Yesterday I attended the San Diego International Auto Show held at the San Diego Convention Center. Until then, I had only attended one other show, also sponsored by Motor Trend Auto Shows, Inc., the California International Auto Show held in Anaheim, California.
So I was quite curious to discover what was new and different between the two events. Would it be a rehash of other shows (i.e., same cars? Same aftermarket vendors?)  Would I, after driving two hours, have to turn around after five minutes from resigned boredom)?

Fortunately none of the above happened. There was plenty new to see and do at the San Diego show. Some of the major highlights included:
Toyota FJ Cruiser

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I was surprised when I saw Toyota’s latest SUV. I thought it wouldn’t be arriving until next month for some reason. So I took this shot and chatted with the Toyota representatives while the crowds mobbed the vehicle. The representatives had no idea of the buzz the FJ Cruiser was generating among car enthusiasts; one person, apparently from a local car dealership, was quite relieved from the news, confiding that they would be receiving 4-5 of the SUVs next week.

Buick Lucerne

When my spouse saw the pictures of Buick’s newest automobile, I knew where my savings for the Jaguar S-Type would be going. We finally saw the Lucerne at the California Show but only a display model.

So I was quite pleased to discover three vehicles open to the public in San Diego. And so was the public: I would barely shut the doors to experience Buick’s “Quiet Tuning” when someone was opening them to climb in. (I could never get a good interior shot.)

Lexus LF-C

Did you see that Lexus?” “ Oh, man, you’ve got to check out that new Lexus.” I constantly heard those remarks or variations throughout the show. Wondering if the Lexus LS was making an early appearance, I approached the Lexus area with some trepidation. Fortunately (and unfortunately for Autoblog), it was the LF-C Concept.

Still, it's a beautiful vehicle. The display was nearly as jammed with people as the area around the FJ Cruiser. Photographers, including myself, were constantly jockeying and waiting to get a good shot. (And erasing them when someone inadvertently walked in the way.)

Ford Fusion Experience
Unique (at least to me at this show) were the Ford Fusion Experience and the Chevy Test Drive. Vehicles from both companies were made available to the public to test drive. Unfortunately, Chevy would not be bringing their vehicles until the next day so I drove a black V6 SEL Fusion. When I was done, I tried to take a picture of the vehicle but my memory card ran out. By the time I had returned, the Fusion was gone on another run. Many people whom I spoke with were not aware of this part of the show.

Other features and attractions included more concept models (many not at the California International Auto Show); the Magazine Muscle Car display; SEMA Showcase; Corvettes courtesy of the local Corvette Owners Club; and the winners of the Active Lifestyle Vehicles (pictured below).

Saab 9-3

Subaru Forester and Mercedes-Benz R500

Unfortunately, the pic of the Land Rover came out too blurry to display.

Beside the Chevy Test Drive, another attraction I had to miss was the Ford Mustang California Dream Live Build where a 2006 Ford Mustang GT convertible is customized over three days by aftermarket companies who explain the process. (Just how low can you go with your car, anyway?)

Overall, I had a great time. The show is Motor Trends' last one on the West Coast each year. (The next one is the San Jose Auto Show held next month.) I recommend attending the San Diego show even if you've seen earlier ones; not only does it have its own unique attractions (e.g., California Dream Live Build) but it's an opportunity to get a early peek of models just arriving as the FJ Cruiser.

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