests the waters for a high-performance version of Nissan's sporty convertible, dialing things up with a tuned 350-hp version of the standard Roadster's 332-hp 3.7-liter V6 engine. The concept does meticulous road work with help from a NISMO-tuned suspension system. Billed as a one-off design study, the 370Z NISMO Roadster could join the hard-topped 370Z NISMO Coupe on the market, if there proves to be demand.

Dodge Viper "1 of 1"

Dodge highlights its Viper 1 of 1 program
Dodge highlights its Viper 1 of 1 program

With a colorful show car, Dodge shows the near-limitless possibilities of its new Viper "1 of 1" program, which lets Viper owners customize their sports cars into one-of-a-kind creations. We'd personally prefer classic red brushstrokes over the bright Easter basket of colors on the Chicago car, but it does convey the open-ended possibilities of the program quite effectively. Dodge announced the program last month, calling it an industry first and stating that Viper customers have up to 25 million different build combinations to choose from, including 8,000 hand-painted exterior colors, 24,000 hand-painted custom stripes, 10 wheel options, 16 interior trims and six aero packages.

Mazda previews accessories on MX-5 concept

Mazda MX-5 accessories design concept
Mazda MX-5 accessories design concept

We don't think that 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata customers will have a whopping 25 million build combinations to choose from when the new roadster goes on sale this summer, but Mazda is previewing possible personalization options with the MX-5 accessories concept. The Chicago Auto Show served as the venue where Mazda revealed the very first MX-5 Miata in 1989, and this year's show is the backdrop for the reveal of the new 2016 model upgraded with aero kit, BBS wheels, Brembo brakes and luggage rack. The customized concept wears Ceramic Metallic paint.

"The concept parts and accessories we have showcased at the Chicago Auto Show were developed to give customers a look at what is possible for the new cars to make them truly one-of-a-kind," explains Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations.

Chevy delivers a Bolt of reality

Chevy confirms the new Bolt EV for production
Chevy confirms the new Bolt EV for production

Though much of GM's focus in introducing the all-new Chevy Bolt at NAIAS 2015 was affordability, there was no word out of the show about whether such affordability would be extended to actual customers or just discussed and forgotten, concept-car style. GM waited until Chicago to confirm its intentions to build the small electric car, which is projected to travel around 200 miles (322 km) per charge and cost around US$30,000. It is investing $200 million in its Orion Assembly facility and Pontiac Metal Center to support Bolt production and plans to announce a production timeline and other details at a later date.

"The message from consumers about the Bolt EV concept was clear and unequivocal: Build it,” says GM North America President Alan Batey. “We are moving quickly because of its potential to completely shake up the status quo for electric vehicles.”

Trucks get new options and special edition packages

A look at the GearOn accessory system
A look at the GearOn accessory system

It's only fitting that an auto show in the heartland of a country that's best-selling car is a truck (Ford F-Series) would have a few interesting trucks to its name. Ram is showing the new Laramie Limited trim and Chevy has a pair of special Silverado packages in the form of the Midnight Edition and Custom. It's another Chevy that's the most interesting of the new trucks on display, though.

The special edition Chevy Colorado GearOn Edition adds versatility with a basic GearOn accessory kit, which can be used as the basis of a versatile mounting system for hauling gear like kayaks, bikes, boards and even a bed-mounted tent. The Colarado GearOn Special Edition will go on sale within the next few months for a starting price of $31,250.

There is plenty more eye candy at the Chicago Auto Show. Step into our gallery and check it out for yourself.

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