The 2014 San Diego International Auto Show has come and gone once again, leaving us as quickly as it came. Running from Wednesday, January 1st through Sunday, January 5th, the San Diego International Auto Show is an important milestone in global auto shows. First, Southern California is the epicenter from which so many automotive trends spread across the world, and second because San Diego's is the first auto show in the actual “new year.” This show is also a great place to scope out your next car because the smaller space allows potential car buyers to compare models almost side by side, have a seat in most, and even drive a few without the pressure you get at dealerships (and even take home financial incentives from the display booths!) Many automakers new model years can begin in June of the previous year, which means we saw cars displaying 2014 models as well as a few 2015 models.
So while the San Diego Auto Show might not be as big as the Los Angeles Auto Show or have as many debut vehicles, it does have some smart advantages. Mainly, the San Diego International Auto Show offers attendees the ability get up close and personal and sometimes even drive the new models on display. It’s this more personal touch which makes the San Diego International Auto Show special, so if you missed it this year make a point to go in 2015.
The New Jaguar F-Type: There was an especially tasty looking Jaguar F-type on display at the 2014 San Diego Auto Show and we think this coupe/convertible offering is one of the sexiest new cars in ages. Truly, if you have the budget, the F-Type will be an automotive love affair you will never forget - no need to wait for your mid-life crisis!
The Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Display: Easily the most popular, unique and interesting display was Ford’s celebration of 50 years of Mustang sales which conveniently coincides with a heavily revised new model. There were at least a dozen Mustang’s of various vintages on display all in cherry condition. However we did notice Ford did not have any Pinto based Mustang Two coupes on hand. But we aren’t sure any still exist.
For enthusiasts there were new Maserati, Lotus, Lamborghini and Ferrari models on display: Maserati brought its new Ghibli, which some complain that it shares a few under-the-skin parts with Chrysler. As far as we're concerned, if that allows Maserati to get the price of the sedan down to around $55,000 then we're all for it. Just look at it! (Not gonna lie - seeing one in our shop would be a cool experience.) We also loved seeing the Lamborghini and Ferrari models, but must they all be locked? We can’t even sit in one?
The General Motors Stand (namely, the new Colorado, Corvette and Cadillac STS): If you think about it, just a few years ago GM was a total basket case financially and its models were less than thrilling. Fast forward to 2014 and you have the stunning new Corvette, the smartly judged new 2015 Chevy Colorado mid-size pick-up (soon to get a diesel engine option), as well as the stylish Cadillac STS sport luxury sedan meant to complement the Volt -based Cadillac ELR coupe.
14 Ride and Drive events available to the public: All of the following automakers offered on varying dates of the show either the ability to drive one of their models or ride along as a passenger (as was true at Camp Jeep which took attendees on a treacherous off-road loop). Here is the list—Ford, General Motors (all brands), Chrysler, Fiat, Kia, Jeep, Subaru, Toyota, BMW, Nissan, Lincoln and Mazda. You could see first-hand how these different cars acted.
The 2015 Lincoln MKC, which may just save the brand. Yes, we know, just another luxury crossover... but this one not only shares the dimensions necessary to take the Lexus RX head-on, but it also manages to be more stylish. If Lincoln gives the MKC a smart MSRP this brand may rise again. Otherwise, Ford will probably stop trying to save the historic luxury car maker.
All Electric Vehicle Drive Comparison Loops: Attendees of the Auto Show were allowed to take the wheel of the Nissan Leaf, all-new BMW i3, Fiat 500E and Chevy Spark EV to see if that kind of car suits their driving tastes. Always been curious? You had your shot at some of the biggest newcomers to the electric car.
Someone put the Smart Car out of its misery : Smart itself was not there but there was a For-Two on display, custom painted in hot pink with grey stripes and an electric scooter carrier attachment mounted to the back. It made the tiny Smart look like it might tip over at any moment. Kind of like the entire brand (ba-dum-bah!).
There should be more room for new cars and less used to display classic cars: An auto show of this type should be about seeing the latest new vehicles, trust us there are plenty of classic car shows in the Southern California area throughout the year. We love classic cars but the San Diego International Auto Show should have more currently-on-sale models on display.
The styling of the all-new Corolla and Highlander show Toyota asleep at the wheel: Exterior styling is purely a subjective opinion but given our look at the awesome Lexus LF-A that Toyota’s luxury arm had on display, it became clear just how frumpy and plain the new Corolla and Highlander look. They aren’t ugly, they lack the commitment to any design ethos to even pull that off.
The show should run for longer than Wednesday through Sunday: How long does the LA Auto Show run? Seemingly forever and it is now competing with Detroit for the crown of most important automotive event of the year. So San Diego, give car lovers more time to get to the show next year.