2011 Chicago Auto Show

2011 Chicago Auto Show

It’s that time again! It’s been a yearly tradition to go with my big bro and this was no exception. If I remember correctly, last year GM still had an enormous booth, Hyundai was second largest. This year, things are a little different and everyone has been rearranged. The things I noticed right off the bat:

  • Fiat finally incorporated into Chrysler Group but very separated. This was welcoming for the 500 who had its very own space, but there was nothing amazing about the booth. In my opinion, the Fiat brand is going to be very important for Chrysler Group.
  • German much smaller presence. Literally all the major German brands’ booths were cut in half, to the point that the Mercedes-Benz booth was downright cramped.
  • You could tell we’re in a recession (with some exceptions)
  • I didn’t notice a lot of concept cars and I was especailly hoping to see Mazda’s new KODO design concept
  • And finally, no top shelf brands. No Alfa. No Fisker. No Aston Martin. No Lambo or Lotus, all there last year.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more specifics and photos after the jump.

And now for the specifics.

2011 Chicago Auto Show
Mercedes-Benz had the SLS which was gorgeous and on a platform 5′ in the air. Half the space of last year, not even a Black-series.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
BMW’s coming out with $41k M1 which is ridiculous when you can get a nice 3-series or baby M3 for that money.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Fiat 500 is adorable: a right-priced alternative to the Mini, simple and efficient
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Infiniti lost something… The new concept Essence is stunning, their production cars are meh and no one was visiting
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Hyundai was impressive with Equus but no one wanted to pay $60k when they could get an E-class. How do I know? Because everyone who stared at the car said so. Still people were impressed and crawling all over it. I love that the owners manual is delivered on an iPad. That’s REALLY creative!
2011 Chicago Auto Show
The Hyundai Elantra is lovely! Strange design signature (that chrome strip on the side is weird) but It’s growing on me.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Hopefully new to Hyundai is the Veloster. I am excited about this one because it looks so cute!
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Audi A7… Why? Uuuuuuuugly back end, front looks like A6. Why??? Are they trying to make something as hideous as the Panamera?
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Audi A8 too fussy on front end. Weird. Great luxo-barge, better than the Lexus LX if you ask me
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Lexus had the LFA, ~170 coming to US, 500 total ever, $350k to start though $500k is more likely. And I have to disagree with Top Gear UK: This is an AMAZING car, even if it is a Lexus. The SC400 was my dream car for many years. So I am partial to Lexus.
2011 Chicago Auto Show<
Lexus unveiled yet another hybrid: CT200h is a concept, but I bet they’ll do it. It’s interesting but seems like it’ll compete with its own IS. So Lexus is turning into Toyota, which was turned from GM — and look where THAT got them?
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Dodge all looks the same now with the new front grille, starting with the new Durango.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
The Dodge Challenger R/T fails Chris’s Grille Test: when you move it up and down, it feels as though the entire 5-1/2′ width will come off in your hands as though it’s held on with two wood screws. Terrible.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Chrysler 300 nice inside, great satnav and interior upgrades. All overdue. I hope it makes it a lot less couchlike and numb on the road as a result. The Chrysler 200 which Eminem was “selling” is EXACTLY like the Sebring from the outside. If you’re going to spend that much effort, change the outside as well. Though I have to say the interior is MUCH improved. So, I didn’t bother photo-ing it. In an aside, Imported From Detroit is going like gangbusters!
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Porsche let you in their cars!!! In the Speedster would need to be driven top down because of the horrendous blind spot.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
For Peter, I am excited about Cadillac. Not the entire range, but just the CTS. The new trio times two variants (the regular and V-series) are amazing cars. They’re going to need to stop extending the brand so much. Though everyone’s doing it.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Toyota reeling from PR disaster, takes note from Subaru (with quotes EVERYWHERE about how wonderful they are, offers test drives of all their trucks and takes up the most space biggest booth. But I was floored when I went looking: no FT-86? New Prius is old news, no one really cares about the hatchback varient, spent a ton of money in the front lobby about it.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
