A preview of the Chicago Auto Show
CHICAGO — When the cold winds blow in early February, it's tempting to let the Chicago Auto Show media preview slide by without attending.
But this year, like every year, I'm reminded what a great venue it is for "gearheads," with more than 1,000 cars on display and some of the best people-watching in the Midwest. (Automotive journalists are a varied and unique group.)
An added bonus is visitors can get up close and personal with the latest version of the Chevrolet Corvette, the C7 or Corvette Stingray as the marketing folks call it.
You'll want to be up on your 'Vette identification skills, because the "Grandaddy of Corvette Shows" will be at the Assembly Hall in Champaign on June 28-30 for its 41st year.
The News-Gazette's Sunday Gearhead feature plans a series of Corvette features prior to the show, to aid your 'Vette knowledge.
Adding to the already-announced cars from the world's manufacturers, these cars were among those presented Thursday in Chicago:
— Toyota uses Chicago to announce changes in its truck line and showed off a restyled and redesigned Tundra full-size pickup, now offered in five distinct trim levels including a "1794 Edition" that refers to the San Antonio, Texas, ranch where the Tundra factory is located.
— Kia kept with its music theme, using an a capella singing group to introduce its Superman Optima hybrid and a five-door version of the Forte. This was the first of the superhero vehicles the company is building in conjunction with DC Entertainment, and the Forte was the fourth of seven new car versions/redesigns planned for this car show season.
— Nissan used its moment to highlight great sales of its small utility truck, but the big news came when Nissan's Simon Sproule introduced the 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo and 2014 Nissan 370Z Nismo. Nismo versions are aimed to keep pace with some premium manufacturers' performance-tuning offerings, including a tuned suspension, stiffer stabilizer bars, 19-inch alloy wheels and Nismo sport brakes.
— Volkswagen introduced the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR, and it will be the most potent Beetle in the lineup when it goes on sale in the second half of the year. It will feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. This engine will also be fitted to the Jetta GLI and Beetle Turbo, adding 10 additional horses to their output. Only 3,500 will be built of the GSR (which translates from German as "yellow black racer") and offered worldwide. The previous version of this Beetle, produced and sold only in Germany in 1972, sold out in two months.
— Chevrolet introduced a Cruze with a German-designed and -built turbo diesel, offering performance and fuel economy. An estimated 42 mpg highway is expected from the engine.
Other manufacturers will continue introductions on Friday. The show opens to the public on Saturday.
Chicago Auto Show
About: First staged in 1901, it is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. This year marks the 105th edition. The show includes more than 1 million square feet of contiguous floor space and will display nearly 1,000 vehicles.
Where: McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616.
When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Feb. 9-17. And 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Feb. 18.
Tickets: Available on site or https://tickers.drivechicago.com. Adults $12, seniors aged 62 and up $6, children 7-12 $6, children under 6 free accompanied by a paying adult.