You've been dreaming about that sweet ride for so long, building your car online and picking and choosing all the right options (and color). But have you actually placed your butt in the seat and taken it out for a test drive?
Believe it or not, many of the folks who come to the upcoming Houston Auto Show, which runs April 5-9 at NRG Center, with a particular make and model in mind end up switching allegiances. "We did a survey last year. Many people who come to the show, they test a vehicle and change their mind," says RoShelle Salinas, public-relations director for the Houston Automobile Dealers Association, presenter of the show. She says one of the best experiences is the ability to test-drive more than 70 different vehicles, which is perfect for anybody ready to buy within the next year. But don't hit the concession stand just yet, because you'll have to pass a breathalyzer first.
"There's a full list of what vehicles are available on our website [houstonautoshow.com] — the makes, manufacturers," says Salinas. "We have Buick, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota. All the major manufacturers. It’s a great place to do your comparison shopping efficiently. Then work your deal later. You'll know what features you want."
We're psyched about the debut of this year's RAM Truck Territory, a 30,000-square-foot truck-focused interactive ride experience. You won't be able to get behind the wheel, but you do ride shotgun. Just pick which feature you're interested in and they'll put you in the right RAM truck for four-corner air suspension, automatic load-leveling, towing, payload and torque. Plus, participating riders are automatically entered into a giveaway for a chance to win $45,000 toward any eligible vehicle. "They do a very similar experience at Camp JEEP. They’ve been here a couple of years and they’ll be back. It’s pretty cool," says Salinas.
"[The auto show] is 90 percent all brand-new 2017 or 2018 models. We do pay homage with a few 1950 classics in the lobby and seldom-seen models," says Salinas. "In our Aftermarket Expo are people who do car wraps and special paint jobs and all of those fun additions to your trucks or cars or hot rods."
Don't expect any kids' zones or babysitter rooms, although Dora the Explorer will be hanging out on Friday from noon to 4 p.m. Salinas says kids love pushing all the buttons. "We realized that kids have a lot of fun crawling in and out of the vehicles," she offers. "There are spaces that are interactive and fun. Each manufacturer brings something. Camp JEEP brought the battery-operated JEEP circuits. You can print a customized sticker or take a photo."
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"We will have live music this year, which is new," says Salinas. "NRG opens up their regular retail of catering and beverage supply so they’ll have water, sodas, alcohol and all of their regular food suppliers."
Thursday, April 6, is military appreciation day, when veterans and active military (with I.D.) pay only a $1 admission fee. "It's in support of the Texas War Memorial, which will be built later this year. It's a beautiful monument," says Salinas.
The Houston Auto Show runs April 5-9 at NRG Center, One NRG Park. Wednesday through Friday, noon to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 to $12; more info at houstonautowshow.com.