Sunday, January 30, 2011

My 2011 Houston Auto Show Experience - Cars

John Marine | 1/30/2011 03:50:00 AM | |
The 2011 Houston Auto Show featured many different cars I saw. With this being my eighth or ninth (maybe tenth) Houston Auto Show, this blog post concerns my 2011 HAS experience with cars. I will share with you a text-based experience of roaming the floors of Reliant Center. I will, however, set the mood with a picture.

I had initially intended to compile all or most of my material in one blog post. However, I will break them up into individual categories.

A Special Hello...

If any readers are any of the people representing the car companies at Houston Auto Show 2011 (such as the people who do the announcements and introductions of cars) or of anyone representing the Houston Auto Show itself, I say hello to you. Welcome to my blog!

--- Houston Auto Show at a Glance ---
HAS 2010
^ The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept was one of over 500 different automobiles featured at this year's Houston Auto Show. (from my Facebook profile page)

--- Houston Auto Show at a Glance ---
The Houston Auto Show has been around since 1983, and has been held at the Reliant Center since 2002. It is a show where Houstonians and those in Houston can check out some of the world's cars right before their eyes. It is also a marketplace where many prospective buyers of cars look to gain more information about any cars offered on the floor. Many cars imaginable are offered for viewing and even to sit in. Concept cars and special cars are offered on stands. Some of which, are accompanied by hosts and hostesses who talk more about the given cars. There is also a classic car section featuring some of the most beautiful classic cars in their own section.

While the Houston Auto Show is about today's cars, it is also a place where people can purchase various other items from the floor. Certain other local businesses and such offer up many car-related and non car-related items. Even certain groups and dealers showcase their material for others to buy. This, then, is a something-for-everyone event that brings many people together to check out various things.

The Houston Auto Show is like Houston itself- it is not in any way purely glamourous. There may be cars making Texas debuts, but this is no international-type auto show. It is nowhere in importance and appeal like the Los Angeles International Auto Show, New York International Auto Show, the North American International Auto Show, or anything like that. It is, however, OUR auto show. It is our link to the automotive world. It is our link to cars from America, across Europe, and across Asia. So this is OUR auto show though it isn't as glamorous as any of the real international auto shows.

--- An Interesting Fact... ---
Here is an interesting fact about my time at the Houston Auto Show all-time:

This year's Houston Auto Show is the fourth using a different camera. For the first one I remember, I was using a reliable pen cam to take pictures with. The second one I had used was my parents' camera. The 2009 Houston Auto Show was without any camera. The 2010 show was with my Insignia NS-DV1080P. This year's Houston Auto Show is my first one with the Bloggie MHS-PM5. And really, the first serious outing where I've used the Bloggie.

--- What You Will Find in my 2011 Houston Auto Show Blog Posts ---
This is a look at what my blog posts will entail:

* Cars - I talk about some of the many cars I've seen on the showroom floor.
* Experiences - I talk about what all I was doing while going around Reliant Center.
* Fashion - This is about fashion for the certain hostesses as well as some of the other show-goers.

This one pertains to cars, so let's get started!

--- Houston Auto Show 2011: Cars ---
I will try to divide my experiences based on the certain sectors of Reliant Center. Each paragraph represents one specific section of the showroom floor. Individual car companies will be BOLD so you can keep track of each one better. I will divide the sectors based on the exhibitor list.

Bottom-Right Sector.

(This sector: Ford, Land Rover, Lincoln, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Classic Cars, and Aftermarket and Accessories)

The experience began at Ford for me. I first tried to snap a few pictures of the new Mustang, which I'm starting to like now that I'm seeing more of them. The first car I was wowed with was the 2012 Ford Focus. It looks worlds better than the piece of poo Ford Focus of the current generation. Most Ford types likely wish we get the Euro-spec Focus RS.

I moved on to Land Rover. You HAVE to see the new Range Rover Evoque- it is the most gorgeous Land Rover or Range Rover EVER. It will blow you away and slap you silly with its loveliness. I didn't care much to see any of the other Range Rover models, though.

