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Chicago Auto Show Recap

By Benjy Lipsman in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 16, 2010 7:00PM

Chicagoist/Benjy Lipsman

On Saturday, we headed down to McCormick Place for our annual pilgrimage to the 2010 Chicago Auto Show. As expected, the show was noticeably quieter than in years past. Less elaborate displays, fewer cars, and very few concepts than a few years back. Even so, we enjoyed having the chance to see some of the new cars that will be hitting the road soon and fantasizing about what we might park in our garage.

While the concepts were few and far between, there were a few that caught our attention. Suggesting that perhaps GM finally has its design studio firing on all cylinders, we are a big fan of the Cadillac XTS Platinum hybrid. While the show version sported crystal wheel inlays and door handles that won't likely see production, the long and low slung sedan is close to the flagship that will hit production in 2012. Other new concepts and production car introductions from the General suggest they just might hang around for a while.

A couple of trends we noticed walking the Auto Show floor this year, after the jump.

WTF Crossovers: Didn't car makers learn from Pontiac's misadventures with the Aztek? Seemingly half the brands have these quirky jacked up car-like hatchback vehicles that aren't quite an SUV or even a crossover, yet aren't a car either. Honda has the Crosstour while upscale sibling Acura offers the ZDX. Even BMW has jumped into this inexplicable segement with the X6. Why buy something with the size of an SUV is you're not going to benefit from the cargo space of one?

European Invasion: For a number of reasons, new cars designed for the European market will finally find their way to our shores. Ford finally wised up and will give the U.S. market the same Focus and Fiesta they sell in the rest of the world -- perhaps a bit smaller than their previous generations, but more fuel efficient and better looking. Fiat's cute 500 will soon come to our shores to compete with the Mini and the Chrysler Lancia will slot one of Fiat's other brands into the lineup of the American auto maker it took over this year. We're still awaiting Fiat's return of the Alfa Romeo brand to the U.S. Meanwhile, we're left reminiscing about the one our Dad own when we were in high school. We've always loved the European car design aesthetic, so it'll be nice to see some more affordable options besides VW in our showrooms soon.

Matte Paint: A trend that's become popular with the celeb crowd to customize their six-figure rides, a number of automakers showed cars with matte paint jobs. Still the exclusive realm of upscale brands, Mercedes showed a CLS with flat paint while Lexus' LFA supercar concept also went without the usual high gloss paint.

Alternative Fuels: Continuing the trend of the past couple shows, there was again a big emphasis on fuel economy and alternative fuel vehicles. Every year, more makes are offering hybrids while many of the European makes are pushing the fuel economy of their new quieter, cleaner diesels. Perhaps the most intriguing are some of the new high end electric cars about to hit the market. While Tesla has already started selling their electric roadsters they'll be joined soon in the market by Fisker, which displayed some super sexy models -- the convertible and the swoopy Karma sedan that will be going into production later this year. Sure it costs $86,000, but think what you'll save on gas!

The show runs through Sunday, February 21, open daily from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. (closing at 8 p.m. on final day). Tickets run $11 for regular adult admission.