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Chicago Auto Show Retrospective: Hyundai’s Top 5 Vehicle Reveals in the Windy City

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For many automakers, the annual Chicago Auto Show is an opportunity to reveal their newest concept cars and production models. Many highly anticipated vehicles make their first appearance on the stages of the convention, which go on to greatly influence the direction of each brands’ lineup.

For Hyundai, the Chicago Auto Show typically isn’t a major debut venue; instead, the Korean company has used the Windy City as a platform for revealing next-generation design makeovers and refreshes of production vehicles, like the next-gen Santa Fe revealed last year.

But since Hyundai began parading its wares at the Chicago Auto Show over two decades ago, it has had some notable highlights come from the week-long show that have been instrumental in the automaker’s journey to become a name-brand in America.

5 Chicago Auto Show Debuts That Shaped the Hyundai Brand

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Hyundai HCD-6 Roadster concept car at 2001 Chicago Auto Show

Hyundai HCD-6 Roadster concept car at 2001 Chicago Auto Show

HCD-6 Roadster Concept

In an attempt to establish itself in the two-seat roadster market, Hyundai revealed this “affordable exotic car” at the Chicago Auto Show in 2001. While the mid-engine sports car didn’t pan out for Hyundai—as the brand ended up following the family-oriented path—it was one of the few truly original models Hyundai debuted in the Windy City.

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2006 Hyundai Portico Concept

2006 Hyundai Portico Concept at Chicago Auto Show

Portico Concept Car

In the midst of Hyundai’s eventual success in gaining a foothold in the US market, the brand debuted a six-passenger concept car called the Portico in 2005. While the versatile family vehicle didn’t gain the ongoing notoriety that its sibling the Tuscon did, the Portico was an early indication of the future appeal of crossover-sedan blends.


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Hyundai Veloster Red Bull rally at Chicago Auto Show

Hyundai Veloster Red Bull rally racecar at Chicago Auto Show

Red Bull Racing Sponsorships

In an attempt to break into the motorsports promotional world to show off its performance models, Hyundai began a partnership with Rhys Millen Racing and Red Bull Energy Drink in 2009 that it first announced at the Chicago Auto Show. The partnership led to a 550-horsepower Genesis Coupe in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and a VelosterRally Car in the US Rallycross Championship Series.

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blue 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT at 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Pictured: 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT at the Chicago Auto Show

United States Arrivals

Since Hyundai is not an American-based automaker, many of its initial new vehicle unveilings often take place on international soil; but many of those vehicles and next-gen refreshes make their first United States appearance at the annual Chicago show. This includes the Entourage (a rebadged Kia Carnival) in 2006, I-Blue Fuel Cell Concept in 2008, the Elantra Touring in 2009, and the Elantra GT in 2012.

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Veloster Turbo Rally Edition at 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Veloster Turbo Rally Edition at 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Special Edition Velosters

If there’s one model that Hyundai keeps promoting at the Chicago Auto Show year after year, it’s the under-appreciated and under-purchased Veloster. To draw attention to the Veloster, Hyundai has unveiled multiple limited-run special editions of the Veloster in Chicago, such as the RE:FLEX in 2014 and the Turbo Rally Edition in 2015.