2013 Chicago Auto Show Winners and Losers

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The Chicago Auto Show is traditionally big on floor space and short on new product debuts, and the 2013 edition is no different with just a handful of all-new production and concept cars making their premieres. Editors Mike Hanley, Aaron Bragman, David Thomas and Joe Bruzek crisscrossed the expansive show floor in search of the hits and misses.

2014 Toyota Tundra

Mike Hanley: Winner
It would have been nice to see some frame or powertrain improvements, but the styling changes nicely update the truck. The taller hood makes for a bold front end, and the stamped badge on the tailgate is something you'd typically see on a concept truck. On the show floor, the changes work. Whether it stands a chance in the real world with updated domestic competitors is another thing.

Aaron Bragman: Loser
Lots of us thought that the new 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra updates were tepid, but this makes GM's changes look revolutionary. Two elements one can point to — the new grille and the new interior, and neither one looks good. The new headlights and body-colored grille make the Tundra look like a bigger Honda Ridgeline, which is not a positive change. The interior is practically a direct rip-off of the current Ford F-150, and with no changes to the structure or powertrain (a five-speed automatic transmission? Still?), one wonders why Toyota even bothered to change anything.

David Thomas: Winner
I like the updates to the Tundra because it maintains a modern look versus the traditional styling of the domestic trucks on the market. The Tundra is what you think a truck in 2013 should look like. The different treatments to the grille are interesting, too, and everyone seemed to love the stamped-in name on the tailgate. Inside may be a "ripoff," but it is well-executed.

Joe Bruzek: Loser
Is Toyota giving up on the Tundra? It looks that way with hardly significant styling improvements and rip-off of the F-150's interior styling plus no mechanical changes to the truck's capabilities. The Tundra's old interior at least differentiated itself from other pickups with a unique, clean and swoopy design instead of the blocky industrial look it now uses.

By David Thomas | February 8, 2013 | Comments (8)

Superman Kia Optima Hybrid: Photo Gallery

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The Superman-inspired Kia Optima Hybrid, revealed today at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, might have been the Man of Steel's sweet-16 present from daddy Jor-El if only Krypton hadn't been destroyed. The Supes-style sedan is instantly recognizable, adorned in the hero's signature blue with red accents on the grille, wheels, rear bumper and elsewhere, with glowing red undercar lighting and "heat vision" headlights.

More 2013 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

To further guard against mistaken identity, the Last Son of Krypton's signature S shield is displayed in multiple places, most prominently on the hood and seats, and a shadowy black image of him is incorporated into the rear windshield. Despite all their similarities, Superman gets his power from Earth's sun while the Kia Optima Hybrid runs on gas and electric — and cannot fly. The car is the sixth in a planned eight-car Justice League series born of a partnership between Kia and DC Entertainment. Check out the gallery below.

By Matt Schmitz | February 8, 2013 | Comments (7)

2013 Chicago Auto Show: What to Expect

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The Windy City is considered one of the fan-friendliest destinations during auto-show season, and to that end the 2013 Chicago Auto Show is unlikely to disappoint. This show will give visitors a first glimpse of a few new vehicles along with a closer look at a host of exciting cars that made flashy debuts at the Detroit auto show.

The 2013 Chicago show — the 105th time the event has been held since 1901, according to organizers — will be open to the public 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 9-17 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 18, with media and charity previews Feb. 7-8, at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive. Organizers promote the Chicago show as the largest in terms of exhibit space used, as it occupies 1 million square feet of floor space and hosts about 1,000 vehicles.

For those most interested in the latest thing, the Chicago show will host the world debuts of the redesigned 2014 Toyota Tundra full-size pickup truck and the Kia Cross GT Concept. That's in addition to the North American reveal of the new Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. The 2014 Ram ProMaster van and the custom Superman-inspired Kia Optima Hybrid also are expected to be unveiled.

By Matt Schmitz | January 31, 2013 | Comments (6)

Kia to Unveil Crossover Concept, Superman Car at 2013 Chicago Auto Show

KiaCrossGTConcept

Kia's showing in Chicago next week will be a mix of concept, in the Kia Cross GT, and just plain conceptual, in its Superman-inspired Optima Hybrid. Both cars are set to be unveiled at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, which runs Feb. 9-18 at McCormick Place.

Kia released a sneak peak of the Cross GT concept this morning. The photo shows what appears to be a seven-seat crossover larger than the 2014 Kia Sorento. Kia describes the Cross GT concept as "inspired by nature, driven by technology" and stated that it "hints at the future of Kia’s design language in the form of a premium Crossover Utility Vehicle." We’ll have full coverage of the concept next week from the show.

By Matt Schmitz | January 30, 2013 | Comments (3)

The Cars.com $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown

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It's been two and a half years since we conducted our very first multi-car comparison with USA Today and "Motorweek." That showdown featured eight midsize family sedans competing against each other, with the Hyundai Sonata taking first and the Ford Fusion coming in last.