Jaguar had a solid lineup of beautiful automobiles. The one I was captivated most by was the XJ L. It was the first time I had seen LED daytime running lights on a Jaguar. The lights are beautiful on Audis, but it was interesting seeing these on a Jaguar. I took pictures of quite a few Jaguars. They all look stunning and beautiful.

Also beautiful were most of the Lincoln models I saw at HAS 2011. I even went up to the Lincoln stand and talked a bit about the Lincoln LS. The LS was a lovely-looking car that actually put BMWs in their paces a bit. Today's Lincolns wouldn't stand a chance against ANYTHING of BMW's today, but they do have some lovely automobiles for a company that has stepped up their style the past few years.

A unique experience was to see the ADA section. ADA stands for Adaptive Driving Access. This is a Houston-based and family-run dealer of independent mobility vehicles here in Southeast Texas. These machines have a number of names to them. The two most common names I hear are either handicap-access vehicles or barrier-free vehicles (common term in various other nations).

Classic cars are ALWAYS a highlight at the Houston Auto Show. This section, to me, exists to show that there are many beautiful automobiles besides the latest cars. I saw perhaps the most beautiful Corvette C1 I've EVER laid eyes on. It was a glamourous machine! I saw a very cool yellow 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda that was equally sweet. I saw a 1956 Buick Roadmaster convertible that was nothing short of beautiful. I even laid eyes on an AMC Gremlin and an AMC Javelin as well.

The final stop in this section was Mercedes-Benz. I didn't really see any Benzes that I was seriously in love with, so I took a few pictures and left. I did get into the back of a Mercedes-Benz commercial van (Sprinter?). What was great was that this van was MADE for six-feet tall people like me. I could walk through there without ducking my head. I had about anywhere between 2 to 5 inches of clearance between my 6-foot tall self (6'0" to be exact) and the roof of the back.

Top-Right Sector.

(This sector: Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Chrysler, Lotus, Aston Martin, Kids Fun Zone, and Aftermarket)

Star Motor Cars caught my eye when I visited this sector. A bevy of Lotuses and Aston Martins were featured. It was tough for me because I couldn't get too many good angles to take pictures with. I was, however, able to snap pictures as best as I could. Lotus had some lovely cars. I saw the Elise R and a super-awesome Exige. I had to pass on the Evora because I couldn't get a good-enough picture to take of it. The Aston Martin models were sexy, as always. I snapped a few Aston Martins including two different Vantage models. I even saw the beautiful four-door Aston Martin Rapide. There are people who will complain how there should never be four-door sports cars. The Rapide is a fantastic-looking car no matter what anyone thinks.

From there, I visited Dodge. I saw the newer Avenger models. The newer Dodge Avenger models look cleaner and nicer than when the Avenger was reborn not too long ago. The newer Grand Caravan is a nice machine. I wasn't sure if it was the Grand Caravan or the Journey. The real stunner at the Dodge area was the beautiful Dodge Durango Citadel. That SUV was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Towards the end of my time at the show, I returned to snap a few pictures of the lovely Challenger R/T.

Many people were seeing the newer Fiat 500 machines for the first time. The one I saw at the 2011 Houston Auto Show was the second one I've ever seen. I saw a 500 in a parking lot at a store in Webster, TX once. I got into this 500 and had somewhat shorter leg room than in a Mini. Otherwise, it was very interesting to sit in one. I even joked to someone that "this is what the cool kids drive." :)

Jeep was up next. The one I really loved was the Grand Cherokee on a stand. I left this area and later came back. I even noted the rather miniscule (especially inside) Rubicon.

For the next stop, I made it out to Chrysler. I was introduced to the Sebring-replacing Chrysler 200. It was a nice-looking car, but not really as lovely as the Sebring it is replacing. The 2011-model 300 really caught my eye like seeing a girl in a hot mini dress with platform pumps. I forgot to take a picture of its rear (while also getting a blurry detail shot of its front).

There's more to this! Click on "Read More" to see the rest of this blog post (or disregard this section if you are reading the full blog post)!

Center-Top Sector.

