Chicago Auto Show: Preview concept cars, SUVs and more

and Jesse Kirsch
Thursday, March 15, 2018 04:38PM
Sporty, efficient, sleek and family-friendly, the 2018 Chicago Auto Show has it all.

CHICAGO - There are more than 1,000 cars, SUVs and trucks on display over the next week at McCormick Place at the nation's biggest auto show.

It doesn't start until Saturday but ABC7 got a first look at what's new this year at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.

WATCH: Jim Belushi performs at Chicago Auto Show
Jim Belushi performs at Chicago Auto Show

In just this short amount of time we've seen new reveals, some star power and hundreds of fabulous cars.

Sporty, efficient, sleek and family-friendly, there's something for everyone at the auto show.

"Three fantastic test tracks, the Jeep test track, great Toyota test track and the new Kia test track, new edition of that - we have six outdoor ride and drives, Ford, Volkswagen, Mazda, Subaru, Kia and Cadillac so it's like an auto theme park," said John Hennessy, 2018 Chicago Auto Show Chairman.

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There are several premieres at this year's show. New to Chicago is the E-Pace, Jaguar's first compact SUV. Then there are the premieres with star power, Jim Belushi introduced the new Transit Connect at Ford.

But as they like to say at the show, the cars are the stars. But so are the trucks with pickups like the Chevy Silverado and the mid-sized Ford Ranger - very trendy.

Plus there's shiny displays sprinkled with interactive fun as you walk past.

WATCH: Chevy lets you play with self-driving technology at Chicago Auto Show
Robotic car drives itself at Chicago Auto Show

Check out this display at Volkswagen. The flip-disk screen is high tech in an old school kind of way! As you walk past it, two cameras convert you into a black and white image! Pretty cool!

Concept cars - an annual favorite - have taken on a different definition.

"Concept cars these days are close to production cars, they're prototypes and stuff like that. Honda is one with the Insight prototype, the Insight is coming back as they say a much more efficient version of the previous gas-electric hybrid, roughly 50 miles per gallon," said Joe Wiesenfelder, Executive Editor at

WATCH: Tips for car shopping at the Chicago Auto Show
Tips for car shopping at the Chicago Auto Show

This is the largest consumer show in North America. Consumer feedback is very important to manufacturers. The product specialists may be answering your questions, but they're also gathering info about what you like and don't like and bringing that feedback to the car makers. What you say could end up on a car in the future.

Joe Wiesenfelder, Executive Editor of, shared some tips for consumers shopping for their next car at the auto show:

  • Auto shows bring many brands together so you can quickly shop around

  • Make a list ahead of time so you know what you are most interested in seeing

  • Compare the same features, like third row leg room, in multiple models to see which feels best

  • Pay close attention to the media dashboard (navigation, audio, settings panels, etc.) which vary across brands. Some are touch screen, others have track pads or dials. Wiesenfelder says these panels are controlling more and more of a car's function these days, so the control panel could be a deal breaker if it's not intuitive for you.

  • There are also outdoor test drives for some cars so be sure to ask about that at the show!


This year the muscle is back and it seems the operative design ethos is "big" -- with a nod to technology.

Chicago Auto Show: Preview concept cars, SUVs and more

With nearly 1,000 vehicles on display from 36 manufacturers -- pickups are well represented -- the 110-year-old show is the biggest in the country. The new Ford Transit van was unveiled Thursday morning, foreshadowing a host of surprises for people looking to come in from the cold.

"It's a tradition, what do people do in February in Chicago, they come to the Chicago Auto Show, where else do you want to be? You have heard that this week there is a lot of snow and cold, but at McCormick Place it's always sunny and 70 degrees," said John Hennessy, Chairman of the Chicago Auto Show.

Once inside, the moving pieces of art -- from test tracks at Jeep and Kia-- to the increasingly luxurious offerings from the brands, surprisingly, at all price points promise to captivate.

Thursday's media day was full of press conferences from industry executives promising the motoring public products they'll want -- and in the case of Volkswagen -- returning now from the crisis that enveloped it over fraudulent emissions testing in its cars.

"We have to enter into the height of the American market, the SUV market, family-oriented all-wheel drive with space... so we brought this Atlas seven-seater midsize SUV. Funny, in Germany, this would be a huge car," said Volkswagen CEO Hinrich Woebcken.

Earlier on Thursday, Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder checked out the trucks section, including the redesigned Chevy Silverado.

Auto Show Chevy trucks preview

Later, Wiesenfelder checked out some smaller SUVs, including the Hyundia Kona, which has the running lights on top of the head lights.
Auto Show: Small SUVs

Some of the most popular features at the Chicago Auto Show are the test tracks. Roz Varon checked out the Kia Sorrento test track with Kia's Neil Dunlop. The track features a 45 degree incline along with a side hill.

Chicago Auto Show test tracks

The Chicago Auto Show runs from Feb. 10-19.

Be sure to tune in for our hour-long special on the 2018 Chicago Auto Show at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Click here for more coverage of the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.
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