Chicago Auto Show Trip Report

You could probably read the New Testament in the time it will take to read this post. Its long.
Today I attended the Chicago Auto Show.
It was Ladies Day, another good reason to go.
Well all I can say is I'm rather disappointed in what the General is offering for 05 / 06.
First off, the models that will NOT be here in 06 are the Bonneville, Park Avenue, Ultra, LeSabre, Century.
The Impala & Monte Carlo will be restyled. Monte looks basically the same outside, slightly revised nose & interior. Impala is completely changed for 06. More on that further down in the post.
Buick will have two cars for 06, one mini van & two SUV's.
The Buick Lucerne replaces both LeSabre & Park Aveune. A V6 is for LeSabre buyers and a V8 version for those who would buy a Park Avenue. There will be three trim levels offered.
Two Lucernes were on revolving platforms, one had the driverside doors off & part of the roof cut away so you could view the interior.
My opinion of it is it had a very nice looking interior and spacious, the front headlights looked like a Lexus and the decklid and tail lights remind me of a Toyota Corolla. The sideview looked alright. I'd much rather be able to sit in a car before I poo - poo it to much.
The LaCrosse, sadly for me Had 0 headroom in the back seat. My head was into the headliner.
I'm 5' 10" buy the way. Up front was comfortable, headroom was slighly better, but forget about wearing those big hats. Many car models here were NOT Cowboy Hat friendly.
No reports for Raineir, Rendesvous or Terraza. Raineir was comfortable, but for this type of vehicle, my preference was for the GMC Envoy XL.
LeSabre - No report. 1999 was the last of the good ones.
No Park Avenue or Ultra at the show, one rep said production has stopped.
Grand Prix GT, GTP - Front headroom low, seats comfortable but side bolsters squeeze your back after awhile. What happened to the Voltmeter & Oil Pressure gauges? Very cramped feel inside. Upward curving console seems odd. Rear seat too low, roof line to low and back glass comes way up over & beyond your head. My head was against the glass. Rear seat & front passenger seat fold down for hauling lumber, skis, etc.
Sunfire GT ( coupe ) - It was there, sitting quietly as people passed it by.
Bonneville SE & SLE - absent from show.
Bonneville GXP 4.6V8 - Gawdy & Bawdy & and on its way out. Nothing changed from 04. Sadly the leg, headroom and foot room in the backseat is terrible. Feet have to be twisted side ways to enter & exit and tucked under the front seat. Decent trunk space. Can be priced up over $40,000 with added options.
Front buckets, comfortable but goofy front seat adjusment only moves the cushion and up & down, fore & aft. The backrest does not move with the cushion. Backrest height, not adjustable, it just reclines. Gauges & dash layout alright. Stll retains the Volt, Oil, Temp & Tach gauges.
Ariva derchie .
Grand Am - Didn't see one there.
G 6 ( Sedan ) - Suprisingly drawing good crowds and pleasnt remarks from those I talked to who sat in it. Seats were comfortable front & rear. Great headroom front & back. Rear seat legroom great ! Front seat backrests are scalopped so rear seat passengers have more knee room. All 3 models will feature that scallopped seat design. The G - 6 kind of has that Acura touch.
G 6 ( Coupe ) - Was on up on a platform, no access to it. Looked Honda Civic sharp. Some body differances in the rear differ from the sedan.
Overall it looked alright - I think this car might take away Sunfire sales when it comes out in January. Coupe price around $23,000
G -6 GTP Convertible - A Show stopper at the Pontiac display. 4 bucket seats, 35 inches Legroom in the back seat. Folding Steel Top stows in trunk. Trunk capacity is 5.5 cu feet with the top up and 1.8 cubic feet with the top down. Hmmmm, what could you put in 1.8 cubic feet of space? Priced around $30,000
The spokesmodel loved playing with the folding hardtop.
