Editors' Choice: Top Five 2012 Chicago Auto Show Debuts

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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