2009 Auto Shows - What did you think?

So I was at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show on Sunday night and I enjoyed it. I figured I’m not the only Doper who’s been to this one or one of the many other across the country and I’m eager to talk about what I saw.

The most interesting/exciting car I saw was the Cadillac Converj. It’s the sport-luxury version of the Chevy Volt Concept Car . I won’t go into too much detail about the Volt and the electric car idea since it’s been heavily discussed already, but I will say that both the Volt and Converj looked good in person. Who knows how close the Volt’s final design will be to this one, but the styling worked for me in person. The Converj however was simply gorgeous. Cadillac should use this exterior design for a standard drive vehicle right now and if the Converj ever comes to be I hope I am in the right tax bracket to afford one. The interior was basically like a cross of being inside an iPhone and the new Tron flick. Pretty much everything was a touch screen and everything was customizable, very little of that will probably see the light of day any time soon, but it was pretty cool.

I admit that the new Cadillac designs are a love it or hate it thing, but count me as someone who is a big fan. I dug the XLR when they debuted it a while back and I really like the updated CTS. The Converj is a continuation/exaggeration of that and could be what a potential CTS-V Coupe might look like if they ever made one (which I’d totally want).

My only complaint was that the Cadillac interiors had a bit too much plastic for my liking. It was pretty well matched to the rest of the more upscale interior, but when I’m in a car in that price range I don’t want to feel light plastic under my fingers. Cadillac wasn’t unique in this, but you noticed it when you climbed into a Mercedes or Infinity.

Generally speaking the Cadillac show space was one of the biggest and most interesting to see. Its obvious that they are one of the brands doing okay in the US and their Converj was easily the most impressive main stage. The giant SUVs were too abundant and the Escalade is still a joke, but you got the impression that they were sort of hidden in the back.

The Hummer space was kind of deserted. Not much buzz about the H3 at all and they only had one H2 on display.

The Chevy space, aside from the Volt, was pretty depressing. Not many worthwhile cars in that lineup at all. The Malibu is a step in the right direction and I actually like it a lot more than the Taurus, Camry, Accord or Passat. The Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia are the only other notable GM vehicles I saw. They are all essentially the same car with differing trim levels but every one was a very attractive and felt very solid. It’s a bit too big, bigger than it really needs to be frankly, but if I was a family toting soccer mom this is the car I’d want.

Ford really, really needs to fire whoever does their interiors. Man, you could feel how crappy those products are. Which is a shame since the Fusion, Edge and new Taurus are all pretty solid looking cars from the outside. Their lineup of trucks and SUVs are all pretty much unchanged and consistently ugly.

The Lincoln lineup was horribly depressing compared to the Cadillac one. They took what were essentially decent looking Ford cars and uglied them up considerably with misplaced chrome and chunky rims. They also suffered from subpar interiors too, copious leather and faux-wood didn’t hide what was essentially the same mess as was in their Ford counterparts. Lincoln won’t be competing with M-B and BMW any time soon.

It was interesting to see how small some of the exotic car displays were. It used to be that you’d get to see all kinds of Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Aston Martins and a host of other Supercars. Lambo was the only brand mentioned above there and they only had 2 cars on display. There were a couple Maseratis and a Ferrari but they were being shown but a dealer, not the manufacturer. Porsche and Aston Martin didn’t have any presence at all.

Speaking of Supercars, the Corvette ZR-1 was shown in a mean looking Charcoal Grey and loaded with carbon fiber. It looked like every bit the equal to the Lambos and it probably drew the biggest crowds of any car not on a riser.

Overall I was surprised by how few car makers had main stages. In years past it seemed that every brand had to have one new model on a custom stage complete with special effects and spokesmodel. Other than the Volt/Converj displays very few brands had anything eye catching or prominent. A few had displays, like the new Challenger and Venza but they weren’t particularly bold.