On an anti-PR note, this guy was messing about in the Toyota booth…
2011 Chicago Auto Show
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Now, for a bit of fun. Though the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (top) and the Subaru Impreza WRX STi (bottom) have been tweaked for 2011, I was more struck by their engine compartments. Unlike other vehicles, it actually LOOKS like an engine. The rest look like plastic engines where I imagine hamsters live.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Though mostly unchanged for 2011, the new Mazda3 gets a minor facelift (less grinny) and is impressively lovely as it always is. This is one of my favorite cars to actually own someday. I’ll have a charcoal gray Mazdaspeed3 please.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Buick Regal looks better inside than out. My biggest concern for Buick is: the Lucerne and Regal within thousands of dollars of each other makes no sense. And, Buick: why on earth are you considering the Verano??? Stay upmarket and differentiate!
Speaking of differentiation, VW sliding backward: Passat is boring and huge. I didn’t bother photographing them either.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Now, I used to own an Acura. And a Honda. I came from a theory they could do no wrong. But now I know that’s not the case. Take a look at the bird-nosed Acura TL is no longer sporty. And where on earth is the the NSX?
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Honda is redesigning tweaking the Civic. The coupe looks amazing but it’s obvious the bean counters were at the sedan. Terrible and lazy. And I wonder what the interior will be like. As for the rest of the stable, the Honda CR-Z only thing interesting at Honda as the rest are turning Camry-like complacency for the Schaumbergiens.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Second behind Toyota in floorspace this year is Chevy. And they were REALLY pushing the Chevy Volt. In addition to getting the Black Kettle Award for the 20th Century, I am befuddled by price tag and the way they market it. Still the models are talking up the negatives. Stop bringing it up! I have to say the interior is nice, but not $40k nice. In fact, it sorta reminds me of the Buick Riviera from the early- to mid-1980s.On top of it, they’re preselling in April to deliver in the fall!? Fail.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
The other new one from Chevy is the Sonic, intended to be just below the Cruze and eventually replace the Aveo. It’s a sharp-looking car and I am curious how it’ll work. It’s like what Nissan did with the Altima: make it cheap but gorgeous.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
In the same breath, Saab is finally moved on from their GM overlords and is Sweedish-owned again. The new 9-5 is a step in the right direction, though not as far as I’d like. Maybe the next generation will be all-new and all-appropriate. The 9-3 still looks like a done-over Chevy on the inside. I expect that’ll be the first they redo in the next cycle. Oh, and thank GOD the 9-4x isn’t based on the TrailBlazer. What a TERRIBLE idea!
2011 Chicago Auto Show
And now for Ford. It’s been no secret they’ve done amazing work to turn themselves around. For 2011, as you can expect, they’re focusing on Explorer.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
They also had my favorite Ford right now: the Fiesta range. If they bring that Focus RS to the states, I would be so happy!
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Another car I am happy they’re bringing over from Europe is the Ford C-Max. I actually thought it would make it over as the updated Mazda5 but now I realize that partnership is dissolving. This will be an excellent 5-passenger vehicle if you’re not digging on the too-low crossovers.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
This is one of the WORST things ever to do to a classic car. Don’t.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Scion ridiculous design cue on the  tC, lazy redesign outside. I cannot understand why they would do so little especially given all the options in this class right now. Still, I am a huge fan of Scion.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
Another little gem making its way over from the overseas is the iQ. It’s about time, too, and Spring 2011 will come not too soon. Top Gear UK rumored it’ll also make it as an Aston-Martin Cygnet at some point. I hope that was a rumor that died. Overall, Scion is turning into Toyota which came from GM. There are too many variants in the same class. Do xB tC iQ, drop xD.
2011 Chicago Auto Show
I love driving a Mini Cooper, but I am so over Mini. (I would give you links to their models, but I cannot.) Over over over it! Stick to two-doors. Stop making so many variants! The Clubman. The Countryman. The Stupidman!!! STOP!

And that’s about it! More next year I hope!