Climb a mountain and rattle your bones on a ride without ever leaving the Colorado Convention Center. Yep, you can go off-roading next week at the Denver Auto Show in Camp Jeep, a unique driving course that Chrysler Group is bringing to Denver for the first time to showcase its newly redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee. Camp Jeep will put show-goers in the passenger seat as professional drivers run the 4WD vehicles through some grueling paces. It’s just one exciting feature of this year’s show, open Wednesday through Sunday, for a five-day run.
The addition of Camp Jeep will make the 2011 Denver Auto Show the largest consumer show in the history of the Colorado Convention Center and expand the auto show’s total footprint to a half-million square feet – the biggest in the 109 history of the show.
Consumers caught between a still-rebounding economy and rising gasoline prices will have a lot to interest them. “This is the place you don’t have to travel to, but where you can see new technology and some future technology coming rapidly down the road,” said Don Gerbaz of Berthod Motors in Glenwood Springs, chairman of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
More than 500 vehicles from 30 manufacturers, plus accessories and aftermarket products will be displayed. “If you can’t find something at this auto show that excites you and fits your transportation needs, it may not exist,” said Mark Wallace of Schomp Automotive, Denver Auto Show chairman. “There’s everything from practical, to fun, to fantasy.”
The latest in electric and hybrid technology will be highlighted, including the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan LEAF and Toyota Prius plug-in electric vehicles, plus many efficient non-electrics, like the 2012 Fiat 500 with an anticipated 40 mpg.
Honda will show off its CR-Z sport hybrid concept car, illustrating that energy-efficient doesn’t have to mean boring. GM’s cutting-edge Sierra All-Terrain HD concept will also be on display. The Denver Auto Show is also where you’ll see exotic, high-end models such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus and Maserati.
A popular show offering will be “Ride and Drives” so attendees can both see and drive new vehicles – with no pressure to buy. They can sign up to test drive one or more of 11 models from four manufacturers: GM, Ford, Chrysler and Kia. Test-drive vehicles will run from small to large, and may include some electrics, hybrids and trucks. “Ride and Drives” will be available April 1-3 during daylight hours, with some restrictions.
“What Will Fuel the Future?” is a special exhibit to entertain and educate. Kids can see how various forms of energy work and the differences between renewable and non-renewable energy.
The fourth annual “Green Car Parade” on from 2pm to 3pm, Sunday, March 27, will demonstrate new “green” cars which are already available, including the ultra-luxe Bentley Continental flex-fuel. They’ll be in static parade on the State Capitol’s west side.
The Auto Show kicks off March 30 with a Charity Preview Party, benefiting Denver Post Community Charities and the Clear the Air Foundation, which supports efforts that help Coloradans with environmentally related breathing issues. Colorado dealers donate old, polluting trade-in vehicles and recycle their materials for reuse. “People trade in high-emission vehicles all the time and instead of wholesaling them, or sending them out-of-state, donate them to the foundation. We get them off the road and improve air quality,” said foundation chairman Lee Payne of Planet Honda. Party tickets are available for $95 at www.CharityPreviewParty.com.
Get more information about show tickets and hours at www.DenverAutoShow.com.