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Riding in Cars with Girls: The LA Auto Show

Riding in Cars with Girls: The LA Auto Show

Angelenos love their cars. Never have I seen a city with more luxury cars on the road, albeit a sea of leases. Writer Jenn Kennedy goes gearhead at the LA Auto Show's Gay Day!

Angelenos love their cars. Never have I seen a city with more luxury cars on the road, albeit a sea of leases. Therefore the annual auto show, which takes over the Staples Center for the week of Thanksgiving, is a popular and well attended. My girlfriend loves cars, so I figured she would be the perfect person to walk the show floor and give me technical perspective.

General Motors, one of the Big Three US automakers, organized the first Gay Day at the LA auto show. It began with a brunch, for which we were instructed to wear green (to stand out at the show). First I realized I own no green and secondly, I noted that we were one of only two female couples out of 200+ in attendance. I know men notoriously love cars, but these are gays! I’m glad we were there to represent, but curious about where all the gear-head girls were hiding.

We shuttled to the convention center, which was jammed with eager car lovers. GM had the largest section of the main hall. They had quite a range of cars between their many brands, which include Buick, GMC, SAAB, Saturn, Chevrolet and Hummer, among others. By the end of 2008, GM is expected to offer more hybrid models (eight) in the United States than any other automaker. And, even better, they have committed to having 50 percent of annual sales volume E85-capable by 2012 -- quite a feat!

With music blaring and shiny cars spinning on multiple stages, it’s a big overwhelming upon first arrival. The big show stealer for GM was the Chevrolet Volt, which brags about 40 miles of electric-only driving -- at which time it auto shifts back to gas power. To reduce mass, the Volt is being engineered with a relatively small fuel tank. This reduces weight, but still provides a driving range in excess of 400 miles between fill-ups. The battery sits between the back passengers, making the aerodynamic car a comfortable four-passenger vehicle. It’s exciting to see the progression of fuel-efficient cars like the Volt, which consider both environment and your pocketbook.

Next we gravitated toward one of my favorite brands: Saab. They have a gorgeous convertible in the new 9-3 line up (pictured above). Sturdy and safe, yet sexy and sophisticated, the Saab was my pick of the show. The entire 2009 Saab 9-3 family, including the 4-door Sport Sedan, 5-door SportCombi and 2-door Convertible has again earned the Top Safety Pick Award in the midsize category. I’m not sure why, but Saab seems to be much more of an east coast lesbian car. I see them all over New England. Regardless, this LA Lady loves both the way they look and drive!

Cadillac provided a special sneak preview of the next-generation SRX Crossover, a 2010 model that will launch worldwide in mid-2009. The all-new SRX is intended to bring a more dynamic alternative to the heart of the luxury crossover segment. The all-new production model is being developed to achieve excellent driving dynamics and wet-weather traction, with an elegantly modern cabin designed to accommodate five passengers and ample cargo. I see this as the next vehicle for the SUV driver with a new family. It’s luxurious, yet handles well in weather.

We wandered through Subaru, a brand known for their support of the gay community. The booth rep walked us through The Forester, Subaru’s SUV model, comes standard with the symmetrical all wheel drive, their key selling point. While I know they are phenomenal on safety and value, it’s hard for me to get super excited about them. Perhaps when I’m shuttling a child I’ll feel different…

On the flip side, I’ve fantasized about owning a Mini Cooper since they came out. Cute and zippy, with 26 mile to the gallon stats, they seem to really walk the talk of the new post consumerism mentality we’re all realizing is immanent. The Mini section of the auto show had a pinball machine, fun branding accessories like Tiger tennis shoes and kids galore. Owning a Mini is a lifestyle and a statement. However, as much as I want one of those adorable little autos, they simply don’t offer the room I need for all my stuff.

Our last stop was through the Porsche area, which was, appropriately, off by itself. They showed the full line up, including some vintage models to remind you of just how long this gorgeous machine has been dominating the highway. My favorite was the fast and sleek 911 Targa 4 Coupe, which goes 0-60 in 5 friggin seconds. They claim that form follows function, however it seems they haven’t sacrificed an iota to make these cars both beautiful and high performance.

I did see a smattering of green shirts throughout the day, so I’m glad to say we were representing. I think automakers are finally realizing how attractive our DINK (double income no kids) status makes us. From sport, to eco, to family, to fun, there are a host of cars to suit all our lifestyles.

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