It was a tale of two very different auto shows: Los Angeles in December 2018 and Detroit in January 2019. The Detroit show would be the last time the show would be held in January, and you can see why. With all German automakers except Volkswagen skipping the Detroit show, the hall was a little quiet and sad.
But I still had a blast. The L.A. show was exciting and had a different vibe from my home New York show. The food selections in L.A. were also more interesting. Some manufacturers even offered tiny test drives around Gilbert Lindsay Plaza.
These trips were follow-ups of my new car shopping at the New York show. I attend the New York International Auto Show as a member of non-credentialed media, and I usually spend both press days there (that’s about 16 hours). I have attended the press days at the New York show since 2010, less than a year after I got my first car in the city. But in 2018, I was seriously car shopping.
I want a compact SUV this time around. At the New York show, the BMW X1, Ford Escape and Volvo XC40 were looking like the front runners. But all of that changed when I went to L.A. I had ignored the Lincoln MKC. I didn’t like the push button gear selector. I didn’t think it was interesting at all. It used to have an ugly face. But now it doesn’t. And Lady Sterling really liked it. I finally gave it some attention, and I think it’s really interesting now. It’s a baby Ford Explorer. And when we went to the Detroit show, the front-runner was still the MKC. And so I am test driving the MKC next week, and if I have time, I will post a small review.
The Detroit show was not sad overall. First off, we arrived in a snowstorm (pictured above) and drove a JK Wrangler Sport to get to downtown, where we stayed at the lovely Siren Hotel. Cadillac has a great booth that featured a 1959 Eldorado Biarritz convertible that had an incredible amount of chrome. Chinese automaker GAC crashed the party and showed off its cars that have surprisingly good design and build quality. Kia finally showed-off the production version of the Telluride. I finally learned that owners can get into the lounges of most booths by showing their keyfob or some other proof of ownership. As Hyundai owners, Lady Sterling and I got into the Hyndai booth for snacks, a gift (a USB power bank), and a full 15 minute back massage. After an exhaustive 3 hours at the show, we had dinner at San Morello, the fantastic new Italian restaurant at the Shinola Hotel.
We also learned during these trips that Los Angeles is very walkable. We walked from the Staples Center to downtown, City Hall, Union Station, Little Tokyo, the Arts District and back to the top of the impressive Wilshire Intercontinental Hotel.
When we go back to the New York show, we’re going to take fuller advantage of the owner perks at the brand booths. I might have a Lincoln on-order by then. A Lincoln at age 46. Now I am old.