(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

The holiday season starts early for car buffs each year in the Southland, when the Los Angeles Auto Show comes to the Convention Center. This year’s event opened on November 18 with over 1000 vehicles from automakers around the world, including 50 vehicles that have never been seen before on American soil.

Volkswagen CC (credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Must-See New Autos

There are new vehicles on display that satisfy every price point and need: From cute little entry models like Chevrolet’s new Spark, to performance sports cars like the Infiniti IPL G Convertible. Audi debuts its newly designed S-series models, Cadillac promises an expansion of its luxury line with the new XTS sedan, and Volkswagen has brought its own new luxury model CC to Los Angeles.

Some of the most popular exhibits on display are the concept cars: designer prototypes that may arrive at a dealership some time in the future. BMW promised that the i3 and i8 concepts they debuted will go into production soon (after all, a version of these vehicles can be seen in the new Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol movie, opening December 7).

Other exciting future models at the show include Cadillac’s CIEL touring car, the KIA GT sports sedan, Land Rover DC 100 and DC 100 Sport and the Volvo Concept You.

Honda Fit EV (credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Green Cars

If you’re in the market for a car you can drive without feeling guilty, the L.A. Auto Show is the place to start. California’s high fuel efficiency standards have made Los Angeles the nation’s ultimate showcase new low emission vehicles, with a whopping 70 green vehicles on the floor.

Choose from hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, and cars powered by diesel, as well as plain old combustion engines that have been tweaked to efficiently squeeze out more miles per gallon than you could have dreamed of a mere five years ago.

Notable models available at dealerships now (or coming soon) are the Chevrolet Volt (2010 Green Car of the Year), Nissan Leaf, and Mitsubishi i. Traditionalists may want to check out the expanded Toyota Prius line, which now includes the five-passenger Prius V and will soon offer the subcompact entry-level Prius c. And Honda is debuting a new electric version of its popular Fit, along with this show’s Green Car of the Year winner, a Civic that runs on natural gas.

High tech Audi E-tron Spyder (credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

New Technology for the Connected Car

The buzzword on the show floor this year is “connectivity,” as automakers show off new in-vehicle electronics that help you keep in touch with the world while you’re on the road. GM started the trend with its OnStar concierge system, which is now available as a stand-alone purchase for other car makes. Ford made a splash a few years ago by offering its voice-activated MyTouch entertainment and communications feature available on entry-level models like the Fiesta and Focus. This year, you’ll find features like Bluetooth and navigation systems are becoming standard — and the technology bar has been raised with options like Pandora radio, Google maps, Blu-Ray players and the ability to turn your car into a mobile hot spot.

Check out the enTune system available now on Toyota’s newly designed Camry, Cadillac’s CUE (which stands for Cadillac User Experience), Chrysler’s Uconnect and Audi connect (TM), the company’s impressive voice-activated system that can also recognize words scrawled on its touchpad with your fingertip.

Real Mario Kart (credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Kid Stuff

Once again, there will be a play area for youngsters on weekends during the show’s run. The Kids’ Fun Zone in Kentia Hall will be free for children 12 and under features bounce houses, a soccer arena sponsored by L.A. Galaxy, video games provided by Game Truck and a variety of other art and craft activities.

Up in the West Hall lobby, you and your kids will also have an opportunity to test drive Mario Kart 7 on the Nintendo 3DS, which will be released on December 4. In honor of Nintendo’s first appearance at an auto show, the game company commissioned West Coast Customs (“Pimp My Ride”) to create two life-sized street-ready electric versions of Mario’s iconic Kart and Luigi’s Bumble V vehicle. Mario fans will also have the opportunity to win his kart through a promotion with the GameStop chain.

Michelle Wie will greet at the Kia Soul on Nov. 26 (credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Special Guests

Several race car drivers and professional athletes are scheduled to appear before the Auto Show’s close on November 27, beginning with L.A. Galaxy stars Leonardo and Sean Alexander, who kicked off the show in the Volkswagen exhibit on its November 18 opening. Team Hot Wheels driver Tanner Foust was also on hand on the 18th, in the Hot Wheels exhibit in the West Lobby.

Drag racing will be represented by NHRA drivers Alexis DeJoria and Del Worsham, who can be found at the Toyota exhibit Saturday, November 19 (from 11:00 – 11:45 am and 1:00 – 1:45 pm) and Sunday, November 20 (10:00 – 10:45 am and 12:00 – 12:45 pm). Ivan Stewart will be doing the honors for Toyota the following weekend: from 11:00 – 11:45 am and 1:00 – 1:45 pm on Saturday, November 26, and from 10:00 – 10:45 am and 12:00 – 12:45 pm on Sunday, November 27.

Basketball star and Kia spokesman Blake Griffin will be signing autographs on Saturday, November 19 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson will be catching questions from KLAC’s Steve Hartman at 12:00 pm in the Acura exhibit on Sunday, November 19.

Women’s golf star Michelle Wie greets fans at the Kia exhibit on November 26, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Hot Wheels GTO (credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

LA Auto Show

Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 741-1151, ext. 3
More Info

The Auto Show opens today and runs through November 27, including Thanksgiving weekend and Thanksgiving Day. Tickets range from $8.00 – $12.00 and children under 12 get in free with a paid adult.

Donna Schwartz Mills loves her cars. Of course! She’s SoCal Mom.


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