It was probably the quietest press day I've experienced -- no acrobats, no live bands, no fireworks, and only two automakers even had videos before they took the wraps off the cars. For that matter, only two companies even drove a car onto the stage; everything else was static. It's certainly understandable -- in a climate where automakers are laying off workers by the tens of thousands, and some are asking for taxpayer money, no one wants to be splashed across the next day's newspapers or on the evening news in a grand display of misplaced money.
But I must say this -- it didn't feel like cost-cutting, so much as an indication of just how ridiculous things had become. I still got the information and the photos I needed, and I didn't have to sit through kodo drummers, Cirque de Soleil performers or celebrity appearances to see the car. I'll admit, for the first few years, it was way-cool to go to Detroit and be blasted with all the out-there stuff the automakers did. But I guess I finally reached the saturation point when I went to a Mercedes event in January, and while a group of dancers strutted their stuff in front of color-changing screens, all I could think was, Just bring out the goddamn car.
There are some cool vehicles at the Toronto show: I like the Ford Fiesta, the new heavy-duty Ram pickup, Kia Soul, Honda FC Sport and Subaru's concept electric car. I love the Nissan NV2500 concept vehicle, that hulking monster in the photo, which opens up into the neatest configuration of work-friendly interior. And I also have to give Nissan the nod for a brilliant introduction: when it drove the new Cube onstage, it was filled with four football players from the Toronto Argonauts. What better way to counter the too-common "I can't fit into that" argument?
Disappointments? There were a few. I liked the old Cadillac SRX, but its redesign looks like somebody just stuck a garish front end onto a Saturn Vue. I'm hoping the Kia Forte drives better than its lackluster design. And tricking out a specially-optioned Smart for its 10th anniversary by offering ten vehicles only for all of Canada? C'mon, Mercedes, that's a stunt you pull with McLaren, not with this brand.