The 2012 Denver Auto Show stepped up their game this year. The eye candy is tastier as ever, with extravagant paint jobs, noticeably beefed-up exhibits and the impressive volume of models on display. The clean looking show room floor housed an equally clean collection of compact commuter cars, comfortable family SUVs, sedans, crossovers and luxury razzmatazz. Variety seemed to be the theme this year as the auto show painted a beautiful picture of the fuel-efficient choices and changes being made in the industry, including options of electric-powered, hybrid, and gas-powered vehicles, along with Ford’s EcoBoost and Buick’s eAssist.
Fuel-efficiency wasn’t the only feature making a spark. Interesting safety features were introduced like rear view blind spot control, rear view cameras, or being able to open the trunk with a push of your foot. Plus, the models that were ornately decorated were for me, a sight for sore eyes. I love seeing the possibility of what could be. I saw vehicles representing eco-chic girl-power, angsty teen-grunge, diesel-powered hard-working smokers, classy high horse powered sophistication, down to earth suburban families and classic, old-timey comfort.
This year bypassed the mish-mash of vehicles to expose a more organized-than-ever showroom floor. Dividing walls housed TVs and games behind them to teach their audience about their product and create a sense of submersion while enjoying the particular brand’s experience. A good call was made by re-thinking cold, thoughtless displays that used to say, here’s a car … thanks for the 10 bucks. I was grateful that this show played with several cars of the same model in different colors and trims, no longer leaving it to your imagination to wonder what the blue one would look like. The new Smart Cars are decked out with colorful flowers and vibrant hues. I saw solids and texture with patterns or stripes, convertible tops along side hard tops, showing the full range of options. The trucks are beefed-up and bad-ass, particularly, the DC Tundra Specialty pick up, cleverly painted with a DC Shoes graphic and what I would call black glitter paint. I hope this new flavor replaces those horrible purple tones I see every once in a while. I can’t think of one vehicle that has ever looked good in purple. I thought black glitter would likewise fall into said horrible category, but in person the glimmer made me smile against the canvas of the impressively powerful pick up.
It’s clear from this show that car lines are expanding. For example, Cadillac is introducing the ATS available as an all wheel drive vehicle; it’s the smallest Cadillac coming out to compete against the BMW 3-series. Subaru is introducing their rear wheel BRZ, plus SUVs and trucks are going from V8s to V6s while keeping the same towing capacity. For those manufacturers thinking small, it’s nice to check out the Scion IQ, Fiat, MINI and Smart Cars which are laid out for immediate comparison.
This was probably engrained in me from my childhood, but my pupils still dilate over the supercars. For me what stole the show was the $387,000 Lamborghini Aventador with its flashy scissor doors and 700 horsepower, V12 engine-grrrr. This new flagship model was designed to replace the Murcielago, and the experience is better than meeting a celebrity. Some people see cars as piles of metal. I happen to think they’re super awesome, brilliant, happy, fun transportation toys. Along a similar note, but striking a different tone, is the Fisker, a manufacturer I was just introduced to at this show. Their cars are over $100,000 but are full-luxury, all-electric vehicles with solar panel sunroofs. They had two models on display with recycled glass in the paint on the gorgeous light blue Karma. Fisker, represented on the floor by Rickenbaugh, was introduced to the public about a year ago, competing with the all-electric Tesla.
This show breathed some new life into the spectacle of showing off cars. The manufacturers had fun this year and their passion came out a bit, and I hope it only grows from here. Denver is home to the biggest auto display between Los Angeles and Chicago, and it’s about time we started owning that.
Bottom Line: The best auto show to come out of Denver yet; a varietal visual feast.
Stats: More than 500 vehicles from about 37 manufacturers.
Random Brain Freeze: Say hello to the two mascot Otters, that I mistook for squirrels. Auto Show/ Otter Show mascots.
March 22-25 Hours: Thursday 5-10pm, Friday noon-10pm, Saturday 10am-10pm, Sunday 10am-6pm.
Sticker Price: Entrance is $10/adults, $5/children 7-12, free for kids 6 and under.
2012 Denver Auto Show
Colorado Convention Center
700 14th Street Denver, CO 80202