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Must-See Cars at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show

The Windy City hosts the largest auto show in North America

by Kirk Bell
February 12, 2010
7 min. Reading Time

The Windy City Welcomes You

The Chicago Auto Show is a celebration of the automobile. Held each February at Chicago’s McCormick Place, it is the largest auto show in North America with more than 1.3 million square feet of space and almost 1000 vehicles on hand. 1.2 million people pass through the turnstiles annually, and with all those eyes on their cars, the automakers take advantage of the show each year to announce some new product news. We were on hand during the media days February 10 and 11 to take in the new cars.

2011 Ford Edge

What it is: A midcycle replacement for Ford’s five-passenger family hauler, now with two new engines and a cool new control interface.

What’s New: The Edge is restyled inside and out, but the big news is the debut of the Ecotec 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The Edge Sport also adds a 305-horsepower 3.7-liter V6. Inside, the Edge gets the MyFord Touch control interface, as well as improved materials and craftsmanship. Underneath, the suspension is tweaked for tighter handling.

Bottom Line: crossovers like the Edge have pushed out truck-type SUVs as spacious and convenient family transportation. The 2011 changes should make the Edge more versatile and better to drive.


2012 Ford Transit Connect Electric

What it is: A small but spacious work vehicle that can be driven up to 80 miles on a full electrical charge.

What’s New: The Transit Connect Electric replaces the base vehicle’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an Azure Dynamics Force Drive electric powertrain featuring a Johnson Controls-Saft 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It can be charged in six-to-eight hours on a 240-watt outlet and has a top speed of 75 mph.

Bottom Line: The Transit Connect Battery Electric just makes sense. Fleet managers will be better prepared than families to charge and maintain electric vehicles, and they can save money on gas by sending these worker drones out on short deliveries.


2011 Toyota Avalon

What it is: A spacious and smooth full-size sedan that bridges the gap between family car and luxury cruiser.

What’s New: The 2011 Toyota Avalon is restyled inside and out. Even more conservatively styled than it was, the new body won’t inspire passion. Owners will love the interior, though. It adds a class-exclusive reclining rear seat, plus additional standard equipment that includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, XM satellite radio and an iPod interface.

Bottom Line: The next Avalon will certainly be a pleasant car when it arrives this spring, but it won’t be the product hit Toyota needs to help consumers forget about the company’s recall woes.


Honda Odyssey Concept

What it is: A suspiciously close to production-ready version of Honda’s next minivan, now with sportier looks.

What’s New: Aside from the fresh look, Honda promises the Odyssey will have more room inside, enough to fit three car seats across the second row. Fuel economy will also be improved to an estimated 19 mpg city/28 mpg on the highway when the production version debuts late this year.

Bottom Line: Honda is trying to make the minivan cool with new wedge-shaped styling. This may be the best-looking minivan ever, but few will find it anything more than what it is: practical family transportation



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