As many with a sense of history would guess, not long after the debut of the automobile came the auto show. Initially, of course, those in the car business gathered together to create buzz for what was – at that point in its development – a decidedly marginal business model. In those early years of the industry cars were largely hand built, very expensive and ridiculously difficult to maintain. In short, the manufacturers and dealers needed a celebration, if only to distract potential customers from the reality of ownership. Today, of course, it’s vastly different, and while many auto shows are accused of a fast food-like sameness, the best ones remain a celebration, and still constitute the very best way to kick tires without, notably, getting kicked yourself. Later this week DFW New Car Dealers host the 2019 DFW Auto Show; happily, it remains a kick.
In our lead up to the show, which begins Wednesday, March 27th and wraps on Sunday, March 31st, we’re highlighting cars, trucks and SUVs over three consecutive installments. And while the car side of the business doesn’t dominate the news or product cycles like trucks or SUVs, there remains a lot of life left in the old, 4-door business model.
Of course, with Dallas’ late March date and flyover location, this isn’t the show for the World Debut. With Detroit’s date in early January, Motown still bags a few global introductions, as does the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas and, to a lesser degree, Chicago in February. As this is written, the Geneva show enjoyed the attention of both European and North American outlets, and with that attention comes a slew of new intros. Dallas’ show doesn’t secure the globe trotters, but for someone in the purchase funnel it remains one of the best ways to both see the new wheels and, afterward, enjoy some credible Tex-Mex. Try that in Geneva.
And DFW will get its share of new cars and regional debuts. On the car side, 2020 models scheduled to be seen in Dallas for the first time include Bentley’s Continental GT and GTC, Ford’s Shelby GT500 Mustang, Kia’s all-new Soul and Telluride, Porsche’s 2020 911 Carrera S, Toyota’s all-new and much-discussed/debated Supra and Volkswagen’s reskinned Passat. Among just this listing, there’s ample reason to make a deposit and, if ordering, be patient for a few weeks or months.
Closer to your driveway are a host of 2019 models, either all-new or which benefit from what the industry calls a refresh and its marketers continue to call ‘all-new’. This group includes Audi’s electrified e-tron and RS 5 Sportback; Hyundai’s upmarket Genesis G70; Nissan’s updated Maxima and all-new Altima. Last (but certainly not least) is Mazda’s 30th Anniversary Miata, along with a redesigned Mazda3.
Recent time spent in the all-new Genesis suggests that it brings real competition in the 3 Series segment. Powered by either a 4-cylinder or V6, and with both powertrains fitted with turbochargers, the G70 provides the perfect balance between a composed day-to-day driver and, especially in V6 guise, a high-speed cruise missile. And with a starting price in the mid-$30s, the 4-cylinder is as accessible as some loaded Accords and Camrys, while offering far more excitement behind the wheel.
If shopping for your first car or, increasingly, a family’s third car, Toyota’s Corolla, as either a 4-door hatchback or sedan, makes an even stronger argument. And if you enjoy some funk in your daily commute or errand running, Kia has updated its Soul without, thankfully, reducing that soul.
Electrification, of course, continues to rear its oh-so-quiet head, with a growing number of models offering either plug-in or all-electric versions. In our drives we’ve enjoyed Kia’s Niro hybrid and Honda’s Clarity plug-in, and look forward to seeing what Hyundai’s Kona EV delivers. Regrettably, Chevy’s Volt is being discontinued, but the all-electric Bolt lives on, with an awareness that continues to grow.
While electrics receive a disproportionate share – based on actual sales numbers – of the attention, diesels would seem to get only negative attention. Given GM’s ancient history, in combination with Volkswagen’s recent history, it’s somewhat amazing that diesel passenger cars remain in the U.S. market, but they do; several models constitute attractive commuters and/or road cars.
That list includes BMW’s 3 and 5 Series, Chevrolet’s about-to-be-discontinued Cruze, and Jaguar’s XE and XF sedans. In most instances you’ll pay a little more for the diesel option, enjoy dramatically more torque and significantly better efficiency. For us? BMW’s 328D Sports Wagon. But don’t look for it at the show, as BMW doesn’t participate in the Dallas show. Instead, BMW dealers sponsor what we used to call the White Rock Marathon; look for BMWs at your podiatrist.
In short, while SUVs and trucks (especially in Texas) receive the greater attention, cars remain an oh-so-logical solution for those living in town, but having a very real desire to get out of town. And with a car’s higher efficiency, better handling and greater accessibility, there’s a lot to like in their two, four or 5-door footprint.