The Houston Auto Show opened Wednesday evening, January 25, for their 29th year. The first day was Media Day for the press and it included a number of special presentations and conferences. Fort Worth and Dallas, as do most other cities across the United States, have an annual automotive show presented by the local dealer associations. I have been a fan and attendee of the Houston, Fort Worth, and Dallas auto shows for over 10 years and the Houston presentation is one of the best shows in the country. It is not considered one of the ‘big five’ that includes Detroit, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and the Texas State Fair, but it is very impressive.
2013 CHEVROLET MALIBU
Among the featured vehicles is the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. This is the eight-generation of this nameplate. It is generally an all-new vehicle that features an eAssist propulsion system. This eAssist system consists of a battery electric/gas operation that results in an estimated mileage range of 26-mpg city and 38 mpg highway. This is not a standard hybrid car, but is definitely considered on the ‘green’ side of vehicles.
The 2013 Chevy Malibu features a 182 horsepower 2.4 liter, four-cylinder gas engine that is paired with a 6 speed automatic transmission. This is then matched up with a 15-kw motor generator and provides a 15 horsepower assist during hard acceleration. When the car is fully stopped, the gas engine shuts down and regenerative braking takes over. This provides about 15-kw of electricity flowing to recharge the battery.
The 2013 Chevy Malibu has all the new bells, whistles, and technology you would expect. The interior is laid out well and includes a dual-cockpit design of the dashboard, gauges, and controls. An Eco gauge in the cluster even responds to driver behavior to help encourage fuel-efficient driving habits. Of course, the sedan includes the MyLink entertainment package, OnStar navigation, Pandora Internet radio, and Stitcher SmartRadio.
2012 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 2500 HD
Another featured vehicle is the 2012 Chevy Silverado heavy-duty pickup. Pickups are near and dear to the heart of most true Texans, but it is mostly because of their utilitarian features for farmers, ranchers, and contractors. The Silverado 2500 heavy duty feature truck at the Houston Auto Show is a 4 wheel drive LTC Crew Cab that is powered by a Duramax 6.6 liter V-8 turbo-charged diesel engine. The diesel engine is matched with an Allison 100 6-speed automatic transmission. This combination makes the Chevy Silverado a formidable work truck.
The LTZ model crew cab has been upgraded to include leather front seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and wood-grain accents. The rear seating is a 60-40 split configuration. The seats are easily lifted up with a one-hand operation and that provides much more cargo room on the inside of the cab. Headroom and legroom is designed to be very generous with the rear seat passengers as well as the front seat area.
2013 DODGE DART
Dodge presented their all-new compact Dart, which is considered to be a ‘ground-breaking design.’ In fact, the new Dart is set apart from many of the other vehicles on display and is attracting a lot of people to look over this great new design. Although it is considered in the compact-car segment, it appears to be much larger than that. The Dodge engineers provide so many alternatives for custom personalization in this car. It is said there are 100,000 possible factory-provided combinations.
The 2013 Dodge Dart is being promoted for its personalization, roominess, style, functionality, and fun-to-drive dynamics. It is powered by a choice of three fuel-efficient engines, which are combined with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Dart is available in five trim levels: SE, SXT, Rallye, Limited, and R/T.
The 2013 Dodge Dart is due to be in showrooms by summertime and will probably have a beginning cost of around $16,000.
2013 CADILLAC ATS and CADILLAC XTS
An auto show cannot be a complete auto show without featuring Cadillac. Two new Cadillac models have been introduced for the 2013 model year and both are on featured display at the Houston Auto Show. The first one is the ATS. The ATS is an all-new compact luxury sports sedan. This is intended to challenge the other luxury compacts and has previously not been a part of the Cadillac line-up. The ATS is lightweight body frame, rear-wheel drive, and brings a blend of technology-driven performance.
The Cadillac XTS is being called the most technologically advanced production car in Cadillac’s history. The XTS is more the traditional styled Cadillac that consumers and the public are familiar with. The XTS is larger, delivers elegance, and features all the anticipated Cadillac signature items
2012 FORD FOCUS ELECTRIC
The 2012 Ford Focus is a terrific sedan, but for this year, Ford has rolled out an Electric model, which is on display at the Houston Auto Show. The Focus Electric is Ford’s first Zero-Emissions passenger car. The popular small car now has an addition in their growing fleet of hybrids, plug-ins, and all-electric vehicles.
The Focus Electric is designed to offer enough mileage range to cover most Americans’ daily driving habits. A full recharge can be accomplished at home or at a charging station and is expected to take about 3 or 4 hours on a home charging system. The greater Houston area has been very pro-active in promoting electric vehicles and there are many charging stations located throughout the city with many more being installed on a regular basis.
Nancy Giola is Ford’s Director of Global Electrification. She commented, “We’re very excited about the potential of the new Focus Electric. With so many of us accustomed to recharging mobile electronics on a daily basis, we’re confident our customers will take to the vehicle recharging process just as easily. That is exactly what it is – easy.”
OTHER VEHICLES FEATURED
There are so many vehicles on display at the Houston Auto Show this year and so many of them are featured. A few others that stood out and appealed to me:
The 2013 Mustang Boss: The Boss 302 is all about performance and pays homage to the muscular 1970’s model.
The 2013 Ford Escape: The 2013 model Escape is all-new and features a sporty new appearance .as well as a lot of new features such as a hands-free liftgate and more highly bolstered sport seats.
The 2012 Ford F-150 has a new FX appearance package that features a very distinctive look with flat-black accents. This new FX look is further set-off with black fender and tailgate badges. The interior features a red-stitched steering wheel.
2012 GMC Terrain: I really like the Terrain SUV by GMC. The Terrain has all the flexibility and capability that anyone wants in a large SUV, but it offers fuel efficiency as well. The interior is premium in looks and style and the Ecotec engines are excellent.
The 2012 Honda Pilot: The new Pilot has a re-designed and more aerodynamic front end. It is comfortable, spacious, and fuel-efficient.
The 2012 Hyundai Elantra: The Elantra was recently named the North American Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show. This is one vehicle that is getting a lot of attention from consumers.
There is so much to see and talk about at the 2012 Houston Auto Show. The 2013 Infiniti JX, 2012 Kia Rio hatchback, 2013 Lincoln MKT, Mazda’s all-new 2013 CX-5, the Nissan Leaf all-electric, 2012 Toyota Camry, 2012 Scion iQ, and 2012 Volkswagen Passat.
The Houston show will continue through Sunday, January 29th. If you can not attend this show, attend the auto show closest to you – Fort Worth, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Honolulu – and see all the new designs, features, and engines that are on the market today.