Chicago Auto Show

Midsize cars offer market appeal

2014-02-07T00:00:00Z Midsize cars offer market appealAndy Mikonis Times Auto Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 07, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Midsize cars continue to be one of the largest segments in the market comprising 33 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2013. Some of the newest entries will be on display at the Chicago Auto Show.

Chrysler made a big splash at the North American International Auto in Detroit with the introduction of the 2015 Chrysler 200. Standard is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, which is targeted to get 35 mpg on the highway. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 also will be available. Both engines get the segment's only nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available with an exclusive automatically disconnecting rear axle to reduce drag and save fuel.

A beautiful design and an impressive array of equipment is included for a base price of $21,700.

"We hear different things about the platforms ahead of time, but I couldn't believe it when I saw it," said Cary Bosak, president of Bosak Chrysler in Merrillville. "I was surprised by all the features for the price. We're expecting it to be a hit."

Chrysler Group has invested $1 billion in its Sterling Heights, Mich., assembly plant to tool up for the 200. You can also find the Chrysler 200 at Bobb Chrysler in Cedar Lake, Connors Chrysler in Chesterton, Griegers Chrysler in Valparaiso and Thomas Chrysler in Highland.

Jon Hahn, marketing manager for Chevrolet Malibu, detailed numerous cosmetic and mechanical upgrades to the Malibu for 2014 at a recent Chicagoland appearance. He said the Malibu already was the No. 4 best-selling midsize sedan in the Chicago area market.

New intake valve lift control and the only standard automatic stop/start system in the segment help the 2014 Malibu achieve a 14 percent improvement in fuel economy. Stop/start shuts the engine off when the vehicle isn't moving and restarts it when you take your foot off the brake. Rather than using a complex high-voltage system to run the accessories, the Malibu has only a small auxiliary battery that doesn't reduce trunk space.

"The new 2014 Malibu not only offers a newer sleeker design than last year but a roomier back seat," said Al Kuchar, general manager of Mike Anderson Chevy in Merrillville. "Combine that with its quiet comfortable ride and 36 miles per gallon highway rating, and its easy to see why it is the choice for mid-size sedans."

The Malibu is also sold at Arnell Chevrolet in Burns Harbor, Christenson Chevrolet in Highland, Harbor Chevrolet in Michigan City, Smith Chevrolet in Hammond and Lowell, Team Chevrolet in Valparaiso and Wiers Chevrolet in DeMotte.

Luxury midsize cars are making news with Mercedes-Benz debuting the all-new C-Class sedan. The C-Class is the No. 1 selling car for Mercedes-Benz worldwide and helped the company increase U.S. sales 14 percent last year and capture the No. 1 luxury car slot. The new C-Class will be the first German luxury sedan built in the U.S., at Mercedes-Benz's Tuscaloosa, Ala., plant.

This comprehensive upgrade of the C-Class promises to deliver a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy, and it will be the first car in the segment with air suspension. You can see it at the Chicago Auto Show and it's available for ordering now at Napleton Auto Werks in Schererville.

Last year's North American Car of the Year, the Cadillac ATS, will be joined by a new coupe version for 2015, which made its world debut in Detroit. The lightest car in its segment, the ATS competes against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and A5, Lexus IS and the BMW 3-Series. The ATS is bringing new buyers to Cadillac.

According to Uwe Ellinghaus, chief marketing officer for Global Cadillac, 17 percent of buyers are new to the brand. He said the ATS has helped double the number of Cadillac buyers younger than 35. The ATS Coupe will be offered with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter V-6. In keeping with an emphasis on sporty driving, a manual transmission will also be available.

The ATS Coupe will be in showrooms this summer, according to Jason Boone, sales manager at Schepel Cadillac in Merrillville.

"The ATS is our entry level model, so it will be less expensive than the CTS Coupe," he said. "It'll be our only coupe since this is the last year for the CTS Coupe."

Wiers Cadillac in DeMotte and Napleton Cadillic in Calumet City also carry the ATS.

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