The press days are wrapping for the Chicago Auto Show, which means the towel boys will spend the evening mopping up the fingerprints those greasy journos left on the cars, all in preparation for more greasy fingerprints to come from the public this weekend.
Several examples showed up, however, that were safely behind cordons and will require no such aggressive care. In fact, most of the reveals will probably never even get into showrooms. Here are a few of the highlights:
Defiance Apocalyptic Charger
We don’t mean Defiance as in the excellent Jewish Resistance film starring Daniel Craig and Live Schreiber. We mean Defiance as in the Human Resistance Syfy series starring…um…er… Anyway, the show actually looks pretty decent for Syfy. It concerns a dark, post-civilization society struggling on the edge of extinction, a generation after an alien attack that nearly decimated humanity. Defiance brought a Dodge Charger, appropriately festooned with Mad Max memes, oddly rusted plastic bumpers, and an extra set of side exhausts, probably to support the rear exhausts they left on.
Speaking of star cars, another modern muscle beast, a Chevy Camaro, showed up at the behest of Dreamworks Animation to hype their new cartoon movie Turbo. The film stars a snail, obsessed with speed, who dreams of one day becoming a racer. While we love the turbo/snail nod to tuning enthusiasts, viewers might be confused by the supercharger sprouting from the hood like a mushroom in a frat house shower. And though the blower is probably a fake, the rest of the Camaro is tricked out with a COPO hood, an oversized tow hook, and enough aero to hold down a space shuttle. It’s the kind of car you can love if you’re not taking it too seriously. Like a movie about a racing snail.
But enough with all this silly fun and entertainment. We need to get down to business. Or at least Toyota does, which is why they’ve restyled the 2014 Tundra to look more like trucks from other manufacturers. The ones that actually sell in volume. It’s sad, though, so see the more dramatic styling of the current generation put on a suit and tie.
Kia Cross GT Concept
Nor does Toyota have the corner on the market for uncool things that will probably sell well. Kia, apparently, wants to get into the luxury crossover business (who doesn’t, right?), and they’ve debuted their design study, the Gross GT…er…Gross GT…come on, now…Cross GT Concept. We’re just going to tell you up front: unless it comes with a Ferrari V12, there is no reason to ever love this car. Moving on…
Chevy Cruze Diesel
There is, however, a reason to love the new Chevy Cruze, other than its adorable spelling deficiency. For the first time stateside, it will be offered with a diesel. That means 148 hp (which is really pretty decent) and 280 lb-ft of torque (which is awesome) from its turbocharged 2 liter. But it also means 42 mpg. Unfortunately, the Cruze has been shackled with American emissions emphysema equipment, or AEEE as we like to call it, including urea injection. But it kicks open a big door for the American diesel market, and could give boring hybrids some competition.
It’s a Ford Focus ST, tuned to 500 hp, with some hip wheels and some wide hips, er, fenders. Apparently Kenwald Blocksbourg, or Ken Block, as he’s known on the street, teamed up with Ford to develop this minotaur of a hot hatch. Unfortunately Sir Blocksbourg forgot to run a drive shaft to the rear wheels, so the TrackSTer is FWD only. Ford, we don’t care how good the “torque vectoring” is on your ST hatches, it can’t keep us from hideously understeering a 500 hp car into the Pacific Ocean. Thanks a lot, guys.
SRT Core Models
We purists have never figured out why we, whenever we want to buy a muscle car, have to pay all this extra money for a bunch of fancy features we don’t even want. SRT has answered our prayers with the SRT Core Models of the Charger, Challenger, and 300. They have seats made of cloth, non-adjustable suspension, no touch screens, and a 470 hp Hemi. On the price side, meanwhile, they’re each about $5,000 cheaper. Chrysler’s Ralph Gilles says these models are a “grand experiment” to see if people still exist who don’t care about all the toys. So purists, place your orders.
Images courtesy Syfy, Toyota, Kia, Chevrolet, Ford