Another awesome car I saw was the BMW X6. I love the look of this car, it finds the perfect balance between Crossover and Sports Car. I used to be a massive BMW fan and I still like the M-cars but generally speaking I’d say that their recent versions of the 3-series and 5-series have been big steps in the wrong direction artistically. Even more saddening was how poor the interiors have become. They were a bit too plasticy (though not to the degree of a Ford or other car half it’s price) for my liking and they simply aren’t in the class of either Audi or Mercedes inside anymore. The X6 was the best of the lot but even it had it’s problems inside.

The Mercedes Benz cars were universally flawless inside. Just immaculate pieces of art with the exception of the SLK Coupe. The exterior of the M-B cars however seemed to be changing into a much stodgier and more conservative look. I’ve never been too fond of the M-B look but this years lineup was especially elderly. It was reminiscent of the Jaguar styling under Ford, which wasn’t particularly popular.

The other notable car I saw, and the one with is probably the one I’ll end up buying in a year or two, is the wildly impressive Hyundai Genesis Coupe. I would never have thought I’d ever consider a Hyundai but this machine is incredible for the price. The performance specs beat just about every American muscle car and the fit and finish are like something you’d want in a Infinity. The interior was far above anything in it’s price range, including Honda and VW. Great, great car. I’ll be eager to drive one and see all the trim options.

Anyways, enough babbling. I’m sure there’s much more to discuss. Hope someone else has ventured out to the show in these uncertain times for the economy and out Auto companies. You can certainly see the effects of the depression on the presentations but there are still some very interesting cars out there.

Wasn’t sure what forum was best for this, but since the Auto Show seems like a cultural event/performance and the design of cars, especially concepts, is something of an artistic endeavor I decided on this one.

I went to San Jose’s auto show a few weeks back. Very scaled down from years past; some manufacturers didn’t even bother, and very few concepts.

The only two concepts I can really remember were both electrics from Chrysler/Dodge. Dodge’s was a sports car called the Zeo, Chrysler’s “EcoVoyager” was a crossover-sized four-seater that looked pretty nifty, mainly for its snazzy and spacious interior.

Also present was the new hard-top/coupe version of Pontiac’s Solstice. I usually like hard-tops better and this is no exception. Gorgeous car for the money (~$25k plus options).

I was hoping to scope out the Kia Soul, but Kia wasn’t there at all this year.

Over in the luxury room there was a Bugatti Veyron, among some others. Also on display were some Rolls Royces, one with a LED starfield installed on the inside of the roof. Its rear doors were also converted to suicide doors.
I spent most of my time in that room, however, pining over the Lotus Elise.

The Denver Auto Show is not until the end of March, so I have nothing to report. BUT! As long as it is still on (there have been rumors of cancellation), I will be attending the Tokyo Auto Show in November! Squee! :slight_smile:

Taurus SHO. God, I want one.

I didn’t go, but my SIL did, and she was surprised at how many big-ass SUVs are still being marketed.

The Dodge Curcuit EV was the interesting concept from Chrysler-Dodge at the Chicago Show. It is a all-electric vehicle with a really nice sport coupe design. This is another one of those great looking cars that should probably be made in a standard drive version while the electric version still develops.

All-in-all the Chrysler models on display were awful. The Charger and Challenger are decent looking cars from the outside but the quasi-retro interiors are the worst of both worlds, intrusive chunky old school features and plasticy faux-steel and carbon new school. I just don’t know who their market is. How many people really want a 4-door sedan disguised as a retro muscle car these days? The Challenger is probably a terrific niche car at a good price, I like it a lot more than the Mustang but slightly less than the Camaro, but I think the muscle car lovers and sport coupe buyer would pay a few dollars more for a better interior. Everything else from Chrysler and Dodge were completely irredeemable, the Sebring and the Durango need to be drug out back and shot.

