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Highlights from the 2014 Chicago Auto Show

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Just coming off of the first major car show of the season, the smaller, but still-important 2014 Chicago Auto Show had some key debuts. Although not as flashy as the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, automakers still rolled out some choice vehicles for potential buyers.

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Here's the list of highlights from the auto show:

Volvo S60 Polestar: The Polestar delivers a much-needed shot of excitement into the otherwise (mostly) stoic Swedish showrooms, with vehicles that come in multiple shades of gray, greenish-gray, and bluish-gray. Volvo took their midsize sedan (intentionally made smaller to make way for a rumored larger sedan), and stuffed it with a turbocharged six-cylinder engine that's good for 345 horsepower. Combined with a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, larger "bespoke" wheels, and larger brakes, it'll scoot the premium sedan from zero to 60 in under five seconds.

Subaru Legacy: Perhaps the most important debut at the Chicago show, the midsize sedan is important for the surging child of Fuji Heavy. Although the Subaru Legacy lost quite a bit of its unique quirkiness and charm that has endeared itself to its loyal fanbase, it more than makes up for it in refinement and efficiency, all in the name of potentially increasing sales in the most hotly contested segment of the industry.

Nissan Frontier Diesel Concept: Nissan debuted the first look of their joint venture with Cummins. Enthusiasts and consumers alike have clamored for years for a small-to-mid-size truck with a small diesel engine, and it appears that the Japanese automaker has something to satisfy their appetites. Between this and the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon midsize truck (also available with a diesel next year), other automakers will be watching closely to see if offering an oil burner in their midsize trucks would be a viable option.

Chevrolet City Express: Perhaps a lot less exciting than the other debuts at the auto show, but just as important is the unveiling of the General's small van. If the cargo mover looks familiar to you, that's because it's little more than a rebadged Nissan NV200, even sharing the mechanical bits as well. This will do battle with the stalwart of the segment here in America, the recently-redesigned Ford Transit Connect, as well as the upcoming RAM Promaster City, itself a rebadged Fiat Doblo (scheduled to debut in late 2014).

Kia Soul EV: Last but certainly not least is the electric version of the ever-popular Kia Soul mini-crossover. Powered by an 81-kilowatt electric motor that will produce 109 horsepower, and more importantly, 210 pound-feet of torque (electric vehicles deliver all of their torque instantaneously). The non-gas burning Soul will be differentiated by a choice of different two-tone exterior color schemes, and the interior will largely be a carryover, save for a loss of cargo space due to the batteries.

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