Car: Great Kansas City Auto Show; You Are There

Forget today’s annual Star front page Auto Show suck up…

The newspaper got the ad money, the readers get the puff piece. In the form of a bit of inconsequential reporting about some cars offering better mileage with gas prices rising.

Think of it as a journalistic rebate on the advertising, because there’s nothing new that passes for front page news.

 I mean, really.

The reality is – but for a couple of already reported on electric cars – this year’s show is about like every year’s. Except for a handful of distractions for the kids to free up parents to be courted by the cars.

Let’s take a look….

Lots of hybrids and hotties at the show at first blush. Including Toyota‘s coming-soon plug in Prius. Since it doesn’t look any different than the current Prius, it’s not particularly startling. More a reminder of things to come.

Looking at the EPA mileage on window stickers of what most buyers view as small cars serves more as a reminder of how far we have to go in this country – rather than how far we’ve come – if we really want to use less gas.

A Toyota Yaris, for example, gets 29 mpg City and 35 Highway. Compared to its sibling, the far larger Prius that gets 50 City and 49 Highway. What’s wrong with this picture?

With a lifetime of uncertainty ahead in unstable oil producing countries, 40 miles-per-gallon is the new 20.

So why should buyers today settle for 22 City and 28 Highway in a Scion XB? Makes no sense.

Why not just buy a Honda Insight (hybrid) and get 40 and 43?

The new 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid is on the way around the end of April, a Honda rep at the show told me. Adding that its estimated mileage will be in the 45 City, 43 Highway range. That’s up from the 2011 Civic Hybrid’s 43 and 40.

Speaking of which, most buyers need to start blocking out the highway mileage when buying a new car.Focus on the city gang, that’s where the action is. Unless you have a long highway commute, the highway number can be misleading.

Car dealers don’t advertise highway mileage – and leave out city – by accident.

There’s a 50 game video arcade for kids and gamers at this year’s Auto Show. Right next to a Soap Box Derby display, complete with a racer designed by KC artist Charlie Podrebarac of Cowtown cartoon fame. I’ll be writing more about the derby this weekend.

A sexy, red Kia Soul Plus looks cute as a button but disapoints with a mere 24 City and 30 Highway.

I know what some of you are thinking...

You’re driving a Ford Explorer and you’d give your eye teeth to get those kind of numbers. So make the switch then. But know there are far better choices available. That said, if buyers demand better mileage, that Kia Soul is undoubtedly capable of delivering 10 miles-per-gallon more across the board.

Subaru is one of the safest cars built and offers some of the hottest high perfromance small cars available today. Along with all-wheel-drive and the kind of quality one expects in far more expensive cars. I’ve owned five Subarus personally, so I can vouch for them.

But I won’t be owning any more any time soon. Not when its smallest, most basic economy model, the Imprezza turns in a paltry 20 City and 26 Highway. Subaru sales were up well over 20 percent last year, but the company is completely missing the boat on gas mileage. I don’t get it.

Only when you compare Subarus to behemoth SUVs out there does it make any sense.

Enough lecturing about mileage.

There are some interesting new cars to take a gander at this year. A Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty Black Ops lists for $32,740 (15 City, 19 Highway) and should be a hit hit with the gamer crowd. Very evil-looking yet nicely civilized to boot. You know, for a Jeep.

Lots of aging Baby Boomers were drooling over a $47,000, tricked out Dodge Challenger with a 392 Hemi (14 City, 22 Highway). Longing for the daze of their youth.

Fiat‘s car show hottie was plenty friendly and there are three Fiat 500s (30 City, 38 Highway) on display to take a look at.

Too bad she had no clue if there was a local dealer here. There is, Olathe Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep (soon to be Fiat of Olathe). I helped her out after overhearing her tell an interested couple she didn’t know if KC was getting a Fiat dealer. It took her three tries to write down the word "Olathe" correctly but she got it. See if you can stump her at the show.

KCC comments dude Rogger will probably swoon over the $77,975, fly-yellow Corvette convertible. It’s far too manly and masculine for me, Rogger will tell you. But I prefer to think that it’s the 16 City, 26 Highway mileage that’s the deal killer.

A plum-colored Ford Fiesta hatch (29 City, 38 Highway) looked tempting. Sans the auto tran, I’ll bet it hits 30 and 40.

A Ford Fusion Hybrid looks interesting at 41/36 but for $32,690 and $35,065? You can blow that mileage away in a Prius or Civic Hybrid for – what – $8,000 to $10,000 less dough? A non-hybrid Fusion Sport on display stickered for a little over $32,000 but it only gets 18 City and 27 Highway.

The Chevrolet Camaro V6 that gets 17 City and 28 Highway will set you back $24,325. They still call these Pony Cars?

A Chevy Cruze at $19,420 – however unsexy – delivers 28 City and 42 Highway. Now we’re talking.

There were two surprises to be had by myself and the smoking hot Buick Grrrl re the Buick LaCrosse. For me, it was that the big, bad $42,085 car (17 and 27)  could be had with an itty-bitty 4 cylinder engine (19 and 30).

