2012 Chicago Auto Show Wrapup: Cleaning the Notebook of Some of Our Favorite Things

  Chicago Auto Show 2

Before we walk away from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, we want to make sure we ring out all of our favorite exhibits. Sure, there were several interesting pieces of information we were able to gather and there were even some newly revealed vehicles that caught our eye. But the beauty about this show is how popular it with the locals.

This is one of the most interactive auto shows we've ever been to and provides plenty of opportunities for show-goers to get into a new vehicle and see how they perform. The Chrysler booth was probably the leader in this category, as they had separate Fiat, Ram 1500, and Jeep driving courses.

Even Ford had a running dyno on the floor that erupts in a giant roar when someone wants to find out what the maximum torque for a GT500 Mustang convertible might be. With that said, here were a few of our other favorites. 


HETS front
This heavy hauler was in the U.S. Army booth, along with a platoon of energetic enlisted men ready to talk about trucks. The HETS (Heavy Equipment Transport System) is an 8x8 tow rig weighing in at 20 tons and the 40-tired trailer normally behind it usually tows another 80 tons, typically hauling around an Abrams tank. The M1070 Tractor is has a GCWR of 230,000 pounds.  


GMC Acadia int II
GMC showed us a new Acadia and Acadia Denali that is likely to echo some of the same changes coming to the next GMC Sierra and (we're guessing) Sierra Denali. There are some ripples of Audi design in the frontend and headlight look but the interior is a huge improvement over the previous layout and quality level. We can only hope that will fully traslate to the pickup trucks as well. 


Wall of Wheels
Any good auto show understands that eveyone who attends an auto show event like this isn't just interested in purchasing a new vehicle; they are also looking to keep their current ride and find a few upgrades. This wall of wheels gives buyers a chance to see which wheel they might like and find out how heavy it might be.  


Equator tent
After the success the Suzuki Equator had in our Midsize Shootout last month, it looks like they want to take their RMZ-4 off road package into the back-country. This Equator is a equipped with the Australian built and designed bed-top, fold-out camper tent. The design is quite popular overseas where there are more poisonous and nasty critters crawling on the ground than you can fight. Sleeping up in the air makes a lot of sense in that case.  


Toby Keith F-150
Bet you didn't know there was a Toby Keith F-150? The truth is, there really isn't. This special edition truck is put together by Keith's production company as part of a sweepstakes giveaway connected to his concert tour called the Locked & Loaded Tour Sweepstakes. The truck has all sorts of TK signature details inside and out, as well as being a 4x4 EcoBoost SuperCrew F-150. For more info, click here.  


Camp Ram
As noted earlier, Ram Truck stole the show with the display of their new Laramie Limited top-of-the-line (non-western) trim package, and having a huge driving exhibition where Ram 1500s drove over logs, twist ditches, up hills, and into tight corners. Consumers will not only be able to see how the truck looks, but they'll also know how it rides over various terrains. 


@ Mark Williams

i think you have your units mixed up with the HET
it weighs 20 000 tons and pulls 80 000 tons, yet has a gcwr of only 230 000 pounds. slight typo

That Denali interior looks amazing. Great job, GM. That's the way the pickup trucks should have been years ago. Can't wait for the next gen 2014 Sierra Denali.

The Acadia Denali interior looks good.

It's a HET A0... those are for export these days with Arabic written all over them...

That older unit still has the Detroit Diesel in it, the newer HET A1 has the single turbo C-18 YET the snow blowers Oshkosh builds carry the twin-turbo C-18 for the blower motor at around 700hp and the C-13 for the drive motor...

I'll take the HET. I have driven a lot of hemtts but not this one.

Lots of extra zeros in those weights of the HET. 20,000 tons?? Really?? Last time I checked, an M1 was just under 80 tons... but 80,000 tons??... wholy crap that beast put on weight.

"the interior is a huge improvement over the previous layout and quality level. "

GMC to the rescue.

Chevy and Ford loses, and GMC Denali wins again.

Acadia Denali debut


Currently 30% of sales are Denali and that percentage will grow.

Sorry about all the extra zeros on the HETS text. Also should have noted the GVWR is 86,000 pounds. Amazing rig.



Very nice interior on the Denali, the woodgrain steering wheel reminds me of my moms lincoln. I was waiting for the Acadia to adopt the Terrains tall grille, much nicer than the previous acadia.

@Mark Williams as well as ARB, there are several Off Road Camper Trailer manufacturers here who could easily sell their products in the US.
Ultimate RV

Vista RV
Diamond Campers

That HET reminds me of a lot of Australian Roadtrains where you can get upto 400,000lb of Truck and Trailer coming at you, NOT a nice experience.


They should bring an MRAP, give test drives

@Robert Ryan - nice pics. I've seen similar tent trailer units on the market and being pulled around. I've never had the chance to talk to the owners.
I'd have to agree that 400,000 coming at you would be unnerving, I've had to contend with off highway logging trucks with 10 foot wide bunks and tree length loads. On the west coast Hayes and Pacific trucks 14 wide take up the whole road. On the coast, only and idiot would go onto an active logging road without an escort and/or a radio. Those guys routinely packed 50 tons or more of logs.

We never got them here, but Pacific's can still be seen in South Africa. These 800hp Units for heavy loads. These are Rotran Ultra Pacifics. As well the same company mixes them with other trucks. Western Star orginally a Canadian heavy Logging truck, is the best selling imported HDT truck in Australia(1). Australian Kenworth(50% changed beefed up KW"s mixed Conventional /Cabovers), (2)Volvo(Modified European Cabover (3) Western Star (4) Isuzu Cabovers(5) Mack , Modified ans built in Australia(6) IVECO Cabover and some Conventional
Two MAN trucks with a Pacific doing the pushing.

The Denali interior looks good. I agree it should have been out years ago when RAM and F150 did theirs. In fact I think GMC copied a mix of both !! lol.

GM better come out with an outstanding line for 2014 ( I doubt since they never could top Ford).

F150 and RAM rules... clear winners.

Summarry from the Chicago Autoshow. Dodge shows off a beautiful Ram.

Ford creates another useless ugly F150 for Toby Keef, thats a front end only a mother would love and a rear end that you wouldn't want to slap!

GMC shows off Audi copied Interior, DUH they should entice an audi egineeer to come take care of their interiors, do the same thing for the new GMT1000, which will have three new engines, 3.6 V-6 325HP, 5.0 V-8 400HP and finally, 450HP 6.0 engine. The new 5.0 liter will get better mileage than ANY offered Ford or Dodge Engine, regardless of 4wd, 2wd, crew, extended cab and all GMT1000's will be mated to 8 speed automatic transmissions.

Ford will come out with a Job 9 Super Duty and squeeze another 40 HP out of their diesel engine, the ecoboost will be detuned slightly due to issues with torque destroying the converter, finally ford will design another new transmission to handle the ecoboost, the eco boost will then get to 400hp to match gm but not mileage and the ecoboost down the road will nickle and dime owners.

Ford, change transmissions and engines TOO much, ie engineering FAILS, finally got some decent engines, maybe, if they last...

Dodge rock solid Engines, need help on trannys, great interiors and best looking exteriors, need help on crash tests.

GM interiors not great, rock solid but somewhat underpowered engines, goodlooking outside, no issues with trannys or engines 5.3 and up, resting on Laurels way too much, need game changer this next cycle and they will have it with huge weigh loss, audi designed interiors, crush the competitors on engine and transmission technologies.

That Acadia grill is a dead ringer for the one on the GMC HD concept truck featured here a while back. There wont be a cladded front bumper on any Sierra I buy.

@Mr. Obvious: of course GM needs some help on their crash tests. They need roof strength higher like Dodge does, to catch Ford. The side impact might rate higher in the test due to air bags, but the GMs have a weak structure. They all need to try to catch Ford, I know the Tundra did really good there on the side structure. But they also test a double cab where the others are testing crew cab with longer doors. The further back towards the back of the door the ram used in the test hits, the better the structure is. Meaning if the door is shorter it hits more of the rear of the cab. Front end collision? They all could do some improving to catch Dodge. GM is sorta weak there. Atleast they improved alot over the weak 2006 trucks, they all have, except for Fords frontal impact. It went from all green good to some yellow acceptables on the current one.
To say the new GM 5.0 will out mileage them all is like saying it will just turn the least rpm and do good on flatlands. It's just a number for GM. They need to work on their trans some too. Dodges might be lacking a great ratio and a true 6 speed, atleast internally they are tough.

@mr obvious - where did you get the GM 5.0 engine from? What source? Everything I have read says GM is coming out with a totally new 5.3. It shares only the displacement with its predicessor.
GM is rumored to come out with a V6 NA engine and rumored that they may use the Cadillac TTDI V6.
I'd like to see your sources on specs and mpg superiority.

I'm interested about your comment about the EB3.5 torque wrecking torque converters. Please post some links. I'd like to see that.

I too am interested in the durability of Ford's new engines in real life. New engines and tranny's, regardless of brand go through a cycle of teething problems. That is why I went with a 2010 model.

I suspect that Ford will go to a boxed frame on the HD trucks with pickup boxes. The chassis cab units will remain C-channel.

There are tons of rumors as to what Ford, Chevy, and Ram will do. Ram's weakest like is the tranny and the 8 speed is a matter of when not if. What Ford and Chevy will do are the questions with the least amount of answers at this time (real concrete ones).

Here's some tid bits for ya, mostly good news. (I won't reveal my source or any specific info that would damage GM's competetive stance):

2014 trucks (release first quarter 2013)
New non-turbo V6 across the board (likely LFX), around 315 Hp
6 speed auto across the board, inc reg cabs, V6, etc
This will give class leading MPG..... (25+mpg??? Hint Hint)
4.8 liter a goner
Gen V V8's: 5.3 liter, 350hp, more efficiency (DI, gears, etc)
optional 6.2 liter, 425hp
*E-assist coming to trucks*
The best part: the Sierra looks PHENOMINAL and will blow people away, and doesnt look like a chevy, which will be the more "work truck" kinda feel and more "vanilla". Sorry Chevy guys. GM is aiming to increase GMC sales ALOT. Yukon/Tahoe is said to look several generations ahead of the current ones. Will also blow away competition.

If GM doesn't launch the 2014 pickups with an 8 speed automatic, they shouldn't bother at all.

If the rumored ratios of the GM Hydramatic 8L50 match those of one that can handle the torque of the new generation V8s, then they will have a leading powertrain.

Purported ratios: 4.82, 2.82, 2.14, 1.63, 1.27, 1, 0.8, 0.67
7.23:1 ratio spread is good enough.

I wouldn't be surprised if GM is going to be 6 speeds for the 2014 pickup. In fact, I will guarantee it. First GM needs to get all of their pickup trucks up to 6 speed which GM hasn't done.

Rumor is the 8 speed will appear first in Caddilac.

After Cadillac, then I could see the 8 speed going into the luxury Denali. This will be an exclusive to get you to buy GMC.

Evently it will makes it's way into the basic work truck Silverado but not for 2014.


@Ram Man,

8 speeds are coming to Cadillac and GMC Denali.

BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes already have 8 speeds

Sorry, Chevy fans. LOL.

Toby Keith's truck is pretty sweet...

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