Chicago is not a place for wimps, making the 2006 Chicago Auto Show the perfect spot to debut a slew of new trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. Starting off the second day of the show was the 2007 Toyota Tundra, a model that arrives in about a year with a seriously bad attitude, evidenced by a bigger and stiffer body and chassis, huge gains in interior room, and three engine choices, the biggest of which is a 5.7-liter V8 that contributes to a towing capacity in excess of 10,000 pounds. Toyota is coy about horsepower and torque figures at this point, but there’s nothing soft about this truck, except for maybe the seats, possibly making it the perfect official pickup of Chicago.
However, the show continued with more notable introductions, such as the International MXT. If a Chevy Corvette or Dodge Viper doesn’t compensate enough for any inadequacies you might have, the MXT is your best bet. The International and Toyota pickup debuts added to those unveiled during the first day of the 2006 Chicago Auto Show – the 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche, the Dodge Rampage, and the Nissan Titan Onyx concept. Plus, if you walk the floor of McCormick Place you’ll be hard pressed to find a two-wheel-drive version of anything – here, trucks are meant to be worked, so those jacked Prerunners and Desert Runners are left for the sallies in L.A. and Miami.
On the SUV and crossover front, the second day of the 2006 Chicago Auto Show revealed a slightly tweaked yet still ugly 2007 Subaru B9 Tribeca, complementing all-new multi-purpose people models that debuted on Day One, like the Dodge Caliber SRT-4 and Dodge Nitro, a Lincoln Navigator that proves too much factory bling can be obnoxious, new AMG models from Mercedes-Benz, and an updated Nissan Quest minivan.
For a relatively small show, Chicago had a lot to offer this year, including some significant car debuts. Honda used this opportunity to showcase the Civic Si sedan, Mitsubishi sported a Ralliart version of the 2007 Galant, Volkswagen unveiled its redesigned 2007 Golf, and BMW celebrated 10 years of U.S.-built Z3 and Z4 roadsters, noting that Spartanburg, South Carolina will soon churn out its one millionth soft top since starting production in 1996.
But, c’mon, this is Mike Ditka and Dick Butkus territory, neither of which has likely spent any seat time in a cute little BMW convertible. We’re talking about Chicago, where Darwinism proves true everyday and car shows are dominated by rugged, burly, and capable trucks.
--By Thom Blackett