Travelled to the Nashville International Auto Show today. This was the first year I went to the Nashville show, previously having been to the Cleveland and Detroit shows, and was less than impressed. It was tiny, and felt more like it was put on by the local dealers than the manufacturers. Once you've been to Detroit, I guess nothing else compares, but Nashville is low man on the totem pole for sure.
Toyota and Scion had the first level, a wide hallway in front of the main exhibit area. We checked out the Scions first, and they are impressive little cars. For the price they are top notch, and the tC is much more impressive in person than pictures suggest. The new Avalon was there, and it's not as boring as everyone has been saying, it's subdued instead of bland. There was no Celica or MR-S, which was a major disappointment. It's the last year for both, and it would have been nice to have said goodbye. The new Tacoma is much more impressive than the previous model, and the interior, even on the base model, is much improved.
We moved onto the main floor, checking out the Nissan 350z on the way. The rest of Nissan's line up really didn't interest us, nor did Cadillac. Chevrolet gave us the opportunity to check out the SSR ( nice styling, so-so interior), the Corvette, the Aveo (nice, but why not just get a Scion?), and the Cobalt. There was a base and SS version available, and neither wowed me. The interior is drab, and the seats sre something you sit on, not in, even in the SS model. I was hoping for something a lot better, but GM still has not caught up to the imports.
We took a close look at the Chrysler 300, and it's a winner. Bobby was most impressed by it, and it demonstrates that Chrysler can get it right when they really try. The DOdge M-80 concept truck was right next to the Chevrolet SSR, and I would chose it first. It's basically Dodge's version of a Jeep Wrangler pick-up. The SSR is a truck trying to be a sportscar, and it just doesn't work. Sat in a Neon SRT, and got out quickly. The car itself is nice, but the interior just feels like a domestic car from the eighties disguised as an import.
Mitsubishi was barely there, with only a Lancer Evo MR, Eclipse Spyder, and Galant. The Evo was sweet, but I was really hoping to see the new Eclipse. We pased Hummer up, and went to the Saturn Ion Redline. I'll pass on that one. We gazed at the Lexus SC430, and sat in the RX330. Impressive, to say the least. Nobody gets the interior quite as right as Lexus, with Infiniti coming in a distant second.
We skipped Buick since the three of us have a combined age less than the average Buick owner. Hyundai had a V6 Tiburon, which is world's better than the original Hyundai's. While not up to Toyota standards, they're trying harder than GM seems to be. Mazda occupied some time as we cexamined the 6 (great exterior, buta cheap looking interior), the 3 (almost as nice as the Toyota Matrix), and of course the RX-8, which is still fresh after al this time. Lincoln and Mercury were there, but nobody was really paying any attention. Acura did not have an NSX, and I've seen the RSX in person, so we went straight to the Mini's, which were gathering a lot on onlookers even though there wer only two there. BMW was there also, but we didn't bother.
Ford had the best display there, with the new Fusion up on a turntable and a Mustang convertible to view (but not sit in). There was a crowd around the new Mustang, and seeing a GT up close is almost a religous experience. The Fusion was OK, and at least it's more interesting than the 500. Speaking of the 500, I don't recall seeing one there, maybe it was, but I didn't notice. Honda really didn'thave anything I wanted to see (no Civic Si?), so we went for the Pontiac GTO. This car should really sell better,even though the styling is ho-hum, the interior was better than most of the GM products.
Mercedes was a no-show, and the GT was the only exotic there, no Ferrari, Lotus, or Maserati. Dodge didn't bring the Charger and GM left Saab in Sweden. The SCCA didn't bother to come, nor any other enthusiast organization, which was really disappointing.
Overall a lackluster show, one can only hope next year is better. That, or I may be making a trip to Detroit again, the Nashville show just didn't satisfy at all.
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