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The 2023 Houston Auto and Boat Show – WE PLUG YOU IN!


The 2023 Houston Auto and Boat Show – WE PLUG YOU IN!

The 2023 Houston Auto and Boat Show


Dodge buzzed about their new Hornet. Nissan equipped their newish Frontier for new frontiers. And EVs, once a sideshow, are now a main attraction. 

At the Houston AutoBoative Show, cars, trucks, SUVs and boats shared the Big Tent. Test drives from multiple manufacturers were there, outside and even inside. Plus, at least seven EVs were available to drive. (Although Tesla, the most popular EV by far, was not among the test vehicles). But there’s a reason for that, and no, it isn’t because of Twitter. 

Auto shows are primarily a product of the local dealers, with some participation on the part of the manufacturers, whether in Houston or Dallas or anywhere else in the US. Teslas are not sold or represented by dealers. No dealers. No presence. Tweet that! 

The Houston AutoBoative Show is the first show I attend every year, even though it’s often cold and raining; this year it included two nearby tornadoes the day before the start of the show. And then, of course, were the torrential rains and localized flooding. So, whether you were after a new car or a new boat (or boath?) there was something here at NRG Center for you this year. 

Dodge – you may remember the Dodge Brothers – showed the new Dodge Hornet, a name resurrected from my youth. American Motors Corporation (AMC) used it from 1970-1977. And Hudson used it in the 1950’s, from 1951-1954. In 1954 Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator to form – you guessed it – AMC, although Hudson cars remained marketed as Hudson for another three years. Fun fact: At the time of the merger on May 1, 1954 it was the largest corporate merger in US history. 

Neither name remains today, and alas, even the AMC name eventually disappeared. 

On June 20, 1988 AMC was named Jeep-Eagle Corporation, which then became Chrysler in 1990, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in 2014, and Stellantis in 2021, when Fiat Chrysler merged with the French automaker PSA.

Why mention this? Because the DNA for the new Dodge Hornet goes way back to World War II, where the lineage includes Kaiser Jeep and Willys Overland. So the new pup in the Dodge performance litter has the right history in moving the Stellantis performance division into the new electrified world we find ourselves entering. 

The 2023 Dodge Hornet is a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), and is based upon the Alfa Romeo Tonale, the first hybrid-powered Alfa Romeo, introduced (in Europe) in 2022. The Dodge Hornet includes an extra shot of espresso that American consumers crave, in the form of a performance boost on-demand. Dodge wants you to know that performance is what they do. Adapt or die. They’ve read the tea leaves. Electricity isn’t just for your laptops, tablets and phones anymore. 

We’ll have more on the new Dodge Hornet as soon as Dodge’s spokesperson, Kimberly Shults, plugs one into our Texas Garage. 

Meanwhile, over at Nissan – the only other manufacturer to send a representative to meet and greet us in Houston – the company gussied up the Frontier with a bunch of NISMO parts as well as Genuine Nissan Accessories – for those of you planning to leave the paved roads behind. So accessorize away, Baby, as Nissan is here to help with that. Thanks to Steve Parrett for acquainting us with the latest gear.

Whether your power preference involves gas, diesel, propane, hydrogen, PHEV or EV, car, truck or SUV, the Houston AutoBoative show was a worthwhile destination. 

Finally, many thanks to RoShelle Salinas for her help throughout the show. It’s good to remember that it’s often the people you never see in the headlines that make the show, well…The Show!

Alan Pease is our Central Texas correspondent. He covers state and local government, as well as racing events at the Circuit of the Americas. His articles have appeared in Autoweek, and Automotive News. Prior to joining our staff, Alan produced automotive and motorcycle press introductions for BMW, MINI, Aston Martin, Jaguar and GM. Alan lives in Austin; you can reach him at

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