The Los Angeles Auto Show kicks off the season in November. January brings the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Chicago Auto Show follows in February, and the New York International Auto Show closes out the U.S. season in April. In addition to these four major U.S. shows, there are a number of smaller auto shows in cities throughout the country. Edmunds keeps a more detailed list of these. You can follow auto shows via Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. The shows use these to highlight some vehicles in advance and give you more information on associated events.
You can approach an auto show from two shopper's perspectives: If you're just getting started and have no idea what car is right for you, use the show to see what's new and which models grab your attention. If you already have an idea of the car you want, use the show to get a closer look at a vehicle and check out its competition. Here are some other tips for becoming a sharp-eyed auto-show shopper and researcher:
Plan a Course of Action, Via Your Smartphone
Most of the major auto shows have smartphone apps that feature a map of the show floor, exhibit hours and a list of the vehicles on display. Pay attention to the car brands you want to see and note what other makers are nearby. You also should stop by the booths of a few other carmakers that you hadn't considered. This will help you plan the most efficient route along the show floors, which are often quite large and can be spread out among convention center halls.
We also recommend that you download the Edmunds app, available for both Apple and Android smartphones. It's an invaluable tool, whether you need to read an expert review on a car or you want to compare its manufacturer's suggested retail price with its actual average selling price in your area (assuming the car is already in dealer showrooms). You can even enter figures into a calculator to estimate your monthly payment.
Avoid the Crowds
An auto show's opening weekend draws the biggest crowds. If you show up then, you'll be squeezing your way through masses of people just to get a glimpse of a car. And if you manage to sit inside a car you're interested in, you'll probably be joined by other people who are also folding the seats up and down and pushing every button there is — not the most relaxed way to assess a car. If possible, try to go to the show on a weekday, preferably as soon as the doors open. But if you can only go on one of the busier days, make sure to show up as early as possible.