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2021 Chicago Auto Show, Summer Edition: What Can You Expect?

chicago-autoshow-21.jpg 2021 Chicago Auto Show | Cars.com illustration by Paul Dolan

The 2020 Chicago Auto Show was the last major auto show to occur before large gatherings came to a grinding halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s symbolic that Chicago will also be one of the first major shows to return, albeit in a slightly altered format. The 2021 Chicago Auto Show will be condensed into five days from its traditional 10-day run. It will feature a reduced roster of automakers but no shortage of activities for car lovers to enjoy.

Related: Chicago Auto Show News 

Prospective shoppers who have been hard-pressed to find an auto show to browse — or an available vehicle to test-drive amid the ongoing inventory shortage — will get the opportunity this week as the show kicks off Thursday at McCormick Place. 

ford-maverick-hybrid-xlt-and-2l-ecoboost-awd-lariat-2022-oem-01-group-shot.jpg 2022 Ford Maverick | Manufacturer image

Who Will Be There?

Attendees of the Chicago Auto Show can expect to see dozens of vehicles from popular brands like BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Ram, Toyota and more. The show’s lineup is down to 24 brands this year, as several brands opted to forgo this auto-show season. Notably absent are many luxury brands, including Acura, Audi, Cadillac, Infiniti, Land Rover, Jaguar and Volvo, among others. A handful of mass-market brands, including Hyundai, Mazda, Mini and Mitsubishi, are also sitting this one out. 

Despite the tighter roster, the show will still offer a wide range of vehicles and interactive experiences. Automakers are also planning several new-model reveals, including U.S.-specific vehicle information and pricing for the redesigned Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R, as well as information on the updated 2022 Jeep Compass. Cars.com’s team of automotive experts will be on the ground for the media preview on Wednesday to report on news, pricing and first-hand impressions, so be sure to check back here for the latest. 

In the meantime, here’s a comprehensive guide to the upcoming 2021 Chicago Auto Show, including vehicles featured in Chicago for the first time, test-drive opportunities, special events, ticket information and a complete list of vehicles on display. If you plan to attend this year’s first major auto show on the national stage, take note of the cars that interest you and the ones you’d like to test-drive so you can make the most of your day there. 

New Cars Make Their Chicago Debut

2021 BMW M3 Competition Sedan and BMW M4 Competition Coupe 2021 BMW M3 Competition and M4 Competition | Manufacturer image

BMW

BMW will bring its new 2021 M3 and M4, respective performance variants for the 3 Series sedan and 4 Series coupe, along with the brand’s first all-electric SUV, the 2022 iX.

Chevrolet

Chevy plans to showcase its electrified future with a Chicago debut for the all-new 2022 Bolt EUVand Bolt EV. It will also bring the updated 2022 Traverse for its first appearance in the Windy City. 

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning | Manufacturer image

Ford

Some of the most buzzed-about SUVs and trucks at this year’s show are sporting the Blue Oval. Ford will showcase the 2021 Bronco SUV and three pickup trucks: the full-size F-150 and all-electric 2022 F-150 Lightning, plus the all-new compact 2022 Maverick. The automaker is setting up several opportunities for attendees to experience these new models, including a “Built Wild” Bronco experience and “Built to Electrify” experience that shows off capabilities for the Mustang Mach-E, E-Transit, F-150 Lightning and affordable Maverick hybrid. Learn more about the interactive experiences below. 

Honda 

Along with popular nameplates like the 2021 Accord sedan and CR-V SUV, Honda will display its family-friendly 2022 Odyssey in Chicago for the first time, though the minivan is left mostly unchanged from the 2021 model.

Kia EV6 Kia EV6 | Manufacturer image

Kia

Unlike the Honda Odyssey, the 2022 Kia Carnival is an all-new minivan that replaces the automaker’s previous family hauler, the Sedona. Attendees can peruse the Carnival along with the 2021 K5 sedan, 2021 Sorento SUV and, most notably, Kia’s first dedicated electric car, the 2022 EV6.

