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Q. When is the 2014 Chicago Auto Show being held and what will be its highlight production cars? — J.H. Chicago
A. The show will be held February 8 to 17 at McCormick Place. New production vehicle highlights will include the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, Cadillac ATS Coupe, Chrysler 200—and perhaps the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado trucks. All are 2015 models.
Q. Car buff magazines and the trade publication Automotive News go all out to cover the Detroit Auto Show, but have paid relatively little attention to the big Chicago Auto Show, held about a month later. That doesn’t seem objective to me. — D.W. (via Internet)
A. Key publications, including Automotive News and auto buff magazines such as Automobile, Autoweek and Car and Driver, are based in the Detroit area. The Chicago show thus has been consistently snubbed. Also, many—but not all—automakers are hungry for media coverage and know the Detroit show will get lots of it. The Detroit show turned into a “zoo” years ago, with hoards of many so-called auto writers invited. They’ll run right over you for puff auto press releases. The Chicago Show is larger, much easier to view and routinely draws more visitors (over 1 million) than the Detroit event. Also, virtually all vehicles shown at the Detroit show are at the Chicago exposition. Some new ones also are shown in Chicago. The Los Angeles Auto Show, held before the Detroit event, has become more competitive and promises to steal some of Detroit’s thunder.
Q. Will Ford’s use of aluminum, instead of steel, for much of its 2015 F-150 pickup truck hurt its sales? — D.M., Dallas
A. That’s doubtful. The F-150’s body is 95 percent high-strength aluminum, with a high-strength steel frame. Weight savings can be as much as 700 pounds for such things as better fuel economy, compared to the outgoing truck. Ford isn’t about to take chances with its F-150—for decades its best-selling vehicle. Ford is training body repair outfits to work with the truck’s aluminum parts if they’re damaged.
Q. Your opinion of the 2015
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with a reportedly 635-horsepower V-8? —
M.H. (via Internet)
A. Got a racetrack? Have high-performance driving school or track experience to safely handle that car? Otherwise, many who buy one are likely would-be collectors looking for a future profit or those with outsized egos (who can get into trouble fast with a Z06). On the other hand, the Z06 has scads of performance for the dollar. But then, so does a stock Corvette for far less money.
Q. Do you think the new 2015 Chrysler 200, which looks great, have a good chance of seriously challenging mid-size rivals? — D.M. (via Internet)
A. I doubt it—at least not for some time. The 200 is vastly improved from its predecessor, but must compete against strong, entrenched foreign and U.S. rivals and has no reputation yet. Note that the decent new Dodge Dart, which has been on sale since last year, has largely been a sales disappointment.
Q. What is one of the most improved 2015 cars? — S.B. (via Internet)
A. The 2015 Honda Fit. It’s a picture of efficiency, being lighter and shorter than its predecessor, but more powerful, roomier and more fuel-efficient. It’s also reportedly more fun to drive.