CARS.COM — The Houston Auto Show has been around for more than three decades, but one thing has changed this year: the booming number of South Texas shoppers potentially in the market for a new vehicle. The massive flooding that pounded America's fourth-largest city last fall during Hurricane Harvey affected many aspects of life for southern Texans — with car owners being no exception.
The $125-billion natural disaster — reportedly the costliest of 2017 — left an estimated tens of thousands of vehicles in the Houston area in need of replacement. Because Houston's sprawling geographical layout could make car shopping a time-consuming activity, the Houston Auto Show provides a unique opportunity to browse hundreds of vehicle options, all in the same place at the same time.
Related: How to Car Shop at an Auto Show
In a city often coined for its new urbanism, where the freeways are populated with a harmonious mix of hybrids and pickup trucks, the 2018 Houston Auto Show, which runs Jan. 24-28, will be packed with eco-friendly compacts and full-size pickups alike. More than 700 imports and domestics from nearly 40 automakers will fill the 800,000-square-foot NRG Center during the event, which marks its 35th anniversary this year.
Here are five things you can't miss at this year's show:
1. Pickup Trucks, Naturally
Texans love the iconic American pickup truck — and the show promises not to disappoint, with the latest models of three of the best-selling pickups on the market appearing. Chevrolet fans will get their first look at the new 2019 Silverado 1500; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Ram brand will also unveil a Special Edition Ram 1500; and Ford will bring its latest F-150, which was a Cars.com 2018 Best Pickup Truck of the Year nominee as well as 2017 Truck of Texas, bestowed by the Texas Auto Writers Association.
2. New Models
The seven-passenger 2018 Lexus RX 350L will be showcased among the fleet of new SUVs will be appearing at the show, along with Subaru's all-new three-row SUV — the 2019 Ascent — and the 2018 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Exotic-sports-car lovers can take in views of the 2019 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, while Mazda will woo sun worshippers with the dark cherry-red soft-top version of its 2018 MX-5 Miata convertible.
3. First Responders Day
Because 2017 was an especially harrowing year for Houston-area police, firefighters and paramedics, First Responders Day will be held Jan. 25 in their honor with a ceremony and $1 admission prices all day. Topping off the day, the Houston Automobile Dealers Association will provide four new trucks to the Harris County Sheriff's Office's Motorist Assistance Program.
4. The Aftermarket Expo
Customized off-road vehicles will take center stage at the Aftermarket Expo's "Off-Roadeo" event, a display of some of the Lone Star State's most impressive customized off-road vehicles. The expo will include live high-tech customization demonstrations, super-lifted vehicles, and products and services for hyper-performance vehicles. Most popular may prove to be EVS Motor's' display of concept cars from around the world, whose performance and styling have even made their way into the designs of the manufacturers.
5. Ride and Drives
Hit the gas pedal in any of 70 vehicles from 19 different automakers hosting test drives. Get behind the wheel of seven different BMW models, including the 2018 X3 M40 and 340i. Land Rover is bringing the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque along with the Discovery and Discovery Sport. Among the eight Chevy models available for test drives are the 2018 Colorado and Silverado 1500. Check the website for more info.
The 2018 Houston Auto Show will take place at NRG Center, 1 NRG Park. Hours are noon to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 24-26, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 28. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Coupons for $2 off weekday admission are available online and at participating dealerships in the Houston area.
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