Windy City Winners
The Chicago Auto Show got a new giant globe sign this year, complete with backlit ambient lighting. That's a huge debut at a show that doesn't have a ton of product news. All jokes aside, the Chicago show may be small in terms of hustle and bustle, it's a hugely important show for consumers – it's one of the most-visited shows in the world.
Here, we take a look at the five vehicles that stood out as the best in show. These are our favorites. Don't forget to look back at our entire Chicago Auto Show recap, here.
5th PLACE: MERCEDES-BENZ SPRINTER EXTREME CONCEPT
STEVEN EWING: Be still my heart. This thing is pretty ridiculous, but it's also amazing. It's even got the light-up Mercedes-Benz star on the nose. I love all things Sprinter, and this is one of the coolest up-fits I've seen.
ERIN MARQUIS: Not at all what I expected from Mercedes, and certainly not a Sprinter. This is definitely creeping to the top of my Zombie Apocalypse Survival vehicles list.
DAVID GLUCKMAN: Mercedes gets points for bringing a "concept" to the Chicago show this year. I could do without the Mountain Dew/Jurassic Park paint job and the almost-definitely-fake beadlock wheels, but I think the world needs more lifted Sprinter trucks with stacks.
4th PLACE: 2017 KIA NIRO
SEBASTIAN BLANCO: The Kia Niro hybrid is the only thing to get truly excited about here in Chicago this year. A new hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicle for the marketplace – with the hint of an all-electric model coming at some point in the future – is always a good thing.
ALEX KIERSTEIN: A compelling eco package wrapped in surprisingly handsome sheetmetal. Kia might have a hit on its hands.
GREG MIGLIORE: This is one of the most important vehicles at the show. It’s Kia’s first dedicated hybrid and it expands the company into an important segment, compact crossovers, that should see dramatic growth in the next few years.
3rd PLACE: 2017 RAM 2500 POWER WAGON
MICHAEL AUSTIN: The Power Wagon is one of my favorite silly trucks and I'm glad to see FCA's continued dedication to excess.
JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Where the Ford Raptor dances, the Ram Power Wagon demolishes. Either way, there's plenty of off-road fun to be had here, with a big heaping helping of everyday practicality riding in the bed.
ALEX KIERSTEIN: It's a big brute without all the chrome, and that's a good thing. The standard heavy-duty winch is a nice touch. Can't argue with the proven powertrain and moderate off-road capabilities, either. More importantly, it looks the part it's trying to play.
2nd PLACE: 2017 CHEVROLET CAMARO 1LE
BRANDON TURKUS: I consider myself a Ford Mustang person, but as good as the GT Performance Package is, the Camaro SS 1LE is just going to be better. But while the last 1LE suffered on the looks front (in my ever-so-humble opinion), the new Camaro looks way better, and it wears the black 1LE hood beautifully.
CHRIS BRUCE: For customers who don't want to wait for the inevitable Z28 or ZL1 or just don't want to spend that extra money, the 1LE seems to be the perfect package. It's sharper than the standard Camaro but would likely still work as a daily vehicle.
MICHAEL AUSTIN: My favorite versions of the Camaro and Mustang are always the simple ones like this. They make the car better to drive at a price you couldn't beat if you built it yourself.
1st PLACE: 2017 TOYOTA TACOMA TRD PRO
GREG MIGLIORE: I love the concept of this: Take a midsize truck and make it as off-road capable as possible. I think the frontier capability is translated in a confident manner with this design, and I’m psyched a manual transmission will be available.
JEREMY KORZENIEWSKI: Diet Raptor? We'll see.
DAVID GLUCKMAN: This one gets my vote because it looks super sweet, especially in the gray color they had at the show. Yeah, I'm sure it will do well off-road, just like the last one.
STEVEN EWING: I love midsize trucks. And while I'd probably never actually take it off road, the butch looks of the Tacoma TRD Pro do a lot for me. The cement color is super cool, and hey, you can get this thing with a six-speed manual transmission. Awesome.
This was close, with no one runaway winner. (A lot of people assumed the Camaro would take first place.) Here's how we voted:
- Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – 48 points
- Chevy Camaro 1LE – 45 points
- Ram 2500 Power Wagon – 41 points
- Kia Niro – 31 points
- Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Extreme – 28 points
There wasn't a ton to see in Chicago, but we voted for more than just the top five featured in this gallery. Here are the other cars that grabbed our attention at the show.