Friday, March 11, 2011

Calgary Car Show 2011

Every year, since I was about 12, I have looked forward to this show. There's nothing like walking around with a bunch of your buddies and sitting in cars that you could never afford. As we grew up and started jobs and careers some of these cars became more or less affordable to us. Of course, as we grew up, we drifted apart. There was a time when I would go with my family and son. Then for the past 4 years, I have gone with my lovely wife and sometimes my son. Every year I get excited about going, even though I have no intention of buying a new car. Let me share a few of my impressions of this years show.

The first area that we went to was the Chrysler display. They have billed it as Canada's Newest Showroom. This is because within the past year, every Chrysler/Dodge/Ram product has been updated or completely re-designed. The most noticeable vehicle at the display was the new Fiat 500.

This is a cute little car that will be available for sale later this year. It is very small. It seats 4 people (skinny people). It has a 1.4L engine that outs out 101hp, which for the size of the car isn't too bad. It is more of a premium car than a cheap people mover. It will cost around the $20,000 mark when it arrives.

Next up was the new Dodge Durango.

First off, this is a BIG vehicle. I was a little taken back with how big this truck is. When the Durango first came out, it was a "mid-size" SUV that was between an Explorer and a Tahoe in size. Now it is as big a Tahoe was back then (the Tahoe has grown also). The models that they had were the Citadel trim level (the highest). The layout of the dash is very nice and functional. The materials were of a high quality and looked good. The layout was nice and everything, heater/radio controls, were placed where you would expect them to be. But again, it seemed very big.

I then went over to the new Charger!

It was nice, of course I have a Magnum, so I like these types of cars. This was a big change. The interior was all new as well as the outside. It looked a like it went on a diet as it seemed a little smaller and a little sleeker. The interior was the biggest change. The materials and layout were top-notch. When I first sat down I was quite impressed with how the car seemed to fit me as opposed to my magnum, which feels like sitting on a couch in front of a wide expanse of plastic. The dash seemed to be focused on the driver and all the controls seemed to be intuitive and easy to find. When my Magnum finally needs to be replaced, this car is definitely on the list to replace it.

The next vehicle that struck me was the Mini Countryman.

I actually liked this little car. Even better though, April really liked this car. The car is bigger than the regular mini and was very comfortable to sit in. The dash is typical mini, with the large center speedo and toggles switches to control the windows and such. The main problem with this car is the strange arrangement for the center armrest. The is a rail system that stretches from the from between the front seats to between the rear seats. Of course this arrangement means that there is only seating for 4 people. I'm sure this car drives like the other Minis, which is a plus.

After the Mini display, there wasn't much that caught my eye, until we saw the exotics. There were the usual, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus, & Aston Martin. The interesting thing is that right next to the Porsche display were the Kia's. All the Kia's were nice, but the 2012 Optima was a stunner!!

This car is beautiful!! It was, unfortunately, up on a stand, so we couldn't sit in it. From there we went to the Audi display. While walking through the cars, I had to make sure that my drool stayed in check. All those cars are gorgeous!! I just about lost it when we got to the R8 Spyder V10!!!

Pure sex on wheels!!!!!!!!!!! What else can I say.

From there the next area that caught my eye was the GM display. They had the new Buick Regal:

The Cadillac SRX:

But the ones that caught my eye were a couple of concepts cars. One that will be produced, and another one that most definitely should be produced.

The one that will be produced (supposedly) is the GMC Granite:

This "car" is about the size of a Honda Fit, but looks way cooler!!

The car that should be produced is the Cadillac Converj:

This sexy little coupe is an upscale version of the Chevrolet Volt (which was also there).

It has a battery pack that powers the car for the first 70kms, then a small engine turns on and acts like a generator and powers the batteries for another 500km. If you plug this in every night you will use very little, if any, gas. And with gas prices on the rise, that seems like a very good idea.

Then I saw the new Chevrolet Orlando:

This is a neat little vehicle. Yes I did say little. It is what people in Europe refer to as an MPV. It will seat 7 people, although the ones in the back row will be small or uncomfortable, and is powered by a small displacement 4cyl. engine. The one that I sat in also had a 6 speed MANUAL transmission. This is very rare. I could really see this replacing the fit if we every have the triplets that April wants. It was very nice to sit in and you could see outside very well. All the controls seem to be placed nicely and everything felt of a good quality. The production version lost some of it's appeal from the concept:

but I still like it a lot.

Then came the Ford display. Now I must admit that in the past few years Ford has been doing a lot of nice things. So much so, that I don't automatically disregard them when looking at cars. First off there was the Taurus SHO:

A very nice car, and quick too. It is powered by a 3.5L V6 Turbo engine that produces 365hp. I have read nothing but praise for this car. It is also on the list to replace the Magnum when needed.

Next up was the Fiesta:

Again, a very small car, but kind of neat looking. Then came the new Focus:

A lot of people have heaped a lot of praise on this car, but I just couldn't see why. It was a nice enough car, but it wasn't anything special. It had a nice interior and was a 5-door hatchback, but it didn't wow me as I thought it would. After being underwhelmed by the Focus, I had few hopes for the new Explorer.

I was wrong. This is a very nice vehicle. It's as big as the Durango, but it feels smaller. The dash is quite interesting in design, but not weird like some others. It had good build quality and the materials were soft to touch and looked of high quality as well.

The one thing that I really noticed this year was how much technology has been added to these cars. Almost everyone had Bluetooth standard or as a option on the lowest of trim levels. A lot of the cars also had Navigation standard or as an option, and there wasn't a manual window to be seen anywhere. The amount of technology that is in these new cars can be a little extreme, but I guess that's what people want these days.

Well that was my impression of this years car show in Calgary. One day I hope to go to the Detroit car show as it is the big daddy of them all. I'll just have to convince April to go to Detroit in January. That shouldn't be too hard now should it??


  1. Good post, car genius! It's pretty cool that you know so much about cars. I'm sure it wasn't annoying at all that my main focus was the vehicle colours!
    Detroit hey?!?...meh.

  2. brad would go with you!! he even wants to go back to school there, so you may have free room and board soon!!
    but seriously, you are a really good writer. you should look into expanding your horizons. just a though.