I went back and forth on the idea before finally caving in and attending the 2017 Chicago Auto Show on opening day, Saturday 2.11.17. I haven’t gone in 3 years and unsurprisingly, not much has changed. But maybe that’s a good thing since what I saw both times I really liked. Large crowds that were easily navigable, never waited more than 2-minutes to sit in a car which interested me, randomly saw a classmate (again) and I was able to get in and out seamlessly within 3-hours. Perfect for my short attention span and urge to get back to the books. Here’s my quick recap from this years show:
- Easy-Pezy Tickets – Girlfriend and I didn’t preorder any tickets so when we arrived we immediately got in a long line to buy ours. Thankfully an overhead announcement said we could download the 2017 Chicago Auto Show app on our iPhones and save $2. One-and-done. No lines and off we went!
- Subaru Letdown – Since this is my daily driver and I was super disappointed that after sitting in their “newly redesigned” version, nothing besides a gimmicky touch display had changed. Major bummer.
- Mazda CX-9 – Holy wow! Mazda did something right this year! Their large SUV has Mercedes quality interior coupled with a very attractive exterior that seriously impressed both of us. If I were to walk away from this event with one pair of keys it probably was going to be this bad boy in dark gray. Rarrrr. Mazda weblink
- Chrysler 300s – I’ve always been a fan of the Chrysler 300’s. I remember commercials during the super bowl of these things and seeing their menacing prescience on the streets always resulted in me thinking “DAMN! I want one of those!”. Well Chrysler officially pushed that thought into overdrive since they’ve released an (s) version which now has more horse power, a wicked bodykit and a beats sound system. It will be mine one day. Chrysler weblink
- Fiat Spider – I really thought I would love the new Mazda Miata. I was wrong. At nearly 30k I was not blown away enough to consider (theoretically) dropping that kinda cash for a weather permissible weekend toy. However, Fiat surprisingly won me over whole-heartedly! Their little coupe with a sexy tan-leather interior with uber push seats and cool retro headlights had me begging for me. Fiat weblink
- Blah Hellcats – I wanted to like them. I really did. I mean at 700+ hp with surprisingly stock looks it screams total sleeper. That is before you slam your foot to the floor obliterating anything beside it. HOWEVER, the inside is just so freaking boring that if that thing isn’t going sideways I wouldn’t mind my introductory seat time to be the last. Fix the interior and I’ll gladly try it again. (sorry car gods for I have offended you)
- Kia Winner – Kia introduced their new 2018 Stinger and while I wasn’t able to get close since it was only on display, it looked amazing! 4 doors, coupe body style, ventilated hood making 365hp through a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 engine had me majorly sold! Best new car of the show by far! kia weblink
- Death to all good sports cars – the Nissan Z is dead, no more Infiniti coupes, the Mitsubishi Evo is long since buried… and what do we have instead? Toyota & Subaru pushing the nearly flintstone-powered FRZ/BRZ and a couple go-cart equivalent Mazda/Fiat toys? WTF auto industry? Where’s my import power!!?
- So-so Maserati? – I’ve long since dreamed of driving (or at least sitting) in a Mazi. Up until this year you could gawk all you wanted at them but no sitty-sitty. Thankfully Maserati had it’s own private section that if you waited a cool ~5 minutes you could sit in a couple. I had seriously high hopes! At their big MSRPs I was expecting a significant delineation between high end cars like Audi/Mercedes/BMW and the next tier like Maseratis. I got to sit in the new Levante SUV (which looks incredible on the outside!) and the Ghibli sedan. My personal findings: Meh. There was only one thing on them that wasn’t on lower end cars, the interior door handles. Those babes were solid, heavily metal and opening them provided such a powerful, commanding feeling of quality and strength. Damn. Maserati weblink
- No More Going Green. Lame. – Tesla wasn’t there which literally blew my mind. They are building a massive plant in Nevada to exponentially increase their manufacturing capabilities, they just released their latest Model, the 3, whose pre-orders numbers went bananas right off the blocks and they are clearly considered a major automotive power now. Yet they didn’t show up. Not only that but there was no huge push for green/hybrid which I distinctly remember seeing 3 years ago. It’s strange. It’s like since gas prices are no longer excruciatingly painful at +$3, no one gives a real shit about going green. Major bummer when I noticed this. Finally when I read a press-release a couple months ago about a new company called Faraday releasing an SUV with a 2.6 second 0-60mph claim I was internally screaming for that vehicle to be on display too. But nope, nope, nope.
Otherwise a very straight forward show. Lots of opportunities to wait in some line as a professional driver goes over 6 bumps and talks too much (Jeep, Mercedes, Toyota, Dodge), food that smelled unfairly good but costs an arm & 3 legs, and the classic marine pull-up station. Can’t have a public event without one of those. Overall I loved what I saw and can’t wait to go again in 3+ more years, but definitely not any sooner.