Montana SV6, -Does a DVD System need to be Standard in the vehicle? A Single person or elderly couple interested in just having a van doesn't need a DVD system. Abrupt looking front end, but pleasing.
GTO - A 4 passenger 2 seater car. Even with the projecting hood scoops it was hard to see the hood on this car. Ultra comfortable up front, even the back seats feel great. Too Bad adults won't fit back there, unless with the front passenger seat it run all the way forwad. 400 horsepower for 05. Trunk space disappointing to some show attendees. 7 cubic feet of space. A bit of a struggle to remove ones self from the vehicle.
Vibe - Not rated. Azteck - Not rated - was it there?
No Ratings here. Too many CTS looking models. Sadly the DeVille will be replaced by the DTS ( another CTS looker ).
The new DTS may boost Town Car Sales.
HHR - WIll take some time to get used to, no rating, no access to the vehicle.
Suburban & Tahoe - It don't get any better than this for room & comfort, hauling capacity, and engine choices.
Avalanche - More pleasing without the gray plastic body cladding it had in its debut year.. Basic interior the same as the other Chevy trucks. Same engines. Smaller load bed limits what you can haul. Rearward vision is hampered by high cargo bed and deeply recessed rear window. Big mirrors are a help.
Impala ( base 3400 ) Not present .
Impala LS - 3800 V6 - 2005, Overall pretty comfortable, roomy, big trunk. . Standard Onstar. Mid 04 changes eliminated that red reflector appearance on the tail light panel in favor of a black tail panel.
The Impala LTZ and SS are new for 2006. All new bodys. 2 new V6's and the 5.3 V8 for the SS. 303 Horspower and 335 Torque. Flip & fold rear seats ( like way Suburban's middle row bench folds ).
Folds FLAT and inline with the trunk floor. 6' 3" distance from rear wall of the trunk to the edge of the rear seat cushion when its flipped up against the front seatback. Chrome & woodgrain touches in the LTZ and the Techno Steel look on the SS interior.
Intriguing body design. Sideview rather nice looking. Sort of has some Honda like styling ques. Especially the triangular shaped tailights.
The Interior was a bit hard to see into. The car is due out this fall. Rumors to be 4 or more colors offered on the SS, not just BLACK !!!. The display car was silver and lacked a trunk key hole. Chrome & White faced SS letters on front doors & trunklid.
I will have to keep an eye out for it when I go to my CAR parts supplier.
Monte Carlo LS , LT and SS Supercharged - Absent from show. 2006 MC / SS in its place on a platform. Front end changes, interior changes, new engines. Return of a V8 to the SS line up. Front end looked kind of like a Malibu. Rearend retains the double stack round tail lights. Sideview image a carry over from 05. 06 Bucket seat backs looked really fat - can't wait to sit in this one.
Cobalt Base, LS, SS - You know this is the new Girlie Car of the GM lineup. Cutesey looking especially in yellow.
--- The Big 3 - PICK UP TRUCKS ----
Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ford F Series and Dodge Ram Extended Cabs.
They say that GM has the most rear seat room of any on the Fullsize Extended Cab Pick Up Trucks. I sat in all models and all of the above were not adult friendly. You sat bolt upright in all models. Seats were hard and somewhat uncomfortable. It almost semmed like you were leaning forward. Moving the front passnger seat forward did help in someway if you sat on the rightside rear. Headroom in back was fine.
Fords Extended cabs, rear widows disappear down into the door, GM & Dodge's swing out 1 &1/2 inch or so.
If your going to need a Pick Up and will be regularly hauling 3, 4, 5 adults the 4 door Crew Cab pick ups are the way to go.
All 4 door Crew Cabs models were spacious and comfortable. My preference was for the GMC Sierra first then the Chevy Silverado.
Some added thoughts on vehicles that don't fall under the GM or news group criteria, but I'll mention them anyway as we have lurkers from both sides of the fence in here and people that swing both ways from the General to Dodge or the General to Ford.
