Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 Knoxville Auto Show

                One unique tradition in the Automotive Industry is the auto show.  Most industries have trade shows that are open to the public and try to sell product in a large area.  However, auto shows happen all year long and take place in cities across the world.  This weekend I visited the Knoxville Auto Show and even though it was not a blockbuster international show like Detroit and Geneva, it was a great experience.  If you are in the market for a new car or will be in the market for a new or used car in the next couple of years you owe it to yourself to visit a local auto show soon.   There is almost no other space where a buyer can compare models from most manufacturers back to back. Keep in mind if you do attend a show that some of the cars on the floor are ridiculously optioned.  For example at the Ram booth sat a $50,000 1500 that was two wheel drive with a single cab right next to a $50,000 2500 with a Cummins Diesel crew cab.  If you are buying a single cab truck for that much I don’t know what your priorities in life are, but you need to change them.    
                I will mention the entire Volkswagen Group missed the Knoxville show as well as Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.  After those disappointments my other let downs were pretty surprising to me.  The first let down was everything built by the Fiat/Chrysler Group.  I can forgive a Jeep Patriot for having bad buttons and switches because it isn’t a very expensive vehicle and it is near the end of its life.  The Dodge Charger and Challenger should have better equipment on the inside.  Their class competitors have all jumped a level beyond with soft touch materials.  I was also heartbroken by the Fiat 500 Abarth.  I really wanted to love that car.  It has an amazing exhaust note and a fun package.  Unfortunately, sitting in a fully loaded $28000 sticker priced clown car I just couldn’t justify that kind of purchase.  The 500L was a nice surprise though.  For a small car it feels huge on the inside with a great backseat.  The final car on my bad list was the Hyundai Genesis R-spec sedan.  I was thrilled to see it in the flesh because it is a relatively rare car.  I wish a 400 plus horsepower engine was enough but for that asking price I cannot deal with cheap plastics that I felt were going to break off.  Not when the similarly priced Mercedes are near perfect from the driver’s seat.  On a side note both the Hyundai and Mercedes had beautifully integrated ash trays.  I guess it is ok to smoke in your car if you’re rich.  The Mercedes E Class cigarette holder is better made than probably anything I have ever owned in my own car. 
                So enough hating, let me talk about what I liked from the show.  If I was buying a vehicle this month there are only a handful of dealerships I would be walking on to.  That list consists of Ford, General Motors, Mazda, and Lexus.  Don’t get me wrong there are nice cars here and there for every company.  I honestly loved a car like the Mercedes E Class that gets 45mpg that makes Prius buyers look almost silly.  I know Lexus isn’t building the prettiest cars right now.  They are making some interesting cars finally.  Lexus came to the Knoxville show to sell cars there is no doubt.   The brought the big guns of the LFA which isn’t even on sale anymore.  What I took away from every Lexus was remarkable quality.  Getting in a Lexus and shutting the door is like sitting in first class on an air plane.  My ears felt the pressure change with a woomph sound.  When that door is shut you are not just sitting in a car you a physically removed from the world around you.  The information center from Lexus was the best looking of any brand and very easy to learn and use in my opinion.  I was in a $36,000 ES and was confused that it wasn’t a $50,000 car based on other price tags from around the show.  Well done Lexus, I used to think you were boring and now I am a fan. Or maybe I am getting old?
                I may have a soft spot for Ford since they did have the brand new 2015 Mustang on hand and the new F-150.  I can tell Ford feels confident in these vehicles because they weren’t roped off away from the public.  Both were on the floor within spitting distance of their respective competitors.  I may or may not have done some inappropriate touching to the beautiful Mustang rear end.  I was also highly impressed with the Fiesta ST.  How great is this package?  Fun to drive, great price tag, better than respectable gas mileage and it’s a usable everyday driver.  I have a fear one will be in my garage before it is all said and done.   
                Hard to argue against buying any Mazda right now.  Well priced with great gas mileage and their cars can be used to carry people and things from one place to another.   Pretty simple concept but some car makers do not understand it. I am looking at you Smart.  General Motors has trimmed the fat for the past decade and the results are delicious.  With Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, and Saturn now defunct General Motors is a real hit from top to bottom.   Everyone is talking about how Cadillac is not just trying to catch the Germans but actually surpassing them and I will have to agree I was green with envy standing next to their lineup.  SUV and crossover offering from GM were also top spots for me.  Lots of room and loaded with options and smart packaging and features will make a lot of families happy. 
                If you do not have time to visit an auto show on your own then please take my advice check these local dealerships and let me know what you think.  If you are visiting an auto show soon or have visited one then please let me know what you liked and what cars you’re looking to buy.  Either way have fun and I will see you at the show hopefully. 

It is so naughty

Lexus came to sell cars

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