The Steel Market Development Institute provided my travel expenses for this trip. All opinions expressed in this piece are my own.
I’m a proud member of the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA, for those in the know) and always look forward to their events. This year, I was especially excited for the 2016 WAPA Road Rally for one reason alone: DREAM CARS.
I first joined WAPA two years ago about a week before their annual Road Rally. I was fairly new to the automotive world but was encouraged to check it out by my powerhouse friend, Scotty, at SheBuysCars.com. I was super intimidated by knowing absolutely no one at my first event but managed to jump in and drive a few cars (I wasn’t bold enough to nab the hottest cars).
Two years later, I was ready. I missed last year but was thrilled for this year’s rally for a few reasons. First, I know a lot more people in the WAPA group now like Melanie and Vicky and Bill and Patrick and Phil. Especially Phil. We’ve attended a few press trips together and even happened to catch the same return flight home recently from separate events.
While on the plane, Phil told me of all the super secret plans he had made as this year’s Rally Director. They included dream cars from luxury brands but also some of my favorite models from the brands I already know and love.
When I arrived at the rally last week for a picture perfect day just over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, I had only a few goals in mind.
- Drive as many cars as possible.
- Drive that McLaren.
I also thought taking lots of pictures to make people
envious interested would be the best way to spend my time.
In addition to capturing all of the aesthetics of the car, I partnered with the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) to learn more about why steel matters in new car development. In fact, steel is one of the highest value materials in the automotive industry (I was actually surprised to learn how the amount of steel has increased in vehicles like the Kia Cadenza when I attended their national press launch). When engineered well, steel adds stability and strength without increasing the overall vehicle weight. I know, right?
Without further adieu, I present all the cars I could elbow my way into. You’ll find two exterior shots and one interior shot from the driver’s seat. And maybe a few surprise photos along the way.
If you’re looking for more details, let me know. I’ll do my best to get my hands on one of these for a week long test drive and give you all the details you didn’t know you wanted.
Kia Optima PHEV
In a word, smooth. As with many hybrids, the torque gives this sedan amazing get up and go. And the ride is nothing short of affordably luxurious.
Honda Accord Hybrid
If the Kia Optima Hybrid felt like affordable luxury, this car felt, well, simply affordable. Nothing about this car particularly caught my eye – especially when I couldn’t even figure out how to easily turn the radio off!
I’ll admit that I fell in love with BMW’s electric capabilities when I drove the X5 at SAMA’s Topless in Miami event but this plug-in hybrid still surprised me. I loved everything about it – except the price tag!
Chevy Malibu Hybrid
The Malibu has come a long way. I was excited to drive this new design and experience the hybridism (?) or hybridity (??) of it. Compared to some of the other hybrid sedans, the Malibu was good but I wanted great. Not quite there on my short drive.
As I headed out to the parking lot, like a kid in a candy store, Jessica from VW made a joke. Something like, Bet you can’t WAIT to get out there to that eGolf! With luxury and sports cars abound, I got the joke. But the joke was on me because this was my absolute favorite car in the GREEN category at the event. Fun, zippy, and did I mention fun?
The VW eGolf uses a stamped steel body and its chassis boasts 28-percent of its parts in high-strength, hot-formed steel. That’s hot.
Nissan Rogue Hybrid
You know what this country needs more of? Hybrid SUVs! And yes, I’m totally serious. I was excited to see the new Rogue Hybrid up for grabs and found that the driving experience is very similar to a regular Rogue… but better gas mileage!
Toyota Prius Prime
The first thing you’ll notice about the latest Prius is the exterior design. It’s striking. The next thing you’ll notice is the minimal (and sometimes confusing) interior. If you’re looking for different, you’ve found it.
I honestly don’t recall ever driving an Acura before. For my first time, I was impressed. Comfortable, sporty, and roomy all at once.
I fell in love with this car when I first saw it at the DFW Auto Show. In fact, I almost bought this car over the summer, opting instead for its little sister, the Mazda CX-5. Did I feel a little buyer’s remorse after driving this again? Maybe just a little.
Surprisingly, the Mazda CX-9 uses advanced high-strength steel. That means that they were able to create a stronger vehicle and NOT increase the overall weight (in fact, they reduced it!).
You want luxury, design, reputation, and technology in one sleek sedan? You just found it in the Volvo S90. But as a short lady, I have to admit that the slope of the windshield distorted my vision in areas of the glass.
Wait – you didn’t know that Jaguar makes an SUV? Next, you’re probably thinking that it must drive like a sport cars. Well, yes they do and yes it does.
The line was so long to drive this Bentley that I opted to ride as a passenger. In the backseat. Because let’s be honest. If I’m paying $440,000 for a vehicle, that’s exactly where I’m going to be sitting.
With only time to drive it around the block, the one thing I know for sure is… this is not the Cadillac your dad owned. (Seriously, my dad did own a Cadillac).
Range Rover Evoque Convertible
As the day was winding down, I finally saw the Evoque was empty! Until they told me they were saving it for a magazine segment. Blergh. I didn’t get to drive it but felt it was still worthy of some beautiful photographs.
If it didn’t fall into the Green or Luxury category, it feel into the “everything else” category that included minivans, pick-up trucks, and, yes, super cars. I managed to squeeze just a few in.
I got to take a passenger with me on this drive since I knew how to drive a stick. And I didn’t even stall once (okay, maybe once as I was pulling out of the parking space because I momentarily “forgot” about the clutch). This car is for young people who want to drive fast.
The Subaru BRZ (which we nicknamed The Breezy) actually has a large proportion of high-tensile steel in the body while using aluminum for the hood.
The grand prize of the day for me, though, was sneaking in line and getting a chance to drive the McLaren 570S. Is it fast? Yes. Is it surprisingly comfortable? Yes. Are the doors a wee bit confusing? You bet. Is there room for my purse? Barely. Did the cops give me a ticket? I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
Did you find your dream cars?
Now, tell me. Which cars would you consider your dream cars? Don’t see it here? Yeah, I missed a bunch of them. There just wasn’t enough time in the day to drive the entire lineup. (insert sad face)
But if you really want to see more, let me know and I’ll be happy to dive deep and bring you everything you need to know about your next car.
Want to learn more about the great advancements in steel to make vehicles lighter and more efficient without sacrificing performance or strength? Check out DriveUsingSteel.com for more information.