The auto show road warriors’ survival guide

A plan, sensible shoes and layered clothing are recommended

The Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) represents more than the country’s largest annual gathering of new cars, SUVs, crossovers and light-duty trucks. It is also Canada’s largest trade show and as such, is the consumer’s best opportunity to witness the sweeping changes taking place in the world’s largest and most dynamic industry.

Virtually every major production vehicle available in Canada is on display, some for the first time, as well as concept vehicles and styling exercises from the industry’s most creative designers, plus hot-rodded and ‘tuned’ cars of all descriptions and, of course, classic renderings that can legitimately be called art on wheels.

Isaac Adams-Hands

Photo: Isaac Adams-Hands

The AutoShow is a great opportunity to shop for your next new or replacement vehicle or merely to browse and see what’s on offer for 2009 and beyond. Even if your AutoShow ambitions go no further than to feast on the great quantities of eye candy that’s to be seen everywhere one looks, a little planning and forethought will help you get from the show all that it has to offer.

This show is a monster of an undertaking, with so many vehicles it takes three large venues to hold and display them all:

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building (255 Front St. West): Ford/Lincoln, Honda/Acura, Kia, Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki.

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building (222 Bremner Blvd): Audi, Bentley, BMW/MINI, Ferrari/Maserati, General Motors (Cadillac, Saturn, Saab, OnStar), Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover,  Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota/Lexus.

Rogers Centre (1 Blue Jays Way): Chrysler, Infiniti, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Volvo.


You want to cover all this real estate comfortably. Time, a plan, comfortable shoes, and layered clothing that you can stash in bags offered by many of the manufacturers should do it.

Plan on taking four to six hours to visit all three venues. Even then you’ll have time only to briefly visit most displays, so you need to decide whether to do it all in one long day, or break it into two or more visits.


Daily (Feb. 13–21): 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Final Sunday (Feb. 22): 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Isaac Adams-Hands

Photo: Isaac Adams-Hands

Those in the market to buy a new vehicle can use the show to cross-shop and compare. This can likely be done in a day, provided you exercise some discipline, stick to potential candidates and don’t get sidetracked by all the other attention-grabbers all around you. List vehicles you’re interested to see by manufacturer, and visit them site-by-site.

Inevitably, there will be vehicles there that you didn’t know about, that have just come on the market or that will arrive in the coming months; an opportunity to help you make a more informed purchase decision.

PICTURE PERFECT: Take and use a digital camera so you can revisit the contenders on your list, or create wallpaper for your computer of that unbelievably stunning exotic or concept car. Take time before going to the show to learn how to use your camera under the unique lighting of an indoor event.

WHEN TO GO: Plan your visit around traffic patterns. Go early and stay late to avoid the often congested downtown traffic. You can’t possibly see all three venues in a couple of hours. Plan to spend the day – or to return a second or even a third time. If you can attend during weekdays, the show is usually less crowded than on weekends, affording — bonus! — better photo opportunities.

CHECK ’EM OUT: Thoroughly examine the vehicles on your list. Check out the trunk, how the seats fold, what equipment is standard and available options. If you’re shopping for a new vehicle you won’t get a better opportunity to compare. Rest once in a while and while you’re at it, make notes about what impresses you, and what doesn’t. Drink water frequently.

SHARE THE EXPERIENCE: The AutoShow is above all a social occasion, and can be a lot more fun if you visit with a companion, or companions.

GET INFORMATION: Use the show to gather information you can use later to further your knowledge or shopping. Ask questions of staff on display, gather brochures, make note of prices and options.

Pick up a copy of the AutoShow’s Official Program at any of the AutoTrader kiosks scattered throughout the Show’s three venues. Besides telling you all about the show and it’s many features and promotions, it’s backed by the first-ever AutoTrader Buyers’ Guide, featuring photos, prices and specifications for every car, crossover, SUV, minivan and light-duty truck sold in Canada, with a car magazine thrown in for good measure.

And for the first time, get the program FREE with a donation to the Toronto Automobile Dealers Foundation in support of Ronald McDonald House and Gift of Life.

Isaac Adams-Hands

Photo: Isaac Adams-Hands


The AutoShow features many other automotive attractions apart from new vehicles, including but not limited to:

GTA in Motion: Electric micro- and mini-cars are a real-world solution to urban traffic congestion.

Car of the Year: The best new car and utility vehicles of the year, as selected by Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), are displayed along with information on the selection process.

The Red Zone: Sport compact enthusiasts’ heaven — a fusion of music, culture, fashion and performance, and all of it related to the automobile.

Classic Concourse: The home of special and significant American metal. Back for a fifth year, the Cruise Nationals presented by the Silver Wheel Plan will crown a Grand Champion from among 10 finalists chosen from cruise-in competitions held across southern Ontario.

CORVETTE!: The Classic American sports car  — tracing its evolution in perception and performance. Watch for two unique and highly influential design exercizes in the legendary 1963 Mako Shark 1, the precursor to the C2 Sting Ray and the 1969 Manta Ray, which influenced the C3 series cars.

For more information:

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