2023 Chicago Auto Show: Affordable EVs among cars on display at this year's show

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Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Electric vehicles have been all the rage for years, but now there are electric SUV's and even pick-up trucks.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Auto Show has only been open a couple days, but already one of the most popular trends for show goers is the electric cars.

The thirst for knowledge about electric vehicles is so strong, this year's auto show has increased its EV test tracks to cover 100,000 square feet, with nine different vehicle models from five manufacturers!

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Clearly there's interest, but can the average consumer afford one.

"New technologies are always expensive, but as more of it hits the market prices drop and manufacturers are moving in this direction and I think the prices are only going to come down further," Cars.com research editor Damon Bell.

The Hyundai Kona Electric starts at about $35,000 with a 250-mile range.

The Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV also have a 250-mile range, but prices start at $27,000 and $28,000 respectively. If range anxiety is an issue, opt for the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid that gives an extra 30 to 40 miles pure electric before switching to gas. Pricing starts at $35,000.

Why is it snowing at this Nissan exhibit over the brand new Ariya? It's to show this is the perfect vehicle for those cold and snowy Chicago winters!"

"Nissan has put their E-4orce technology in the new Ariya," Nissan product specialist Jillian Smalley said. "It's our fully electric crossover and e4orce is a four-wheel-drive system for our electric Ariya. That is why it's perfect for Chicago winters."

You'll find many electric vehicles at the Jeep display, but visitors still line up to take a ride at Camp Jeep, a test track that's more like an attraction!

"It's pretty popular because you actually get to experience what a Jeep is built for, you can't do that on just the normal roads out here," Jeep test track manager Nick Hoye.

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And for larger families, you just can't beat the new Toyota Grand Highlander. It's five inches wider and two inches taller than the regulars Highlander and has a third row that is comfortable for kids and adults. And of course, it comes in a hybrid version!

Switching to an EV comes with a learning curve, but the folks at the Auto Show have you covered! Autel Energy has an exhibit that will answer all your questions from where to charge your vehicle to retro fitting your garage!

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Test tracks are more popular than ever, and nearly every company has one. But Jeep offers a track with terrain you are unlikely find in downtown Chicago. The 28-foot hill requires some torque to get up and down at a 40-degree angle, and the uneven track displays the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon's suspension.

"You can either go full electric, gas or hybrid," Jeep track manager Sergio Armenta said. "It's great for the city and for off-roading."

Electric vehicles have been all the rage for years. But now there are electric SUV's and even pick-up trucks. Ford's track is designed to show how quick they are.

Other than the squeal of the tires, the battery powered Ford F-150 makes no noise. And it's getting a lot of attention.

There are also traditional oval tracks designed to give an idea of how quietly the electric vehicles operate. And there a plenty of hybrid options as well: Toyota now has a hybrid model in the large Sequoia SUV.

"Last year with our V-8, we got 14 miles a gallon," Toyota product specialist Chris Noah said. "This year we're averaging 20 miles a gallon."

The Chicago Auto Show runs until February 20 at McCormick Place. Visit abc7chicago.com/autoshow for complete coverage.