Top 10 Things to See at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande

Chicago typically hosts the most heavily visited auto show in North America, so there’s a better chance you’re going to visit it than any other AutoGuide.com reports on.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 things to see at this year’s show. Spoiler alert: they aren’t all cars because exciting debuts were, frankly, scarce this year. Still, there’s plenty to see and do if you’re planning to make the trek.

Chrysler and its collective brands – Jeep, Fiat, Dodge and of course the Pentastar brand itself – will let you sit in an honest-to-goodness moving vehicle. Jeep has its usual steep grade demo, but Toyota has
the real one to try this time around. The venerable Mr. T revealed its new TRD Pro line this week with upgraded suspension components and tough-looking style tweaks.

Sign a waiver and one of Toyota’s brand specialist will take you for a spin that includes driving up a big pile of dirt and over a giant see-saw. Sadly, the “specialists” in question aren’t the cocktail dress wearing variety.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Ford has a line of Mustang-themed pinball machines sitting in its booth and you don’t even need quarters to play. Of course, there’s probably going to be a pretty big line of adults re-living their childhood while their kids wonder what pinball is.

It’s supposed to be able to drive between 80 and 100 miles on a charge and will recoup its juice in about five hours with a 240-volt outlet. That means Kia has effectively built a car that keeps up with but doesn’t really beat anything on the market today.

Regardless, the hamster-approved green machine is on display at the South Korean company’s booth beside the Nero concept first seen during the Frankfurt Motor Show last September.

As special edition vehicles go, this one is particularly well executed. It’s a life-sized Tonka truck! Special body panels have the Tonka name pressed into them instead of glue-on badges.

Ford doesn’t actually build the special truck. That job falls to a company called Tuscany and it isn’t a cheap one. The truck sitting on the show floor costs just over $50,000 before the roughly $22,000 price to build it into the head-turner you see here.

For 2015, the Subaru Legacy enters a new generation and leaves its both the manual and conventional automatic in the past. Legacy lovers have a CVT in their future regardless of model choice. The 2.5-liter four cylinder and 3.6-liter six remain in place, but fuel efficiency is bumped to an average 30 mpg and 23 respectively.

They’re fast, safe and Swedish, what more do you want? If a little stationary seat time will satiate your appetite, head over to Volvo’s booth. There you’ll find Polestar-tuned versions of both the S60 and V60 making their U.S. debut. The company promises that they will launch from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds.

Everyone is buzzing about diesel these days. Nissan made headlines when it announced plans to put a 5.0-liter Cummins mill in its new Titan and the company shook things up again in Chicago by slotting a 2.8-liter Cummins four-cylinder into its smaller truck. The engine makes approximately 200 hp and over 350 lb-ft of torque. Nissan says plans to produce the truck will be based on customer feedback at this show and those subsequent events.

One of the guys being paid to ward off dust and smudges summed it up by saying “all I want in life is some alligator and some Navigator…”

Lincoln’s new luxury truck made its “official” debut in Chicago this week. It uses a the 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 and is based on the outgoing Ford F-150. The company is positioning it to compete with the upcoming Cadillac Escalade, probably as a more fuel efficient and less expensive alternative.

Unveiled in Detroit and effectively stealing the show, the FT-1 Concept is making Chicago its second stop in its auto show tour. It’s aggressive body, massive air scoops and stunning proportions easily make it one of the most exciting things to see at the sow this year, even if it is old news.

Some guys wash their baseball caps, but doing that is sort of like hiring Maria Sharapova for a photo shoot and asking her to keep a coat on…

SRT doesn’t wash their baseball caps. You can tell because they also brought their Viper Le Mans car to the show and left it post-race dirty. This is one you’ve got to check out. But it isn’t the only aggressive racer to see.

Volkswagen revealed a Global Rallycross-prepped Beetle and it is not to be missed.

It has flared fenders, a gargantuan spoiler and 560 hp being sent to all four wheels. The only downside to this car is that Tanner Foust won’t start the 2014 Global Rallycross season driving it. Instead, he’ll be piloting the old rally-prepped Polo until the summer X Games take place in Texas, at which point he and former F1 driver Scott Speed will both make the switch.

Luke Vandezande
Luke Vandezande

Luke is an energetic automotive journalist who spends his time covering industry news and crawling the internet for the latest breaking story. When he isn't in the office, Luke can be found obsessively browsing used car listings, drinking scotch at his favorite bar and dreaming of what to drive next, though the list grows a lot faster than his bank account. He's always on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="http://twitter.com/lukevandezande">Twitter</A> looking for a good car conversation. Find Luke on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="http://twitter.com/lukevandezande">Twitter</A> and <A title="Luke on Google+" href="http://plus.google.com/112531385961538774338?rel=author">Google+</A>.

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