2018 Chicago Auto Show Overview

2018 Chicago Auto Show Overview

The Windy City showcases important vehicles for the coming year.

By Cherise Threewitt, Contributor, Car-ED.com | Feb 2018


The Chicago Auto Show might not be the most important in the country in terms of new model reveals — that honor would go to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and, arguably, the Los Angeles Auto Show. However, Chicago’s positioning early in the calendar year and closer to new model year launch timing, as well as the sheer size of the two combined show floors which is the largest in the country, demands attention. Several auto manufacturers chose Chicago again for significant reveals, updates, and celebrations.

This year, the halls of McCormick Place saw new model introductions kicking off on Thursday, February 8, followed by another day of media-exclusive previews and the annual First Look for Charity gala. The show opened to the public on Saturday, February 10, and wraps up on February 19.

The Chicago Auto Show features vehicles from 40 manufacturers, ranging from concepts to prototypes to production vehicles. It’s a lot to take in, especially if you’re coming at it from a consumer’s perspective — learning more about your options for your next new vehicle — but we’re here to help. Here are some of the most interesting and important models that were on display at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.

New model introductions included the official launch of the Volkswagen Arteon, an all-new “four-door coupe,” which drew a crowd. Alongside the new Atlas midsize SUV, the Arteon is an important model as the brand tries to bounce back from its fall from grace. We’ll have a full overview of the Arteon in the coming days.

Toyota’s display featured TRD Pro editions of the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra trucks designed by the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) team. All three models will be available with impressive off-road-ready suspensions and hardware, with styling upgrades to match. These Toyota nameplates are already best recognized for their all-terrain capabilities, and these TRD-branded trucks take it up a few notches.

Fiat claims the redesigned 500, powered by a 1.4-liter turbo engine, is the most affordable turbocharged car in America. The 500 features turbo engines across its entire lineup, and has an updated look thanks to new fascias and side sills. The 500 will hit showrooms by summer 2018.

Jim Belushi made an appearance for the debut of the redesigned Ford Transit Connect utility van – which Ford is continuing to push hard as a unique alternative to the traditional minivan. However, the most interesting thing about this debut — and this is no accident — is that the Transit Connect’s exterior updates make it look more like a passenger vehicle than a commercial vehicle.

Nissan made the 370Zki the centerpiece of its winter-themed display. This custom snowmobile concept is based on the 370Z Roadster and was developed especially for this show. Crowds also enjoyed Nissan’s “Star Wars” concepts and the production vehicle lineup featuring exclusive “Star Wars” design motifs.

To celebrate 50 years in the United States, Subaru revealed the 50th Anniversary Heritage Edition lineup, clad in an exclusive steel blue exterior finish and boasting special design details, such as front seats embroidered with the 50th Anniversary logo. Subaru is on a roll after a stellar 2017 and the launch of the new 2019 Ascent SUV. We’ll have a full overview of the Heritage Edition lineup going live soon, so stay tuned @www.car-ed.com.

There were plenty of other popular vehicles that have already made the Internet and social media rounds. The Ram 1500, for example, was officially revealed in Detroit in January, but it was trotted out again, this time decked out in a full range of MOPAR performance-inspired accessories. MOPAR has developed more than 200 styling upgrades and add-on features for the popular pickup truck, and we’ll be taking a closer look at this line in the next few days.

The Hyundai Veloster N, a performance version of Hyundai’s hot hatch, is another model that was previously revealed in Detroit, but this was many attendees’ first chance to see it in person. Nearby, a display of Stinger performance sedans — both production-spec and modified — helped draw attention to the Kia brand, which recently topped the J.D. Power quality rankings for the second year in a row.

The BMW i8 Roadster, which was first revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, was also, understandably, a fan favorite. The i8 is one of the most dramatic-looking cars on the road, yet it’s rare to see one in the flesh. Its eye-catching muted orange paint stood out on the show floor and the car was surrounded all three days we were in attendance. This car is out of range for most consumers, to be sure, yet it’s still a compelling example of the potential of electric vehicles, and well worth a look.

If you didn’t get a chance to catch the Chicago Auto Show in person, don’t worry: most of the vehicles on display will be making the rounds to the other major US auto shows over the course of the year. We’ll have coverage of those shows, with a focus on the information that new car shoppers need to know to make their best buying choices.

Stay tuned for more information on the best new model reveals at the Chicago Auto Show, and be check out our social media channels for photos of all these highlights.