I happen to love a good auto show. Gorgeous glossy cars as far as the eye can see combined with the intoxicating scent of leather makes me downright giddy as I hop from car to car, dreaming about what my next vehicle might be. But as much fun as the auto shows have been for me scoping out vehicle trends and new technology in cars as a member of the media, they’re just as fun for me to attend with my family.
Over the weekend I took my kids to the Washington Auto Show for the first time and they had a blast. Emily and her brother definitely have their opinions on the cars we’ve gotten to test as a family as part of extended ride and drives and they certainly didn’t hold back at the auto show either.
During our time on the floor, they ran from car to car, opening the doors, sitting in the seats, pressing the buttons, and telling me exactly what they liked and didn’t like. While it was a treat for my kids to sit in the front seats of cars when they’re still years away from driving, auto shows provide important educational experiences for parents as well as the new generation of drivers.
Since the majority of auto shows occur between January and March, here are 7 reasons to attend one that comes to your city.
Look without pressure
One of the worst parts of car buying is the pressure that comes from visiting a dealership. It’s hard to browse with someone breathing down your neck, asking questions and trying to recommend other models you may or may not be interested in. At an auto show, there’s absolutely no pressure to buy.
An auto show allows consumers to wander through each car brand’s section quickly or leisurely. Spend time looking at the cars you want to see, skip the ones that you don’t. It’s that simple.
Try out cars with the whole family
Whether you’re a family of 4 or a family of 7, auto shows allow you to put the whole clan in cars you’re considering just to get a sense of how it might fit your family.
Slide the driver’s seat back and see if the kids have enough legroom in the back, try fitting three tweens and teens across a back seat to determine how claustrophobic it might be back there, or throw the stroller you’ve been pushing around the auto show in the trunk while considering cargo space for your Costco runs
Go for a ride & drive
Vehicle manufacturers are testing out consumer ride and drive options at auto shows as a low pressure way for you to get behind the wheel and become acquainted with the interior of the car while taking it for a spin to see how it handles in your city. While at the Washington Auto Show, the Mazda team hooked me up with some time in the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 as part of the Mazda Ride & Drive Experience.
I took each car for a short drive with a Mazda expert next to me who was able to answer all of my questions that ranged from price (base to more luxury models with premium packages), what features I can expect in vehicle refreshes, miles per gallon (MPG), materials the car is made of, and so much more. I loved that my time in the car was never about making a sale and I was able to provide some honest feedback about my experience in the Mazda lounge at the end of my drives.
For those attending the Washington Auto Show, Mazda will be providing ride and drives through Tuesday, January 27. Just look for the tent at the bottom of the stairs by the Mt. Vernon Place entrance to sign up and tell Cameron I said hi! Plus they have drinks and a place to charge your phone while you wait and have a nice little gift for you after your drive experience. FYI- You must be over 18 to participate in the Mazda Ride & Drive Experience. Ride n’ drive schedules for other car companies like Scion, Toyota, and Kia can be found here.
Experience vehicles in ways you may never drive them
After you get behind the wheel in a Mazda, head over to Camp Jeep. The line may look intimidating but for anyone who wants to know how a Jeep may perform when off-roading, this is an experience not to be missed! For this experience, an experienced driver will guide you over terrain to test ground clearance, traction on 30 degree incline and decline, maneuverability, stability, and off-camber that tests a little bit of everything while you sit in the passenger seat. Take a look at our Camp Jeep experience and be sure to listen for the kids’ reaction to the different tests we did!
For those attending the Washington Auto Show, Camp Jeep can be found in halls A-C. Kids must be over 44″ inches to ride along.
Understand newer features in today’s vehicles
Did you know the average vehicle on the road is 11 years old? This means that most of us haven’t been car shopping in a long time. Even if you’re not thinking about buying a car in the near future, a car show reacquaints you with the new features in cars that your old model doesn’t have.
From touch screen app-based screens, hands-free driving features thanks to Bluetooth, satellite radio, push button start, keys that unlock your vehicle by sensing your proximity, to hybrid and electric models, it’s important to understand the many new features in today’s cars and how they might make your family’s driving experience safer, more enjoyable, and economical.
Get answers from the experts
Remember how I said there’s absolutely no pressure to buy? There isn’t but you can always talk to a representative from the brand.
Within each car company’s space, you’ll find a desk staffed by someone who can get you the answers you need about any of the vehicles you may be looking at.
More than just cars
Even the most patient kids who love cars need something else to do. Parents of younger kids attending the Washington Auto Show will appreciate the Family Fun Zone (located by Camp Jeep) that features activities from PBS Kids and guest appearances by favorite PBS characters for great photo opportunities. The line at the Camp Jeep rock wall moves fairly quickly and is a fun way for older kids to test their athleticism. Hint- if you reach the top, be sure to push the buzzer!
Interested in attending the Washington Auto Show? It runs until Sunday, February 1 and ticket prices, show hours, and discounts and all the information you need to plan a family outing can be found on their website.
Thanks to Mazda for facilitating my Ride & Drive Experience and providing tickets for my kids to attend the Washington Auto Show. All opinions are my own and no compensation was received for this post.