This purple monster truck was detailed with images of dragons by AFTERFX Customs in Stamford, CT - one of the exhibits at the 2010 Connecticut International Auto Show. Photo copyright 2010 by Brenda Sullivan
Even if you’re not in the market to buy a car this week, or this year, a trip to the Connecticut International Auto Show at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford this weekend can be a fun afternoon of virtual shopping. That’s because you get to sit behind the wheel of any car that catches your eye – except the antique cars, and the big pinkish-purple monster car with the dragon illustrations.
You might want to settle into the leather seats of a sleek yellow Corvette, or hop into one of the Jeeps with enough style, seating and cargo capacity to offer a cool alternative to the “soccer mom” SUV.
My personal favorite was an “army green” Toyota FJ Cruiser that seats four and sells for $25,770 retail. It’s not exactly fuel efficient – 17 miles per gallon in the city, 21 miles on the highway – but it would be a pleasure to drive.
My second favorite in the Jeep category was the Jeep Sport Wrangler Unlimited, with a three-piece modular sun roof – which means you can stay in the shade while your husband can choose to sunburn his bald spot.
This one is a 5 passenger – which really means three kids in the backseat or three slim adults, and is in the same general price range as the FJ Cruiser. It also has a cargo area that can hold up to 250 pounds of stuff and it can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Charging your new electric car
The show is also a great place for you and your children or grandchildren to learn about the up and coming technologies for the days when many of us will be driving electric or hybrid cars.
Before you step into the showroom, visit the Control Module Industries booth to see a demonstration of not only how you will power your electric car in the not too distant future, but how you will be able to charge it up while you’re at work or shopping at the local mall.
The booth presents products developed by the company’s Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment division. This includes a mockup of a home power-share system that eliminates the need to install (and pay for) electrical upgrades in order to charge your electric or hybrid car. Using this module, you can tap into the same power source that runs your appliances.
The idea is that you will be charging your car overnight, but if you happen to need to run the washing machine or dishwasher or electric oven, the system will “sense” the appliance and switch off the car charger, so you don’t overload your electrical system.
The rep at this booth also can show you what an overhead charger (an EVSE Marquee) used in the parking lots of the future will look like, with a retractable cable and a plug with a design similar to the nozzle we’re familiar with at the gas pump.
Several of these are now being tested with state and federal fleets, such as the U.S. Postal Service’s electric cars.
In the showroom, you can see just what these car will look like – sleek and luxurious – including the not-yet-released Chevrolet Volt and the Escalade hybrid.
“Say the word”
Another high-tech display worth exploring is the Microsoft® Sync voice-activation system for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles that includes:
- hands-free calling – press the “voice” button on the steering wheel and say the name of the person you’re calling, or the phone number you want to call. And this feature synchronizes with your cell phone. Sync uses your radio or a touch screen to display signal strength, caller ID, a caller log, and more,
- audible text – if you receive a text message, press the “phone” button on the steering wheel and SYNC can read it to you. And you can choose from 15 “generic” text messages if you want to acknowledge the call (and therefore, are not texting and driving!)
- music search – plug your digital media player or music storage device into the vehicle’s USB port and SYNC creates your music library. Press the “voice” button on the steering wheel and you can tell SYNC to play a specific song or artist, or “play all” or “shuffle,”
- 911 assist – if you’re in an accident and your airbag deploys, SYNC can place a call from your connected Bluetooth-enabled phone to a 911 center, not a call center,
- vehicle “health report” – that diagnoses problems, reminds you about scheduled maintenance and alerts you to recalls,
- business search (as in, “find Dunkin Donuts” or “find Puppy Time groomers”) – and SYNC can deliver turn-by-turn driving directions, send a text message with directions and map to your mobile phone, or even place a call to the business,
and you can receive traffic alerts, weather forecasts, stock listings, sports results and more.
Another exhibit that will either impress you or make you shake your head and wonder why someone would do this to their car is the AFTERFX customized cars.
One is adorned with the faces of notorious rappers along the sides and on the hood, two fists holding guns. Another, the aforementioned purplish monster truck, is covered with Medieval images of dragons.
AFTERFX is for the hardcore auto lover. Its services include custom audio/video upgrades, custom built in radar system, custom-designed interiors and more.
Win a car
There’s a unlikely display, outside the showroom, of a smashed up, squashed car that’s actually the subject of a contest. If you can guess what this car was in its former life – make and model – you could win a new car.
At another table, you can try to guess how many Lego® blocks it took to build a two-foot tall Lego guy and win a prize.
In general, the show is the place to go if you want to see what the latest looks and features are for the 2011 models. The factory representatives and Connecticut dealers will be more than happy to bend your ear.
Represented at the show are:Acura, Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Kia, Subaru, Scion, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ford, Lincoln, Ram, Saab, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes, Nissan, Hyundai and Volvo.
The show is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21 the last day. Tickets are $10 each (ticket sales end at 4 p.m.) for adults and $5 each for children age 6-12 (no charge for children under 6 years old). Parking at the garage next door is $3 for the first hour and $2 for each additional hour.
For more information, visit the show’s Web site at http://www.paragonexpo.com/index.php/CT-General/ or call (860) 728-2592.
Posted Nov. 20, 2010