Despite the Chill, Chicago Show Is Hot

The Chicago Auto Show bills itself as a neutral playing field, attracting consumers who aren't tied to the industry in any way other than which dealership they choose to enter to spend their hard earned dollars.

The Chicago Auto Show bills itself as “a neutral playing field,” attracting “consumers who aren't tied to the industry in any way other than which dealership they choose to enter to spend their hard earned dollars.” (Take that, Detroit auto show.)

Here are highlights of the dealer-sponsored February event in the windy (and chilly) city:

Halo Car and Life Preserver, Too

The Pontiac G8, the highly anticipated rebadged Holden Commodore SS, could be both halo vehicle and life preserver for what many consider a sinking brand.

The G8 will be the first North American vehicle based on General Motors Corp.'s new global rear-wheel-drive architecture (Zeta) that also will underpin the ‘09 Chevrolet Camaro.

The G8 is slated to enter Pontiac/Buick/GMC dealerships in early 2008. “It's really going to give Pontiac a shot in the arm,” says auto analyst Eric Merkle.

Scion Is on a Power Trip

Although it was discontinued late last year to make room for the all-new xD subcompact, the xA could be resurrected, a Scion official says.

“I hope to come back with an xA someday,” Mark Templin, vice president-Scion, says after the debut of the new xB and xD.

The new '08 xD is based on the Toyota Yaris platform, and the increase in size, power and refinement over the outgoing xA necessitated a name change, Templin says.

Templin says the No.1 complaint was that the old xA and xB were not powerful enough.

Hyundai: We're No Copy Cat

Although some may criticize its vehicles for looking too much like competitors, Joel Piaskowski, Hyundai Motor America's design chief, doesn't see many resemblances.

“It's what you do with those shapes to make them unique for your own brand — what accents those shapes; the materials you use; the textures you use,” he tells Ward's when asked about similarities between the new Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla.

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