Auto shows are full of the most technologically advanced vehicles, but when it comes down to it, they are the same as they ever were: Folks shuffle from vehicle to vehicle to ogle the latest and greatest twists of sheet metal. And people seem to love it.
The 2018 Chicago Auto Show bills itself as the biggest, much to the chagrin of its neighbor in Detroit and the nation's other big shows in Los Angeles and New York. It is expected to attract one million visitors to the Windy City. That’s more than attend the auto show in neighboring Detroit, which drew 809,161 last month.
The show uses more than one million square feet in the North and South Exhibit Halls of the McCormick Place complex. It opened to the public on Feb. 10 and runs through Feb. 19. Visitors have access to nearly 1,000 of the newest vehicles, including more than a dozen that made their global or North American debuts during last week's media preview.
Those include the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid, Fiat 500, 2019 Ford Transit Connect Wagon and Edge Titanium Elite, Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra TRD Pro models and Slingshot Grand Touring Limited Edition. Subaru celebrated its 50th anniversary with the release of special-edition automobiles across its entire 2018 lineup.
Luxury and supercars offer plenty of eye candy for everyone and include the Aston Martin Vanquish S, Bentley Bentayga, 2019 BMW I8, 2019 Chevrolet Corvette, Ford GT, Lamborghini Aventador S, Lotus Evora, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT C, Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 and Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe
In addition to the latest production, concept and exotic vehicles, the show has opportunities for attendees to get behind the wheel. Seven outdoor ride-and-drive experiences hosted by Cadillac, Ford, Kia, Mazda, Subaru, Volkswagen and the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition will offer an up-close look into the most recent cars, trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles to hit the market.
Three indoor test-driving tracks, including Camp Jeep, Kia's SUV Gym, and Toyota's Camry Thrill Ride, will highlight cutting-edge technologies and vehicle capabilities right from the show floor. New and returning exhibits across the show floor, including numerous driving simulators, give attendees a chance to experience the new technology up close and personal.
"The Chicago Auto Show is a consumer-driven show unlike any other automotive expo in the world," said John Hennessy, 2018 Chicago Auto Show chairman. "We offer visitors unfettered access to vehicles and unique, hands-on experiences that enable them to make informed purchase decisions down the road.”
Especially relevant to Chicago and the mass of snow it gets every year are two winter-themed concept vehicles from Nissan, the Nissan Armada Snow Patrol concept and the 370Zki concept. Hundreds of reporters were nearly trapped in the city at the end of last week when Mother Nature decided to dump a foot of snow on the city just as journalists were trying to make their way out town.
Media from around the globe gathered at McCormick Place last week for the Media Preview, where they got a first look at the more than a dozen new and updated vehicles making their debut in Chicago. Fans of the Chicago Auto Show's Facebook page were once again able to watch the vehicle reveals and news conferences along with reporters in real time via Facebook Live.
One thing that sets it apart from other shows is the mass of opportunities for fans to get into the action through social media. New and returning digital experiences include the official Chicago Auto Show mobile app, a virtual tour guide taking fans behind the scenes; #CAS18 BUZZHUB, a social engagement space featuring real-time news feeds and photo backdrops, powered by Cars.com; and ongoing social media contests throughout the show floor, accessible by following the Chicago Auto Show on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.