Cities don't get much more all-American than Cincinnati. Perhaps the patriotic association stems from its reputation as the unofficial capital of the popular bag-tossing game cornhole or its famous chili. Perhaps above all else, Cincy is a die-hard sports town known for its loyal Bengals football fans and a propensity for doing it big on opening day for its baseball Reds by celebrating the first home game of the season as an unofficial citywide holiday. Baseball season is still another two cold months away, but there's plenty of indoor fun to be had in the meantime — namely the 2019 Cincinnati Auto Expo.
Related: Video: How to Shop at an Auto Show
Ohioans can ring in this frigid February by stamping the snow off their boots and warming up with a lineup of about 32 car brands and more than 400 new SUVs, hybrids, sedans and trucks.
The 2019 Cincinnati Auto Expo runs from Wednesday through Sunday at the Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., in downtown Cincinnati. Wednesday hours are 5-9 p.m.; Thursday and Friday hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and the show is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $9 when tickets are purchased in advance and $11 at the door for attendees 13 or older; children age 12 or younger are free. On Wednesday night, visitors can get a preview admission of $1 at the door, and on Thursday and Friday, a two-for-one matinee will be available until 6 p.m. at the door. Auto-show guests who purchase tickets at Kroger will receive a $3 discount. For more info, go to the show's website.
As you plan your visit, here are five things you can't miss at the 2019 Cincinnati Auto Expo:
1. All-New SUVs
Although we've had a few exceptions during the current auto-show season (as when the hotly anticipated 2019 Chevrolet Blazer debuted at the Orange County Auto Show), the way it typically works is that all the exciting new models bow at major auto shows in Detroit, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, then gradually trickle down to smaller regional shows — that's when car shoppers and auto enthusiasts have the chance to see those new releases up close in their town. Having made its big premiere in L.A. in November, Lincoln's all-new mid-size three-row SUV, the 2020 Aviator, proved that Ford's luxury brand was back in fighting shape and ready to compete in this SUV-centric market. The Aviator will now come in for a landing at the Cincinnati auto show.
Another L.A. debut, the 2019 Honda Passport, also will make a pass through Cincinnati. Honda revived the name of this two-row SUV for the 2020 model year, sharing a platform with the three-row Pilot SUV as well as the Ridgeline pickup truck and offering Honda suvie shoppers a welcome new option in the lineup. As Cars.com reviewer Fred Meier put it, "If you like the Pilot but think it's too big for your needs, but the compact Honda CR-V is not big enough, Honda now has the Passport for you."
2. 2019 Mazda3 and Other Stuff You Missed
Another L.A. debut set to appear in the Queen City is the redesigned-for-2019 Mazda3 compact sedan and hatchback, which returns with simplified styling, new tech, available all-wheel drive and a new hybrid system. Other recent debuts slated for Cincy include Nissan's long-range 2019 Leaf Plus Series, refreshed 2019 Maxima full-size family sedan and refreshed 2019 Murano SUV. That's in addition to such crowd-pleasers as the 2019 Honda CR-V compact SUV, the 2019 Subaru Ascent SUV and Forester wagon and the always-popular 2019 Toyota RAV4 — all under one roof for your convenient cross-shopping.
3. Test Drives
Get behind the wheel of some two-dozen brand-new 2019 vehicles from four different automakers and go for a spin on the streets of Cincinnati. Reps from Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen will have the keys to the following vehicles ready to toss to qualified test drivers. Hours vary for each brand, so check here before you go.
- Chevrolet: Bolt EV, Camaro, Colorado, Cruze, Equinox, Malibu, Silverado 1500, Traverse
- Toyota: Camry, C-HR, Highlander, RAV4
- Honda: Accord, Civic, CR-V, Odyssey, Passport, Pilot
- Volkswagen: Atlas, Golf Alltrack, Jetta, Passat, Tiguan
4. The Latest Autonomous Features
The thought of self-driving vehicles taking over U.S. roadways in the near future still freaks out a large section of motorists, but facets of autonomous driving are already common in modern cars. According to show organizers, vehicles on display at the Cincinnati auto show showcase all of the current offerings in the way of self-driving technology, including adaptive cruise control and automatic forward emergency braking systems. Other autonomous features offered by cars at the show include lane keep assist and road-sign recognition.
"Many luxury vehicles like the BMW 7 Series and the Volvo S90, who will be featured at the show, offer full steering-assist systems," organizers stated on the show's blog. "The car uses all of its sensors and cameras to steer for itself for a certain period of time. While this feature is currently only offered on top-level luxury cars, it is assumed that it will trickle down to more economic models in the next few years."
5. Family Fun and Flowers
Kids age 12 or younger can get a free goody bag as well as raffle tickets to win a radio-controlled car at the Safe Travel Family Zone. The children's event will feature animals from the Cincinnati Zoo, face painting and local mascots like the University of Cincinnati Bearcat and Xavier University's Blue Blob and Musketeer. Kids can burn off some pent-up energy on an indoor fun park that will feature trampolines, jungle gyms and other recreational equipment at Pete Delois' Recreations Outlet. Child-passenger safety specialists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital will also be on hand to answer questions about safe travel with car-seat-age infants and children.
Meanwhile, visitors can also check out another must-see car model - but it's not one you can buy at your local dealership. Daisy Jane's Flower Truck, referred to as Cincinnati's "original flower truck" will be petaling ... er, peddling its wares at the show, allowing attendees to pick out their own flowers and build a bouquet out of this poppy-red 1965 Ford Econoline Spring Special.
Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.