Who doesn’t love an auto show? Whether you are, in marketing speak, at the top of the purchase funnel (you are just beginning your car shopping) or its bottom (you’re about to write the check or sign the loan), an auto show is one of the best ways to compare cars and/or categories in one long stroll. With the 2017 DFW Auto Show, that stroll can be taken in the comfort of Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center – and if viewing this website, you can probably get there!
Beginning on Wednesday, March 22nd, the D/FW New Car Dealers Association will preview the show for area media with a day devoted to press conferences, after which the show officially opens. Informing automotive and lifestyle media isn’t a bad thing, and – as you’d guess – social media has become a more significant part of the coverage and discussion. Of course, in conjunction with the expansion of social media is the persistent talk of autonomous driving; how-the-heck can we be ‘social’ if we must still pay attention to the road? Thankfully, for those of us wishing to stay behind the wheel the emphasis at the D/FW show isn’t what you might be sharing in twenty years; rather, it’s what you can buy and drive now. And while other shows focus on the mantra of ‘mobility’, DFW’s dealers seem more interested in simply moving the metal. For that, we thank them.
What follows is the news of those manufacturers and or dealer groups expanding their physical presence in the show with press conferences. We’ll try and keep it social…
JEEP: If you drive a Jeep you should be up and out early; with that, it makes perfect sense that the media concludes a Jeep-sponsored breakfast with a Jeep presentation. While an all-new Wrangler waits in the product development weeds, the Jeep team should be touting their new Compass, located on their depth chart between the smallish Renegade and the more substantial – and polarizing – Cherokee. Beyond that, an aging Grand Cherokee remains attractive and relevant for your 4X4 adventures, and look for more variations of the current Wrangler than Sean Spicer has explanations.
RAM: If Fiat Chrysler Automobiles didn’t have Jeep and Ram it’s doubtful there would be a FCA; without them the (sales) numbers just don’t add up. But FCA does have Ram, and Ram has built itself into a truck-selling juggernaut, with more iterations of the Ram pickup than Sean Spicer has rationalizations. While not sure the Ram folks will be discussing the Ram Rebel, this is a Dallas show…and they don’t (yet) have a Ram Maverick.
VOLKSWAGEN: If you’ve driven through the Central Texas towns of Kerrville, Fredericksburg or New Braunfels you can’t help but notice the deeply entrenched influence of their German founders. And if you drive Volkswagen’s recently introduced Atlas, it’s as if VW is building their big, 3-row crossover for the descendants of that German ancestry, now fattened on fast food eaten in big Suburbans. Volkswagen’s Atlas is intended to hit American motoring where it lives, back in the 3rd row, with audio, video and (we hope) WiFi.
TOYOTA: The Japanese carmaker builds its trucks in San Antonio and its marketing budgets (along with everything else corporate) in Plano, at its all-new, North American headquarters. The official move-in day is quickly approaching; to that end, Toyota is bringing to its booth boxes, padding and pizza – and looking for volunteers.
NISSAN: Years prior to Toyota’s decision to leave Southern California for the more reasonable costs of a Mexican combo plate, Nissan departed SoCal for the more reasonable costs of Nashville, Tennessee. And Nissan’s move continues to bear fruit, most often in the guise of something we’ll describe as a truck. Over the last year Nissan has rolled out an entire family of its fullsize Titan, and the march continues this spring with several variants moving into showrooms. Also look for Nissan’s new Armada, fully equipped to take on your next urban or suburban adventure, even if your suburb is in or around Moab.
MAZDA: We continue to love our time behind the wheel of Mazda cars and crossovers, as Mazda’s tagline – Driving Matters – is more than just a tagline. For those that love driving with a child seat, the all-new CX-5 is the ticket you’ve been looking to punch. With sheetmetal more sleek and a platform more dynamic, there’s a lot to like in this CR-V and RAV4 competitor. And the new CX-5 would look absolutely perfect if garaged next to the Miata MX-5 RF, the new hardtop take on Mazda’s droptop Miata.
HONDA: Honda’s most recent celebration of family values begins and ends with its all-new CR-V. If you’ve liked previous variants of Honda’s compact crossover, there’s even more to like with this one. It’s upsized ever so cautiously, and refinements made to the platform and drivetrain are, for the most part, entirely successful. At this point in time – for the traditional crossover shopper – Honda’s new take on its already successful CUV may be the cream of this particular crop.
PARK PLACE DEALERSHIPS: Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Park Place execs will be discussing the imminent opening of their Land Rover/Jaguar dealership in Grapevine, a planned Porsche store in that same zip code, and news from their Maserati (Levante), McLaren (570S) Bentley (Bentayga), Jaguar (F-Pace) and Rolls-Royce (Black Badge and Dawn) showrooms. Hopefully, someone’s taking notes…
CHEVROLET: Typically, both Chevy and Ford (see below) hold their truck-based ammo for the fall, where they can bring their collective firepower to the State Fair and its three weeks of unabashed truckism. At a convention center named ‘Kay’ things stay more civilized, so Chevy may discuss its all-new Bolt EV…or Malibu hybrid.
FORD: Of late, Ford execs seem to show more unbridled affection for Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show, but they are showing up in Dallas; we’d guess it’s because they sell some 100,000 F-Series pickups a year in the Lone Star State, along with a deep (and expensive) marketing connection with one Jerry Jones. So, we’ll look for the all-new Ford Raptor, and a possible guest appearance by Mr. Cowboy.