POST OF THE DAY
Cars and Drivers
San Francisco Auto Show Report

Related Links
Discussion Boards

By Milligram46
December 1, 2009

Posts selected for this feature rarely stand alone. They are usually a part of an ongoing thread, and are out of context when presented here. The material should be read in that light. How are these posts selected? Click here to find out and nominate a post yourself!

Went on Saturday while visiting family. Observations:

WINNERS

Gauging by interest and floor traffic. In no particular order. Cadillac. LOTS of interest in the CTS wagon and the all up CTS line up. Couldn't even get to sit in the CTS-V. Appeared that Cadillac, Chevrolet and Lexus were the only ones showing concept cars. The electric Cadillac was getting HUGE attention.

Ford. By far spent the most on their booth. They had a gimmicky faux robot as their spokesperson doing a show on the hour. It was a huge draw and after I watched to see what happened. The people didn't leave the booth, they fanned out to the cars after. The Fusion hybrid was getting a fair amount of attention as was the Taurus.

Audi. Again, a lot of interest. Good floor traffic, sure the R8 with the V10 was getting the droolers but the other models, especially the TT and A6 were getting a lot of good feedback.

MIDDLE

Toyota. Interesting reactions. Toyota had the largest overall exhibit area on the floor and showing the most cars. The two Prius models on the floor stickered for $30K and $33.4K respectively - which was resulting in a ton of interest - and then a ton of groans upon seeing the price. A lot of bad reaction on many Toyota models MPG, which was shocking - and many of the V6 based vehicles on the showroom floor had terrible MPG. Worst pasting was the Toyota Land Cruiser. The $74K sticker price Land Cruiser was getting hammered due to some amazingly cheap interior bits. You could actually feel the injection molding seams on the plastic door handles!!! There was a lot of people in the Toyota area - but the lookers were not looking at the high margin vehicles.

Hyundai. Poor floor traffic but those that were there were showing a lot of interest. The Genesis coupes in particular were getting a lot of positive comments, especially at the price point.

Lexus: I was stunned, STUNNED when I came up to the IS-F and there was a group of people loudly ripping it to pieces on styling and things like the faux quad exhaust. Floor traffic was light - given MPG and price points on the loaded Toyota's - I would say in many cases you would be better off buying the equivalent Lexus' model. A great example of this was the 470, a twin of the Land Cruiser - the Lexus version, without the cheap plastic was $76K. Beyond my understanding why anyone would buy the Land Cruiser.

LOSERS

Mini. Premium location on the center of the floor by Audi, BMW, and Lexus. There booth was dead. NO ONE looking.

BMW. I know a major product refresh is coming and it shows, their offerings were stale. Their booth was downright austere, and shocking given the venue of San Francisco. They didn't even have the new 5-series on display and no one to answer questions. The 3-series M was getting the most attention by far - the one bright spot in the lot.

Honda. Poor floor traffic. A lot of similar reactions. Nice price points, nice cars, but boring. The Insight was getting good attention but reaction for many upon seeing it was, "whatever." I heard the word, "appliance," used more than once.

VW. They are losers in part because of their location, in the far back corner of the second hall. No one in their area at all, the diesel Jetta was getting the most attention - I personally liked it.

Kia. Booth was empty despite interesting products and good press.

Scion: Emphasis was on customization - the dated tC and weak xD hurt - they just didn't have much of a story. Despite the small booth they had spent a TON of money on their area. One big WIN for Scion - the staff in the booth was attentive and nice.

FAILS

Chevrolet Volt. Model displayed was a show model, on a podium, clearly a mock up not production. Chevrolet should have put one of the test mules on the circuit - there were A LOT of people interested, and disappointed that you couldn't see a real Volt. Also, GM had it at the far back of their booth and it was hard to find. You had to go through the crowds around the three Camaros on display and the Corvettes to get there.

Scion. As noted above, they had a very pricey multimedia based booth but no meat in their offerings. The focus was on their best seller, the xB.

Ford Fusion Sport: GREAT looking Fusion but on a podium where you can't really see it. Sure the spinning car gets attention but the two on the floor was a stripped 4-cylinder and the hybrid model. Buyers didn't get a chance to see what a fully loaded up level one looks like. Also no mention of the Motor Trend Car of the Year nod (unless that was announced on Sunday and my timing is off).

Audi A6: Probably the best overall "affordable" car that Audi offers, and it was buried in their booth. EVERYONE that looked at it was in lust.

INTERESTING

My daughter was quick to point out that my Pontiac G8 closely mirrors the Audi controls and instrumentation.

MY FAVORITES / SURPRISES

In no order.

Honda Fit. WOW! I could sit in the back seat comfortably with my head not on the roof and my knees not in the driver seat with a larger driver in front of me. Very, VERY nice car for $17K.

Genesis Coupe. This is A LOT of car for the money. A LOT of car. They had a 4-cylinder version with the Track Package, big Brembo brakes and all and it was $26.5K sticker. Great looking car.

Cadillac CTS-V. Come on, what is not to love!

Audi A6: WOW! What a beautiful car. What a great set of features and options. What a plush interior. What great mechanical specifications. And all of this in AWD for $54K. A really, REALLY nice car.

BMW M3: OK, so its smaller than the A6. Sure it costs about the same price and that is stripped. But what a beast of a car for $54K.

VW Jetta Diesel: Nice, nice, nice, nice. Great MPG, good package inside and a very reasonable price.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS

There are some nice cars out there - but overall the 2010 model years is going to be a big fat yawn. A lot of cars were just outright boring and I didn't see much that made me go, "oooooooooooo - I'd like to have that in my driveway."

Maybe I'm just getting old and jaded.