The Chicago Auto Show may be the smallest of the North American auto shows we cover (yet largest by square footage, ironically), but year after year, more and more automakers choose to show off some new metal under the lights of McCormick Place. This year saw a total of 18 major reveals (click here to see our full rundown), and while that pales in comparison to last month's Detroit show, there's still a lot of new metal to talk about here in Chicago.

So, of the 18 cars that took the stage in the Windy City, which ones were our favorite? More importantly, which one was the favorite? Follow the jump to see our top five picks for the best 2012 Chicago Auto Show debuts.

#5: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI



Volkswagen drops its proven 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel under the hood of the Bug, makes a few subtle mechanical and cosmetic tweaks and introduces the 2013 Beetle TDI. The 236 pound-feet of torque will deliver smiles while an EPA expected 29 mpg city and 39 mpg highway delivers the miles. While decidedly more masculine than its predecessor, we chose this coupe simply for its powertrain – an oil-burning mill we've enjoyed over and over again in the Golf, Jetta and Passat.


#4: 2013 Acura ILX



Let's clear something up right off the bat. Yes, the Acura Integra ILX (we really hate the name) is our #4 pick for the best car of the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, but we're really only talking about one model: the 2.4-liter/six-speed manual. Why? It's basically a better-appointed, more under-the-radar Civic Si sedan, and while we have plenty of qualms with the new-for-2012 Civic range, we can't really fault the Si that much. Honda (and Acura) may be headed in a funny direction these days, but the ILX is certainly a step toward salvation.


#3: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT



The Hyundai Elantra is making a big splash here in the United States, selling like hotcakes and garnering the praise of both the public and media alike. Hyundai is smart, then, to be expanding the Elantra lineup, and while we're fond of the swoopy coupe that also debuted here in Chicago, it's the five-door GT that really catches our eye. It's the lightest yet most capacious vehicle in the segment, and we like specific design elements like the way the windshield wraps up into the panoramic sunroof and the subtle revisions to the Elantra's front end. We're sure it will only further Hyundai's quest for C-segment domination.


#2: Kia Track'ster Concept



The Kia Track'ster, while purely a concept, is seriously cool. And it's not even because of the supposed 250-horsepower turbocharged engine underhood – we love the Track'ster simply because it makes the Kia Soul more desirable to a whole 'nother group of enthusiasts. The three-door body looks great, the lowered stance and wider hips look great on the Soul body, and while some of us didn't immediately love them at first, the X-shaped fog lamps up front are pretty neat. Our Chicago team couldn't stop talking about the Track'ster during our time at the show, and we'd seriously love to see a production version somewhere down the line (we can dream).


#1: 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R



You may think it's odd that the Autoblog staff would collectively vote a car that first saw the light of day at the 1992 Chicago Auto Show as the 2012 Best in Show, but this is no ordinary car. As a matter of fact, this is the 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R – a machine we first fell in love with back when we were but wee pimple-faced teenagers drooling over our monthly feed of car magazines. Thing is, nothing's really changed. Sure, we're now a bit older, maybe a bit wiser... but the '93 Cobra R still occupies a special place in our hearts.

Yes, the 2013 Shelby GT500 Convertible, which just barely failed to make our Editors' Choice Award's list (mostly because we'd all prefer the hardtop), probably has more horsepower at idle than the '93 SVT Cobra does at its peak (235 horses, for those counting), but that hardly seems to matter in this particular case. The 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra is the one car we'd drive off the show floor if we had the choice.


