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Chicago Thu Feb 10 2011
Are you ready? This Friday marks the beginning of the 2011 Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place. I got to head down to the show a little early and scope things out.
Compared to past years, this year's show finds manufacturers focusing heavily on two very different, but exciting areas: creating cars that are exciting and fun to drive, and creating new standards for energy efficiency. Best of all, companies I heard from seem eager to do both at the same time.
Hyundai is aiming to have their fleet at an average of 40 mpg by 2025; they're on pace to hit an average of 30 mpg by 2015. Toyota is expanding their ever-popular Prius lineup to include three models (the compact Prius C, the standard Prius, and the sport-cross-esque Prius V). This expansion aims to make the hybrid a car that suits the needs of a wider audience. Toyota also has a new Prius plug-in hybrid on display that will hit the market in early 2012.
Videos and more after the jump ...
My favorite example of green initiative was definitely the Chevy Volt. Chevy went all out this year and installed a whole driving track on which you can take a ride (as a passenger) in their new electric vehicle. Not as awesome as driving it yourself, but still pretty cool.
Here's what I found out during my ride with a Chevy representative:
Dodge, on the other hand, seemed to have the "fun to drive" market cornered. Perhaps you noticed their new ad campaign, which launched Wednesday, plastered all over everything. It's called "Never Neutral," and I got the very cool Ralph Gilles, the President and CEO of Dodge and a race car driver, to explain what the campaign is all about.
There's plenty of fun stuff to do outside of the display cars as well. Ford has a rock climbing wall, a robot that talks to you and a digital graffiti zone. Toyota is touting a make-your-own-commercial set, and Chevy will let you take a picture of their Vibe decorated with giant decals of your choosing. The perennial Jeep obstacle course is joined by a Toyota test driving area, as well as the aforementioned Volt ride-along track -- not as heart-pumping, but still pretty awesome.
The 2011 Chicago Auto Show will run from Feb. 11 through Feb. 20. Tickets are $11, or $7 for seniors and children ages 7-12. Children under 7 are free with a paying adult.