Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Miami, Florida is special in so many spectacular ways with the most defining being its tropical weather. The food is divine, the vibe is chill and the car scene is magnetic. It’s a driver’s town presenting the opportunity to convey your love for automotive design and engineering with fervor, especially in South Beach. So welcome to one of the most sizzling attractions to hit south of the Sunshine State better known as the Miami International Auto Show (MIAS). Now in the 45th showing and sponsored by Ally Auto, the show began November 6th and runs 10 days up until the 15th at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Without question the Miami Auto Show has become a media favorite not only for the vehicle displays, but simply because of its location and impeccable forecasts. Of course Detroit will present the biggest vehicle unveilings, yet, it takes place in January where the temperament is more suited for penguins. MIAS also offers auto brands the opportunity to connect deeper with Hispanic consumers who are auto aficionados by heart, especially in the pickup truck sector. Florida is the 4th largest state for full size pickups so the conversation becomes that much more important.
I joined the party Thursday evening prior to opening day which host journalists, broadcasters, editors and publishers. Flying down from Washington, D.C. Prestige Auto provided me with the new 2016 Lexus ES350 to get around town in. My Autumn Shimmer hued model was powered with the 3.5-liter V6 engine and enhanced with a 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System, the Luxury Package and Lexus Safety System +. The $46,679 luxury sedan was constantly in pursuit of perfection.
For the festivities the first stop was to pay homage to Mazda and the South Florida Automobile Dealers Association as they hosted the show’s annual VIP Reception at the opulent Raleigh Hotel where the 2016 MX-5 Miata displayed itself proudly by the pool. “The beautiful South Beach backdrop is without question the most picturesque at any other auto show and it’s one of the many reason auto manufacturers are thrilled to present their Ride & Drive events in Miami,” stated Jay Rivchin, co-chair of the auto show. “South Floridians do love their autos and they want nothing more than to see first-hand how they vehicle handles Miami’s roads.”
MIAS is quite entertaining since it is ripe with the aforementioned Ride & Drives from consumer engaging brands such as Toyota, Kia, Ford, Chevy, Nissan Honda, Mazda, GMC and Buick. Other activities include Camp Jeep which showcases demonstrations of Jeep’s off-road capabilities, the Cars Meet Art display and Topless in Miami featuring the hottest convertibles on the road including the Corvette, GranTursimo Convertible, 370Z Roadster Touring Sport 7AT, E400 Cabriolet, the MX-5 and many more. Cars Meet Art was introduced last year and continues to be a fan favorite with the fusion of your favorite vehicles artistically customized by either muralists or Metro Wrapz. Undeniably an enticing attraction for an auto show, this spectacle portrays automobiles as we understand them: works of impressive beauty and innovative design.
On the first day of MIAS Ram kicked off the proceedings with breakfast and a strong truck lineup with the Ram Rebel running the point guard position. Ram began the Rebel build as a 1500 and changed the front fascia and rear for aggression. It is presented as one model which can be had in five colors including white, red and black as either two-tone or monotone. The lifestyle focused pickup rolls on huge 33” Toyo tires with tread that is also replicated within the red/black synthetic seats. An air suspension, crew cab, 8-speed automatic transmission, Uconnect, a HEMI engine with cylinder deactivation and a bed divider/extender are critical components of the rough and tough Rebel. It’s now my new favorite pickup. Other Ram news included the 3500 Series that tows a whopping 31,210 lbs. and the Pro Master City small Fiat-based van that gets 29-miles a gallon. Ram just inked a 9,000-unit vehicle order from the USPS so you know they are dancing with the wind.
Nissan presented the upgraded Altima and Cummings 5-liter V8 Turbo Diesel powered TITAN XD pickup, Toyota spoke about their 2016 Rav4 Hybrid with its new powertrain and Mazda broke out the 2016 CX-3 to represent the subcompact segment with a 146-horsepower 2-liter engine and SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY. Available in three trims and predictive AWD, the CX-3 is swift, versatile and sporty.
After an educational morning of new products it was time to re-charge with clean energy. During the Cadillac Luncheon Steve Martin spoke about American luxury and the company’s vision for eight new models by 2020 and the reasons they relocated to NY to create product utilizing dedicated people and dedicated space with 100% mind share as President Johan de Nysschen calls it. In addition to the intermission, a few important awards were handed out to automakers at the top of their game. Hyundai took the title of Display Manufacturer of the Year, the Nissan Murano won SUV of the Year, Volvo’s inventive XC90 Plug-in Hybrid received the Green Car of the Year and last but not least, the Mazda Miata walked off with the Star of the Show decoration.
Shortly afterward we went back into vehicle presentations where Scion — the Toyota based innovation brand that has sold over a million vehicles in 12 years — introduced their first sedan dubbed the iA and the 5-door iM versatile hatchback with its black honeycomb grille. The sport body wrapped iM roles on 17” alloy wheels, has 8 cup-holders and attracts customers that are all about fun and look forward to getaway weekends with friends. The iA features 16” alloy spins, has a 42-mpg highway rating, is enhanced with a 7” color touchscreen LCD with SMS text, Pandora, Stitcher and Aha and is aesthetically enhanced with a large fish-mouth grille.
Lexus then showed of the 2016 GS F high-performance sports sedan backed by a compelling 467-horsepower 5-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine, an 8-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) transmission, Drive Mode Select control (NORMAL, ECO, SPORT S, SPORT S+ modes) and a Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD). “F” represents Fuji where Lexus evaluates all of its performance vehicles. “As Lexus’ “F” brand vehicles continue to evolve and grow in number, it is important that these models offer differentiated and unique driving characteristics in their segments,” said Yukihiko Yaguchi, Emeritus Chief Engineer of the GS F.
We finished the day with a Toyota reception at Lure Fishbar Restaurant at the Lowes Hotel South Beach to enjoy veggie sushi appetizers then jetted over to Juvia’s infamous rooftop restaurant for a delectable Hyundai dinner with friends and colleagues. What an amazing time had by all. To replicate my fantastic experience, make sure to visit www.MiamiAutoShow.net. Enjoy the drive!