How'd we arrive at this list? Each Autoblog editor in attendance ranked his personal favorites from one to five, and points were awarded to each (five points for the first place spot, one point for the fifth place spot). Points were tallied and cars were ranked, but if you're curious, here's how the actual voting breakdown looked.
  • Cobra R – 23 points
  • Track'ster – 21 points
  • Elantra GT – 14 points
  • ILX – 10 points
  • Beetle – 7 points


Honorable Mentions

Let's call a spade a spade here: There wasn't exactly a whole lot to see at the Chicago Auto Show. But that doesn't mean our voting was unanimous. In the spirit of honoring all of our top picks, here are our honorable mentions, and how many points each one received.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 53 Comments
      TheAutoBlog
      • 2 Years Ago
      Horrible list. There are better cars you could have chosen. You should have at least mentioned the new Dodge Dart. Absolutely a game changer. Did you guys have a chance to sit in and feel the inside? I did. Feels very upscale, amazing seats, high end LCD dash (in some ways better than the 7 series), great exterior, great chassis, etc. Honestly, I'm truly not sure how Dodge will make a profit on these cars as nothing feels cheap about it. It does feel like a $30K+ car.
        Gordon Chen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TheAutoBlog
        I love the Dart too but it's the same car here as it was in the Detroit auto show.
          TheAutoBlog
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gordon Chen
          You're right...I missed the fact that this list was all debuts. Still, IMO, the Dart seems that awesome that it should have an honorary mention on this list (like the Mustang).
      You guy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can we poll for a reader's choice?
      Jason Krumvieda
      • 2 Years Ago
      Still amazed that modern cars have this much power. I am sure if there was a 1/4 mile race the TDI Beetle would hold its own against the 1993 SVT. In 20 years my sons econobox will hopefully have 650 horses that the current Mustang has.
        dmorgen518
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jason Krumvieda
        thats quite an overestimate. The Cobra does 60 in 5.9 seconds. The Beetle will do 8.3 at best. Also, a 20 year old Honda Civic had about 110 horsepower while the current one has 140. With tougher EPA regulations on the horizon, I wouldn't be so optimistic.
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jason Krumvieda
        I don't know about the Beetle holding its own against the Cobra. You might have a case if you were talking about a Golf GTI. The Beetle is not really a performance car. I see what you are getting at, in regards to power outputs. I can't help but wonder how far it will go myself. However, I think insurance companies would probably take issue with kids driving something with 650 horses, even if it is supposedly just an econobox.
      the.nope
      • 2 Years Ago
      I agree with the Cobra R. Nothing really impressed me at this show other than the Kia. It would be nice if they produced it, it would show up the weaker Mini and heavier GTi. Being a camaro guy i have to give credit to ford for the cobras. through out the SVT history have been crazy good and have done something GM doen't. My favorite was the cobra R in 2000. Wickedly fast 12s 1/4 miles and could take more then 1g in a turn. Im not dogging the original but just think how far cars have come since 1993. 3 years later a V6 supercharged made more hp and Torque (3800 II L67). Few years later the STi eclipsed those numbers with a turbo I-4. Even now we look at these pony V6 cars with over 300 hp as normal. 300 hp out of a v6 was unheard of until the blown grand national. Even then it couldnt have been naturally aspirated.
      • 2 Years Ago
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      Jarebear
      • 2 Years Ago
      i lol'd. but the cobra didn't "debut" at the show. i feel like i've been lied to
      • 2 Years Ago
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      mazeroni
      • 2 Years Ago
      ILX is a worthless vehicle from the get go. The best it can do is a 2.4 with 201hp that will likely get somewhere around 22/32 hwy if its anything like the SI, likely worse since it's likely heavier. The base 4 cylinder is just sad. No direct injection for either engine, 5 speed automatic (6 speed man. will account for less then 10% of 2.4 sales thus not worth talking about,) underpowered hybrid with 35/38 in a world will a mid sized 2013 Fusion will get in the mid 40s. Design wise this is what the new Civic should of looked like, so credit to Acura for having a good looking car, bad for Honda for failing in that regard.
      • 2 Years Ago
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      • 2 Years Ago
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        omgcool
        • 2 Years Ago
        Being based on the abysmal Civic, I imagine I'd agree. At least it looks better than the Civic, though frankly the new Acuras are looking like previous-gen Camrys.
        Dane Grant
        • 2 Years Ago
        I told the Acura 'Show Girl' at the Detroit Show, I would rather dabble in herion then drive an Acura....
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dane Grant
          [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dane Grant
          [blocked]
      ZOZ
      • 2 Years Ago
      Stupid choice
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      All nice game changers except the Acura, to ugly to love.
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