As the approximate site of the California Gold Rush of 1849, the city of Sacramento knows a thing or two about shiny metal objects. Starting Friday, the Golden State capital will be as good as gold for new-car shoppers as the 2018 Sacramento International Auto Show stakes its claim in Sactown. This year’s show will be an opportunity for visitors to bid farewell to an icon in the Volkswagen Beetle, now entering its final production year (in its current incarnation, anyway), as well as to mix and mingle with some potential new four-wheeled friends across disparate automotive segments without having to visit multiple dealerships.
Related: How to Car Shop at an Auto Show
The 2018 Sacramento auto show kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. General admission is $13 for visitors age 18 or older, $9 for seniors 65 and older, $7 for visitors age 13 to 17 and $5 for kids ages 7 and younger. Visit the show’s website for more information.
Here are five things you can’t miss at this year’s show:
1. The Final-Production-Year Volkswagen Beetle
A must-see during this three-day event is the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle — the final year the iconic bug will be made as the German automaker shifts its focus to family-friendly SUVs and eco-friendly electrics. Volkswagen announced in September that 2019 will be the last hurrah for the Beetle. Before it’s discontinued, however, VW is adding a new model to the lineup: the Final Edition, available in both SE and SEL trim levels.
2. 2019 Acura RDX
After debuting at the Detroit auto show in January as a prototype, then showing up in full production form in April in New York, the new-for-2019 Acura RDX went on sale in the spring at a $38,295 starting price that undercut luxury compact SUV rivals significantly. Touted by Sacramento auto show organizers as the SUV driven by the “soccer mom with style,” the redesigned Acura RDX boasts a new 272-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, newly standard safety tech and panoramic roof, and it’s offered in a sportier A-Spec appearance package that includes 20-inch wheels, gloss-black exterior accents, larger exhaust finishers and interior upgrades.
3. Chevy Blazer and Other Stuff You Might’ve Missed
Most of the big releases from automakers come at high-profile auto shows like Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and New York — but what matters to you is when they come to your town. Perhaps the most exciting among these (in this case actually having bowed earlier this month at the 2018 Orange County International Auto Show rather than one of the Big Four) is the resurrected-for-2019 Chevrolet Blazer.
Other exciting models making roadshow stops in Sacramento include the Acura NSX, BMW X2, Buick Enclave Avenir, Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Ford Ranger and F-150 Raptor, Hyundai Veloster, Lincoln Nautilus, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Subaru Forester and Ascent.
Probably the best part of any auto show is having the rare chance to compare dozens of different models from a variety of manufacturers all in one place in a matter of a day or two, and even test-drive some of them. Sacramento will feature new models on display from more than 30 automakers, including Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and others. Test-drive opportunities — for licensed drivers, of course — include unspecified models from Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram, Ford and Toyota.
5. Classic Cars and Vehicles of the Future
Classic cars are always a fan favorite at auto shows, and Sacramento will showcase collections from prominent Northern California classic-car clubs, including Camaro Generations, the Classic Thunderbird Club and the Golden Hills Mustang Club. While looking back to some of the most beloved vehicles in America’s automotive history is sure to stir nostalgic feelings, enthusiasts can also catch the excitement of the future with a glimpse at self-driving technologies from Roadstar.ai and Phantom Auto. Phantom Auto’s autonomous vehicle will be on display Friday only, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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