With attendance about equal to last year the Chicago Auto Show again demonstrates why it is in a class by itself as we list the winners and losers at this year’s event.

The Windy City

It’s no secret that most of us at LotPro.com are envious of those of you who live in Chicago and its environs. Even though the weather is usually just as cold as it is here for the Detroit Auto Show, in Chicago you can step out of the front door of your hotel, hail a cab and find yourself in the enviable position of actually having to choose from the many hundreds of places to go – all within the city!

And while none of the manufacturer exhibits was of the multi-level variety (not counting the Jeep Hill at the back of the South Hall), there is literally so much room at McCormick Place that manufacturers could double their space requirements with no problems whatsoever for show organizers.

Spending nearly two full days on the show floor has given us some insight into this year’s winners and losers. In addition, the results are in for the show’s fifth annual “Best of Show” balloting and the combined results of both are displayed forthwith:

Big Winner – Ford Motor Company

The excitement at The Blue Oval continues. Ford’s press conference was first out of the gate this year with the redesigned 2011 Ford Flex and  Ford Transit Connect electric and taxi (gas/CNG/LPG) variants.

On top of that, Ford took “Best Exhibit” honors with 41 percent of the vote, “Best All-New Production Vehicle” as the new Focus received 29 percent of the vote (the second year in a row for Ford, as the Taurus received this honor last year), while the Mustang Shelby GT500 was voted “Vehicle I’d most like to have in my driveway” by show goers.

Ford was also able to build on this excitement by exposing attendees to a number of interactive experiences at the display.

Big Loser – anyone who didn’t attend

Unlike the Detroit Auto Show, even holdout Nissan was able to recognize the importance of the Chicago market (it registered almost 9 percent of Chicago area light car and truck sales in 2009) and, with just a week to go, requested show floor space (a request the CATA was happy to grant).

Winner – Kia Motors

The Korean company continues to build upon its record sales, while the press intro of the Kia Ray Concept was the highlight of media days. Cars, bars and steel guitars is an absolute winner in our book.

Loser – Porsche Cars North America

The rest of the German automakers were there in full force. Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and, especially, Volkswagen all came to Chicago with visually stunning displays. But across the aisle from VW there lurked a small, forgotten, fenced-off area that contained but 2 (or maybe 3, we’ve forgotten) Porsches.

If most of the exhibits were first-run blockbusters, this red-headed stepchild was the B movie. Get it together guys, Porsche deserved better than this.

Winner – General Motors Corporation

While it’s hard for us to get excited about the Silverado HD and the 75th Anniversary Suburban (the General’s only offerings at their press conference), GM managed to entertain with the stunning Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept (voted “Best Concept Vehicle” with 28 percent of the vote), the hot-looking Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, and the upcoming Chevrolet Volt (voted “Best Green Vehicle” with 25 percent of the vote). In addition, its “love it or hate it” GMC Granite Concept (unveiled in Detroit) once again proves that the new General Motors has not forgotten its styling roots and is willing to think outside the box even when it comes to its GMC division.

(Not a total) Loser – Chrysler LLC

Even we have to admit that Chrysler was not a total loser in Chicago. The “Jeep Hill” at their exhibit was a blast. And taking a hint from the attendees at the Detroit show that editorially abused them for failing to identify nearly half their exhibited vehicles, the company managed a small placard identifying what might be contained in the innards of an electrified Fiat 500 that also made its way to Chitown.

Small steps, after all, are better than no steps at all.