Chicago Auto Show 2012 | Five best things to do and see
Among the sea of shiny new cars at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, you can find something more to do than snapping yet another amateur picture of your friends in the cars of the future. Here are five things to do that go beyond gawking at another set of wheels you’ll probably never own.
1. Ford’s Programmable Vehicle Model and ST Simulator
Many companies, including Toyota, Mazda, and Honda, have set up driving simulators or video demonstrations inside arcade-game-like machines. Honda's games try to help you become a greener driver, and Toyota shows the future of safety technology.
But Ford’s interactive displays up the ante. Ford’s Programmable Vehicle Model allows you to strap on a helmet and interact with prototype vehicles in a virtual 3D space. Ford also offers a simulator featuring a three-screened video game sitting on an elevated platform—it not only rocks and shakes, it can spin 360° when you eventually crash and wipeout.
2. Jeep Test Track
The auto show boasts a number of test tracks for showgoers to experience (albeit only from the passenger seat), and Jeep’s is by far the best. Featuring the most obstacles, the off-road vehicle manufacturer’s track impresses. A pine tree-lined dirt paths includes a 30° bank and a 35° ascent and descent up an 18-foot hill.
3. GMC Sierra Denali Display
Sometimes a slightly unique display goes a long way. After hours of looking at every other car on an elevated platform or on the world’s slowest turntable, I thought GMC’s new truck display seemed to be a work of genius. Shown prominently at GMC’s booth, a platform contains the chassis and engine of the Denali. In front of the skeleton, you can see a 10-foot-tall screen that moves from side-to-side “scanning” the truck and showing you what the vehicle actually looks like.
4. Scion Booth
The Kogi xD Mobile Kitchen, a Pimp My Ride worthy creation, is a concept car with a full gas grill, a reverse osmosis sink and a working refrigerator. If that’s not enough reason to visit this unassuming booth, it also features another concept: the xB Numeric by 686. This vehicle was created solely for snowboarding, and it features a unique appearance due to its waterproof, mesh snowboarding outerwear—the world’s first. It also rocks New Balance branded tires.
5. Chevy Booth
Chevy’s bright and colorful booth is lined with benches and a landscape to look like a park amidst a steel jungle. Chevy’s displays for its electric car, the Volt, are modern and interactive. But who cares about that? Chevy’s other section for its Sonic line of cars houses a 10-foot-tall dry erase board wrapping around a column; it includes a rainbow assortment of markers for you to color in the outline of a Sonic. Fun! Also at the Chevy booth, you'll find an interactive display where you can don headphones, play DJ and create a ring tone for yourself. But all of that is a warm-up to the best thing at any Chicago Auto Show: free flair. An assortment of markers and a template are supplied so your inner Van Gogh can create all the one-inch pins you want (I made a robot—it's what Van Gogh would have done).
McCormick Place, 2301 S Lake Shore Dr (630-495-2282, chicagoautoshow.com). Fri 10–Sat 18, 10am–10pm; Sun 19, 10am–8pm. $11, seniors and kids $7, kids under 7 free.