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Top 10 tips for visiting the Detroit auto show

Illustration for article titled Top 10 tips for visiting the Detroit auto show

It's January once again, and for car people, that means it's also time again for the Detroit Auto Show! This year's show promises the debuts of over 50 new models from manufacturers from all over the world. Some of those Detroit-exclusive reveals have even taken place already with the Press Show going on this week (maybe one day we'll get to go). We'll be there this coming Saturday for the first day of the public show bringing you photos and info on all the newest, most important cars that we can expect in the coming year or two.

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This is our fourth year going to the auto show so what we thought we'd do this week is bring you the ten most important things to remember when visiting the auto show so that you can have the best and most fun experience possible!

10. Buy tickets in advance

Technically, this is called buying eTickets. Adult tickets are $13 apiece and you can order them on naias.com using this form. Confirmation will be sent to you in your email and all you have to do is show up at Cobo Center, go to the eTicket counter, show them your ID, and you're in! This beats the heck out of waiting in line to pay cash only or finding a special kiosk if you want to pay with credit cards. There's plenty of space and you want have trouble getting in, so why wait in line?

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Bonus tip: Bring cash for parking! Most of the places offering event parking won't accept your credit card, so bring $20 or so. We recommend not paying more than $10 to park, but if you're out of options when looking for a space, then you'll have a little extra.

9. Wear comfortable clothes

After you've been walking around the convention center floor for a while, basking under the glow of the shining lights and sparkling new cars, you'll realize that you have gotten quite warm. If you go wearing a big sweater or long-sleeved shirt, you're going to be miserable. Yes, it's January in Michigan outside, but it feels more like June in Florida inside. There's a coat check. Wear your T-shirt. (And comfortable shoes! Lots of walking! A pedometer would be great too for you step-counters.)

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8. Plan to spend a few hours

If you're like us, you LOVE cars and you want to absorb everything you can and make the most of your day. So if you're one of us and you've only slotted out an hour and a half to visit the auto show, you might want to revise your schedule and make some more room. But if you're only going to see a new Volvo station wagon (as awesome a car as the V60 will be), then knock yourself out.

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7. Use social media

Okay, this is actually a new one for us since this is the first auto show we've actually covered as The Autoblahg. But the internet has given us the best previews to the show that we could hope for and has helped us compile our list of cars that we're going to be on the lookout for this weekend. But if you've got a Twitter account, first follow @autoblahg (that's us!) and all of your favorite car manufacturers, magazines, and journalists and send some tweets of your own with #NAIASDetroit to get involved in the conversation and connect with even more people while you're there.

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6. Bring a camera

Chances are if you can make tweets or Facebook posts from your phone, you've got a pretty decent camera on it to. Take as many pictures as you like of whatever strikes your fancy. If you're a real shutterbug, go the extra mile to try and take advantage of all the lights, colors, people, and sweet new cars to get a really special-looking shot. Then share with us! We'd love to see it!

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5. Be patient

The best thing about the auto show is the unprecedented access to the industry's most recent developments. Many of the cars are unlocked for you to get in and get a feel for them. Take advantage of this, but don't be surprised if you have to wait in line to sit in a new Porsche 911 or the Corvette Stingray. Everybody and their dog will want to have a turn slipping behind the wheel of these more exotic machines, so if you want the chance, just wait your turn. And remember to be courteous to others who are waiting behind you, too.

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4. Don't neglect the mainstream brands

Yes, companies like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, and Porsche will be there. But so will companies who make a car that you're a lot more likely to buy, like Toyota, Subaru, Dodge, and Ford. Our favorite car from last year's show was the 2014 Kia Forte 5-door. We were impressed by the heated seats in the front and back, the standard Bluetooth connectivity, and great styling, and all of this in a <$25,000 package. We're hoping to be impressed by the 2015 Honda Fit and this year's show.

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A Kia Optima at the 2012 NAIAS
A Kia Optima at the 2012 NAIAS

Bonus tip:Unless you're already an owner or something of one of the above-listed "exotic" vehicles, they probably won't let you sit in one anyway, so you may as well spend some time getting familiar with the cars that are unlocked and not guarded by ropes and women in short dresses.

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3. Give the cars a full walk around

There's often more to a car than meets the eye. Pop the trunk, climb in the backseat, and see how hard it is to get in and out. Play around with the convenience features and get a feel for what you might be looking for in a new car, whether or not you're going to be in the market soon. It's important to know what's out there, what's worth paying extra for, and which features are just a waste.

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My wife, seen here putting the infotainment system on the new Ford Escape through its paces at the 2013 NAIAS.
My wife, seen here putting the infotainment system on the new Ford Escape through its paces at the 2013 NAIAS.

2. Ask questions

While you visit the auto show, you may discover that finding the answer to the question "What's going to be unveiled at this year's show?" only yields more questions about the vehicles you're browsing around. If you're curious about things like when a car will be going on sale, how long it was in development, what inspired its design, just ask a representative from the manufacturer. Those people are very well-informed and they are sent by the company to bring information to the public, not just to show off their companies' latest ideas and products. Especially if you have a passionate interest in a particular brand, chances are, the rep that's hanging around the display stage does too. They want to answer your question just as badly as you want them to. Leave the show a more informed person than when you went in.

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1. Make it fun!

I was originally just going to say 'have fun' for this number one tip, but I feel like this is more accurate. Fundamentally, doing nothing but getting in and out of cars for several hours does not really sound that great. But when you throw in the fact that you're experiencing the automotive industry's newest offerings before anyone else, and in the amazing environment that is the Cobo Center, you can't help but feel that this is special.

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So enjoy this year's show, whether you'll be headed down to Detroit in person, or keeping up on everything via the web. And remember, we'll be sending out a live Twitter feed from the show floor, so keep up with us at @autoblahg to see pictures, news, and everything else that we find out. We can't wait!

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