November 29, 2013 in City

Los Angeles Auto Show a playground for adults

Paresh Dave And Saba Hamedy Los Angeles Times

A couple examine the interior of a 2014 Porsche at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 22 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. About 900,000 visitors are expected to attend this year’s show, now in its 106th year.
(Full-size photo)

Southern California’s love affair with the automobile continues unabated – at least at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where thousands of car fanatics, shoppers and families are descending on the downtown L.A. Convention Center.

After days of media previews, dozens of photo ops and scores of curious critics, the public has been getting its chance to kick the tires, assess the added comforts and check out the fuel economy claims. The show runs through Sunday.

Now in its 106th year, the show is an auto playground for grown-ups. By this weekend, about 900,000 people are expected to have attended, said Brendan Flynn, senior director of marketing and communications for the event.

Repeat visitors such as David and Maryellen Curry said they were leaning toward a Ford Flex, a car they had already rented for a road trip to Santa Barbara, Calif. The couple often go on camping trips and want more space than afforded by their Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible. They came to see whether anything could beat the Flex in comfort and safety.

“We’ve been coming to the auto show for 10 or 15 years,” David Curry said. “This is the best one we’ve seen.”

Although no cars are on sale at the show itself, about half the visitors are looking to buy a car soon, Flynn said. Hundreds of cars from 42 brands are on display.

Sandy and Mark Gravitt of Santa Clarita, Calif., frustrated by what they described as their cramped 2011 Mazda3 and its tiny and limited navigation system, were there Saturday on the hunt for something new. Anticipating the expiration of their car lease, they were determined to find a new fit.

Many attendees come each year with husbands, wives, friends or children just to look at edgy designs, feel the luxurious interiors and be astonished by powerful engines.

This year, 23 cars are making their global debut at the L.A. show. Some of the most popular have included Honda Motor Co.’s fuel cell vehicle, Porsche’s Macan, Nissan’s GT-R and Mercedes-Benz’s SLS.

Pitches by automakers about new in-car technology on display have been common at the show. Still, many people searching for a new car are focusing on the basics: price, fuel efficiency and reliability.

For Giselle Ducolomb and her son Andres, an added concern was size. The car had to be big enough for 6-foot-1-inch Andres.

“This is the perfect opportunity to try everything out because there’s no way I’m driving to all the dealerships and brands around town,” Giselle Ducolomb said.

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