I’ve been going to the DC Auto Show for a few years now and I even got a behind-the-scenes look at it when I worked for Chevrolet a few years ago. When I attended the Auto Show as a normal pedestrian, it was clear that it wasn’t the type of thing that was aimed at enthusiasts. To be honest, after attending car shows like Katie’s in Great Falls, VA, I firmly believe that the best place to see incredible cars and talk to great people are local car meet ups.
Not to mention, after covering the Detroit Motr Show as a journalist from the comfort of my home, it’s tough to see the incredible vehicles on display there that are missing from the DC Auto Show. But before I jump right into tearing the DC Auto Show apart for its faults, let me give some background information on why I thought this year would be different.
This year is the first time I was able to attend the DC Auto Show as a journalist and I was extremely excited for it. I had this vision that the entire thing would be completely different than before thanks to my newfound press badge and the ability to get some personal time with the cars without any distractions—the rush of non-enthusiasts looking to get a selfie with the one supercar on display. I thought I would be able to get some one-on-one time with the vehicles and that excited me.
The DC Auto Show even had some press releases that I could cover, which is something that I never had the opportunity to do before. Unfortunately, life has a funny way of working itself out and I wasn’t able to make it to the “Green Car Journal’s Green Car Awards” or the majority of the press conferences. I did, however, get to catch some of the “National Safety Council” and Hyundai’s Press Conference.
Before I get to that, let me state that the press day was dead for the four hours I was there. There weren’t that many people listening to the press conferences or walking around taking pictures of the cars. For the most part, the entire show was a ghost town and it’s easy to see why since some of the stands and car-related things were still being put together.
Getting my badge and getting to the vehicles was easy enough, but finding the good cars was just as hard as usual. The DC Auto Show is massive. It’s on two floors and both are packed to the brim with vehicles. It was a frigid day so I checked my coat in for a whopping $5 and took my newly purchased Nikon D3300 to get some “professional” work done. I thought I had enough time to catch the back end of some of the press releases, so I headed down to the second floor where I thought I could catch the end of Toyota’s press release.
Unfortunately—and as embarrassing as this is to admit—I was on the wrong floor. After realizing this, I decided to walk around the entire bottom floor at my own pace and was greeted with a familiar supercar. The incredible Audi R8 V10 Plus that greeted me upon getting off the escalator was a familiar vehicle that I had seen at Katie’s before. Unlike the incredible yellow supercar that made my mouth drop at Katie’s, this one was finished in a still gorgeous, but not as pretty gray. It was the highlight of the entire show, which is a shame.
Other than the R8, Audi didn’t have anything else to get the pulse going. Unlike Detroit, the DC Auto Show missed out on the Audi h-tron Quattro Concept and the new A4 Allroad Quattro. Lexus was placed right next to Audi and was just as uninspiring. The most eye-catching vehicle for the Japanese automaker was a highly-customized Lexus RC F sport by Gordon Ting/Beyond Marketing. It wasn’t even a car made by an automaker, but a vehicle that is used for marketing.
No, the Lexus LC500 Coupe wasn’t there either.
The rest of the bottom floor was a mix of foreign vehicles, with the exception of Lincoln, Cadillac and Jeep. Ford’s luxury brand had the gorgeous Continental and MKZ on display. Infiniti’s QX30 also showed its pretty face and looks like a true gem for some sore eyes. Having owned an Infiniti, I can confidently state that I am thoroughly excited for the hatchback.
The Infiniti Q60 was nowhere to be found.
Jaguar, Volvo, Range Rover Cadillac, Mazda, Kia, Subaru, Hyundai, Mini, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Volkswagen, Acura and more were all on the bottom floor, but none had new vehicles that were displayed at Detroit. Acura was missing the Precision Concept and the hyped-up NSX, Hyundai’s new Genesis G90 Sedan wasn’t there, Kia’s Telluride was absent, Mercedes-Benz forgot to bring a host of vehicles, VW forgot about the Tiguan GTE Active Concept, and Volvo decided not to bring the S90.
That’s an extremely long list of vehicles left out of an “important” auto show, but it only gets worse. Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini were all missing from the auto show. Oh, if you count a Ferrari F430 as a current Italian supercar then that’s not true. The Ferrari 458 Italia was absent. Hoping to see the Ferrari 488 GTB? Yeah, good luck with that. You’re stuck with classic Ferraris that—at their youngest—may span back to 2009.
Like Lamborghinis? Yeah, I do too, but the automaker wasn’t there. Surprisingly, there was a Lexus LFA there, but again it’s not a current supercar. McLaren had its new 570S right next to a 650S Spider, but there was some strings attached. The Ferraris, McLarens, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Aston Martins weren’t from the automakers, they were from dealerships or that’s the feeling I got from the “Competizione & Sports Cars” sign by the vehicles.
BMW was also downstairs and was one of the best automakers of the show. The automaker brought the gorgeous and highly anticipated BMW M2, along with the BMW M3 competition package—both of which were at Detroit. The BMW X4 M40i was missing, but I’m not complaining about that.
After roughly 300 pictures and a few hours of time, I made my way to Hyundai’s press conference. Instead of bringing its new Genesis G90, Hyundai decided to briefly talk about it and showcase all of its safety features. Needless to say, I became bored of this and left. If you’re not going to bring your car latest car, then I’m not going to stick around and listen to some random rambling. Sorry, but I’m not really interested on how many hybrids you plan to have by 2020.
After that, I headed upstairs to where the majority of American automakers were showcased. Chevrolet’s newest vehicle was the Bolt, which the automaker did a good job of showcasing. The tiny electric vehicle was on a large circular thing, which I’m sure rotates and was sitting right in front of a massive screen.
Ford was the upstairs winner with the Ford Focus RS, which was locked and the F-150 Raptor that I was actually able to sit in. However, the automaker didn’t have a Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang to explore upstairs, but had one that was tucked away in the corner downstairs. That was confusing to say the least.
Alfa Romeo had the 4C and Giulia QV on display, which were two of the prettiest cars for the whole show. Other than that, there’s nothing to really write home about. The two cars that I was really surprised to see were the Ford Focus RS and BMW M2. I was even more taken aback by BMW’s gutsiness to keep the sports cars’ door unlocked.
As an enthusiast, this year’s DC Auto Show is on par with last year’s—terrible. As a journalist the auto show is a complete miss. I’m coming to find a vehicle to write a story about and the majority of cars that were unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show were absent. As a customer, this year’s DC Auto Show is better than ever. Regular, everyday cars are in abundance and you can even sit in the majority of vehicles. Why go to multiple dealerships when you explore all of the vehicles you’re thinking to buy at one time?
If you’re an average joe that’s looking to get a new car, then the DC Auto Show is the perfect place to go. However, if you’re an enthusiast, don’t go to the DC Auto Show. Spend some time finding a local car show or just make your way over to Katie’s. You’ll see better, more exotic cars there and can talk to people that love cars. Just be ready to deal with some pretty crappy people, because you can’t have your cake and eat it too.