DODGE CHARGER 2006 - No, the Duke boys aren't back yet in this 4 door version of the 60 & 70s muscle car that replaces the Intrepid. There was no Orange paint job with a Confederate flag on the roof. RWD with a 3.5 HO V6 or 5.7V8 Hemi. The Hemi has 340 Horsepower & 390 Torque.
Comfortable seating front & rear. Good leg and head room front & rear. Rear seating slightly elevated. Spaciuos trunk. Big Mirrors.
I did have to dip the ol' bean when exiting out the back doors. One problem I found sitting in the back of the Charger was looking left & right you tend to be staring at the side of the roof instead of out of the windows. The top edge of the side rear window line was lower than my eyeline.
Overall it was a nice car. The fit & finish was nice. The front door edges have a rubber strip top to bottom that seals between the door & fender gap when closed. It was drawing a good crowd.
Battery was in the trunk, but this might of been one to just run the seats & radio, not 100 % sure if its the actual location for the cars battery.
I would of preferred a different tail light treatment. Looks like Stratus tail lights. Would look better with Charger full width tail lights ala the 66 -67.
Limited editions in R/T & Daytona forms will also be built. The Daytona will have Matte Black finish on the rear door & quarter panel brows, decklid and hood. The red R/T emblems are identical to the 60's version.
Chrysler 300 & Dodge Magnum. still drawing a crowd. Very roomy & comfortable cars. Talked with some who own the vehicles and they spoke highly of them, especially the Hemi versions. Magnum seemed like it might be a squeeze on 3 in the back seat. High driveshaft tunnel intrudes on rear floor room for middle passenger.
Sebring Convertible - Sharp looker & pretty comfortable for 4. Spacious, but this car is in dire need of one of the newer Mopar engines. Not that crapper 4 cylinder or the 200 HP V-6. Sorry. It needs some speed.
And now ---THAT TERRIBLE FOUR LETTER " F" WORD we don't like our kids to use.
Thunderbird - No rating. Don't try to put 10 pounds of taters in a 5 pound bag. Very small interior when sat in 4 years ago. Had no desire to open old wounds. I think 05 is its last year.
Crown Victoria LX / & Mercury Grand Marquis GS, LS - A favorite among cabs & coppers ( not the Merc. ) A nice big car, big trunk, V8 RWD, full frame car. Before the batteries were disconnected some applehead tilted the front part of the seat cushions all the way up and the backrest almost all the way back. The OLD people didn't want to sit in any of them. I told the guy twice they should move the seats to a more favorable position. Did they listen to me? No,
The 500 - alright its actually spelled out- Five Hundered. All Wheel Drive or Front Wheel Drive. Drawing big crowds. Getting rave reviews. Its the replacement for the Taurus. People had their choice of I think 5 different ones to sit in. Some had cloth seats some were leather. Cloth not to bad for moving around on. Not at all like Impala's Fly Paper Cloth that you stick to.
Comfortable front buckets seats up front. Not sure if a bench seat is optional? Center console has a higher than usual center armrest, which is a good thing. Wide & deep door panel pockets. Decent cup holder capacity to the right of the floor shift. A 20 oz ( $2.75 at the show, ripoff! ) Coke bottle fit nicely. Nice, Wide Door Sills, arm doesn't slide off. Very Good Leg room up front. But driver doesn't have much space to move left foot around. Excellent Headroom, even in the Sunroof equipped car. Sunroof I believe slides into the roof, not above. Pop Open Storage bin on top of the dash a nice added touch.
Comfortable split fold rear bench doesn't fold completely flat. Rear seat armrest has cup holder & holds 20 oz Coke bottle prety good..
Massive amonuts of head room. Herman Munster could sit in backseat.
Trunk has a flat floor and capacity is a whopping 21.2 cubic feet . Its bigger than DeVille and Park Avenues 19. 1 capacity and slightly bigger than the Crown Victoria's trunk.
