By Mark G. McLaughlin

Automakers do more than just continually update and modify the models in their fleet. They test out bold new ideas for the next generation or the next new model. Some of these make it into production, others do not, or are significantly modified before getting the go-ahead. Car companies use auto shows to present prototypes of these “concept cars,” and here are five of the best of those concept cars that will be on display at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show this February. 

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2018 Chicago Auto Show
McCormick Place
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60616
(630) 495-2282

Date: February 10 – 19
Time: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day except the last (8 p.m. on Feb. 19) 

Toyota FT-AC

The Toyota FT-AC is a unique type of concept car in that it is designed more for the off-road and adventure market than for the traditional sedan or luxury market. With its frame, styling, all-wheel drive and rugged build, this car is meant more for a safari than a speedway, or for the wide open spaces rather than crowded city streets. It has the lure of the great outdoors about it, and that alone is a novel concept.

Infiniti Q

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Nissan’s Infiniti Q packs a unique VC-Turbo compression ratio engine that continuously adjusts to provide the optimum mix of power and fuel-efficiency. The Q has all the features of a four-door sedan packed into a coupe body, and is meant to appeal to both such markets as well as the crossover market. It has a shorter hood and a more elongated body than similar models in the Infiniti collection and an especially comfortable and, as Infiniti puts it, “serene” interior.

Lexus LF-1

The LF-1 is an intentional “futuristic” prototype that Lexus says will pave the way for the next generation of their automobiles. Its “angular and organic design” is highlighted by a “panoramic glass roof and distinctive rear spoiler.” A luxury crossover with 22-inch wheels, the LF-1 is meant to give a sporty feel on the road. There is also a lot of new technology both under the hood and in the cockpit, with touchpads and overhead controls for the driver and an infotainment system for the passengers in the back seat. This Lexus offers a veritable indoor light show of displays and comes with a “chauffer mode” for hands-free driving.

Cadillac Escala

The Cadillac Escala is a large luxury car of the type for which Cadillac has always been famous. This is a premium automobile in every sense of the word, and this big four-door sedan is meant to satisfy those who want to indulge themselves and luxuriate in a beautiful, comfortable and powerful automobile. The rich leather interior is matched on the outside with aluminum and wood accents on a body that is meant to appear to be gliding rather merely driving down the road. The twin-turbo 4.2-liter V8 delivers all the power one would expect in a Cadillac, but also makes use of a new technology that lets the driver roll along more economically in 4-cylinder mode. Another unique feature lets the driver control the car through voice commands, a touch-screen console and even gestures.

Mitsubishi Re-Model A

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The Mitsubishi Re-Model A is sure to turn heads. On the outside, it looks like a souped-up version of an old-fashioned touring car from days of old, and that is exactly what it is, as Mitsubishi has taken the exterior of its original 1917 car and placed it over a frame, engine, drive train and control system that is almost futuristic in concept. The “Super All-Wheel Control” is four-wheel drive taken to a new level, and that is just one of the many unique, smart and mind-boggling new technologies that Mitsubishi has whimsically – and brilliantly – put into an old body.