2012 Chicago Auto Show News

The 2012 Chicago Auto Show press days have come and gone. I didn’t make the show in person but I had a friend go and scope it out. Here’s a quick roundup.

It’s a much smaller show than the Detroit, New York or L.A. auto shows, but there was still plenty of excitement. There were 18 significant reveals at the show. That’s not nearly as many as we saw in Detroit but there were some very interesting cars.

In no particular order…

1. Ford showed off the Shelby GT500 convertible. It’s electronically limited to 155 MPH but looks like it COULD go as fast as its 200 MPH coupe counterpart.

2. Believe it or not Ford also showed off a 1933 Mustang SVT Cobra-R – it looks VERY cool still.

3. VW showed the 2.0-liter turbo diesel version of the Bug in the 2013 Beetle TDI.

4. Acura has been having a tough time lately, but the Acura ILX is a much better choice than its Civic counterpart. Who knows if it will sell, but it looks like it’s a step in the right direction.

5. The best looking concept at the show was Kia’s Track’ster. It is what the Soul SHOULD have been. It has a bit of Mini/Fiat flavor to it and the three-door body is cool. Reaction from all corners has been positive to this car so I guess that means Kia won’t ever put it into production. Because that’s how that stuff just goes.

Auto shows are fun. But once you’ve seen one, you’ve kind of seen them all. I try to limit myself to one or two a year. I question why we need so many, but as long as they have these shows I’ll cover them.

Five Interesting Cars From the Detroit Auto Show

It’s back, it’s big, it’s exciting – the Detroit Auto Show is rocking the car world this week with some pretty amazing announcements – both concept and production cars are out there that I want to drive.

In no particular order:

1. Acura NSX

I’m not much for cars designed in Japan. But in the case of the NSX I may make an exception. It’s bold, it’s bad and it’s beautiful and moreover – it’s going to be built in Ohio. It has a hybrid powerplant and looks like a ton of fun.

2. 2013 Mini Roadster

There are two kinds of people in a car – drivers and riders. Either one can end up behind the steering wheel. If you’re the kind of person who is a driver, this car will catch your eye. Typical mini fun with the top down in a small car with up to 211 horsepower.

3. 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

The launch of the original Veloster was something of a disappointment to me and many others. It LOOKED fast and powerful but underneath, it judt didn’t have what it takes. Enter the turbo model and all that has changed. Throw in a few body changes and 201 horsepower that’s still delivering 38MPH on the highway and you should be good to go.

4. Smart For-Us

In a “hey that cool little Hot Wheels-looking truck might be fun to drive” kind of way, I was strangely drawn to the Smart For-Us concept. It’s an electric car/truck. It has 11.6 cubic feet of space and is, on almost every level, totally and utterly impractical and likeley won’t ever be sent into production – but it’s still plenty funky and therefor interesting.

5. Dodge Dart

Note the title of this post is INTERESTING cars from the Detroit Auto Show – not necessarily the cars I’d want. Enter the new Dart. Unlike the Charger/Challenger combo where Dodge tried to make something old new AND cool again, the Dart just looks like it’s a bad clone of an alien in one of those slimey science fiction movies on cable. But it is at least not as bad as I expected. It looks like it’s lost. Maybe I’ll warm up to it but it is interesting.

2011 CarLoves.com Cars Of The Year

I can’t pick just one car of the year. There were too many interesting cars in 2011 to do that. My car(s) of the year pick is based on things that were new, interesting, ground-breaking, stylish or in some other way a stand out. I don’t accept car company advertising here so you can bet my picks aren’t influenced by five-page spreads coming from the winner.

Cars of the year for 2011 (in no particular order…)

1. 302 Boss Mustang. It’s been called the best Mustang ever. I fell in love with this car the minute my hand touched the shifter. It’s got good brakes, a great engine, it’s fast and powerful in an American muscle car kind of way, it’s good looking and serves a purpose for those who want a street race car with lots of power. It’s a tad expensive and the transmission is suspect so it’s not perfect, but it’s close.

2. Fiat 500. There are all kinds of problems with this car. It only scored three stars in the safety test. It’s under-powered. It’s only available through a very iffy, disorganized and sometimes even shady dealer network. And the ads for the car by J-LO have been a complete failure, but other than that :) Seriously, the reason I picked the Fiat is that it makes a statement. In a world where 15 minutes on any freeway will likely bore you to death with Japanese econoboxes lined up one after the other, each with no soul at all, here you have a design wonder, a statement car. It’s fun to drive (if sometimes impractical) and it costs less than $20,000. Since most people I know can’t afford to make statements with the Italian super cars, this one will do fine.

3. Jaguar XKRS. This one is spendy, sexy, fast and oh yeah – fast. It’s radical 550HP V8 reminds you more of a Corvette than a Jaguar with 4-second zero to 60 times to go with it. Top speed is 186. The exhaust is loud and lovely and it continues the Jaguar tradition of grace, space and pace quite nicely thank you. The convertible version (of which only 40 were made this year for America and sold out in one day) also deserves to be on the list.

4. Cadillac CTS-V Black Diamond Edition. I love this car. I even tried to buy one, but while Cadillac has created the world’s fastest production sedan, and stepped up its game remarkably of late, it still has a dealer network more worthy of the 70s era sleazy used car salesman and alas, I couldn’t work it out. My personal problems aside, you can bet your behind this is NOT your father’s Cadillac. This is a race car with the Cadillac emblem on it. It’s sleek, controversial, powerful, fast, fast, fast and reasonably luxurious on the inside even. This is an under-rated, over-looked car. If you get a chance to drive this car it will change how you think about Cadillac forever.

5. Range Rover Evoque. While technically it’s an SUV, it’s about as small as most full-sized sedans. In fact it’s a bit too small for my taste, and too expensive and too hard to find. But nothing is perfect and this vehicle is sexy. It’s about as luxurious as you can get and be in an SUV. It drives very smoothly, but is very off-road capable. It’s got great, dramatic styling. The rear-ward visibility is horrible but heck, at least you’ll look like a million bucks driving down the street in this thing.

The one thing about all these cars is they stand out. They are different. They aren’t SAFE. That sets them apart and causes me to consider them worthy of consideration.

What say you? What are YOUR favorites?