As usual, the 40-foot-tall Big Blue Bear will be stuck outside looking in, but you don’t have to be when the 2019 Denver Auto Show opens to the public. As the curtain comes down on ski season, you might be thinking of a better ride in the snow next year, something new to enjoy this summer or an updated tow and cargo rig. The show will have plenty for you to consider, with more than 500 vehicles under 32 badges scheduled to be on display at the event that bills itself as the largest auto showroom between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Related: Video: How to Shop at an Auto Show
The show offers auto fans and shoppers a one-stop opportunity to survey what’s available, as well as to see hot new vehicles unveiled this auto-show season at the big-name shows, including Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago, some just on sale or still to hit dealers. Coming to the show at the convention center is also a great excuse to sample the brew pubs, restaurants, galleries and shops of LoDo, the lower downtown area that is Denver’s oldest neighborhood, including the nearby 16th Street pedestrian mall and Larimar Square. If you haven’t been in a while, you might want to download the Explore LoDo app that offers information on area establishments and events, as well as a high-tech self-guided tour of more than 25 historic places in LoDo and offering information about each site as you approach it.
The 2019 Denver Auto Show opens March 27 and runs through March 31 at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St. Hours are 5-10 p.m. Wednesday, noon to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $14, children ages 6-12 get in for $8, and kids age 5 or younger are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance here and using the promo code DENVER19 will save two bucks on the adult tickets. Service members who show up with a military I.D. get in free on Wednesday; senior citizens age 65 or older (with I.D.) get in for $7 at the door on Thursday. Group discounts of $3 off a regular adult admission for organized parties of 15 or more are also available. For more info, visit the show’s website.
Here are seven things you shouldn’t miss at the 2019 Denver Auto Show:
1. 2020 Jeep Gladiator
Sure to be a star in Denver this year will be the 2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. Where better than Denver to show off a rock-crawling Wrangler with a bed to haul your toys? While years of rumors about a new Jeep pickup turned out to be (to echo Mark Twain) “greatly exaggerated,” the first Jeep with a bed since 1992 finally appeared in November at the L.A. Auto Show. The mid-size pickup, which promises most of the capability and detachable-body-parts delight of a Wrangler, plus more utility, is set to go on sale this spring, but Denver residents and visitors can get up close to it (and, for that matter, inside it) at the auto show.
2. 2020 Kia Telluride
Named for the southwest Colorado mining town-cum-ski resort, the Telluride is Kia’s biggest SUV, a three-row family hauler with rugged good looks (though I wouldn’t try taking it everywhere you might venture with the aforementioned Gladiator). It was unveiled in January at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and also is due on sale this spring. The Telluride is a sister vehicle to the swankier-styled new 2020 Hyundai Palisade, named for an even swankier neighborhood in Los Angeles.
3. 2019 Subaru Forester
If you’re coming down U.S. 36 from Boulder, where owning at least one Subaru seems to be a legal mandate, you’ll want to check out the fully redone Forester SUV. The latest Forester might look a lot like the previous version, but it’s new from the tires up with improved drivability, expanded safety features and a load of new tech. And it still has the same high ground clearance and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, along with a new Deep Snow/Mud drive mode. To quote, er, myself, from my review of the popular compact SUV: “Practicality and all-wheel drive still define the Forester, but the redesigned 2019 is quieter, more civilized and classier.”
4. 2020 Lincoln Aviator
It won’t be on sale until the summer, but you can get a look at Lincoln’s high-style new Aviator SUV, which also was unveiled in L.A. the past November. The new three-row SUV, which also will come in a hybrid version, shares a platform with the coming 2020 Ford Explorer but has Lincoln Navigator-like styling and interior design that might make the Ford look to you like its out-of-work cousin. (Then again, at a reported starting price of more than $52,000, it oughta.)
5. Reignited Blazer, Redone RAV4, Audi Q8 and More
It isn’t all about the newest introductions. Current models that might be on your shopping list will share the floor with shiny new toys. But a few other new entries should be among your must-sees. They include the return of the Blazer badge to the Chevrolet lineup on a new two-row SUV. Meanwhile, Toyota’s redesigned RAV4 is much-improved and will offer a very capable hybrid model. And if your tastes run to something fancier, Audi is slated to will show off the new Q8, an upscale SUV with a more coupe-ish design than the squared-off Q7. It won’t be all about SUVs, though: Car shoppers can check out choices from Toyota’s updated Avalon to VW’s arty Arteon due later this year.
And for the cowboys (or wanna-bes), the show will have more beds than a mattress store. In addition to the Gladiator, the show’s pickup roundup includes the latest Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Denali as well as Toyota’s Tacoma, the Ram 1500 and Ford’s Ranger.
6. Test Drives, Off-Road Indoors
The show isn’t all about looking and poking around in the vehicles. Several automakers also are offering the chance to spend a little time behind the wheel of their new rides. The ride-and-drive opportunities, which will be available daylight hours only, are listed below.
- Chrysler: Pacifica and 300
- Dodge: Challenger, Charger and Durango
- Fiat: 500, Fiat 500X and 124 Spider
- Jeep: Cherokee, Compass, Grand Cherokee and Renegade
- Kia: Telluride
- Ram: 1500
- Toyota: Camry, Highlander Hybrid, RAV4 and Tacoma
- Volkswagen: Atlas, Golf GTI, Jetta, Passat GT and Tiguan
Meanwhile, Camp Jeep will be back this year to let you ride along as a selection of new Jeeps crawl over rocks, climb hills and splash through water — all inside the show hall.
More From Cars.com:
- 2020 Jeep Gladiator: When You Want a Truck Without Doors
- 2019 Subaru Forester Commands More Green: Prices Start at $25,270
- 2020 Lincoln Aviator: Ready for Your First-Class Upgrade?
- 2019 Chevrolet Blazer: Reignited and It Feels So Good
- 2020 Kia Telluride: Let Me Tell U About One Big Ride
7. Football, Hoops, Special Vehicles, Accessory Superstore
There also are special displays for fun, if not your shopping list. Dream Street will let you (most of you, anyway) window shop pricey vehicles from Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Karma, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati and McLaren. Military Trail will display restored transports, armor and artillery from the Military Vehicle Collectors of Colorado. Race Car Pit Stop will feature track cars from the Colorado Region of the Sports Car Club of America. Antique Road Show will feature vintage cars from the Forney Museum of Transportation and will include Amelia Earhart’s yellow 1923 Kissel Goldbug Speedster. And The Garage offers a superstore of aftermarket parts and accessories to trick out the vehicle you already own.
Meanwhile, sports fans can meet Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay at the Acura display on Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. and talk hoops with Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris at the show on Saturday from 4-5 p.m. And kids can check out MAXX, a 9-foot-tall talking robot, at the AAA Insurance booth, as well as meet show mascots Otto and Carlotta, who’ll be roaming the floor.
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