Looking for Fun in Austin This Weekend? Roll Like a Rock Star At the Austin Auto Show

Austin Auto Show

Austin Auto ShowDrive a Race Car, Flirt With Batman, Roll Like a Celebrity. And Your Kids Will Have Fun, Too.

Are you looking for something to do with the kids in Austin this weekend? The weather is going to be gorgeous, and the vestiges of SXSW have been washed away with the rain on Friday, leaving the roads clear for the Austin Auto Show. And best of all, kids under 12 get in free!

Eleanor, the Batmobile, R2D2, and more

In 1989, Tim Burton wanted a unique vehicle for his darker, more modern Batman for the big screen. He hired Anton Furst as the production designer, and they came up with a base that was built from two merged Chevrolet Impala chassis and fired it up with a Chevy V8. The body was all custom, and it required high octane 97 gas (can you imagine how much THAT cost per gallon?). Saturday, Batman will be at the show in his full regalia along with the Batmobile.


If you like fast cars, Nicolas Cage, and Angelina Jolie, then you must be a fan of the movie Gone in 60 Seconds. “Eleanor” is a customized 1971 Ford Mustang featured in the movie, released in 2000. Fun fact: “Eleanor” is the only Ford Mustang in history to receive star title credit in a movie.

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Rock the Racing Simulator

Do you have a need for speed but don’t want to pay the fines for a ticket? Ford has a racing simulator. The simulator gives users the full race car experience, including a taste of what would happen if the car veered off the road.

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Speaking of Ford, Don’t Miss the Features on These Models

When we attended the opening day of the show, we spoke at length with Andrew Culross from Ford about the 2017 F-150 Limited on the show floor as well as the 2017 Expedition. If you’re in the market for a vehicle that can transport both people and large objects comfortably, these two should be two of your front runners. Loaded with safety and convenience features, like lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and hands-free tailgate opening, both the F-150 and Expedition may surprise you.

The F-150 Limited feels like a luxury vehicle, with plenty of room for anything you want to bring along. The giant console would fit two or three purses inside, or even a small laptop bag, if you need to hide your electronics. The seats can be heated, and they have excellent lumbar controls for great posture behind the wheel. You might not even be a truck person and it will impress you. Of course, if you live in Texas, you’re probably a truck person.

Austin Auto Show

The F-150 Limited is surprisingly luxurious for a full-size pickup. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Dream a Little Dream of These Rock Stars on the Show Floor

We can dream about the cars we’d like to drive, right? There are a few right here in the Austin convention center, including a Bentley Bentayga, a “it corners on rails” Lotus, and a new Kia fastback sedan based on a concept car from 2011. You can’t touch these or sit inside – but let’s be honest here, if you had a quarter of a million dollar vehicle in your possession, would you want a bunch of strangers getting their fingerprints all over it? Nope.

Austin Auto Show

2018 Kia Stinger: Kia’s first five-passenger fastback sports sedan. Will be available with an inline 4 cylinder or twin-turbo V6 at the end of 2017. Translation: VROOM. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw


Austin Auto Show

You could purchase this 2017 Bentley Bentayga for a cool $272,300. No touching, please. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Get Behind the Wheel and Explore Austin (A Little)

Toyota, Camry, Mazda, and the FCA Group (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, including Jeep, Dodge, and RAM) are offering Ride and Drives in front of the convention center between 10 AM and 7 PM on Saturday and 10 AM to 6 PM on Sunday. Bring your drivers’ license and they’ll let you take a zippy jaunt around a large city block to get a feel for the car. (Pssst… Mazda is handing out $5 Starbucks cards for testing them out, and Toyota is offering a small package that includes a 12V power adapter, cord, and earplugs.

We tested the new Rav4 Hybrid in the rain, and it performed admirably; the brakes are very responsive, and the driver can feel the battery regenerating with every application. The acceleration meets our expectations for smooth takeoff and acceleration, and the fuel economy is excellent for a car this size. Cargo space is roomy and the battery takes up very little real estate.

The Austin Auto Show is open March 24-26, and tickets are on sale online ($6.00 for adults and $3.75 for seniors and veterans) and at the door ($8 for adults and $6 for seniors and veterans). Kids under 12 are FREE.

The Austin Auto Show provided us with a press pass to attend the event. All opinions are our own.


Writer. Car fanatic. Mom. Kristin is the co-owner of auto review site Drive Mode Show and a nationally-published writer... More about Kristin Shaw