ABOUT THE DETROIT AUTO SHOWThe North American International Auto Show -- aka NAIAS or the Detroit Auto Show -- is generally regarded as the most important auto show in the United States. Taking place right in the Big Three's back yard, the show is traditionally the launching ground for lots of new products and concept vehicles, both domestic and imported.
WHEN TO GOThe 2013 Detroit Auto Show is open to the public Saturday, January 19th through Sunday, January 27th, with a special charity preview on Friday evening, January 18th.
January 14th through January 21st: 9:00 am to 10:00 pm (last admission at 9:00 pm)
January 22nd: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (last admission at 6:00 pm)
Note: Early access for handicapped individuals opens at 8:00 am at the Oakland entrance.
Group tickets: $8 each for groups of 30 or more
Senior citizens and children 7-12: $6
Children 6 and under: Free with a parent or guardian
Purchase tickets online
Note: If you purchase tickets at the door, you must use the automated ticket kiosks for credit card purchases. Staffed ticked booths only accept cash.
A black-tie charity preview is being held on Friday, January 18th, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, with proceeds to benefit various children's charities. Admission is $300, $290 of which is tax deductible.
Purchase charity preview tickets online
HOW TO GET THERE
The Detroit show takes place at the Cobo Conference and Exhibition Center, One Washington Boulevard in Detroit.
On-site parking is available for $10 at the Cobo Roof Desk (625 West Congress), Millennium Garage (425 West Congress), and the Joe Louis Arena (900 West Jefferson). Handicapped parking is available in the Cobo Hall Garage and Cobo Roof Deck.
Detroit being the Motor City, public transportation options are limited.
Cobo Center has its own stop on the Detroit People Mover, which makes a short loop around downtown Detroit, and is useful for local hotels and off-site parking lots.
Cobo Center is about half a mile from the Rosa Parks Transit Center bus station, which is served by local buses from Detroit Department of Transportation and SMART. You can walk or take the People Mover to Cobo. The Transit Windsor Tunnel Bus provides cross-border service from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and stops at the Cobo Center (passport required for the border crossing).
Amtrak's Wolverine provides morning, mid-day, and evening train service from Pontiac, Birmingham, and Royal Oak. The Detroit station is about 4 miles from Cobo; DDOT bus service is available to the Rosa Parks Transit Center.
WHAT TO SEE
Expect big lines to see Chevrolet's new Corvette Stingray; if you can't get close, don't worry, just look up to see a Corvette bolted to the wall. Chevrolet actually has several interesting (and kid-friendly) attractions: You can make your own Chevy button, launch Hot Wheels cars through a loop and a jump, and drive a virtual Corvette on a computer simulator. Chevy also has a display of cars they sell in other markets; it's up the stairs to the right of the Corvette display.
As always, Ford has several hands-on activities, including a full-motion driving simulator that lets you take a (virtual) Focus ST out on the track. And classic car buffs should check out the 1903 Ford Model A, the oldest production Ford in existence.
Mazda has their own full-motion simulator (sans steering wheel) that lets you experience a lap of Laguna Seca. If you have a delicate stomach, try the Michelin booth, where a stand-up simulator lets you experience their test track through the soles of your feet.
It's easy to ignore the displays outside of the main show floor, but be sure not to miss the small VL Automotive display near the Congress entrance, where Bob Lutz has stuffed a Corvette ZR1 engine into a Fisker Karma to create the VL Automotive Destino.
A new trend is for suppliers to showcase the technologies they provide to the automakers, and this year both ZF Automotive and Denso have fairly extensive booths -- stop by to learn how much car technology is supplied to, rather than by, the automakers.
Lastly, head downstairs for the Aisin Green Driving Experience, where you can ride in (but, sadly, not drive) your choice of eco-friendly cars, ranging from hybrid to hydrogen.
See all the new vehicle introductions in my 2013 Detroit Show Auto photo gallery.