(This sector: Volkswagen, Subaru, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota)

Toyota time. And for the first time, I came into contact with a Land Cruiser. This blasted SUV costs about $75K USD! So therefore, I felt pretty enthused to be around such an expensive machine. Costing a bit less was the nice-looking Sequoia. The one I was most impressed with was the newer 4Runner. That is a nicely-designed SUV. I saw two different Siennas- one lovely, one bad-ass (pardon my language!). You HAVE to see the Toyota Swagger Wagon. The Swagger Wagon is this modified Sienna that has been stretched out with some neon lighting under the side skirts. Not to be outdone, I was pretty impressed with the Toyota Corolla S, which was on a turntable and radiated in red.

It was time to go Korean- Hyundai was next. I thought initially that the new Sonata was an abomination up front. But over time, I've gotten to appreciate the new Sonata's looks. The new model Tuscon looks both sharp and elegant. The very mediocre-looking Accent was in the house at HAS 2011 as well. I have a feeling this car will likely be replaced or maybe have a more exciting-looking revision in the future. The stunners for Hyundai were the absolutely elegant Elantra models. My goodness- you want beautiful in Korean cars? See the new Elentra models. Finally, I made sure to take pictures of a Hyundai Santa Fe all done up for the Hyundai Hope on Wheels campaign.

Honda didn't have too many models I was interested in. All I mostly took pictures of was the Honda Odyssey. I had no idea the Element was still offered by Honda.

The Subaru section featured a bunch of cars that I was pretty impressed with looks-wise. My true Subaru love is the Legacy. It is a beautiful car. However, machines like the newer Forester and the Outback. These are MUCH better-looking Subaru cars than the Tribeca of a few years ago. I really like the Impreza sedans as well as the newer Impreza STi.

Volkswagen was the last stop in this section. This was where I encountered machines like the Tiguan, the newer CC R-Line, the newer Passat, and the bland-looking new Jetta. My Jetta blog post is a popular one, but it looked bland to me. I saw the lovely newer Golf models including the Golf GTI. Before I left the Volkswagen stand, I saw the Touareg. I thought the Touareg was killed off, but it looks as stylish as it did when it shown up in the States.

Top-Left Sector.

(This sector: Nissan, Infiniti, Scion, Volvo, and Kia)

I began this sector at Infiniti. Let this be said- I am not really a Nissan person, which includes the North American luxury arm of Nissan- Infiniti. I saw the G37 convertible and snapped a picture of it. There was a lovely black car on a stand, but since I took a blurry picture, I couldn't tell what that Infiniti sedan was. Maybe the M37? I saw a few of the Infiniti SUVs and left for Nissan.

The highlight of my Nissan experience was seeing the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf is the hybrid electric car that gets crazy gas mileage. I had a chance to see this machine and even snap a few pictures of its engine and the interior. Didn't sit in it, though. In fact, I didn't sit inside very many cars because I was just taking pictures and leaving. The newer (4th Generation) Quest was truly ugly up front. I didn't even see the rear. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was seeing the Murano Cross Cabriolet. I've NEVER been moved by any Murano, but the Murano Cross Cabriolet was more of a machine that is even more car-like than its crossover SUV stature suggests. The only Nissan car I had no gripes with was the beautiful newer Maxima models.

It was time to leave Nissan behind and go to Scion. Scion never fails to disappoint. It is personally my favorite section year after year. The mood at Scion- youthful and energetic. I saw the newer tC as well as the Scion iQ. The iQ is the cutest Scion ever. Cute with edge, though. Kind of like the girl who'd trade platform pumps with combat boots to go with a girly dress.

Volvo was up next in my rounds. The only Swedish make at the Houston Auto Show didn't disappoint with its lovely cars. I was becoming more a fan of the new S60 sedan the more I've been seeing it. There was little or no doubt this car could captivate standing still. Besides the naughty S60 sedan, I fell in love with the C70.

The next stop was Kia, where I encountered the Korean make's exciting designed cars. I thought the Kia Forte Koup was an exciting-looking car. However, that's nothing compared to what else Kia was cooking. Kia cars and SUVs have these large grills that kind of look like they are ready to eat anything in its path. The most elegant Kia in this section was the Optima. The newer Optima was on a turntable and was nothing short of stunning.

