Concept cars are what auto shows are all about. With their nuclear hybrid propulsion systems, bamboo radio control knobs, and intergalactic navigation displays, concept cars give us a chance to look into the unlikely future of the automobile. Weren't we supposed to have flying cars by now?
This year's Houston Auto Show only displays one concept car: the Toyota NS4 concept that debuted at last year's Detroit Auto Show in January 2012. Maybe next January Houstonians will get the chance to see the new 2014 Corvette Stingray that just made its debut in Detroit.
But that doesn't mean that this year's Houston show doesn't have own share of eye-catching metal. Here are some of the hottest new models not to miss in Reliant Center's expansive display.
10. 2013 Toyota Avalon Base Price: $30,990
You might be asking how your grandpa's car could ever be considered sexy. But this one may surprise you. This new, redesigned Avalon fights against its reputation as the "Japanese Buick" with dynamic, sweeping lines that make the car look much more upscale than it is. And it's available in a hybrid model as well if the green appeal strikes your fancy.
9. 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1 Convertible Base Price: $59,545
This Camaro sits in the corner of the Chevy stand directly opposite its rival the Ford Mustang, waging the age-old muscle car war between Chevy and Ford. But this particular Camaro takes this round in a knockout. The ZL-1 model's 580-horsepower, supercharged V-8 engine takes the Camaro to another level. In red with black wheels, this convertible model looks long, low, wide and mean like a hammerhead shark.
8. 2013 Ford Fusion Base Price: $21,700
Ford puts an Aston Martin-inspired grille onto the Fusion and suddenly the boring family sedan is elevated to new styling heights. Think of it as the anti-Camry. The 2013 Fusion has garnered rave reviews from critics and is available with a wide range of turbocharged, hybrid, and even plug-in hybrid powertrains.
7. 2014 Lexus IS Base Price: TBA, likely around $35,000
Here's one recent debut that made its way to Houston from Detroit. Lexus's answer to the quintessential sports sedan (the BMW 3-series) is completely redesigned for 2014. This new IS looks anything but boring, celebrating its Japanese heritage with styling that looks like it was designed with a samurai sword, especially at the rear with the sharply carved taillights.
6. 2013 Porsche Boxster Base Price: $49,500
Although everyone knows Porsche for the 911, their mid-engined small roadster, the Boxster, is nothing to sneeze at. Even though it is the cheapest Porsche, your friends and neighbors will never know. Best styling detail: the rear spoiler that is integrated into the curve of the taillights.
5. 2013 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe Base Price: $63,215
Sharing its monstrous supercharged V-8 with the Camaro ZL-1 earlier on this list, the CTS-V is a particularly sinister statement in American bling. Check out the rear taillights that pay homage to Cadillac's famous tail fins of the '50s and '60s. As an added bonus, the CTS-V is also available as a station wagon for those 180-mph trips to the grocery store.
4. 2013 BMW 650 GranCoupe Base Price: $87,200
One of the newest trends in automotive styling is the "four-door coupe." I think that BMW pulls it off best with the 6-series GranCoupe, which is a stretched version of the 6-series coupe. The example displayed at the Reliant Center looked particularly stunning with its matte-finish "Frozen Bronze" paint job.
3. 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Base Price: $282,110
You wouldn't think that an orange car could ever be considered classy. But this Aston is with its beautiful, voluptuous curves. This new Vanquish, complete with a V-12 engine and a gorgeous paint job is more of the same from 007's brand of choice, but in a good way.
2. 2012 Audi R8 V10 Spyder Base Price: $162,700
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You may recognize this beauty from Iron Man 2 as Tony Stark's ride, but there's definitely no trace of iron in this lightweight supercar. Audi's use of LED-accented headlights and taillights in contrast with the aluminum and carbon-fiber trim make for a unique combination of badass and tasteful.
1. 2014 Jaguar F-Type Base Price: $69,000
I have to admit that this car took me by surprise. I hate to use the cliché that "it looks better in person," but I did not expect the F-Type to look this good from photos I had seen. This car screams sexy with its wide hips, tapered rear end, and restrained but aggressive front grille evoking the classic E-Type of the 1960s. How can you go wrong...it's a Jaaaaag.
The Houston Auto Show is open through this Sunday, January 27 at the Reliant Center. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.houstonautoshow.com.