Come Friday, Music City will be humming to the sound of horsepower. That’s because the 2018 Nashville International Auto Show will open its doors to more than 350 of the hottest new cars, trucks and SUVs available. Better yet, showgoers will have the chance to get behind the wheel and test-drive nearly 25 vehicles. These include everything from muscle cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger to family-friendly haulers like the Toyota RAV4, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevrolet Traverse.
Related: How to Car Shop at an Auto Show
Nashville has a long history when it comes to country music and creating the next generation of hit singers and songwriters, whether they be country or crossover artists. Automakers will be hoping they have a few hits on their hands, too, when the Nashville auto show opens. With sales of SUVs and trucks booming, you can expect some of the key attractions to be perennial best-sellers such as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.
Taking place at Music City Center, 201 Fifth Ave. S — just steps away from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — the show runs Friday through Sunday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults (13 and older); children 12 and younger get in for free, and adults 62 and older with ID get in for $5. Directions and parking information can be found directly at the show’s website.
Here are five key things you can’t miss at the 2018 Nashville International Auto Show:
1. Muscle Cars
American muscle cars like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger are always among the main attractions at any auto show. Sure, there are sensible things to consider when buying a new car, such as strong safety scores, the ease of child-seat installation and having enough space in the rear seat … but sometimes a wild paint job and loads of horsepower can hold equal amounts of charm and allure.
Today’s muscle cars aren’t the untamed beasts you might think they are based on their hunkered-down stances and menacing presence.
The 2019 Ford Mustang, for example, comes standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 310 horsepower to the rear wheels. Despite the performance on tap, the Mustang still returns an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway. Then again, there’s always the optional 460-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 available in the Mustang GT; while you won’t get the same fuel economy as the four-cylinder, the sound and fury of this rumbling motor is addictive. Ford’s crosstown rivals Chevrolet and Dodge also will be present and ready to give the brand’s pony a run for its money: Attendees can take a Camaro and Challenger for a test drive at the show to see how they compare.
2. Brand-New Trucks
The best-selling vehicles in the U.S. are all full-size pickup trucks. With the 2019 model year bringing some big changes to these hugely popular models, showgoers considering a new pickup will find plenty to see — including one of the most heavily updated models is the 2019 Ram 1500. Not only does the Ram get a brand-new exterior design, it’s also available with a fuel-saving light-hybrid system for the standard 3.6-liter V-6 or optional Hemi V-8. Called eTorque, this light-hybrid system works in conjunction with the gas-powered motor to provide extra assistance when accelerating and to smooth shift points in the automatic transmission. All in all, the eTorque package can provide up to a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy. If you want even more tech in your truck, peek inside the 2019 Ram 1500 and check out the available 12-inch touchscreen that dominates the dashboard. Clear and easy to use, this feature — along with available leather trim packages — gives the interior of the Ram 1500 the look and feel of a luxury machine.
3. Exotic Cars
The car of your dreams is finally within reach at the Nashville auto show. We’re talking literally, of course. That’s because some of the finest machinery from the likes of Rolls-Royce, Maserati and Bentley will be on display.
The Maserati Levante, the Italian automaker’s first SUV, comes with a choice of two turbocharged V-6 engines (as well as a couple of V-8s in higher trims) that are assembled by none other than Ferrari. Over at Rolls-Royce, be sure to ask to see the car world’s most expensive umbrellas. That’s correct: Tucked into the doors of every Rolls-Royce are a pair of retractable umbrellas, so you (or your chauffeur) never have to worry if the weather decides not to cooperate. Careful about leaving them behind, however, because each one costs around $500 to replace.
4. Test Drives
Getting behind the wheel of a new car or truck is the best way to know if that vehicle is the perfect fit. Nashville auto show attendees will have the chance to sample more than 20 new cars, trucks and SUVs.
Models available for test drives will include the following:
- Chevrolet (Bolt EV, Camaro, Cruze hatchback and Malibu cars; Equinox and Traverse SUVs; Colorado and Silverado pickups)
- Chrysler (300 sedan, Pacifica minivan)
- Dodge (Challenger and Charger muscle cars; Durango SUV)
- Fiat (124 Spider and 500 Abarth cars; 500X SUV)
- Jeep (Compass, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler SUVs)
- Ram (1500 pickup)
- Toyota (Camry sedan; Highlander, C-HR and RAV4 SUVs)
5. Classic Cars and Test Drives for Kids
For fans of classic cars, local car clubs will be showing a wide mix of vintage sheet metal. There will be plenty of hot rods along with a collection of classic Chevy muscle machines courtesy of the Music City Camaro Club. Adults aren’t the only ones who’ll be taking test drives, too: Located on the main show floor, a carpeted track will feature a selection of electric-powered Power Wheels, so even the youngest “driver” in your family can get a turn behind the wheel.
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