The thing I hate most about auto dealerships is the full court press from the salespeople. The only thing almost as bad is the actual buying process once you’ve made a decision.
If you want to check out a new car without a commission-eager guy in a tie hounding your every step, head for the auto show. You can get your questions answered, sit in many of the cars, and even take them for a test drive, all in a low-pressure environment.
Until Sunday, I’d never been to an auto show. In fact, I always assumed they took place in Detroit and maybe a few select countries around the world. I had no idea the spectacle traveled across the country.
Having recently paid off both of our cars, I’m not in any hurry for a car payment again, but I thought a convention center full of shiny new vehicles might be a fun way to spend the day with the whole family, and get up close and personal with some cars I’d never visit a dealer to check out.
It was. (Click a photo to enlarge.)
Before we even handed over our tickets, we were intercepted by a friendly woman from Volkwagen offering us a test drive. After showing our licenses, signing a waiver, and taking a blood-alcohol breath test, we got in line.
Attending the last day of the show when there were no wrestlers, football players, or soccer studs making an appearance turned out to be a good thing as the crowds were down. We were able to drive almost right away.
We piled into a Passat, which my husband drove while the friendly not-salesperson reviewed the car’s features and gave driving directions. Next up, I took us all for a spin in the Tiguan, which has some neat features but didn’t beat my CR-V.
The real excitement was inside the show room, where we started on the American car floor. It was like a carnival, complete with churros and ice cream sold at stalls along the side. Cars spun on big platforms, were turned on their side, or cut in half. Engines lit up with brightly colored lights were on display under acrylic boxes.
The Engineer had fun explaining to the boys on how an engine works. They might even have enjoyed listening.
I had a few cars on my must-see list, and we managed to find them all. I sat in a Jeep Wrangler, which I’d been wanting to do ever since one of my characters started driving one. I should at least know what they feel like inside, right?
My boys tried out a few of their favorites, and we checked out Chevy and Ford’s electric and hybrid offerings.
Down on the foreign car floor I found my wannabe-next car, the Volvo XC-60 Plug-in Hybrid. I sat in an XC-60 and it fit me. I’m short, so that’s a big deal. Plus, I liked the dashboard layout, something I can’t say about the newest generation of CR-V, which still doesn’t offer a hybrid or electric option.
So, the Volvo is still on my list for “maybe someday”.
The other car I really liked was the Nissan Leaf. Cute, great dash and cockpit, and eco-friendly.
We ogled the Lamborghinis, strolled through the new family of Priuses (Prii?), and watched people drive Fiats on the indoor track. The only cars I really wanted to see that weren't there were the Tesla Roadster and the Fisker Karma.
At $12 a pop, the show was about the cost of a movie, and while I don’t see my self attending again anytime soon, it was something different from our usual weekend activities. I’m not much of a gearhead, but I enjoyed myself.
If you get a chance, check it out.
Next up, the boat show. After all, one of my characters was on a yacht once…