photos by Jim Choate
This year, there were no less than five test tracks at the mammoth Chicago Auto Show (into which you could drop the New York and Detroit shows and have room for more). Three belonged to FCA, with Ram and Jeep both demonstration their off-road and tough-road capabilities, and an “Experience Zone” to show cars’ smoothness, acceleration, and agility.
The breakover test for Jeep showed either the ability to keep going with one or more wheels in the air, or the ability to keep every wheel on the ground.
For those who preferred a virtual test, there was a Hellcat Challenger in-car game, updated from past shows, using widescreen televisions and a modified Dodge Challenger.
FCA played down their unveilings in the Chicago press schedule, but each brand had something new to declare. The biggest news for the show was the unveiling of the Dodge Durango SRT, matching the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT in many ways, but with three full rows of seats and new refinements.
Ram launched a new Night package for the 2500 and 3500, and a Copper Sport color/package for the 1500.
Chrysler showed off the BraunAbility conversion of the Pacifica minivan, as well as unmodified hybrid and standard minivans; while BraunAbility had already released their Pacifica, complete with a full video showing all the changes, Chrysler “made it official.”
Flying pigs emphasized some Pacifica point about “when pigs can fly” — a 32+ mpg minivan? A fun minivan?
All those test tracks for adults led Chrysler to create the PlayZone for the kids.
The full product lines were on display; here are a few specialty items.
The Chicago Auto Show is held each February, with hundreds of vehicles on display, and more than one million square feet of show floor space.
First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest (in area) auto show in North America, and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. Getting to the show is easy via rail.
General admission is $13 for adults (ages 13-61), $7 for children (ages 7-12) and $7 for senior citizens (ages 62 and up). Any child 6 years or younger may enter the show free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult.
Detail of a show Wrangler Rubicon, above, shows off some off-road credentials. Ram TRX, below, was shown in Detroit; this shot emphasizes the size of the wheel flares, which still don’t quite cover the extended front track (needed for extra suspension movement). The top of the hood is in the inset.
Power Wagon displays gave ample opportunities to view the underside. The new Power Wagon was launched here last year.
Above: roller coaster portion of Jeep track. Below: Ram showing its agility.
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