As we get ready to ring in the new year, both the holiday season and auto show season are at full speed, and though it may be a winter wonderland in much of the country now, the next major stop for car shoppers and enthusiasts alike is sunny, sandy, surfin’ San Diego. “America’s Finest City” is set to feature many of the same stars of the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, but if you’re a San Diego-area denizen who didn’t make 120-mile trip north, here’s your chance to see all of the hottest models for 2019 — without having to deal with L.A. traffic.
Related: Video: How to Shop at an Auto Show
The 2018 San Diego International Auto Show kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center, 111 W. Harbor Drive, downtown. Admission for adults is $15, $11 for kids age 7-12 (kids age 6 or younger get in free), and $12 for seniors and active-duty military with an ID. Purchase tickets in advance here. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Here are five things that you can’t miss at the San Diego auto show:
1. 2020 Jeep Gladiator
This highly anticipated mid-size pickup truck revealed itself in all its gladitorial glory at the L.A. auto show, but here’s another chance to see it in person before it arrives in showrooms. This near-Frankenstein of a Jeep Wrangler and a pickup promises best-in-class towing ability and superb all-wheel-drive off-roading capability.
While you’ve got Jeeps on the mind, make sure to stop by Camp Jeep for an always-popular ride-along. Strap in with a professional driver for the ultimate off-roading experience that shows off what a Jeep can do in rough terrain. Show chairman Richard Newendyke said the lines can get long, but no other test drive will take you up a climbing wall.
2. 2019 Honda Passport
Running with the theme of rugged cars, the all-new Honda Passport will be making an appearance in San Diego. It features all-wheel drive with Mud and Sand modes, a V-6 engine, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. Combine that with its cargo space and advanced safety features and you have a mid-size SUV that is as versatile as it is outdoorsy. The Passport is currently in early access stages and won’t arrive in dealerships until 2019, so this could be your only chance to get up close to one of these for at least a little while.
3. Test Drives
Auto shows are fun, but when it comes to practicality, they can be a convenient way to test-drive several different vehicles at once. If you’re in the market for a new car, the San Diego auto show will give you plenty of opportunities to hop behind the wheel of new models that may be on your shopping list.
Vehicles available for a test drive include:
- Alfa Romeo (Giulia Quadrifoglio, Giulia Ti Lusso Q4 Carbon Edizione, Stelvio Ti Lusso, Stelvio Ti Sport and Stelvio Ti Sport Nero Edizione)
- Chevrolet (Cruze, Malibu, Bolt EV, Volt, Camaro, Equinox, Traverse, Trax, Colorado, Silverado and Tahoe)
- Chrysler (Pacifica Hybrid, Chrysler 300)
- Dodge (Challenger, Charger and Durango)
- Fiat (500, 500X and 124 Spider)
- Jeep (Compass, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler)
- Ram (Ram 1500)
- Ford (F-150, Expedition, Mustang, Fusion, Escape, Edge, Focus and Ranger)
- Mazda (Mazda3, Mazda6, MX-5, CX-3 and CX-9)
- Nissan (Sentra, Altima, Maxima, Kicks, Rogue, Murano, Pathfinder, Titan and Leaf)
- Subaru (Legacy, Outback, Impreza, Forester and Crosstrek)
- Toyota (Camry, Corolla Hatchback, 4Runner, Highlander and Tacoma)
4. Wawanesa Exotics Vault
Once you get the practical car shopping out of the way, make sure unlock your wildest driving dreams at the exotics vault. You’re guaranteed to see Ferraris, Maseratis and Aston Martins, plus a few others that will be provided by private owners. (No one likely will believe it’s yours if you take a picture in it, but it’s at least worth a shot.)
5. Family Day Featuring Black Panther
Regardless of whether you’re actually in the market for a new car, auto shows can be a fun event for the whole family to. Sunday kids get in for free with a paying adult to experience some family-focused fun. Black Panther (all but an absolute certainty to be someone other than the Marvel film’s Chadwick Boseman in the superhero suit) will be making an appearance from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with other activities to entertain the entire family.
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