Bottom-Left Sector.

(This sector: Audi, BMW, Mazda, Mini)

Audi is no stranger to beautiful automobiles. I absolutely HAD to see the R8 Spyder. While I'm not really into convertibles, the R8 does look very hot with no top. It is quite a handsome devil. Equally handsome were the lovely A4 and S4 models. The A5 Cabriolet was a lovely machine as well. I also love the A3. This 5-door is a very stylish automobile. A car I recently blogged about in "Car Style," the Audi A8, also shown up on the floor. I thought the front could have been styled much better to be quite frank.

The only Japanese make in this sector was Mazda, and that was my next stop. There wasn't really much to stir my imagination with here. I did see a very nice black MX-5 Miata among the Mazda crowd. The Mazda CX-7 and CX-9 models were in the house and looking prim and proper. The compact Mazda2 was there too, also looking very nice.

It was time to see what BMW had to offer. There weren't too many beautiful BMWs the past decade (Chris Bangle a big reason why). I did enjoy seeing the newer 328i as well as the 1-series. I even became enamored with the latest M3. I was glad to see the X5. Not so much the X3, though.

Whether you love or hate the BMW Mini models, mostly the base Mini Cooper models shown up. So no Countryman or whatever shown up at the Mini section.

Bottom-Center Sector.

(This sector: Lexus, Acura, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet)

Lexus loveliness. At least, that's what I think about most Lexus models. It was my first chance to see the Lexus CT200H. This is a hybrid five-door from Lexus. But with all due respect, the real stunner was the Lexus LS600hL tuned by VIP Auto Salon. This car was INCREDIBLE to see! It had much more aggressive bodywork including big Brembo brakes and various other visual details. Surely the highlight of my time at Lexus without question.

From the luxury arm of Toyota to the luxury arm of Honda, Acura was up next. I don't really like Acura, but I don't hate Acuras. I thought the TSX Sport Wagon was nicely-designed.

The Buick section was up next. It used to be that Buicks were ugly machines made mostly for older folks. Their designs have become more beautiful than ever. It shown with their many models. The real divine beauty was the newer Regal. That is... until I saw the 2012 Lacrosse. Oh, my goodness... if you want beautiful, you GOT to see the Lacrosse!

I knew I was in for a treat when I went to GMC. I saw the GMC Sierra Denali HD and was mesmerized by its beauty. I don't know whether or not GMC would appreciate me calling their latest Sierras as beautiful. The Denali HD was surely a lovely machine. The Sierras were the only trucks I really cared for in GMC's lineup.

A Cadillac hater for years, I've since eased up on them. I saw the CTS-V sedan on a turntable followed by a wagon version on another. I have eased up on the CTS model Cadillacs. Besides this, I was okay with the SRX models.

Finally, I came across Chevrolet. I don't know where to start. I was at the Chevrolet area after failing to get a lot of Ford pictures. I didn't show up at Chevy again until later that day. I saw and loved the Silverado trucks. I especially fell in love with the Camaro models (including an LS7-powered Camaro concept). I was stunned seeing the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept. Even more so seeing (especially) the ZR1 Corvette in a pale dark blue color. There was a car I saw on a turntable called the Sonic, which is told to be the Aveo's replacement. The Sonic (the model on the turntable was the Sonic LTZ) came in a beautiful blue color. The blue was as beautiful as Subaru blue.

I am adding only so many pictures to my Houston Auto Show 2011 gallery. To see the pictures I've taken, visit my 2011 Houston Auto Show gallery on Facebook. I may consider adding a Picasa gallery in the future.

I was actually surprised not to see Mitsubishi show up at the show. Regardless, a lot of memories for me at HAS 2011 in terms of cars. Remember to keep reading John's Blog Space for more separate entries regarding various aspects of my Houston Auto Show experience for 2011! The best way to do so is to subscribe to my blog! Haven't done so? Here are ways to get social with me:

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