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February 20, 2013

The 2013 Chicago Auto Show: The Windy City’s Annual Show is Top for Consumers

CAS_2013_LOGO_330Auto shows have a personality and the Chicago Auto Show is described by automakers and autowriters as a “down-home” show—and they love it! There’s even an event sponsored by all the automakers for the press and other early attendees called “Sweet Home Chicago”! But, don’t let its slower pace and more comfortable setting make you think it’s small. In fact, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and this year’s show marked the 105th annual event, which makes it the longest-running and one of the best-attended shows in the world. Sponsored by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association dealers, the show is held at the McCormick Place Convention Complex where the enormous amount of space on hand brings an ease for car makers to offer free concerts and set up experiential test tracks. There’s also a ‘social media day’ now held annually that draws a wide variety of presenters and consumers to come together to evaluate and promote this new landscape and its effect on the automotive industry. was one of the presenters this year, helping to showcase the exciting and rapidly-growing arena of Marketing to Women.

But, at the end of the day, an auto show is really about new sheet metal and the introductions of new models soon to hit the streets along with the unveiling of concept vehicles that are experiments in design and technology and are meant to take the temperature of the audience, plus help automakers make decisions about whether to move forward with a particular model or technology. There were a number of both-new models that will be in dealerships soon and a few hot concepts. My personal favorites were the 2014 Toyota Tundra, the 2014 Ram Promaster, the 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO and Nissan NV200, and the Kia Crossover CUT Concept.

2014 Toyota Tundra

I enjoy fast rides and sports cars, but what really excites me is the hotted-up competition in the world of trucks and SUVs. The rivalry couldn’t be more intense in the personal pickup market and Toyota led the press day by revealing its newest 2014 Tundra (see video of introduction by Diana Claussen), the third generation model that will go on sale in September. It’s been refurbished inside and out and has been designed with a more rugged-looking exterior-but stays away from the ‘Big Boy’s Toys look”. Its looks, technology and more upscale interior should bring some new female buyers into the fold. Plus, Toyota is adding two trendy, top-end models, a Platinum luxury model and 1794 edition, honoring the history of the ranch that is on the grounds of Toyota’s San Antonio plant, where Tundra is built. This follows suit with Ford and Ram offerings that are high-end luxury and historical ranch-based models. New technology includes a 6.1-in. color touch screen featuring Toyota's Entune system, providing Bluetooth streaming, navigation, and Pandora streaming audio, as well as a new 3.5-inch multi-information display in the center of the gauge cluster. The newest truck will come with three engine choices-one V6 and two V8s; a 5-speed is linked to the V6 and a new 6-speed transmission is onboard for the V8s. Other goodies are a backup camera; a new blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert; eight standard airbags, and a new manual headlight leveling system with LED daytime running lights. It goes on sale late summer.

2014 Ram Promaster

Chrysler was on top of the world after its successful 2013 Super Bowl commercial “So God Made a Farmer”, paying homage to the American farmer, received top Neilson ratings; the Detroit-based company now in the Fiat fold unveiled the all-new 2014 Ram Promaster full-sized van that comes in 13 different configurations, two roof heights, three wheelbases and with different engines and capabilities-similar to the new vans from Nissan and Ford. There will also be choices of cargo, chassis cab and cutaway body styles for women who run businesses with cargo and upfitting needs!

Nissan came to the show with a lineup of new performance models and a new version of its NV (stands for Nissan Van) line –the 2013 Nissan NV cargo van.

Nissan NISMO JukeIt’s a useful package, but what really caught our eye was the 2013 NISMO Juke, a sporty mini-CUV that gets more power and style. Drawing on its racing heritage, Nissan worked the mojo with this cute ute’s engine and suspension parts, giving it performance cred and head-turning looks.The NISMO model comes in either front- or all-wheel-drive and three colors-white, black and silver. It’ll be great for ladies on-the-go in urban environments!

The model that took my breath away was the Kia Crossover GT CUV Concept. This design study blends the lines of a GT model meant to stir the performance pot with the utility and functionality of a luxury crossover.

Kia ConceptThe model could foreshadow a rear-drive—or all-wheel-drive, long-wheelbase “luxury saloon”. Penned in Frankfurt, Germany and built in Kia’s California design studio, the hybrid-powered concept is dipped in Fusion Copper and sports four Almond-Terra leather-covered bucket seats inside a cockpit that exudes modern-day sumptuousness, with dual rear-hinged doors and a multi-paneled sky light with hexagonal glass inserts on top. For the environmentally-conscious, there is re-harvested American Walnut across the sweeping instrument panel and 100 percent eco-friendly renewable wool felt throughout the interior.

Sue Mead


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