Nissan

Two of Nissan’s most exciting vehicles will call Chicago “sweet home” this week: the 2022 Ariya all-electric SUV and the near-production Z Proto concept. Also on the docket to make their inaugural Chi-Town appearance are the 2021 Armada, 2022 Frontier, 2022 Pathfinder and redesigned 2021 Rogue. 

jeep-wagoneer-series-II-2022-01-angle--exterior--front--oem.jpg 2022 Jeep Wagoneer | Manufacturer image

Stellantis 

The parent company of Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and Ram will debut a new Jeep Wrangler Xtreme Recon Package, which gives the off-roader 35-inch all-terrain tires, improved approach and departure angles, ground clearance and water-fording capability. An updated 2022 Jeep Compass is set to be displayed at the show. The automaker will also be spotlighting the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L (the first three-row Grand Cherokee), 2022 Jeep Wagoneer and 2021 Dodge Durango.

Subaru

Subaru will bring the popular Outback along with other family-friendly vehicles like the Crosstrek, Forester and Ascent. It will also bring puppies (see special events below for more on that). 

toyota-corolla-cross-xle-2022--08-angle--exterior--rear--white.jpg 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Toyota/Lexus

Toyota has a handful of new toys lined up for its show-and-tell in Chicago. Attendees can take a closer look at the first-ever 2022 Corolla Cross SUV, the 2022 GR 86 and 2021 GR Supra sports cars, and a 2021 Sienna minivan. The Rhombus concept will likely draw attention, as the company’s battery-powered research and development experiment that comes with a swiveling driver’s seat and targets consumers born after 1990. Drivers who prefer Toyota’s luxury brand — and a stationary driver’s seat — can get a closer look at the redesigned 2022 Lexus NX.

Volkswagen

The Golf hatchback is a goner for the U.S. market after 2021, but Volkswagen will bring performance-leaning variations of a redesigned Golf overseas to our shores with the 2022 Golf GTI and Golf R, two all-new variants set for debuts at the show. Other new offerings from VW will be highlighted in Chicago for the first time: After viewing the Ford Mustang Mach-E, attendees can compare it to VW’s all-electric SUV, the 2021 ID.4. Also new to the Chicago show is the 2022 Taos, a compact SUV that slots under the Tiguan and offers an affordable, practical alternative to the departed Golf. 

ford-bronco-2021-55-angle--blue--dynamic--exterior--front--off-road.jpg 2021 Ford Bronco | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Let’s Take This Outside: Test Drives and Special Events

Although the auto show’s footprint inside McCormick Place shrinks, it will simultaneously expand to outdoor areas around the venue. The show will feature interactive events that will allow attendees to get hands-on experience with many of the featured cars. 

Indoor tracks include the well-recognized Camp Jeep off-road course, where passengers can ride in new Jeep models, including the 2021 Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid SUV. Ram’s Truck Territory track also simulates off-road challenges with a 13-foot-high “Ram Mountain” course, which shows off the suspension of the Ram 1500 and Ram HD trucks. Additionally, drivers can test-drive many vehicles on display at the auto show just outside the venue. 

ford-bronco-2021-38-badge--blue--exterior--rear--taillight.jpg 2021 Ford Bronco | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Two Ford Driving Experiences

Ford challenges Camp Jeep to a battle with its own inaugural off-road adventure course designed to showcase the capabilities of the new Bronco lineup. A 30,000-square-foot, outdoor Built Wild experience features a 38-degree “Bronco Mountain” that lets passengers experience and discover the SUV’s capabilities and features. 

Drivers interested in Ford’s electrified lineup can head to the outdoor Built to Electrify experience to learn about the all-electric F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and Maverick hybrid; all three will occupy Ford’s 11,000-square-foot display. 