Well if you haven't guessed it by now the biggest draw of any of the cars displayed was over at the 2005 Mustang GT. Rev it up & go - go. They had yella, lime, white, red, black, silver and blue. All hardtops. The convertble was on the platform & off limits to the public. GRRRrrrrrrr.
Mustang - ( Base & GT ) Both models Cramped and Claustraphobic, but in a good way. Low roofline & window line, but still plenty of hedroom for taller persons. I had headroom. Bucket Seats super comfortable. Door pockets way to narrow to put much of anything in it, a map perhaps? Small console box storage. Glove box size adequate.
Wide Door Sills. Left Elbow on door sill, arm pointed up, left hand holding up the roof from collapsing. It can be done.
Cup holders behind the low shift lever, might pose shifting problems when drinks are in the holder. Emergency Brake lever hits some drivers right knee cap.
This is the one car that should offer an option to Delete the rear seat in favor of a flat floor in back. If you have the front seat all the way back and slightly reclined there is not even room for child size legs.
Split fold rear seat.
Believe it or not I run the passenger seat all the way forward and got in the back seat. My head touched the back window, but if I slouched an inch it was quite comfortable sitting back there, just don't move the front seat back. And leave the backrest folded forwards as well. Ha hA.
Suprising decent size trunk space.
The aluminum dress up package on the GT interior looked nice. The look out the windsheild was nice, Look at that long hood, is this a 70 Barracuda?
Everybody seemed pleased with the 68-69 look of the car. Seemed more people like it over the GTO.
One GT had the hood open. Spark plugs up on top of the engine. No Trans Oil Dipstick. Ford spokeman said its a sealed unit that doesn't need oil changes. What If I try to put 300,000 miles on it?
There was a video tape of the car on a wide screen. The redesigned convertible top has a more rounded appearnce than 04, adding to the overall headroom. The top doesn't fold like the former models.
When the top lowers, the very front section of the top doesn't flip over like it used but remains in the same positon like it is when its locked to the header when the top is up. The Beetle & Porsche Boxter top also fold in a similar manner. I have yet to see how it operates.
Overall, its one fine car, and has no GM competion.
Focus Sedan & Coupe - No rating , but it had the most comfortable bucket seat of any of the lowest priced cars there. And it felt better than some of the higher priced cars I sat in.
-----That other F word -----
This year I sat in more foreign cars than ever before. I won't go into detail here but found many of them to be very nice, some were spacious, some were cramped. Seats I thought were very good included the Camry, Avalon, Maxima, Altima, Gallant and Solara Conv.
Saab 9-3 Convertible I couldn't figure out how to move the seat fore & aft, I got it to angle up & down, and you know MEN don't Ask!
Audi TT coupe - I figured I'd be cussing once I got in, but it was actually pretty roomy for such a tiny car. Comfortable seats.
On the higher end cars like the Mercedes SL 500 & SLK convertible, CLK convertible and BMW 645 Ci convertibles I found them to be the Ultra comfortable. Well you would think so for a car that ranges in price from $45,000 to $126,000 It seemed to me due to their low seat and higher floorpan design you seemed to fall into the car. Getting out for me was a bit of a struggle. The SL 500 had the folding hard top that went down in less than 10 seconds. That was a nice car.
VW Beetle Convertible was also quite comfy.
As I type this I now remember I forgot to sit in the new Z 06 Corvette, Damn !
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Wow, thanks for a nice summary! I guess G6 already replaced GrandAm base on the this trip report. I don't think it is going to replace Sunfire because there is a large price gap. Does GM plans to discontinue Bonnie completely including GXP? I guess it time to move to CTS 3.6L since it is in the same price range and same class. What do you think about the CTS from what you have seen so far?

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Thanks, Harry! Your observations are very similar to mine. I couldn't understand why Buick brought out the LaCrosse with no rear seat room. I think Ford has a winner in the Five Hundred if they can keep them on the road. I wouldn't mind having a Mustang, either, and I've never had any Ford, ever.
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