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HOT WHEELS
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The OC Auto Show revs up

by Sheryll AlexanderPublished: September 01, 2011

The Auto Show will feature many exotic cars.
Don’t overlook the OC Auto Show. Why? Known as the very first auto show of the next model’s season (in this case all 2011 and hot 2012 models), the OC Auto Show also has a history of innovation as the originators of ride-and-drive experiences from all of the top automakers.
   
Held at the Anaheim Convention Center from Sept. 22-25, the OC Auto Show is the place to go to find an affordable, fuel-efficient new car. It offers hands-free infotainment, as well as a car enthusiast’s entertainment center with exotics, concepts, full lineups and a show “underground” for customizers.
   
Plus, Orange County itself is a hotbed of automobile manufacturers and enthusiasts. Ford has its marketing and design studio in Irvine, near The Spectrum; Toyota, Nissan and Honda have U.S. headquarters in nearby Torrance; Toyota also has its Calty Design Studio in Newport Beach; and Kia (Lake Forest), Hyundai (Fountain Valley), Suzuki (Brea) and Mitsubishi (Cypress) all call O.C. home.
   
Sure, the OC Auto Show precedes the LA Auto Show by a month or so. As a consumer, however, that’s a good thing. Potential new-car buyers can come to the cool atmosphere of the Anaheim Convention Center to test out all the 2011 and now-in-production 2012 models to look, sit, touch, feel and kick the tires.
   
John Sackrinson, executive director of the OC Auto Dealership Association, says this show was one of the first to offer ride-and-drive experiences.
   
“We set the tone for the auto show season,” he says. Most carmakers at the show – including Chevrolet, Buick, Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Toyota – also offer ride-and-drive experiences just off the convention floor. Consumers can drive cars on a closed course or a quick 10-minute street road test.
   
Some other cool features at this year’s OC Auto Show include Camp Jeep (where you can drive a Jeep on an indoor off-road course), road tests of The New Beetle (the newly redesigned 2012 VW Beetle), a look at the Gumpert Apollo (a custom made-in-Germany exotic that goes 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds), and a rare look at the 2012 Honda CR-V Concept.

SCHEDULE
Sept. 22: 4–10 p.m.
Sept. 23: Noon–10 p.m.
Sept. 24: 9 a.m.–10 p.m.
Sept. 25: 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
   
Go HERE for more information about the event.

Sheryll Alexander is an automotive journalist and professional road test reviewer based in Costa Mesa.

CARS GALORE
Ready to check out 2012’s hottest new cars? Here’s a partial list of which models you can see at the show:

2012 Buick Regal
2012 Buick Verano
2012 Chevrolet Camaro
2012 Chevrolet Malibu
2012 Chevrolet Sonic
2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8
2012 Ford C-MAX
2012 Ford Focus
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
2013 Ford Taurus
2012 Honda Civic
2012 Hyundai Accent
2012 Hyundai Genesis
2012 Hyundai Veloster
2012 Kia Rio/Rio5
2012 Kia Soul
2012 Mazda3
2012 Mazda5
2012 Mitsubishi MiEV
2012 Nissan GT-R
2012 Nissan Versa
2012 Scion iQ
2012 Volkswagen Beetle
2012 Volkswagen Eos
2012 Volkswagen Passat
2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

If you think auto shows are boring, you won’t think so anymore once you show up on an auto dealer’s showroom to buy a new car and you have not tested nor driven their vehicles. As a professional road test reviewer, I know there’s nothing like a real-world driving experience to discover the car that’s right for you (or your family). Get to the show, O.C.!