The Chicago Auto Show was a sweet spot on the show circuit’s radar. But in recent years, it has meant more to the industry, especially with the Detroit show moving towards the end of the year. We’ve seen multiple car reveals and automaker assets making their way to the Windy City in the chilly first few months of the year. The 2023 Chicago Auto Show was yet another example of this noteworthy show, with a few car reveals, lots of interesting sheet metal on the show floor, and at least one hidden gem.
We polled our editors and producers about their favorite cars at the show. Our Editors’ Choices are a little different this time around, as we haven’t seen many first effects on new vehicles. With that in mind, here are our top picks from the 2023 Chicago Auto Show.
We first saw the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse at the events surrounding the Detroit Auto Show last year. But in a show where not a amount of actually debuting new cars, a newly revealed interior, and the addition of available carbon-fiber wheels were enough to put the Dark Horse on our list. Ford didn’t give a shit about it or even hold a press conference, but it still got our attention.
Senior Producer Christopher McGraw notes that this complete Dark Horse “gives off darker Bullitt vibes thanks in part to the lightweight blue anodized titanium manual shift knob. The carbon fiber wheels on the Dark Horse are a first since the GT350R and prove it’s a serious performance variant. Can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one.”
Volkswagen’s family haulers get a decent makeover for 2024, which we first saw in Chicago. It’s not the sort of thing that’s going to take the internet by storm, but it’s another announcement that Chicago has been chosen as the location for.
Road Test editor Zac Palmer, who seemed to like the update more than other editors, says, “The Atlas was one of the biggest reveals at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, and the new exterior digs are to my liking.” Does it deserve a total redesign by now?Of course it is, but only the interior received that level of attention.As the previous Atlas, and this new interior turns the old narrative upside down.Sadly, though, the infotainment system and climate controls they’re updated to the latest from VW. It’s not user-friendly, which is a real downgrade from the large knobs and dials seen on all previous Atlases.”
Senior editor James Riswick tried to give this VW minus points for “putting that awful tech interface in the Atlas”. We just counted it as no points from him.
On the one hand, we love seeing new Jeeps. On the other hand, boy, these suckers are expensive. Despite cool features like unique-looking packaging, upgraded and lifted suspension, and an AEV package with massive 37-inch wheels, price kept these Wranglers from making it higher on the list.
As consumer editor Jeremy Korzeniewski explains: “I definitely love the Jeep Wrangler. I like them so much that I once owned the same red Wrangler twice (yes, I bought it back after I sold it). I mean my first Wrangler 1990 model was about $5,000 when I bought it (with a down payment courtesy of my parents as a graduation present) as a low mileage used vehicle in late 1990. We had so much fun in that little red truck :l ‘We jacked it up, updated the wheels, tires and interior then added a nice stereo. It was fun on the cheap and we never worried too much about screwing it up on the trail. My brother recently bought a 2018 model at a price reasonable for some family fun, a move I applaud. Now… what would I do with a 2023 Wrangler Rubicon Anniversary Edition? Let’s just say it would be treated a little differently at his um BASE PRICE OF $71,380. No thanks, at least not for me.”
This is another vehicle we’ve seen before, but Chicago was the first time we’ve seen the exact version that will hit the U.S. The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek. A big selling point is that the available 2.5-liter engine gives the US Crosstrek more horsepower than overseas models, at 182 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. However, we’re still pissed that we lost the manual transmission. However, we already like the current Crosstrek and are pleased to see some improvements coming for the 2024 model year.
Was there any doubt that the one all-new model at the show would be the best choice? It’s bigger and better looking than the other Highlander that inspired it and offers the Hybrid Max powertrain with 362 horsepower. You can read all about it in the link above, and news editor Joel Stocksdale gives the Grand Highlander a walk around the show floor in the video below: