Saturday, February 13 2016 02:04

Seven+ Things to Look for at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show

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The 2016 Chicago Auto Show is underway at McCormick Place, and with a million square feet of automotive goodness, there's a lot for enthusiasts and families to enjoy. While I'll be rolling out #CAS16 features here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine throughout the week, today I'm highlighting seven things (with a few add-ons) to look for at the auto show - from debut vehicles, to concepts, music, tech and more.

Fender Premium Audio - Volkswagen

While Volkswagen didn't break out any debuts for Chicago, they have a fantastic collection of vehicles on-display in Chicago. What snagged my ear (literally) this year was the focus on their optional Fender Premium Audio. As a guitarist, there is a Fender in my arsenal (a Stratocaster, of course), and the thought of car audio created by people who know amplification (and rock) is compelling. Created as collaboration between Panasonic Automotive and Fender Musical Instruments, the Fender Premium Audio comes in a nine-speaker system that is tuned for clarity regardless of volume. While much of the attending press was distracted by a press conference that I opted out of, a VW rep grabbed the keys and we hopped-into a ride with the windows up and the music cranked. I tried out PRODUCT OF HATE's Napalm Records debut, BURIED IN VIOLENCE, and it sounded THUNDEROUS. The instrumentation came through crystal clear with plenty of crunch, and the drums were absolutely punishing. The head unit has Apple integration, along with apps like Spotify, so audiophiles have much to play with and love.

2016 Chicago Auto Show

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

I previewed the all-new Chrysler Pacifica here on the site about a month ago, but seeing the new Hybrid model in-person really has my interest piqued - and families that are considering a minivan should definitely give this a look. While gas prices are finally dropping, we all know that they could swing back up at any time, and the thought of an estimated 80mpge is pretty intriguing. Good looking vehicle as well.

2016 Chicago Auto Show

Kia Niro, Telluride & More

It's no secret that I dig Kia. This week, they rolled-out the new Kia Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle (previewed here), along with the 2017 Kia Forte, Optima Hybrid and Sportage. In addition to their entire production line being on display, the much talked-about Telluride concept is also present, giving attendees a look at what a full-size SUV from Kia might be. 


General Motors: GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick

Since scaling back their brands and focusing on their core four a few years back, GM is on a roll.  

2016 Chicago Auto Show

This year, GMC rolls out the all-new 2017 Acadia, a fully-redesigned mid-sized crossover available in three models: base, Acadia Denali and Acadia All Terrain - all with a host of new features (look for more on this one here on the site shortly).

2016 Chicago Auto Show

Chevrolet rolls into Chicago with a debut lineup that includes the 2017 Bolt EV and Trax, along with the 2016 Camaro 1LE, Colorado Midnight Edition, and Silverado 1500 & 2500 Midnight Editions.

2016 Chicago Auto Show

That's a Buick? They know that there's still a stigma attached to that brand, even though it's been reinvented, and there's some sweet production models making their debut including the 2017 Lacrosse and Envision. Also check out the sleek Buick Avista concept vehicle.

2016 Chicago Auto Show

Cadillac is debuting the 2016 CT6 performance luxury sedan along with the 2017 XT5 luxury crossover. Personally, I dig much of the current line, including the ATS, which I could see as a potential Rock Father Mobile at some point down the line. Actually, what I'd really like to own is the Cadillac Elmiraj, but it's doubtful that will ever move beyond concept stage. In the meantime, I bought the Hot Wheels version.

Rand McNally OverDryve:

I haven't really given much thought to Rand McNally in years, and that's probably a good part of why the OverDryve is so exciting. The longtime maker of maps and atlases has a $400 dashboard tablet that brings a full infotainment system into older cars. This is no gimmick, and unlike just throwing a few apps on your phone or tablet to toss into the car. The OverDryve seamlessly integrates  hands-free calling, messaging, navigation, diagnostics, music and more into older vehicles, and there's also a dashcam and optional wireless rear backup camera available. Look for more on this here on the site in the near future.

The Test Tracks:

A video posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

It's not a new thing, but the test tracks at the Chicago Auto Show are always a treat. Toyota has a winter-to-beach themed track happening this year (complete with opportunities to win some swag), but as usual, it's FCA that has the premium showing. Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, RAM - they're all there, so if you'd like to see just how fast a Dodge Charger or Challenger can hit 60 mph (about 4 seconds) and stop before hitting a wall, this is your shot!

Nissan Winter Warriors:
2016 Chicago Auto Show

The 2017 Nissan Armada might've been the big talked-about debut, but it's the Winter Warriors that are turning heads and will get folks into the booth. Nissan created custom, one-off versions of their popular Pathfinder, Murano and Rogue vehicles, each equipped with sets of heavy-duty DOMINATOR snow tracks by American Track Truck. Custom body wraps complete the package, and with snowfall on the way, might it be possible that Nissan could show the true capability of these vehicles right here in Chicago? Time will tell...

The Chicago Auto Show runs February 13-21, 2016 at McCormick Place. Tickets are just $12 for adults, $7 for seniors and kids 7-12, and kids 6 and under are free! Check out more on the official website, and right here at THE ROCK FATHER Magazine!

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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