Chicago Auto Show: Test track nation

McCormick Place, which houses the Chicago Auto Show, is a unique venue that seems to have unlimited amounts of exhibit space. The show floor was expanded by more than 75,000 square feet over the last two years and now covers more than 1.2 million square feet in total.

There are more than 1,000 cars on display, and this year there are five different test tracks on the show floor – that’s two additional test tracks for 2017.

It’s easy to see why the Chicago Auto Show is touted as the largest consumer auto show in North America. Thousands will pass through the doors between Feb. 11 and Feb. 20, and according to Foresight Research, 70 percent of show attendees come to shop.

Test tracks make sense. And the Chicago show is the only one in the nation that can house not one but five indoor tracks – with plenty of space to spare.

"With two additional test track opportunities, we think more than 80,000 attendees will take rides on the show floor this year," said Mike McGrath, 2017 Chicago Auto Show chairman. "Our indoor test tracks combine with our outdoor test drive opportunities to create a show experience unlike any other in the nation."

In addition to being a thrilling experience with fast stops and stomach-dropping plunges, the test tracks provide visually interesting displays and functional features.

Here’s what’s on tap for 2017, and we can’t wait to see how the Chicago Auto Show ups its game in 2018.

Camp Jeep

This is the twelfth year that Camp Jeep has returned to the Chicago Auto Show, and this track offers roller-coaster thrills with obstacles such as a ground clearance stair climber, maneuverability moguls, extreme break-over angles and a Jeep tunnel pass through. Jeep vehicles on the track include a Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, Renegade Trailhawk, Cherokee Trailhawk and Wrangler Rubicon. This is a 20,000-square-foot exhibit that contains 600 cubic yards of dirt, 180 cubic yards of mulch, 30 tons of boulders 24 pine trees and 600 square feet of landscape paving.

City Drive FCA Test Track

This track, also returning for its twelfth year, features nine Fiat Chrysler vehicles and allows passengers to experience interior quietness, agility and from-a-stop acceleration. Vehicles on the track are the Chrysler Pacifica, Pacifica Hybrid, 300S, Dodge Challenger Scat Pack, Charger Daytona, Durango Citadel, Fiat 124 Abarth, 500 Abarth and 500X. It uses 1,500 square feet of landscape paving, 0.8 miles of electrical and communication cabling and more than 1,000 square feet of video technology.

Toyota RAV4 & Highlander Experience

Where the other test tracks require a professional driver to be behind the wheel, the Toyota track allows consumers over the age of 18 (with a valid drivers license) to get behind the wheel and test safety technology through real-world driving maneuvers. Among other things, drivers will experience automatic high beams, a perimeter scan, rear cross-traffic alert and vehicle-to-tech connections.

Ram Proving Ground

All-new for the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, the Ram test track moves Ram 1500 trucks through six different stations designed to showcase the pickup truck’s capabilities. They include an active level station, construction culverts, torque pull, a towing demonstration, mountain climbing and a high-wedge turn.

Mercedes-Benz Iron Schöckl

This new test track takes up the smallest space, but is one of the more interesting experiences at the show. Named after the Schöckl, a mountain in Austria, this track has a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon climb a 42-degree incline, balance on a teetering platform and then drop down a 42-degree decline. It’s tucked back into the corner of the Mercedes display, so if you aren’t looking for it, you might miss it.

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