First-Ever Chicago Auto Show Street Fest 

To leverage this year’s summer schedule, show attendees will have access to a new street fest with food trucks, live music and vehicles on display in the evenings outside McCormick Place July 15-18 from 6:30-10 p.m. Admission to the street fest is included in the daily ticket. 

Subaru Lets the Dogs Out

Last but not least, Subaru is once again hosting its popular pet-adoption event, offering attendees a break from test-driving to play with puppies in a designated gated area. The automaker is known for tugging at animal lovers’ heartstrings with its events, commercials and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals partnership. 

CAROUSEL_Chicago_Auto_Show.jpg CAS image

Dates and Ticket Information

The 2021 Chicago Auto Show will run Thursday through Monday at McCormick Place — 2301 S. King Drive, just south of downtown Chicago. Tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for senior citizens age 62 or older and children age 12 and under. 

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. Keep reading to see a full list of vehicles on display.

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L | Manufacturer image

2021 Chicago Auto Show Vehicles 

  • Alfa Romeo: 2021 Giulia, Stelvio
  • Aston Martin: 2021 DBX, Vantage
  • Bentley: 2021 Bentayga, Continental GT, Flying Spur
  • BMW: 2021 5 Series, M3, M4, X3, iX
  • Chevrolet: 2021 Blazer, Camaro, Colorado, Corvette, Equinox, Malibu, Silverado 1500, Silverado heavy duty, Spark, Suburban, Tahoe, Trailblazer, Trax; 2022 Bolt EUV, Bolt EV, Traverse
  • Chrysler: 2021 300, Pacifica*, Voyager
  • Dodge: 2021 Challenger*, Charger*, Durango*
  • Fiat: 2021 500X*
  • Ford: 2021 Bronco, Bronco Sport, EcoSport, Edge, Escape, Expedition, Explorer, F-150, F-150 Lightning, GT, Mustang, Mustang Mach-E*, Ranger, Super Duty, Transit, Transit Connect; 2022 Maverick 
  • Honda: 2021 Accord, Civic, Clarity, CR-V, HR-V, Insight, Passport, Pilot, Ridgeline, Odyssey
  • Jeep: 2021 Cherokee*, Gladiator*, Grand Cherokee*, Grand Cherokee L, Renegade, Wrangler*; 2022 Wagoneer; 2022 Compass 
  • Karma: 2021 GS-6
  • Kia: 2021 Forte, K5, Niro, Rio, Sedona, Seltos, Sorento, Soul, Sportage, Stinger, Telluride; 2022 Carnival, EV6
  • Lamborghini: 2021 Aventador, Huracan EVO, Urus
  • Lexus: 2021 ES, GX, IS , LC, LS, LX, RC, RX, UX; 2022 NX
  • Lincoln: 2021 Aviator, Corsair, Nautilus, Navigator 
  • Lotus: 2021 Evora GT
  • Nissan: 2021 Altima, Armada, GT-R, Kicks, Leaf, Maxima, Murano, NV, NV200, Rogue, Rogue Sport, Sentra, Titan, Versa; 2022 Ariya, Frontier, Pathfinder; Z Proto
  • Ram: 2021 1500*, Heavy Duty*, ProMaster, ProMaster City
  • Rolls-Royce: 2021 Cullinan, Dawn, Ghost, Phantom, Wraith
  • Subaru: 2021 Ascent, BRZ, Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, Legacy, Outback, WRX
  • Toyota: 2021 4Runner, Avalon, Camry, C-HR, Corolla, GR Supra, Highlander, Prius, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra, Venza; 2022 Corolla Cross, GR 86 Rhombus
  • Volkswagen: 2021 Arteon, Atlas*, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf, ID.4*, Jetta, Passat, Tiguan*, Taos*; 2022 Golf GTI, Golf R

*Denotes vehicles available to test-drive. Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Lincoln and Subaru test-drive vehicles remain to be determined as of this writing; check in at the manufacturer’s exhibit.

Related Video: City Living in the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport

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