2011 Chicago Auto Show: The Good, The Great, The WTF

February brings with it a few things each year, my birthday, cold winter nights, and the Chicago Auto Show. Last week I experienced two of these three events.

Like every other show, this one had some great new metal. But it also had some things just make you sad. In all reality, there were not too many major reveals at this years Chicago Auto Show. That isn’t to say it wasn’t a good show, it was just somewhat slow. Let’s dive in.

First up is my favorite new car from the show, the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8. Jalopnik wrote, “this car looks like an asshole. But the type of asshole you want in your driveway.” I must agree with them. It literally looks menancing. To my eyes, the front looks as if a new 2011 Charger and a 2011 Evo mated. Regardless the entire package is a win. I want one of these, bad.

The 2012 Charger SRT8 features a 6.4-Liter V-8 that is good for 465-horsepower and 465 lb-ft. The power is channeled to the rear wheels through a one choice five-speed automatic transmission. Dodge says this set up is good for a 0-60 run in less than 5 seconds, and a quarter mile run that is deep in the 12’s.

I asked Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles about pricing and his response was, “The Charger SRT8 will be under $50k…” We should see the new Charger SRT8 hit dealerships late this summer or early this fall. Did I mention I want one of these?

Next up is another high octane thrill ride, the new 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Featuring a 6.2 -Liter supercharged V-8, this pony car has 550-horsepower sent to the rear wheels. It was shown with a six-speed short-throw manual transmission. The ZL1 features a different front clip, hood, and body kit than the regular Camaro. Along with unique forged alloy wheels, and flat bottom steering wheel. Suede inserts are available for the interior. The Camaro ZL1 is a 2012 model and will be in dealerships early next year. Start saving your pennies now kids.

Volkswagen unveiled the new 2012 Jetta GLI with the 2.0-Liter turbo four-cylinder. This will be the Jetta model that has fully independent rear suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Volkswagen has switched the dashboard to a soft touch material, and it features a Panasonic Fender branded sound system. I must say, the sound system sounded great even when cranked up. Volkswagen and crew made a big deal about how there was no distortion even when cranked to max volume. The GLI will be in dealerships later this year.

Hyundai unveiled the Genesis Sedan R-Spec which features the new 5.0-Liter Tau V-8. This engine is good for 429-horsepower, and is mated to a new in-house built eight-speed automatic transmission. Yes, Hyundai developed its own eight-speed automatic transmission. The exterior of the Genesis sedan has received a slight refresh with a grille that has some Equus in it, and the headlights now have some Sonata/Elantra in them. The rear end looks like the current generation Genesis sedan mated with the Infiniti M. It looks terrific.

Cadillac had a CTS-V Wagon Black Diamond Edition sitting on the show floor. Nick Twork from Cadillac dared me to kiss it…the above picture is the result of this conversation.

I ran into my friend Lightning McQueen on the show floor. He gave me a moment of his time for a photo op.

Now for some WTF. Lexus had a customized RX 450h that had to be the absolute ugliest Lexus RX I have ever seen. It was lowered on airbags, and had some ridiculous camber going on with the wheels. It was painted in some ugly color with murdered out glass. The body kit was something out of a horror show. I asked the Lexus booth people about it, and they kind of cringed. I decided that was enough and left the Lexus booth.

Oh Toyota, you used to try. Toyota had a 2012 Matrix sitting on the show floor. It had a large window sticker on the front windshield proudly stating “The New 2011 Matrix.” I’m not sure if they know this but, it sure looks a lot like the 2010 Matrix. On one of the side windows a large sticker said “Prototype.” The paper next to the Matrix went on about how it now features a four-speed automatic. I at this point walked away disgusted, and went to sit in the new 2012 Ford Focus sitting 20 feet from me.

Overall it was a mixed bag. Most of the major reveals were great, though there weren’t a ton of them. Here’s looking forward to the New York Auto Show in April.

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3 Responses to “2011 Chicago Auto Show: The Good, The Great, The WTF”

  1. that SRT-8 does look Great!
    the Camaro.. i’m just like blah.

    02/14/2011 at 1:52 pm Reply
  2. Paul Tolson #


    I am the Builder of the RX that you were trying to get information on.
    There was a build sheet that was right on the side of the RX. Your pics show part of the stand the build sheet was on, so there would not be a need to ask the Product Specialist what type of kit was on the RX. If you did ask, they would of taken there Ipad and given you more detailed information about the RX and not cringe. They are to professional to belittle their clients brand. The pics were taken during press day which was not open to the public and I was present as well. So if you have any question or like to hear the POSITIVE comments that Car and Driver, Motor and Truck Trend, Road and Track, and many others said about the quality of the build, Please start by reading the build sheet.

    02/22/2011 at 10:02 pm Reply
    • Paul,

      Thanks for the response. I never questioned the build quality of the kit itself. It definitely looked well put together and solid. It was more questioning the kit itself. To my eyes it is not attractive.

      02/23/2011 at 9:23 am Reply

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