AutoMatters: 2014 San Diego International Auto Show

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By Jan Wagner

How would you like to have Southern California freeways and streets almost all to yourself, for miles and miles on a postcard-perfect, gorgeous San Diego day? You could have had that on the first morning of this year’s San Diego International Auto Show. That’s because – for the first time that I can ever remember, the show began in the morning of New Year’s Day. What a great way to get in the right mood for an auto show.

Test-driving a BMW i3

The San Diego International Auto Show provided an excellent opportunity to compare over 400 makes and models, without any sales pressure, inside the spacious exhibit halls and outside the San Diego Convention Center. This is a great time to be in the market for a new car, truck or SUV. No matter what your needs and preferences are, there are many well engineered, good looking, technologically advanced and well built vehicles to choose from.

BMW i3 interior

Included among the vehicles available to test drive were all-electric cars: Chevy Spark, Nissan Leaf and the soon-to-be-released BMW i3. Each of these demonstrated that cars can be little on the outside, thus making parking and maneuvering a breeze, while being roomy on the inside, where it counts.

Moving somewhat towards the other end of the size spectrum, I also took the opportunity to test-drive the luxurious Lincoln MkT. It drives like a car and, while not as large as the Lincoln Navigator, it can comfortably seat up to seven.

Nick Cappa by Ram truck

Being lean and agile in the fiercely competitive truck market has distinct advantages. Ram trucks have responded to customers’ needs and wants with a wide variety of innovative and desirable features, including an optional load-leveling air suspension system that provides heavy load carrying and trailer-towing capabilities when needed, and maintains a comfortable ride and good handling when the trucks are unloaded. One air suspension setting conveniently lowers the truck for easy entry and exit. Two off-road settings raise the vehicle for improved ground clearance. Yet another setting lowers the ride height at 55 mph to minimize wind resistance and save fuel.

2014 Jeep Cherokee at Camp Jeep®

A five-link coil rear suspension system provides better articulation than leaf springs over rough roads.

Infiniti display

Engine options include a 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel I-6, which produces as much as 850 lb.-ft. of torque and can tow up to 30,000 pounds; a new 3.0-liter Turbo Diesel V-6; a 5.7-liter HEMI

®V-8 and all-new 6.4-liter HEMI


– Acura RLX

Fuel economy is as high as 25 mpg highway in the Ram 1500, which also offers an efficient Torqueflite

®eight-speed transmission.

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The RamBox

®Cargo Management System can safely store valuables in what is often wasted space in a pickup. Offering lockable, lit, drainable storage, it can be configured to hold a gun rack, fishing rod holders and even a water-filled bladder that can supply an on-board shower for surfers.

Not surprising considering the high value of what they may be carrying or towing, truck buyers are increasingly looking for luxury. Ram trucks can be every bit as well equipped as luxury cars and SUVs.

Over at Jeep the all new, mid-size, Trail Rated

®Cherokee replaces the Jeep Liberty, offering a range of off-road capabilities and as much as a 45% improvement in fuel economy (up to 31 mpg). Its styling should attract new buyers with its thoroughly fresh, modern interpretation of familiar Jeep styling cues.

Features include a nine-speed automatic transmission, speed-sensitive electronic power steering, a choice of three 4x4 systems or front wheel drive, luxurious interiors, Keyless
Enter ‘n Go™, Uconnect

navigation, ParkView

®back up camera and 70 available safety and security features including: parallel and perpendicular park assist, ParkSense

®front / rear park assist, blind spot monitoring and cross path detection (with dual radar sensors to monitor driver blind spots), LaneSense™ lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

Show-goers were able to experience the off-road capabilities of the new Cherokee at Camp Jeep


Walking around to check out the new cars can be good exercise, as Scripps Health demonstrated by providing show-goers with free pedometers.

Looking forward to the 50


anniversary of the Mustang in a few months, this year’s San Diego show celebrated that iconic car with a show within a show of Mustangs through the years – some stock and others anything but. Before this year is out we’ll have an all-new Mustang (for a two-part sneak peek at that, do a Google search for “AutoMatters 2015 Mustang”).

As always, please write to

with your comments and suggestions.

Copyright © 2013 by Jan Wagner – #314