For her, it was my Wikipedia-supported trivia that the LaCrosse name was changed to the Allure in Canada when it came out six years back. Because to French-speaking Canadians, LaCrosse is slang for "self love."

Got that?

"That’s funny, that makes my day," the hottie laughed, as she read the story on my iPhone.

Remember the days when the poster child car for middle-to-upper middle class soccer moms was the Volvo wagon?

Those days may not be quite gone, but the Volvo wagon in evidence at the car show was a $41,049 XC70 with all-wheel-drive that stickered for a walloping $41,049. Oh and it gets 18 City and 24 Highway. Far smaller  V50 Volvo wagons can be had for $29,000 to $32,000, Volvo reps assured me. With slightly better mileage at 21 and 31.

And with pricing in the neighborhood of $,4000 to $6,000 more than its soon-to-arrive competitor Fiat, there wasn’t a window sticker to be found on the vast array of Mini Coopers at the show. I will say this however, if you’re finally ready to dump your Suburban or Expedition, Mini’s new Countryman is well worth checking out.

Better for the earth, your wallet, world peace, it’s still sexy – what’s not to like?

Running out of time before closing, I noted that a Volkswagen GTI that gets 21 City and 31 Highway will run you $27,400. And what I used to consider to be a prety good mileage champ, I was surprised that VW’s Golf with a TDI (turbo diesel) only gets 30 City and 42 Highway. At $27,540 with an auto trans and knowing the premium diesel tends to carry, that’s not all that good.

I’ll take a further look tonight or tomorrow and let you know if anything else of interest jumps out at me.

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7 Responses to Car: Great Kansas City Auto Show; You Are There

  1. NWMizzouFan says:

    How about that rigged “Car is the Star” Contest?
    Sorry to diverge from the topic, but did anyone catch that whole “Car is the Star” contest on KC Star’s website the last few days? Talk about a joke. Voting took place from Monday through Wednesday. Through Wednesday morning, people were allowed to see the number of votes each car received. Suddenly, sometime Wednesday afternoon, this feature “vanished.” When I reviewed all of the entries Wednesday morning, the sweet Knight Rider replica had a very commanding lead. Then, I come to see that it didn’t even place in the top 5?!?!?!?! Can you say “rigged”? Why have people vote on the entries if votes didn’t really matter?

  2. TonyIsADirtbag says:

    Jr. Is Funny
    Jr. said:

    “Forget today’s annual Star front page Auto Show suck up…
    The newspaper got the ad money, the readers get the puff piece. In the form of a bit of inconsequential reporting about some cars offering better mileage with gas prices rising.”

    Funny stuff, Jr., considering your plethora of recent Fiat “ads” (puff pieces?) on this site.

  3. rogger says:

    FIAT Spokesmodel Babe
    She typifies the entire Fiat organization…asleep at the wheel! No big surprise that she didn’t dream KC has a Dodge/Fiat store in works, even though it’s way out there in the HUD/Section 8/unsolved crime-capitol of the midwest.
    I’m bettin’ the Fiat home office never heard of Olathe, or Kansas for that matter. Why would they?
    There’s still time to back out on your purchase of this Italian Yugo, and buy a real automobile.
    Or you can just keep panting and drooling while you wait for your “limited edition” VIP-only, special factory production, signature model, gold label, gonna-be-a-sure-collector’s model, get ’em while they’re hot,” vastly over-hyped, Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/Fiat.

  4. smartman says:

    Buy Used
    Unfortunately we live in the world capitol of style over substance where so many people equate their sense of self worth with what they drive, (and where they live). KC has an INCREDIBLE selection of high quality used cars,5 years and younger with less than 10,000 miles a year on them. Most can be had for well below book value. From BMW’s to VW’s you have to be an absolute fool to buy new. If you’re really, really concerned about MPG get a motorcycle.

  5. Hearne Christopher says:

    Nice try, but I’m paying full price for a car I made a deal for three months before a Kansas City dealer even existed. And last time I checked there were no Fiat ads on this site. Keep swinging!

  6. Hearne says:

    What about all those bugs in your teeth and…
    the rain, the snow, the must-go society balls.

    Heck, if you really wanna save on gas, why not just hitchhike?

  7. smartman says:

    According to my 2-Percenter buddy Fetcher there were only 21 days in 2010 when he couldn’t ride his bike. A helmet will keep the bugs out of your teeth and no reason you can’t ride in a tux. Properly driven, a Gold Wing will get you around 38mpg, a 1200 Sportster gets right at 50 and a 125 to 200 cc “Scooter” can get 80 to 100 mpg. The Gold Wing and the Sportster require 91 octane so you gotta account for that. A motorcycle is still a better transportation value. Plus you can split lanes or ride the shoulder during rush hour when the cars are crawling at 5 mph on I-70 or
    I-35. Plus your gal will love it when the wind blows up her vag and you’ll love it when she does the reach around and fondles your gentleman sausage.

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