2018 Kansas City Auto Show: 3 Things You Can't Miss

CARS.COM — For a place at least half the people you talk to mistakenly think is in Kansas, the so-called Paris of the Plains, Kansas City, Mo., has more than its share of cultural contributions to this country. Yes, there is a Kansas City in Kansas (KCK) and it does border the Kansas City in Missouri (KCMO) but the one you're thinking of — the one with the world-famous barbecue and seminal jazz history, immortalized in the song's iconic refrain, "Kansas City, here I come" — is the Missouri one.

And while some folks still think of it as an old cow town, this week it'll turn into a new-car town as the 2018 Kansas City Auto Show rolls through.

Related: How to Car Shop at an Auto Show

K.C.'s exhibit isn't one of auto-show season's massive, prestigious affairs like those in Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and New York — but big debuts and outsize promotional displays aren't really the point. Sure, there'll be some cool stuff to be seen and done (see below), but where regional auto shows like this excel is offering offer consumers an opportunity to kick the tires, feel the upholstery and sit in the driver's seat (and in many cases actually drive) hundreds of new-model cars, pickup trucks and SUVs without having to go to a dozen different dealerships — and fend off at least as many chatty salespeople.

The show — at Bartle Hall Convention Center, 301 W. 13th St., in downtown K.C. — kicks off today at 5 p.m. and is open until 10 p.m.; the show continues 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $11 for adults and $6 for kids age 8-12 (kids age 7 or younger get in free); get tickets here. For more info, go to the auto show's website.

Here are three things you can't miss at the 2018 Kansas City Auto Show:

1. Test Drives

"Take to the road and get a feel for the performance and handling of vehicles from Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen," the show's website states. "Experience real-world driving conditions on a short course through downtown Kansas City and compare your favorite vehicles ... without driving to dealerships all over town."

  • From automaker GM's three brands (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), show goers will have the opportunity to test-drive current versions of the Buick Encore, Enclave and Envision SUVs; the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu sedans, Bolt EV electric vehicle, Equinox and Traverse SUVs, Camaro sports coupe, and Colorado and Silverado pickup trucks; and the GMC Sierra pickup and Acadia and Terrain SUVs.
  • From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Ford will offer test drives in its EcoSport, Explorer, Expedition and Escape SUVs, Focus and Fusion cars and F-150 pickup.
  • Toyota, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, will offer test drives in its Camry sedan; Highlander and RAV4 SUVs; and Tacoma pickup truck.
  • Volkswagen, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, will also offer test drives, though no models were immediately specified.

2. Meet Your Heroes

As "Black Panther" continues to set new standards for superhero movies at the box office, have a hero shot taken of you and two of Marvel's other popular characters, Captain America and Spider-Man. Spidey will be available on Saturday from 10-10:45 a.m., noon to 12:30 pm., 1:30-2:15 p.m. and 3:15-4 p.m.; and Cap will be around on Sunday from 10-10:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., 1:30-2:15 p.m. and 2:30-3:15 p.m.

That is, unless your heroes are of the professional athlete variety. If so, catch Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt from 5-7 p.m. Friday, or Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes from 1-3 p.m. Saturday.

Or, perhaps your idea of a hero is more the everyday sort. In that case, organizers invite you from Thursday through Sunday to "check out Kansas City's First Responders and their support vehicles. We will be featuring a rotating exhibit including an airboat, bomb truck robot, armor vehicle, fleet operations show car, rescue boat, semitractor-trailer and a fire truck. Don't miss this opportunity to see the vehicles up close and meet the first responders that help keep Kansas City safe."

3. Food Trucks

At least half the fun of any K.C. visit is the food, and while out-of-town visitors should definitely venture to as many of its renowned barbecue joints as possible (I'm partial to Gates), parked in the "KC's Garage" area of the auto show, you'll find a fleet of local food trucks serving up a variety of stuff.

Food trucks will include: Beauty of the Bistro, Cooter Brand BBQ, Crave of KC, El Tenedor, Ohana's Shave Ice and Slaters Pizza Wings 'n' Things.

Oh, and it also bears mentioning that classic-rock band Blue Oyster Cult and country crooner John Michael Montgomery will be playing a concert on the auto-show floor at 7 p.m. tonight, but that'll cost ya 50 bucks a ticket, so...

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