Houston Auto Show Rocks Tech and Economy
Houston auto enthusiasts and potential new car buyers were treated to a cornucopia of the latest and greatest from 40 car makers and auto product vendors from around the world. With more than 800 cars and light trucks to inspect, sit in or drive the Houston Auto Show provides an opportunity for comparison shopping, or dreaming, unavailable the rest of the year.
The 35th annual Houston Auto Show was held at Reliant Center from April 5th through the 9th with the prime focus of most participating manufacturers being economy and technology. From safety systems and infortainment to small engines with big power output and alternate power sources car makers displayed their best cutting edge vehicles.
Crash prevention systems were displayed by almost every maker and not only on the high end, big price tag models. Typical of what’s on
offer is the new release from Nissan, the Rogue Sport that comes with the Intelligent Safety Sense package. Intelligent Safety Sense includes blind spot monitors, cross traffic alert, back up camera, active cruise control and emergency braking that includes pedestrian alert and braking. The Rogue Sport will be in dealerships soon and while pricing has not been release yet it is expected to start in the mid-twenties.
Nissan is not alone offering high tech safety at a budget price. All the major manufacturers now offer at least some of these features on entry level choices in many cases as standard equipment. When not included as base equipment the add on cost is reasonable and the reduction in accident costs can save the owner more in deductibles and insurance premiums than the features cost.
Jeep introduced the updated Compass. Sold in more than 100 countries the Compass fills the niche created by the high demand for
compact or sub-compact CUV’s. Now offered in a Trail Rated version the Jeep Compass provides off road capabilities to those wanting a small adventure vehicle. The Jeep “DNA” for off the pavement escapades is blended with convenience, safety and arguably the best infotainment system in main line cars, U-Connect.
Chrysler presented the new Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid, an economy conscious version of Texas Auto Writers Family Car of the Year. The Pacifica is unashamedly a soccer Mom
mini-van that provides safety, entertainment, easy access and now great fuel mileage in the Hybrid version. Boasting a range of 566 miles on a full battery and gas tank the Pacifica should only need a gas stop a couple of times a month for the average family. Priced from the low to mid-forties but with a $7500 Federal rebate the Pacifica Hybrid offers an affordable option for most.
Ford’s redesigned Expedition boasts an all aluminum body like that used on the F series since 2015. Equipped with a full array of technical and entertainment features the Expedition is offered in a Max Edition that provides ample seating for 8 adults in 3 rows and still has room for a lot of storage. Powered by the 3.5 liter V6 and the new 10 speed automatic transmission the Max can tow over 9000 pound and the Pro Trailer system that aids in backing a trailer is available. Other options include active cruise control, 360 view cameras, blind spot monitors with cross traffic alert, massaging seats, Sync 3 with voice activation and keyless, push button start.
Chevrolet took the opportunity to showcase both the Volt which it has sold for several years, and the Bolt, its new all electric, plug in offering. The Bolt has a battery range of 238 miles that will make it possible for the average commuter to shun gasoline completely. It will recharge on normal household current in about 9 hours. The 60 Kilo Watt battery is only a bit smaller than the 65 KW standard battery in a Tesla. Chevy mounts the battery low, beneath the passenger cabin giving both a higher seat height and a lower center of gravity for the Bolt. Priced at 34,465 but with a $7500 Federal rebate the car is under 30,000. Worth noting here is that Chevrolet reports that with more than 100,000 battery powered Volts on the road they have had no warranties on batteries so far.
The Houston Auto Show is an annual event that grows in popularity each year as new feature are added. This year there were more than 70 cars that visitors could road test, plus the Jeep Camp and Ram Territory.
Manufacturers and dealers offer special deals and incentive each year so if you are in the market for a new car this is a can’t miss event.