The Chicago Auto Show Revs Up

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"Chicago Auto Show 2010 (64)" by Aaron and Alli is licensed under Creative Commons.

I never thought I would go to an auto show. Especially because the McCormick Center is accessed mainly via expressway, which my mom does not drive on, ever. But on February 19, 2018, I headed down to the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Center — the biggest of its kind in North America — and I actually had a really great time.

The first Chicago Auto Show took place in 1901, and it has only grown since then. This year marked the 110th Chicago Auto Show.

When I walked into the two main rooms, I was astonished by how BIG the rooms were. The auto show takes up over 1 million square feet. Ford had the biggest amount of space, right at the front. Each brand had a “concept car” for the upcoming year that would rotate on a giant platform with a show-person talking about the great features of that brand’s concept car and the estimated price. There were also test tracks where people would wait in hour-long lines and go for test drives in the newest models of cars and experience weird car tricks.

My boyfriend’s parents took me and my boyfriend to the auto show. His dad had been coming to the auto show since the mid-1960s and only missed one year because he was on vacation in Florida. My boyfriend, Joey, has never missed an auto show since started going in 2001. (He was 1.) Joey’s dad liked to rate the carpeting of each of the brands, and which was the best of the year. So not only were we all ranking cars and brands but carpet, which was surprisingly a big part of the experience.

My impression of cars before the show was that I knew of some that I had seen in dealerships on my way to school, especially Nissan. When I was 12, I got infatuated with Nissan and have wanted a Nissan Rogue ever since. After walking through two showrooms, the hall area, and on a balcony, we finally arrived at the giant Nissan sign, right next to the Subarus, which were another contender in my search for a car. The Nissan Rogue had two options: Regular and Sport.

The Sport was much smaller than the classic Rogue. It didn’t have as many luxury features which made sense since it was more tailored to sporty people who need a lot of trunk space.

After the Nissan room, we headed to the Subarus, which, in my boyfriend’s dad’s opinion, had the best-of-all-time carpet. I found one car that I had been thinking about: the Subaru Forester. It was more sporty than the Rogue Sport — I mean, it was geared towards hikers and mountainous area people. Since I’m planning on going to Northwestern Washington State for college, I knew it would be a good car for all those rougher terrains.

It turned out the car was a perfect fit for me. Even the driver’s seat fits me perfectly. The wheel wasn’t too far back, the seat kept my posture aligned, and I had the right amount of foot room. There was a sunroof, which was a definite plus, and the radio was really nice and hands-on. From that moment, I didn’t want the Nissan anymore. It was all about the Subaru Forester.

When I was 12, I didn’t know much about cars — just that they looked cool or that they were a nice shape or that they had leather seats. I blindly chose the Nissan Rogue because it wasn’t too big or small, and was right between luxury and sport. I liked that it had a sunroof and an interactive screen radio system, but I didn’t know much other than that.

Now, I have a small list of requirements in choosing a car. It must have a sunroof, possibly heated seats, possibly adjustable to your body seats (apparently that’s a thing), good leg room, a lot of room for the trunk, possibly seats that fold under and disappear from view (I think only minivans do that), good sight-lines, and a sleek dashboard. I don’t want to be looking in all different directions to find my speed, gas tank capacity, mileage, any warnings, etc.

Cars matter because I need to get places without taking public transit. I also need to learn how to go places via the expressway, which hasn’t happened yet. I want to be in a car I’m comfortable in, which varies for all different people. My mom’s current car, a 2005 Volvo S40, has HORRIBLE sight-lines. It has smaller mirrors on the side mirrors that you’re supposed to use for the giant blocked-out the area near the back of the front seats. It makes it really hard to tell if someone is close to the back of your car unless you use the smaller mirrors.

I think cars are a form of art. Someone had to design the cars you see on the road today. It’s kind of like architecture but instead of buildings, it’s vehicles. There was one car I saw at the Auto Show that backs up my claim. 

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Photograph by Lily Potter.

It was a 2019 Lexus, one of the concept cars shown. This car looked like it was covered in melted pennies. In a way, it looked muscular. The sleekness of it made it look like some fast animal. The interior was black and white, and the wheel had roughly 20 buttons on it. The tail lights looked like fire. It was futuristic. And it was someone’s vision once — what they created to sell to the world.

It definitely caught my eye, and if it wasn’t conceptually estimated at 50,000 dollars, it might be a contender.

All in all, the auto show was an amazing experience, and I think I’ll make it a tradition to go back every year.

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