Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chicago Auto Show runs through Monday at McCormick Place

If you're an automobile enthusiast or just want to see the latest offerings from a majority of the manufacturers, the Chicago Auto Show is a must-see this week. The 109th edition of the largest exhibition in the U.S. is ongoing through Monday at McCormick Place.

There are close to 1,000 vehicles from 40 exhibitors, including models that will be introduced later this year. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day (just until 8 p.m. on the final day on Monday, Presidents Day), and admission is $13 for adults, $7 for seniors and children age 7-12, and free for children 6 and younger.

It's rather easily accessible from the Kankakee area, just a drive up Interstate 57 to I-94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) to the Stevenson (I-55) and you're there. I made the 60-mile trip from downtown Kankakee on Monday night in just under an hour. Parking is $10 after 6 p.m. on weeknights, $15 to $23 (for lot A) on weekdays and the weekend.

There is some construction near McCormick Place, so the drive might be a little more hectic during the daytime, especially during the upcoming weekend. A good bet always is to take the Metra from University Park, which stops at McCormick Place; then it's just a short walk up the steps to the show area. The Metra fare is $14.50 round-trip or $8 for a weekend pass (Saturday or Sunday).

There are 60 beverage vendors and 40 food vendors at the show as well, including the McCormick Place Ale produced by BrickStone Brewery in Bourbonnais.

I was particularly interested in the Alfa Romeo cars, as I'd seen some recent marketing efforts from the Italian manufacturer. I remember the cars from my youth because a dealership in my hometown carried its sports cars.

Alfa Romeo has been manufacturing cars since 1910 but opted out of the U.S. market about 25 years ago, the representative said.

The closest dealership is Bettenhausen Alfa Romeo in Tinley Park, and there's one in Naperville.

Ford has a large exhibition area at the show, and I noticed it was touting its electric vehicles. It's offering the Fusion hybrid and the Focus, which is a total EV.

Chevrolet had a strong presence as usual, and they're hyping up their big sellers -- the 2018 Traverse and Equinox. Chevy is taking orders for this model now, with delivery expected in July.

Chevy also had a display on its EVs, the Volt and the Bolt. The Bolt is all electric, and the Volt is a hybrid. The Volt, introduced in 2009, was redesigned in 2016. The Bolt was given the Green Vehicle of the Year award for 2017 by Green Car Journal.

The Volt Premier carries a $38,445 price tag and has a 420-mile range when running as an EV. The Bolt has a 238-mile range before a recharge would be needed.

Toyota had an impressive exhibit lineup, and its most popular vehicle, the Camry, is being offered as a hybrid, starting at $26,790, with an estimated 42 miles per gallon estimate on the highway and 28 in the city. The 2017 Corolla carries an $18,500 price tag and gets 36/28 mpg.

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