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Time to kick some tires: Chicago Auto Show returns with test drives, new models and a

The Chicago Auto Show is back in town. One key attraction will be Bronco Mountain, part of Ford’s Bronco Off Roadeo Ride Experience.
Courtesy of Ford

Expect some surprises at the 2024 Chicago Auto Show opening at McCormick Place on Saturday.

There will be new players including Tesla vamping on the Chicago stage for the first time. Mazda is back in the lineup. Instead of two exhibit spaces, this year’s show will be in an expanded South Hall.

And Stellantis is taking a gap year, which means no Camp Jeep hogging the attention to the advantage of Ford’s Bronco Mountain.

Overall, “this is going to be a fairly normal auto show in the old-school, pre-COVID sense, and that’s some really good news,” Consumer Guide Automotive Publisher Tom Appel of Palatine predicted.

Co-General Manager Jennifer Morand agreed, noting the reboot of manufacturer incentives and a robust supply of vehicles after a tough few years.

“I think for the first time in a while … vehicles are going to feel more attainable” for consumers, she said.

So what will be the hottest tires to kick at the show, which runs Saturday through Feb. 19?

There’s an eclectic mix that includes a GMC Hummer EV EarthCruiser concept, complete with kitchen; the 2025 Volkswagen ID. Buzz remake of the beloved VW bus; and Cadillac’s electric Escalade IQ.

Visitors can also get an advance peek at 2025 versions of old favorites, such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Explorer and Toyota Camry.

The Equinox is high on Appel’s must-sees. “It doesn’t usually land on people’s radar but it should,” he said. There is a “really good use of space, nice interior; the ride and the handling are good.”

Sports car aficionados will appreciate Ford’s Mustang Mach-E Bronze with — you guessed it — bronze-painted wheels and front grille, and Chevrolet’s Corvette E-Ray equipped with a hybrid engine.

Truck lovers and tree-huggers can debate the merits of Ford’s F-150 Lightning and Chevrolet’s all-new Silverado EV on an indoor test track.

And drivers looking for a deal should check out the refreshed Kia Soul, with pricing in the $20,000s.

One missing piece will be Stellantis, which makes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles. The company pulled out of Chicago in the wake of a lengthy United Autoworkers strike.

Morand said she’s hopeful Stellantis will return in 2025.

Tesla brings new blood to the show by displaying its Model 3 and Model Y cars with eight other manufacturers at the Chicago Drives Electric indoor test track.

Tesla has “traditionally been out of auto shows. Now they’re realizing that maybe auto shows make sense because of all the people that are attending,” Morand said.

Mazda’s return after the pandemic is significant, Appel said. “Mazda has a lot of good, new products that people need to see,” including the CX-90, a large, three-row crossover.

The churn in exhibitors has caused organizers to shift the show to the South Hall, but that area was extended by 200,000 square feet to a 840,000-square-foot space. That’s close to the typical footprint with two halls, which was nearly 1 million square feet, Morand said.

And although Camp Jeep’s popular test track won’t be there, show-goers who enjoy heights can still catch a thrill from the 38-degree slope on Bronco Mountain, part of Ford’s Bronco Off Roadeo Ride Experience.

Outdoors, Ford, Kia and Subaru will provide test drives on city streets.

Auto show season also means deals for buyers, said Greg Webb, a partner at Packey Webb Ford in Downers Grove.

Ford, for example, is offering incentives, such as 1.9% financing for 72 months or 2.9% for 66 months and $1,000 in cash, he said.

Another plus for 2024 is a steady supply of autos.

During the pandemic, the Packey-Webb Ford dealership averaged 25 to 30 total vehicles. “Now we have 184 units new in stock, which is a long way from COVID days,” Webb said.

For automakers, the show “is a huge opportunity for the brands to influence decisions,” Morand said. For Chicago area residents, “it’s just a really fun time out.”

The Chicago Auto Show runs from Saturday to Feb. 19. Hours most days are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults. Seniors 62 and older and children ages 4 through 12 will pay $12. To learn more or purchase tickets, go to chicagoautoshow.com.

The Chicago Auto Show comes back to McCormick Place from Saturday through Feb. 19.
Courtesy of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association

Tesla is making its first appearance at the 2024 Chicago Auto Show.
Courtesy of Tesla

The new Mustang Mach-E Bronz is coming to the Chicago Auto show.
Courtesy of Ford

The 2025 Chevrolet Equinox is coming to the Chicago Auto Show.
Courtesy of Chevrolet

This article was originally published by a www.dailyherald.com . Read the Original article here. .

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