Auto show to include test drives – Toledo Blade

Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Toledo’s event opens Thursday

The Toledo Auto Show rolls into town this week, and in addition to the 100-plus cars on display, two automakers are bringing special ride and drive events that will give visitors a chance to test out a number of vehicles on downtown streets.

Toyota and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have both announced they’ll be opening up some of their newest models for test drives. Organizers say it’s the first time that an automaker has offered a ride and drive event coinciding with the show. Among the Fiat Chrysler vehicles expected to be available for test drives are the Toledo-built Jeep Cherokee and the Dodge Charger sedan. Toyota, meanwhile, will offer up the recently redesigned Tacoma pickup and the new RAV4 hybrid.

The 2016 RAV4, which Toyota debuted at last year’s New York International Auto Show, is the first version of the popular sport utility that is available as a hybrid.

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John Yark, president of Yark Automotive Group and co-chair of the show’s charity preview gala on Wednesday, said having the ride and drive event should enrich the show and give people who haven’t been car shopping a while a fuller sense of just how much better today’s cars are.

“When you think about the cars and the new designs, how nice the interiors are with all the technology and the safety features, really the only way you can get the true experience of what all that gives you is by going out on the road,” he said.

The Toledo show generally doesn’t include any concepts or pre-production models, though there should be a number of cars that have recently gone on sale and a couple that aren’t yet in dealerships. Among them are the next-generation Toyota Prius, the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu and Chevrolet Cruze, and the new Buick Casada convertible. The Casada, Buick’s first convertible in a quarter-century, is expected to go on sale next month.

A full list of cars and trucks expected to be on display wasn’t yet available, though organizers say they expect 26 manufacturers to be represented.

The show opens to the public Thursday afternoon, but it officially kicks off on Wednesday with the “Cars are the Stars” charity preview gala, which raises money for seven children’s initiatives, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Kobacker Center for Adolescent Psychiatry, and a scholarship endowment at the University of Toledo.

Mr. Yark said the event raised more than $160,000 last year and has generated a total of $1.2 million in the history of the event. Officials expect a record 900-plus people this year. Tickets to the charity gala are still available through the show’s website

The show runs Thursday through Sunday. A number of events and giveaways are planned, including a drawing for a two-year lease on a 2016 Chevy Cruze LT sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Chevy Dealers.

Entries are now being accepted at all 17 northwest Ohio Chevy dealerships through the end of the day today and will be accepted at the show. The winner will be drawn at 3 p.m. Sunday at the auto show.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.


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