Chicago Auto Show rolls into town

February 11, 2011 5:04:33 AM PST
Over the next two weeks thousands will pack McCormick Place with one thing on their minds: Hot wheels!

The Chicago Auto Show,, is in its 103 year. What began in 1901 is now the largest auto show in all of North America with nearly 1,000 vehicles- both domestic and imported- on display.

Wednesday was media preview day at the 2011 auto show. ABC7'S Roz Varon says there's plenty that's new, with a big push on fuel economy.

It's bold, bright and filled with pizzazz! With more than a hint of an industry rebound, manufacturers have plenty to show off at this year's Chicago Auto Show-- with a big emphasis on fuel efficiency.

Check out the vehicles on display | Download a map of the Chicago Auto Show 2011

"Higher fuel requirements are basically driving that more efficient car. Same's true with electric. The current administration has really latched on that electric is one of the best options," said Joe Wiesenfelder, senior editor.

There are several options in electric vehicles, from the much talked about Chevy Volt, to the Ford Focus, which is expected to have an electric version by the end of the year, to the Nissan Leaf, which is 100 percent electric.

At Hyundai, the 2011 Elantra has a total redesign, is packed with standard features and claims 40 mpg highway in all versions.

Toyota is hoping the recent government report will help boost sales, along with a larger version of the Prius, with 60 percent more cargo room and 40 mpg combined.

At this year's auto show, they're ramping up the interactive features! There are more test tracks from more manufacturers than ever before!

"They're ride-along, you can't drive the cars, but it used to be Chrysler, Jeep had a huge section of the floor, now you can ride along in a Volt, a Ford Explorer, Toyota is doing it for the first time," said Wiesenfelder.

Speaking of the Ford Explorer, it's been redesigned with three rows of seats and improved highway mileage up to 25 mpg. And it calls Chicago home - the Explorer is built at the Ford plant at 130th and Torrence!

The Chicago Auto Show runs through February 20. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on February 11-19 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on February 20. Tickets are: $11 for adults; $7 for seniors (62 and older); and $7 for children 7-12. Children fewer than 6 years old are free of admission with paid adults.