This month marks the 1st anniversary of starting my automotive writing career. Hard to believe that only twelve months ago I was googling ‘how to become an automotive journalist’ and finding nothing. It feels a lot longer than a year. When I received my invitation to the 2016 San Antonio Auto Show the poet in me was loving the fact that the last media event – of my first year in auto journalist – was going to be held on my home turf. I always enjoy going to auto show media events because you get to see the cars before the public does. You walk into the dead quiet of the auto show and see nothing but shiny, straight from the factory or dealer new cars on display. The floors are usually carpeted so you don’t hear a sound as you look around on your best museum behavior. However, here you can get up close and personal by opening doors, sitting inside, and kicking the tires as if you were seeing it on a lot.
There is no way I can accurately inform you about every vehicle I saw at the San Antonio Auto Show into one article. To save you time, I will tell you about the vehicles that caught my attention and hopefully yours as well.
Ram – Power with Attitude
Ram showed its presence at the show in full force by bringing their lineup of trucks in a wide array of trim and powertrain levels. The Ram Rebel was a popular hit at the Texas Truck Rodeo last month and the red giant was here again showing off its off-road capabilities and rugged exterior.
The Ram truck that caught my attention was the Ram 1500 Night Edition, a limited edition performance package for the Ram 1500 lineup. The Night Edition gives you a blacked out grille, 20-inch black wheels, and custom hood. For performance, you get a cat-back exhaust system and a functioning ram-air intake. There’s just something about a pickup truck with real Ram-Air that just sounds right. Other trim packages for the Ram 1500 include the Lone Star edition, which offers interior upgrades and bigger wheels. The Laramie Longhorn is the top of line trim level for Ram trucks, but you won’t understand why until you sit inside one. The stitched engravings in the interior always catch my attention because they make me think of an engraved Winchester lever-action rifle or Colt Army revolver from the 1800’s.
Nissan – Safety Above All Else
Nissan’s theme for the event was safety. Sarah Cardinali, from Nissan headquarters, explained the latest safety technology offered on the newly redesigned Nissan Armada. Side note: The 2017 Nissan Armada also won full-size SUV of Texas this year. Some of the safety features Nissan has developed remind you what year you’re in. Forward facing radar scans the road ahead and will warn you if an object is coming up too fast and you haven’t applied the brakes. Get closer and it will brake for you. This is to help with common rear-end fender benders you so often see. Predictive Forward Collision is really impressive because it won’t just scan what’s in front of you, but also what’s two cars ahead of you. Imagine you are driving behind a semi-truck and unable to see that the car in front of that semi is about to stop short at a light. You may not be aware, but the Armada is and will apply the brakes for you before you realize that the semi-truck in front of is about to pull a panic stop. Lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control dubbed Intelligent Cruise Control by Nissan, are just some of the other safety tech you will find on these machines. With this much technology constantly looking out for your safety I’d image if you intentionally tried to crash the Armada it would put up a fight.
Volkswagen – #PinkBettle
Volkswagen’s presentation talked about the #PinkBeetle, and that’s not a typo. Volkswagen is selling the first production car with a hashtag in its name, and it’s pink. We’ve seen Beetles being painted pink since the 1960’s yet this is the first time that Volkswagen painted a Beetle pink straight from the factory. It was launched last month and has been selling like hot cakes. What adds to the coolness is that the #PinkBeetle helped raise $30,000 for breast cancer prevention. The #PinkBeetle’s interior is similar to the Volkswagen GTi, just replace red with pink. Personally, I think VW picked the right shade of pink for their Beetle. The shade of pink sits right in the middle of the color spectrum between Easter Egg and Barbie.
Sport Wagon Comeback?
Sport wagons seem to be making a comeback as more auto manufacturers are debuting off-road capable station wagons with a sporty character. Vehicles like the Volvo V90 Cross Country, Volkswagen Golf Sport Wagon AllTrack, and Audi A4 AllRoad Quattro are all station wagons with added ground clearance and roomy interiors. Not to mention that all these sports wagons have all-wheel-drive and dynamic driving ability. Good news for people who are tired of seeing crossovers in their driveway.
Audi – The Executive Express
Audi debuted its S8, which is now making 605 horsepower, pulls from 0-60 in under 4 seconds, and a limited top speed of 180 mph! That’s impressive for a two seater, light weight sports car, but this is an executive 4-door Interstate yacht that can keep up with 4-wheeled track stars. Granted, this is a $150K car, so if you have that kind of cash be sure to invest in a chauffeur with a racing license.
Toyota – The Mid-Size Golden Boy
Toyota was very proud when they presented their golden boy, the 2017 Tacoma TRD-Pro, a limited production off-road package for the Tacoma. The TRD-Pro comes with LED fog lights, TRD springs, Fox Shocks, electronic locking differentials, ¼ inch thick skid plate, and Kevlar tires. Yes, you can option a TRD-Pro with a 6-speed manual! If you want one I recommend you start putting a deposit down as soon as possible because Toyota is planning on only producing 5,000 TRD-Pro’s in 2017.
Auto Show Veterans
New cars aren’t the only stars at the San Antonio Auto Show. Local car clubs, collectors, and vendors are also here showing off their rolling works of art. They have some Barrett-Jackson worthy cars here as well as drag cars, drift cars, off-roaders, kustoms, hot rods, and even a police car. I had to remind myself that I was here on assignment. I could have spent all my time just admiring these car show veterans.
Come See These Cars for Yourself
Jaguar, Lexus, Rolls Royce, Ford, Chevrolet, Aston Martin, GMC, Buick, Lincoln, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Bentley, Lotus, Dodge, Infinity, Acura, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz all brought their cars for us to see and admire. Ford even had a racing simulator which I found to be a barrel full of laughs. If you are free this weekend, and in the area, I highly recommend bringing the whole family over to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and check out these space-age machines in person. You might leave wanting to visit a dealership.