2011 Phoenix Arizona International Auto Show: Part 1

While I was in Phoenix visiting family for Thanksgiving, I heard there was an auto show in town. Having finally recovered somewhat from a nasty cough and cold, we headed across town to check it out.


Parking: $5
Tickets: $10
Small Crowds: Priceless!


Apparently people were still in bed due to post-Thanksgiving food comas, making it easy to spend time in every vehicle on the show floor.

On the way to the show, my Cadillac Seville was throwing a code for two lean banks. Later on, after trying a MAF and new air filter, I discovered that the rubber plenum coupler had a crack in it, allowing unmetered air to enter the intake. I left it that way for a month and will be doing the repair this weekend.

I’ll begin with an overview of the show then proceed with the photos, videos, and captions.

The Venue
The Phoenix Convention Center was large but not too large with easy parking next door. Unlike Chicago’s McCormick place, you could see everything without feeling exhausted.

wpid-arrowup-2011-12-24-04-55.gif Winners:

Toyota: The 2012 Camry was impressive inside. Everything else was a snooze, but the Camry alone was enough to keep Toyota’s display area busy. You could take the new Camry for a test drive outside. I skipped Scion.

Exotics: Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, and Bentley each had one or two cars on display. The Ferrari FF hatchback is, as expected, quite ugly in person. Interestingly, these brands were absent from the big Chicago show in the last couple years. No slender models or fancy presentations were present. Local dealers parked them near the ticket booth outside the main show area.

Mercedes-Benz showed off its strong design language on the revised CLS and SLS convertible.

Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Fiat: Among cars most people actually intended to buy, the Chrysler/Fiat group was most popular. Fiat offered to take photos of people sitting in the 500 with a backdrop of Italy, but it mostly got in the way of people trying to look at the 500c convertible.

Hyundai and Kia had a strong showing with the Veloster, Optima (Kia), and Equus. Most of Hyundai’s lineup was available for a test drive outside. The new Azera was not present.

Audi bested BMW with sharp designs and huge crowds. You could get up close and person with an R8 convertible.

That said, BMW still had a strong showing with a lineup of all-white cars, the most popular color for vehicles this year.

Jaguar and Land Rover/Range Rover showed off the Evoque and XJ sedan, two of the most striking designs at the show. Jaguar’s compact coupe concept car was not present.

Buick: Yes, Buick was a winner. There was a decent-sized crowd around the new Verano luxury compact.

Nissan: Fat old women were drawn to the hideous Murano Crosscabriolet while everyone else took interest in the Leaf electric. To see the Juke’s multifunction LCD in action, you could scan a QR code affixed to the vehicle to watch a video. Clever use of multimedia.

Volkswagen: On the heels of the new Beetle, VW’s lineup garnered quite a bit of interest. The new US-built Passat was a nice package with a clean exterior. The Jetta was a cheaply made letdown.

Mini: Another somewhat busy area, the new Cooper Coupe’s dramatic design got a lot of attention.

Ford: A talking robot drew a lot of attention, but it came across as creepy by talking directly to people who walked by. The Explorer, Raptor, F150, Mustang, and Focus were quite popular.

wpid-arrowdown-2011-12-24-04-55.gif Losers:

Lincoln: Even the elderly didn’t care.

Honda was a dud. The new Civic was the most interesting they had to show; the body was awkward and the interior was cheap.

Acura: Toning down the bird beak wasn’t enough to get people to care about the brand again. The most interesting vehicle there was the MDX.

Saab was missing due to its impending death. It’s sad to think that the Chicago show back in February 2011 was one of Saab’s last.

Chevrolet and GMC: Chevy’s big display area looked quite empty. Cars were widely spaced apart but people didn’t seem interested, except in the Volt, Corvette, and Camaro. The new Impala can’t arrive soon enough. There should have been more fanfare and more interesting presentations considering the brand’s recent centennial. This was quite a missed opportunity for Chevrolet.

wpid-arrowup-2011-12-24-04-551.gifwpid-arrowdown-2011-12-24-04-551.gif In-betweeners:

Cadillac: The lineup is getting stale and the upcoming XTS and ATS were not present. The CTS-V wagon is still one of the hottest cars on the road.

Mazda: The Miata is still popular, as is the 3, but everything else was ignored. The new CX5 with Skyactiv technology was not present.

Smart: They cleverly positioned themselves in a corner just outside the exit, so people could look at Smarts without being distracted by other brands. Unfortunately, the cars are still awful with unimpressive fuel economy. Good use of limited floor space, however.

Infiniti: The debut of the JX was met with lukewarm reception. The presenter/model told me that the JX was not available with a V8.

I can’t remember if Suzuki was there. I would have liked to see the Kizashi again.

Brands to watch for in 2012:
Land Rover/Range Rover

Part 2

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