It was cold in Chicago
this year. Heck, it's cold every year. Not that there were a lot of journalists in attendance to notice -- or, as is the journo custom, complain about it. The Windy City's auto show exists largely for consumers, not media, and it's traditional for companies to avoid major debuts there. Those tend to happen instead at shows like Geneva or Detroit.
But debuts did happen, and some were even important. Take the Chevy Camaro
ZL1 pictured on your left. It was large, red and possessed of a set of hood-mounted air extractors that resembled massive nostrils. I liked the car -- as most people seemed to -- though I'm not sure that it needs to exist.
Herewith, a brief look at four things that stuck in my head during the show. This isn't intended to be an in-depth analysis; more an assembly of some of the knee-jerk reactions that came from wandering the floor. With cars, as with people, first impressions matter.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: Chevy's
original ZL1 Camaro was built as a semisecret drag-racing special in 1969. It featured a massive aluminum 427 (7.0-liter) V8 engine and was rated at 430 gross horsepower. Like its predecessor, the modern ZL1 is essentially a pumped-up version of the ordinary Camaro, albeit with the supercharged 6.2-liter 550-horsepower V8 from the Cadillac CTS-V
. Rumor has it that Chevy didn't use the Z/28 moniker because that name has historically implied a focus on handling, not straight-line speed.
Along with hints from General Motors executives, this suggests that a Z/28-badged Camaro is on the way -- which makes me wonder how many Camaros we actually need. Monster muscle cars are all well and good, but when it comes to stuff like this, I'm not so sure GM needs to follow Ford's Mustang
plan -- let's call it "micro-nichifying" -- to the letter, especially when the General is still trying to figure out its bread-and-butter lineup. It'll be interesting to see how this model fares outside of sales to the die-hards. Don't get me wrong, I love it -- I'm just not convinced it needs to exist.
Dodge Grand Caravan R/T:
I'm sorry, but this is ridiculous. At $31,430, the Caravan
R/T -- the so-called "Man Van," or sport minivan of Chrysler's lineup -- is almost 10 grand more than the base Caravan. It's also an extra three grand or so above the next-cheapest model, the Grand Caravan Crew. Sport-focused vans are great in concept, but history has proven that few people are willing to shell out the cash for them. Perhaps it's meant to be a halo vehicle, something that confers glory on other Dodge
vans by association, or perhaps not. Regardless, if it sells, I'll eat my hat.
Dodge Ram 1500 Tradesman: James Tate already mentioned this
, but I can't let it go by without a comment: The Tradesman might just be the horsepower bargain of the decade. This Hemi-powered workhorse costs $22,780 and offers a standard 390 horsepower and 407 lb-ft of torque. That's roughly the same cost as a V6-equipped Ford Mustang, which produces 300 horsepower. I love the Mustang but, oddly, I'd rather have the truck.
Hyundai's engine news:
The Hyundai Genesis
5.0 R-Spec that was announced at Chicago marked the public debut of Hyundai's 5.0-liter Tau V8 engine. The Tau isn't new -- in 4.6-liter form, it was the launch engine for both the Genesis and the Hyundai Equus
luxury sedan -- but the 5.0 produces more horsepower and torque than its predecessor. The 5.0 is slated to appear in the Equus, which should see a slight fuel-economy drop from the change. And the obvious question is: Why is this necessary? The 4.6-equipped Equus doesn't want for speed, and compared with the competition it's not exactly a stellar drive, even at the price. Frankly, I don't see how robbing it of fuel economy -- something Hyundai
has always done well -- however slight the drop helps the car's case.
Lastly, this isn't really an adult observation, but Cadillac brought an all-black (aka "murdered out") CTS-V wagon to Chicago. It's called the Black Diamond Edition
. As The Wall Street Journal's Dan Neil noted
, the V wagon is a car for auto journalists, nutballs and roughly five other people. Joe Public won't give a tinker's damn about it. Also: I don't care. I want one. So. Very. Badly.