The Chicago Auto Show is usually a little smaller than its counterparts held in Los Angeles or Detroit, but this year’s show felt a little slower than normal. No matter: there were still a number of vehicles, including some new concepts and debuts, that managed to catch my eye. Here’s a quick rundown of my five favorite things from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.
Kia Track’ster Concept
With funkiness of a Soul and the stance (and powertrain) of a rally car, the Track’ster immediately stole my heart. The interior is just as interesting as the exterior: it’s not completely gutted, as one would expect a track-oriented design would be. Although the cargo compartment is relatively Spartan and uncomplicated, there are some surprisingly nice materials (did I spy Alcantara?) used in the passenger compartment. I highly doubt the Track’ster will be built as-is, but if corporate sibling Hyundai can build the Veloster Turbo, why couldn’t Kia do a turbocharged three-door Soul?
I don’t disagree with Donny Nordlicht’s praise for the 2013 Elantra Coupe that debuted this week, but as someone who frequently needs to haul large, ungainly objects (usually purchased from Craigslist), the versatility of the Elantra GT’s hatchback appeals to me. So does it’s exterior: unlike the last Elantra Touring, the GT looks liess like a small wagon and more like a swoopy hatchback.
OK, so this isn’t an exciting, exotic pick, but the 2013 RDX could shake out to be an incredibly strong competitor in the premium small crossover segment. The styling is fairly attractive, the fuel economy is noticeably improved, and the interior – which is extensively trimmed in pleasant soft-touch materials and leather – is extremely attractive.
2012 Ram Laramie Limited
I appreciated the amenities Ram packed into the Laramie Longhorn, but the belt buckle-sized emblems and cowboy boot stitching on the front seats is a bit too much for this city slicker. The new Laramie Limited seems to be the answer: its interior is no less sumptuous than the Longhorn, but it – along with the exterior itself – is clean, contemporary, and attractive.
U.S. Army Oshkosh M1070 HET
There was no truck at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show larger than the Oshkosh M1070 Heavy Equipment Transport, which all but dominated the U.S. Army’s recruitment display. Oshkosh already has an upgraded second-generation HET in production, but the M1070 – which first entered service in 1993 – is no less impressive. The tractor itself is a little under 30 feet long, eight feet wide, and 12 feet tall. A 500-horsepower Detroit Diesel 8V92TA turbo-diesel V-8 drives all eight wheels, and can move the 41,000-lb beast to a top speed of 45 mph. Maximum payload is 140,000 pounds, although the more you load, the slower it goes: carry 70,000 pounds, for instance, and that top speed decreases to about 30 mph.
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