A lot has changed in that amount of time, with four of the six contenders in this year's contest sporting completely new designs.

How did they do?

Read the full showdown to find out.

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Cars.com $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown
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By David Thomas | December 27, 2012 | Comments (18)

Cars.com $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown: Mileage Results

Altimagas

We took six of the top-selling, most fuel-efficient cars in the U.S. and pitted them against each other. How’d they do in our mileage drive?

While Nissan's redesigned 2013 Altima may have the highest EPA-estimated mileage rating among family sedans, its trip computer had the largest discrepancy with our calculations at the pump. After a 185-mile loop, the Altima's trip computer read 4.38 mpg above our calculations — far higher than the variances we observed for the 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Honda Accord, 2013 Hyundai Sonata, 2013 Kia Optima and 2012 Toyota Camry. The Altima won the day's trip-computer mileage with an observed 35.9 mpg, but its calculated pump mileage — 31.52 mpg — landed it a third-place finish behind the Camry and Accord.

Cars.com/USA Today/MotorWeek $26,000 Midsize Sedan Showdown

We took six contenders on a daylong mileage loop in mixed city/highway conditions. Per our usual mileage-challenge procedures, we began and ended at the same gas pump, swapped drivers over roughly equal chunks of seat time, kept windows and sunroofs closed and avoided cruise control. With cool temperatures and low humidity, we kept air conditioning off this time.

At day's end, our calculated pump mileage amounted to less than 1 mpg difference from what the trip computers read for five of the six cars, but the Altima's was off by 4.38 mpg. Why the discrepancy?

By Kelsey Mays | December 27, 2012 | Comments (24)

Honda Shines, Toyota Falls in Latest IIHS Crash Tests

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The 2013 Toyota Camry sedan and Prius v hybrid (above, right) failed a new crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that simulates a frontal impact overlapping a small portion of the car — say, piling into a tree from your left headlight. IIHS announced today its test of 18 model-year 2013 family cars. It's the largest yet for the so-called "small overlap" frontal test that many luxury brands failed in August 2012.

At the other end, the Honda Accord sedan and nearly-defunct Suzuki Kizashi (above, left) earned IIHS' top score, Good; 11 other cars — including the Accord coupe — earned Acceptable ratings. The IIHS rates cars Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor. Of the 18 cars tested, the Toyotas scored Poor, but the Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Jetta sedan scored Marginal.

By Kelsey Mays | December 19, 2012 | Comments (7)

July's Fastest and Slowest Selling Cars

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Who says old cars won’t sell? July's fastest sellers include newbies like the redesigned Nissan Altima and two Hyundai Elantra additions — the coupe and GT hatchback — but a number of cars that have been on the market a year or more are flying off lots. The year-old Volkswagen Passat, our Best of 2012 car, averages just five days to sell. The Kia Soul, which went on sale way back in spring 2009, takes just a week to sell. The Hyundai Tucson, Kia Optima and Subaru Outback are also among July's fastest sellers, and all of them are at least 2 years old.

On the newer side, the Dodge Dart and Scion FR-S are off to a fast start. The Scion marks its second month in a row among the fastest sellers. Other repeat performers include the Cadillac XTS and Ford Escape (second month each), Hyundai's Veloster and Accent hatchbacks (third month), Soul (fourth month) and Toyota Prius c (fifth month). The Subaru Impreza has the longest tenure here, having been among the fastest monthly sellers since just after it hit dealerships in November 2011. July marks the Impreza's eighth consecutive month.

By Kelsey Mays | August 3, 2012 | Comments (4)

Kia Stands by 10-Year Warranty

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Kia is on a roll with strong sales, but it aims to stick with its vaunted 10-year warranty. Executives at the Korean automaker stood by the 100,000-mile powertrain policy — mirroring Hyundai's defense of the same warranty last year amid questions as to whether it was still necessary.

"We continue to get the cross-shopping set," said Tom Loveless, Kia's U.S. sales chief. "Customers who are continuing to purchase other brands who are coming to Kia expressly for [the warranty] ... actually make the decision to purchase because of the warranty coverage. I see no reason to change. It's part of the Kia recipe."

By Kelsey Mays | July 20, 2012 | Comments (9)

Manual Transmissions Fading Out of Midsize Sedan Lineups

2012 Subaru Legacy

Soon a majority of mainstream midsize sedans will have standard automatic transmissions and no manual transmission option.

It's been a long time coming. The stick shift has stuck around longer on midsize sedans than on other body styles, probably due to the broad appeal of the segment; these cars still make up the most vehicle sales in the U.S. The manual-transmission option also allowed marketing departments to advertise the highest fuel-efficiency figures and the lowest base prices, which were usually found on the manual-equipped models.

By Colin Bird | May 10, 2012 | Comments (10)

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