I thought it was mildly disappointing. It felt really cheap. I will give it credit for having a nicely designed and laid out interior though it seemed a bit cramped for a 6’3" guy like me. Considering it’s price I probably shouldn’t complain too much about the fit and finish I suppose. My biggest beef is that it is one of many new cars coming out that are essentially clones of the Honda Element. I get the quirky boxy alternative thing, but now every car company has one and it’s getting tacky and cliched. Every Asian car maker has one even Ford and Chevy are getting into it. It seems like it’s a style that’s bound to run it’s course very quickly and by the time all these new models are hitting showrooms the trend will be over and they’ll be big money pits for the manufacturers.

Went to the Chicago show over the weekend and walked away extremely underwhelmed. There was no big thing this year compared to other years. I realize with the economy down the automakers might be wary of introducing a lot of new things, but c’mon–here’s the best chance to sell your brand to the public. Give us something exciting.

I specifically searched out the Converj because I heard it was the must-see car of the show. If that was the must-see–wow. I will admit I am not a GM guy, but that car did nothing for me. The Stingray concept, however…what a beautiful car that will get ruined should it ever go into production.

I did enjoy the Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge test track, but after four years of it they need to think about revamping it.

Overall–meh. Hopefully next year will be better.

ETA: The Stingray link didn’t work as planned. Try this one.

Do you like the Cadillac CTS? If you hate the current Cadillac “look” I can see not liking the Converj, but if you like Caddy’s this was the greatest one ever.

It was cool but it was too outlandish for me. The dimensions of that car were ridiculously huge. The thing is a Corvette with the footprint of a Escalade. The lines were awesome and the styling was artistically impressive and striking. I love the classic Stingray and this one was a wonderful homage without being a pandering retro cop-out. However there’s no way you’d want anything similar to that in production, they’d need to scale it down considerably to make it perform in any way.

From the Toronto autoshow, on the 15th feb

Album 1

Album 2

Album 3

Album 4

I have one other album on facebook of photos , I’ll post it as soon as I figure which album it was, lol.

Some curious observations , we went on a whirlwind tour of the autoshow and the photos reflect that , instead of being able to properly frame the shots , I was only able to get a poorly shot scene of a number of vehicles , thats my fault rather than the Camera , but I hope a number of shots do give you an idea of what was there.

Toyota’s trucks were pretty close to the American standard that I was taken aback. Before in the day , you were able to tell the difference between asian and american vehicles and that line is blurring today. One might think that the american designs would start to meld towards the asian , but after looking at an Infinity Q something , that sucker was bigger than a GMC war wagon.

I’ll do more reviewing tommorow, other things to do.


I’ve gone to the Detroit Auto Show many a time. I hadn’t been in a while and I wanted to go to this one specifically because of the recent troubles,

Where the rotating pedestal would have the newest, niftiest muscle car, it now had the hybrid. Every manufacturer (practically) had a hybrid up there for show. The basement, which houses mostly historical cars and clay models had an indoor track with trees and nice paving and such for domestic hybrid cars to tool around on in relative silence.

Cadillac’s hybrid was really sharp looking and the Volt was pretty nifty as well.

The Caddy is a stunner. It’s a shame the production cars never look half as good as the concepts.

I remember the year that the Pontiac Sunfire was the concept car. It made it to the showroom floor looking essentially the same.

I remember also “oohing” and “aahing” over it when they unveiled it as well.
For the most part, I completely agree. You get to see something incredibly frustrating at thee shows: tangible evidence that there are people with imaginations working there, unfortunately, anything interesting tends to get sucked out. Sometimes exceptions slide through, though.
The internal of the Converj is just as pretty. It looks very distinctive.

One last thing that I noticed and it seems to be the wave of the future: no more side view mirrors. They’re cameras.

I missed the DC Auto Show for various reasons. Gotta make sure to catch it next time around.

Do you know which model of the Soul you were in? I honestly think the Kia can compete really well with the likes of the Scion xB and the Honda Fit; I think the Kia is among the best I’ve seen for cars of that style. The solid interior and the large potential for customization I think makes it a pretty formidable contender in the market.

I can see the “boxy” style getting smoothed down a bit, but all cars evolve over time.