The Chicago Auto Show prides itself by putting real people together with real cars, minus all the glamor and glitz. This year, more tha two dozen automakers from around the world descended on the Windy City’s famed McCormick Place, with over 1,000 of their latest style statements, giving the midwestern masses a taste of what sheet metal is cheduled to come down to them in the next 12 months and beyond. While the number of new cars were lesser than what was shown last year, in the same show, still, there were quite a few numbers of cool rides to see. Following is the countdown to the Top 7:
7. 2011 BMW Alpina B7
The independent tuner Alpina has been tweaking BMWs since the 1960s. In Chicago, it unveiled the second generation BMW Alpina B7, which is quite close to the M7. Offered in both short- and long-wheelbase models, the B7 features a 500hp 4.4l twin-turbocharged V8 engine that vaults the car from 0 to 60mph in just 4.5s. To aid handling, it has an adjustable suspension with active roll stabilization and shorter springs that lower the ride height. Exterior changes include exclusive 21-inch wheels, front and rear spoilers, and tailpipes integrated into the rear bumber. The Alpina will go on sale this spring.
In 1935, Chevrolet placed an all-steel wagon body atop a half-ton truck frame and called it the Suburban Carryall. Seventy-five years later, the Suburban is still going strong and is, in fact, the longest-running nameplate in North America.
Chevrolet is celebrating here in Chicago by introducing a special edition of the full-size sport ute. The 2011 Chevrolet Suburban 75th Anniversary Diamond Edition is based on the well-equipped LTZ model. It comes with a White Diamond Tricoat paint scheme, a cashmere interior, unique 20-inch chromed wheels and new roof rack rails, plus special badges and lettering inside and out. Limited to 2,570 units, the 75th Anniversary Suburban will hit dealer showrooms early this summer.
5. 2011 Ford Edge
The crossover Edge is rapidly replacing the Explorer as America’s favorite family hauler from Ford. With the changes made for 2011, the Edge should become even more popular. Restyled inside and out, the Edge also expands its powertrain lineup from one choice to three. In addition to a 285-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, the Edge adds a turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec 4-cylinder for base models and a 305-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 for the Edge Sport. Inside, it gets the new MyFord Touch control interface, as well as improved materials and craftsmanship. The company says the Edge is also quieter and smoother, while a retuned suspension makes for tighter handling. Look for it this summer.
4. Honda Odyssey Concept
Minivans are boring, but you can’t deny their utility. At Chicago, Honda introduced the 2011 Odyssey Concept, a minivan that aims to create a new, hipper image without sacrificing utility. For a sportier look, Honda designers tilted the windshield at a sharper angle and gave the van a wider stance with stronger shoulders. Details are sketchy at this point, but Honda says V6 power with Variable Cylinder Management will return, and fuel economy will improve to an estimated 19 city/ 28 highway. The company also says the interior will have more room, thanks to a wider cabin that will permit three child seats across. A production version of the new Odyssey is due this fall.
3. Kia Ray Concept
The Kia Ray is a compact plug-in hybrid sedan designed and engineered for amximum efficiency. Made of lightweight and recycled materials, the body eliminates side mirrors and door handles to reduce drag and uses a glass roof with solar cells that help power the vehicle’s climate control system. The Ray’s plug-in hybrid powertrain is composed of a small gasoline engine, an electric motor, and a Li-polymer battery pack. Some of the design elements and the plug-in hybrid system will likely appear in future vehicles in Kia’s EcoDynamics sub-brand.
Toyota has recently taken a beating in the press lately, but that didn’t stop the Japanese automaker from showing off its restyled – inside and out — 2011 Avalon here in Chi-Town. Toyota has widened the grille and fitted new headlights and taillights with integrated light pipes to create a unique nighttime appearance. Inside, the already spacious Avalon adds even more comfort with a class-exclusive reclining rear seat, plus plenty of new technology, including a touch-screen navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an iPod interface and XM satellite radio. Power is still supplied by 3.5-liter V6 engine sending 268 horsepower through a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2011 Toyota Avalon is due at dealerships this April
1. DeltaWing IndyCar concept
Obviously not destined for public roads, this car had to make the top 10 in Chicago simply for the buzz it created. A glimpse at what a race car of the future might be for the Indy Racing League, the DeltaWing IndyCar Concept looks like a cross between a dragster, landspeed racer and, well, a crime-fighting jet car. It weighs 1,000 pounds including the driver (about half as much as a current IndyCar) and has a very slippery 0.24 coefficient of drag. This combination allows the car to reach a top speed of 230 mph using a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, instead of the 650-horsepower 3.5-liter V8s currently in use. The DeltaWing is one of four concepts submitted for the IRL’s new car design, which is set to debut in 2012. This summer the IRL decides on the winning design, so stay tuned. Man!!! Do I want this car…