Having grown up in the Washington DC area, I’ve also grown up attending the DC Auto Show almost yearly. As a kid, I remember seeing cool cars that made an impact on the industry in various ways – the Plymouth Prowler, first Toyota RAV4, and Hummer H1, for example.
This year’s DC Auto Show did not disappoint. As the automotive landscape generally trends toward more generic crossovers powered by turbocharged, two-liter four-cylinder engines, there were still some gems spread throughout the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
The buzzword-that-could-have-turned-drinking-game this year was “mobility.” Every automaker is trying to innovate beyond just “the car” as a concept, and it was interesting to see where they’re all exploring. Honda brought several fun concepts, including their Unicub – think of a Segway that you sit on.
The volume-seller crossovers do allow some fun new cars to exist moving forward. Toyota brought their new 2020 Supra to the show, painted a great shade of red. FCA showed off the new Jeep Gladiator, which will be available for sale “very soon.” And Porsche took the wraps off the 2020 Porsche 911, showing a design that’s both modern and delightfully retro (check out the vintage “911” font and beautiful wood trim inside).
No trip to the show is complete without some ride and drive events. FCA brought back Camp Jeep this year, and I got to ride around their indoor course in a Wrangler Rubicon (“the swaybars are electronically disconnected for great articulation”), Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (“we’re in low range and have the air suspension at full ride height”) and Compass (“yeah the all-wheel-drive system is pretty great” pins throttle open). The fact that the Compass could keep up with the Wrangler, admittedly with more effort and wheelspin, was impressive.
Land Rover set up their drive experience as in years past, and I got to put a Discovery through its paces in massaged-seat comfort. Other drivers took the wheel of the “full fat” Range Rover, Range Rover Evoque, and Range Rover Velar. It made me miss (badly) my 2010 Range Rover, and I suspect I’ll end up on AutoTrader or Craigslist in the future.
After my time in the Discovery, I walked down to Land Rover’s sister brand Jaguar for a ride-along in the new I-Pace. The driver disabled DSC and showed off the acceleration – over 500 ft-lb of torque at 0 rpm – and handling of the all-electric crossovery-hatch. We pulled some controlled, flat J-turns, which were impressive given the near-5,000 pound curb weight of the car.
It’s easy to feel jaded as an enthusiast as you see so many brands introduce yet another small crossover. But, walking through a show like the DC Auto Show is a good way to “re-center” yourself and realize that there are plenty of fun, interesting cars from nearly every manufacturer. And no matter the method of propulsion, the future is still bright.
The DC Auto Show runs until April 14, 2019. Get tickets and see the schedule of events on their website.