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Chicago Auto Show 2011

McCormick Place - February 11-20, 2011, Attendance by UnRated Staff on February 23, 2011 - Chicago, IL, USA

by Sommer Thornton, photo by Dan Locke

Chevy VoltChevy Leads the Eco-Friendly Revolution with the Volt

Chevrolet had an ambitious presentation of their new electric car, the Volt. Chevy displayed a full driving track with beautiful females eager to drive you around and provide a plethora of pros about the emission free car, and a full size model of the Volt's chassis. The Chevy Volt is the first electric car to the win the North American Car of the Year Award, given to the most innovative game changing vehicle on the market. The Volt can travel up to 35 miles on a single charge. Once the battery runs down, the gasoline-powered generator is seamlessly switched on and the Volt can travel an additional 375 miles. The 5-door sedan comes standard with navigation, informative dashboard, touch-screen technology, and automatic climate control. It seats 4 comfortably and the rear seats let down for a spacious hatch.

But immediately after riding in the Volt and listening to the selling points, I had a couple concerns. As a Chicagoan, the main issue I had with the Chevy Volt was that it is not suitable for an urban environment or as a primary car. The Volt works as a suburban 2nd vehicle. But it would be troublesome to a frugal city-dweller. The Volt cost $40,000 without the government rebate of $7,500. The standard battery can be charged in a home outlet. But a full charge requires the car to be plugged in for 9 hours. For an additional $490 you can get a 240V home charging unit. This will cut the charge time to 4 hours. But the installation of this unit cost close to $1,500. Imagine A: leaving your car and charging unit on a Chicago city street for 4 hours, or B: having a power cord stretched out of your 5th floor apartment window for 9 hours in the dead of winter, and C: the affect all of this would have on an energy bill.

Furthermore, if a person is traveling out of town, it will be virtually impossible to find a Costco store to plug in-which means they will have to rely on gasoline to finish the trip. Chevy assures that construction of more charging stations is in the works. In the mean time though, the Volt only takes premium gasoline. The Chevy Volt is definitely a step in the right direction--away from petroleum dependency. However like any innovation there will undoubtedly be tweaks and revisions.


HyundaiHyundai- Makes Luxury Affordable with the New Equus

Hyundai secured the front of the arena to showcase their 2011 Equus ("E-KOOS"). As soon as you enter the showroom, this luxurious sedan beams at you. The Equus is the largest and most expensive sedan Hyundai offers. Created to compete with BMW's 7 series, Audi's A8, the Lexus LS, and the Mercedes S-Class, the Equus comes with 19-inch chrome wheels and an interior replete with leather seats, wood grain, and chrome throughout. The driver has a 12-way adjustable seat with heating, cooling and massage options. Passengers have their own climate control system, heating and cooling cup holders, and a cooler. The Equus also boast surround sound, navigation systems, and rear cameras. The Equus may look like a Lexus or Mercedes from afar, but it claims to out perform both. Its powerful V8 engine, 6 speed automatic transmission, and rear wheel drive makes this car one of the fastest, reliable, and stylish vehicles Hyundai has to offer. With an Equus you can have all the accouterments from the big boys for much less.


Jaguar XKJaguar and Land Rover and Hits and Misses

Jaguar and Land Rover displayed some sleek new coups and sedans. The Jaguar XJ- a luxury sports sedan is a contradiction on wheels. The XJ has the spaciousness and trimmings of a luxury sedan, with the body and power of a sports car. The XJ seats 5 comfortably, and is equipped with a full panoramic glass roof, 3 feet of passenger leg room, climate control, and of course Jag's charismatic interior. Jaguar's XK, available as a coupe or convertible, is a combination of top performance, advance technology, and unparalleled luxury.


Chicago Auto Show 2011: State and Federal Police Will Ride Tough and in Style

Chicago's finest may get their pick of some new police cruisers. Chevrolet's 2011 Caprice was resurrected as one of the options for beat cops. Once upon a time this classic "old school", was a young man's dream car. Now the only way any of us will ever get to ride in a Caprice- is in the back. None of us want that.

But for detectives and agents, Ford's Interceptor vehicles will better suit. The Stealth, is Ford's concept car that is said to purposely have a mysterious and sinister element to the design. Without the police lights on the Stealth is a sleek compliment of the SR-71 the original stealth airplane known as the "Blackbird" in the 50's and 60's. The exterior is reinforced and suspension lowered. The deep black on black exterior, interior, and window tint allows for the Stealth to disappear in the dark. But with the inconspicuous police lights shining the Stealth becomes a formidable distress signal. Who needs the bat mobile when police can hunt criminals down in an elusive muscle sedan?

Ford Police InterceptorFor the heavy-duty jobs, the utility sedan or SUV may better suit. Equipped with safety features like the Ford SPACE (Side Protection and Cabin Enhancement), ballistic door panels, and the safety canopy systems, two officers could drive through a perilous situation get shot at, crash, roll over, and still be able to hop out and catch their perpetrator.