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2020 Washington Auto Show: Kia Seltos, Toyota RAV4 Prime and Other Stuff You Can’t Miss

washington dc auto show 2020 jpg illustration by Paul Dolan

If it seems like less than a year since the last auto show in D.C., you aren’t wrong: The 2020 Washington Auto Show is back in its traditional winter spot after 2019’s April date. Winter or spring, Washington is the wonkiest show on the circuit, billing itself as the “public-policy auto show” and hosting a couple of days of mobility policy presentations, speeches and panels by and for government, tech and auto industry officials on topics from regulation to autonomous vehicles.

Related: How to Car Shop at an Auto Show

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But with the public opening Jan. 24, the spotlight turns to the cars that either are on dealer lots or soon will be from more than 30 brands — and to other entertainment at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. And the nearby Penn Quarter and City Center areas offer plenty of restaurants or bars to cap off a show day — or just rest your feet.

The show runs from Jan. 24 through Feb. 2. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays; Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 26 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 2. Admission is $12 for adults, $5 for kids age 6-12, free for kids age 5 and younger — and there are many discounts. You can check the show’s official website for them and also buy advance tickets; a $42 VIP ticket includes a two-hour tour of the displays guided by local auto experts.

Here are five things you shouldn’t miss at the 2020 Washington Auto Show:

mazda cx 30 2020 cl 04 exterior red front angle jpg 2020 Mazda CX-30 | photo by Christian Lantry

1.  New Urban SUVs

If you want the practicality and space for weekend adventures of an SUV but need a vehicle sized for urban streets and tight parking (i.e., most of D.C.), you can check out some all-new subcompact SUVs (or SUV-like hatchbacks). Mazda will show a pair of its just-on-sale 2020 CX-30 subcompact SUVs. It fits between the current CX-3 (which many found too small) and the bigger and more expensive CX-5 compact SUV. And being a Mazda, it’s also good-looking, has a classy interior and is fun to drive.

kia seltos 2021 bw 01 exterior jpg 2021 Kia Seltos | photo by Brian Wong

Kia, meanwhile, will have on display its new 2021 Seltos small SUV going on sale by the spring. It’s roughly the size of the Kia Soul or Niro hatchbacks, but it has more SUV features, including a robust all-wheel-drive system standard on all but the base S model. It’s a little bigger and roomier than many subcompact SUVs, including the mechanically related Hyundai Kona. And Kia has loaded it with up-to-date technology options, including wireless charging, Bose premium Audio and a 10.25-inch touchscreen.

Read more about the 2020 Mazda CX-30 here. 

Read more about the 2020 Kia Seltos here.

toyota rav4 plug in hybrid 2021 oem jpg 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV | Manufacturer image

2. Toyota Green Machines

While the full lineup of Toyota-brand vehicles will be on display, three highlights will be prototypes of new, greener Toyotas coming soon. Fresh from its unveiling in Los Angeles will be the 2021 RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid version of the brand’s big-selling RAV4 compact SUV. Also on display will be the coming and upgraded hybrid version of the redesigned 2020 Highlander three-row SUV. And you can check out the redone 2021 Mirai, Toyota’s futuristic fuel-cell electric car that runs hydrogen and emits only water vapor. The new Mirai features more capability from the powertrain and significantly improved (that means no longer weird) Lexus-like styling and interior design.

Read more about the Toyota RAV4 Prime here.

Read more about the 2020 Toyota Highlander here.

Read more about the 2021 Toyota Mirai here.

img 544198494 1555526577709 jpg 2020 Hyundai Venue | photos by Christian Lantry

3. 2020 Hyundai Sonata, Venue

While some automakers are ditching sedans, Hyundai doubled down with its mid-size Sonata redesign for 2020. It takes the Sonata back to high-energy styling and includes such upscale details as hood trim that functions as daytime running lights but reverts to a chrome look when the lights are off. The Sonata also is loaded with new technology, including the ability to move the car out of a parking space while standing outside it and using an Android phone as the key.

Alongside the Sonata will be the all-new 2020 Venue city-size SUV (really a hatchback, but y’know … ). Hyundai has designed an impressive amount of space and practicality into this affordable squared-off crossover.

Read more about the 2020 Hyundai Sonata here.

Read more about the 2020 Hyundai Venue here.

jeep wrangler 2020 01 angle  exterior  front  yellow jpg 2020 Jeep Wrangler | photo by Christian Lantry

4.  Drive or Ride Along

You can test-drive a Ford, Honda or Volkswagen on the street around the center; times vary by brand, so be sure to check test-drive times in advance. And on the show floor, you can ride along in a Jeep on the new Camp Jeep off-road course or ride with a stunt driver in a new Jaguar. All are included with your ticket.

Read more about the 2020 Jeep Wrangler here.

5.  Having Fun and Giving Back

Entertainment at the show will include a display by urban lifestyle and automotive site Automotive Rhythms featuring custom cars and motorcycles, plus designers painting vehicles and murals as you watch. Kids can take a break in the Family Fun Zone, which will feature favorite PBS Kids characters including Splash and Bubbles, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Luna from “Let’s Go Luna!” Also, Washington pro sports teams each will have a day at the show with appearances by team members and mascots.

While you can’t drive a new Subaru off the show floor, you could take home a new best friend from the Subaru Loves Pets exhibit, where you can play with or, even better, adopt a dog from the Humane Rescue Alliance. And Hyundai’s Hands on Hope 50-hour-hands-on-a-car marathon will have contestants from two D.C. medical centers competing for $100,000 in research grants to fight pediatric cancer — and the winning contestant also gets a 2020 Venue.

More From’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Fred Meier
Former D.C. Bureau Chief Fred Meier, who lives every day with Washington gridlock, has an un-American love of small wagons and hatchbacks. Email Fred Meier

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