When I was a kid, my dad took me to auto shows. That was our bonding activity, and it remains so to this day; I'll call my dad or send him a photo every time I see something really cool, and we oooh and ahhhh together.
It's no surprise that I have gravitated to writing about cars, too, and it's a joy and a privilege to attend car shows and write about them for SheBuysCars. And this weekend, if you live in the Houston area or feel like taking a road trip, the Houston Auto Show is a great destination for families.
The first thing you'll notice is that the auto show floor is brightly lit and filled with manufacturers of all kinds. Toyota has a giant stand, featuring the new Prius Prime and RAV 4 Hybrid. RAM trucks has one area for display and a fantastic Truck Territory ride experience that allows you to sit in a Power Wagon or Laramie Longhorn as a professional driver takes you over a steel bridge towing multiple tons or over a rough rough and bank incline. It's like Disneyworld for car enthusiasts.
Don't miss the Mazda section, which includes their crossover models CX-9, CX-5, and CX-3; the Miata MX-5 and MX-5 RF; and the plush 6. One thing I love about Mazda is their Drive for Good nonprofit program, which inspires people to do helpful things in their communities. For every test drive taken between November 21, 2016 and January 3, 2017, Mazda pledged one hour of their time to a community cause. Over the past four years, they have been able to give back over 260,000 hours of service.
From the Mazda site: "It might surprise you, but many teenagers from the surrounding neighborhoods of Chicago have never been downtown or even had the chance to see Lake Michigan, but Jahmal Cole is trying to change that. In 2014, he founded My Block, My Hood, My City (MBMHMC), an organization that helps teens experience the world beyond their neighborhood. In 2016, he was recognized for his dedication to building a better community, as the grand prize winner of the 2016 Mazda Drive for Good® nonprofit contest."
As you may know, I'm a big fan of Maserati; I find their design and interiors to be the pinnacle of automotive perfection, and their engines are the icing on the cake. Maserati launched a new SUV this year - the Levante - and I had a chance to touch it, sit in it, and talk to the Maserati experts about it. You can find more on it in my live Facebook video on the SheBuysCars page.
New features at the 2017 show include ride & drive experiences, themed days honoring Texas’ military, and live music Friday to Sunday. The show will also bring back the popular family happy hour event and the classic cars display (my personal favorite).
Toyota hosted a special early Ride and Drive for our SheBuysCars group, and I rode in the back of the new Prius Prime. Can you see that gigantic screen right in the middle? Holy moley, it's a Jumbotron. I didn't see myself on any kiss cam. And I must mention the fuel efficiency. FIFTY-FIVE MPG. Oh. Was I shouting? Because that's pretty exciting. It's über-quiet - the only sign we could hear that it was on was the gentle blowing of the air conditioner.
I was a little sad that I didn't get to test drive the McLaren on the show floor, but then again, you just can't let thousands of people sit inside a car that's worth more than most houses.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for kids, and show hours are as follows:
- April 5-7: Noon-9:30 pm
- April 8: 10 am-9:30 pm
- April 9: 10 am-7 pm
*Bonus* - the Mecum Auction house is hosting a giant event right next door, with some of the most gorgeous classic cars in the world.
The marketing manager allowed me and Jenn Greene to walk around the venue as they readied the auction block, red carpet, and hundreds of gorgeous classic cars. I got to sit in one of my top three dream cars: a 1957 Bel Air. I'd choose it in turquoise, of course, but I'm not complaining. I look good in that (universe, are you listening?). A nice resto-mod (a classic car that has been restored, but modified with modern parts and technology) would be nice. Just saying.