After finally lifting Covid restrictions – long after the rest of the world had – Chicago was trying hard to catch up to the rest of the world. If there was a central theme to Chicago it was “EV”. It seemed like every manufacturer was introducing some form of EV for the market. “First All-Electric Chevrolet Blazer!”, “First All-Electric This!” “First All-Electric That!” On and on it went. So we hope you like electric vehicles because that seems to be the only thing coming down the pipeline. If you don’t like electric vehicles….well, you’d better start at least getting used to the idea. At least a few manufacturers were doing their best to make them more exciting.
Whether out of fear of Chicago reinstating the Covid restrictions again or simply deciding to apply their budgets to bigger, more important auto shows (or both), Chicago was a little light on manufacturers. Notable missing manufacturers included Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Maserati, Porsche, and Mazda. And while everyone else seemed to be marked “present and accounted for”, those are some awfully big names to be absent from an auto show.
Other manufacturers took the opportunity and utilized the empty floor space to build indoor demonstration tracks for their cars and offered rides to visitors so they could experience the vehicles firsthand. There were no fewer than six test tracks operating while we were there.
Despite Chicago’s reputation as the “commercial truck” show, there were some notable consumer introductions. Subaru introduced their redesigned Crosstrek SUV, Jeep debuted several new 4xe hybrid vehicles and their Wrangler 392 (which we drove last year), Toyota debuted their new Grand Highlander SUV, and Volkswagon introduced their new Atlas SUV models.
It wasn’t all family haulers though. There were some performance models unveiled as well. Alfa Romeo quietly presented their new production Tonale electric-hybrid SUV next to a Giulia and a Stelvio Quadrifoglio, while Chevrolet proudly displayed their new Corvette E-Ray alongside their new Z06 and a gorgeous convertible. In an unexpected but interesting move, Honda brought and displayed the fuselage of their EasyJet, allowing people to see the sumptuous interior and cockpit.
Perhaps the greatest indication that things were getting back to normal were the number of concept cars introduced. Ram Trucks introduced their new and revolutionary REV concept, a full-EV pickup truck that was originally unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas recently. Chrysler showed their sharp new Airflow EV SUV concept, and Buick showed their gorgeous 2022 Wildcat EV coupe concept – both names from their storied histories. But it was Dodge that stole the concept competition with their stunning Charger Daytona SRT EV muscle car, complete with 120db revving engine audio accompaniment. While the sound effects were a bit cheesy, the car itself is pure adrenaline muscle car and EV or no, you’re going to want to drive one.
Finally, making up for the lack of exoticness in Chicago, Joe Perillo Motors had a cordoned off area full of high-dollar exotics and luxury cars being watchfully patrolled by beautiful security guards in skin-tight leggings and boots, complete with nightsticks and handcuffs on their belts in case you decide to be naughty around their cars. Or something like that. They had one of Lamborghini’s limited edition Countach models (1 of 112) on display in highlighter Lime Green alongside a purple Aventador Roadster and a Urus SUV. A few McLarens, a few Maseratis, a few Aston-Martins, and more than a few Rolls-Royce and Bentley models rounded out the display.
So there was something for everyone at Chicago, as well as proof that the auto industry is charging into the EV market full-tilt. More, Chicago was proof that the auto show circuit is coming back to life again.