By Mark G. McLaughlin
While the LEGO Batmobile – which is made out of those little plastic bricks – is undoubtedly the “coolest” of the cool cars at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, there is only one, and it is not for sale. For those who prefer cars they can actually drive, ride in or at least dream to buy, there is no shortage of cool rides to choose from at the show. Here are just five of the coolest cars at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show.
2017 Chicago Auto Show
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60616
Date: February 11—20, 2017
Dodge Viper 2017 – The Last of Its Kind, Literally
Only days before the 2017 Chicago Auto Show opened, Chicago News awarded its Sports Car of the Year Award to the beloved Dodge Viper. The title is bittersweet, as it is both an honor and an epitaph for the flashy, sleek street racer Dodge first rolled out just over a quarter of a century ago. The 2017 model is literally the last of its line, as Dodge announced that it will no longer produce the ultra-high-performance two-seater after this year. The Viper is going out with a roar, as Dodge has produced five special edition versions for 2017, including two awesome “Snakeskin” editions and VoooDoo II. And yes, it spells voodoo with an extra “o” – because this high-speed beauty with its 645 horsepower V-10 engine deserves it.
Ford Mustang GT350 – Still Such a Sweet, Sweet Ride
Very few cars can remain cool for a decade, let alone a generation – or three – and the Ford Mustang is one of those few. With 10 models priced from a very affordable $25,000 for the V6 Fastback to $62,000 for the fully tricked out Shelby GT350, the brand is still going strong. The coolest of the cool Mustangs, however, is the GT350, which comes in two versions. The GT350 not only looks like a NASCAR racer, but it also has an engine to match. The 5.2L V8 is the most powerful of the four engine choices offered in the Mustang line, as it delivers 526 hp – and delivers it with a growl that gives fair warning for the competition to clear the road.
Porsche 718 Cayman S Coupe – Euro-Sports Car Cool
The Porsche 718 Cayman S Coupe is the definition of Euro-sports car cool. Sleek and low and fast, the rear-wheel drive turbocharged four-cylinder 2.5L engine can pump out 350 horses and still take the tight corners. For those who want the feel of the wind through their hair, there is a convertible model called the Boxster, which has a coolness factor that only convertibles—especially those marked with the Porsche logo—come with as a “standard feature.” There is also a basic Cayman model, which is about 20 percent less expensive than the $66,000 S Coupe. The coupe has been clocked at a top speed of 177 mph, which bumps it up from the roadster to racer class.
2018 Mercedes- Maybach S600 – Cool Luxury for Just Under $200,000
At an MSRP of $191,000 the new Mercedes-Maybach S600 had darn well better be cool – at least in the way that expensive luxury sedans can be so. Packing a 6.0L V-12 biturbo engine, the Maybach produces 523 hp, which makes it anything but a staid ride for the rich. The lush, hand-crafted interior is lovingly detailed with heated 12-position memory seats that can also offer a massage. This is the kind of car that just sitting in creates a relaxing joy.
KIA Niro – How Can a 50 mpg Hybrid for only $22K NOT be Cool?
There are many bigger, flashier, sleeker, roomier and more powerful cars on the floor at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, but very, very few of them can claim to deliver 50 (and sometimes more) miles per gallon than this hybrid from KIA. Second only to the Toyota Prius in that regard, this more traditionally styled hatchback is aerodynamically engineered for optimum performance. Not only does it have a muffler spoiler, but it also has an active grill shutter. It handles and brakes very well, and comes in a Sport mode – which gets fewer miles per gallon than the Eco version, but which is a bit sportier, as the name implies. Models start at a modest $22,890, which is cool in itself, especially at a show where so many cars cost two, three or four times as much.