The Houston Auto Show Exemplifies How Auto Shows Empower Kids to Love Cars

Eve At Houston Auto Show Featured Image
Eve At Houston Auto Show Featured Image

A Young Girl’s Guide to Cars at the Houston Auto Show

I recently brought my nine-year-old granddaughter, Eve, to the Houston Auto Show, as I covered the show for my work. Eve loves to travel and is better at it than many of my adult friends. Plus, she likes cars. She notices them and, since she’s been born, she has experienced a new one nearly every week, as I am a full-time test driver of autos and fortunate to have a new model delivered to me each week at my home in New England.

By the time Eve was four, she began to make comments – not just about the paint color of a car, but the new trends in paint – one she described as “having stars from the sky” embedded in the metallic paint, for instance. When she was five, as we were approaching my new car of the week, she exclaimed, “I love those wheels!” At seven, she declared that the Genesis G80 was her favorite car of all. “Who wouldn’t want this car?!” she exclaimed. Why? I asked, thinking the full-sized sedan was an unusual choice for a youngster. “Who wouldn’t love it… because I have my own way to listen to music in the back and to put the heat or air conditioning on the way I want. I can change what you’re doing in the front, and I like this big sunroof,” she detailed.

Related: It’s Not Too Late To See Electrify Expo, the All-Electric Auto Show — Or, Put It on Your Calendar for 2023

Eve And One Of Her Favorite Cars, The Genesis. Photo: Sue Mead

Eve and Jarred Pellat of Genesis with one of her favorite cars, the Genesis Gv60. Photo: Sue Mead

The Observer in the Backseat Has Favorites

Over time, Eve has gone on to notice many other features from her backseat perch, and particularly likes iPads, and screens that are for rear riders and are embedded into the back of the front seat or in other locations- or even added as standalone. She also appreciates having her own light controls above her head and the ability to put her window down or up at her whim, as well as the convenience of a window shade or sun screen when it’s too sunny on a drive.

Eve enjoys powered rear-opening tailgates, running boards that help her step in a tall vehicle as well as seats that power up and down. Nearly two years ago, at 7, she declared that the Lincoln Navigator was the “best car ever” because she could bring six or seven friends along with her, and asked if I would buy one for her when she turns 17.

Related: 10 Surprising Things We Learned When Our Kids Turned Into Teen Drivers

Eve And The Full Paint Color Display. Photo: Sue Mead

Eve and the full paint color display. Photo: Sue Mead

Finding Joy at Auto Shows is Easy for Kids

Last year, Eve attended the Chicago Auto Show with me and had the time of her life. She loved all the swag and goodies on the show floor; Subaru’s litter of puppies that could be played with and adopted; a driving game she could try out and win prizes for accuracy (she didn’t have much, but the folks manning the game gave her prizes anyway!); and as she learned about EVs, she was the subject of a story on Evie and EVs at the show.

She noticed the myriad cars and looked for a couple of her favorites and she made friends with many manufacturers’ staff on the show room floor, who were impressed by her enthusiasm.  She also loved the Ford Bronco obstacle course ride and the Camp Jeep/Jeep Track ride.

Eve was dismayed that I did not bring her to the auto show in Detroit last fall, so I made the decision to take her along with me to the Houston Auto Show, and gave her the assignment to choose her top five favorite cars at the show.

Related: Auto Shows are Back! This is What to See at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show  — or a Show Near You

Houston Auto Show Crew. Photo: Sue Mead

Houston Auto Show Crew. Photo: Sue Mead

Eve’s Top Five—and Why!

  1. I like the Jeep Wagoneer because I like the size of it–it’s big and it has many seats and I can take a lot of friends in it. I like it’s looks –especially in front and how it’s designed. I like the iPad in the back and you can get massaging seats in it.
  1. The Ford Bronco looks super cool on the outside and it’s really high up and you can see what’s going on, when you’re sitting in the back because you’re higher than usual. I also really like the blue color (Velocity Blue Metallic) of the one that we had for the auto show.
  1. I really liked the Genesis GV60 because it’s the first car where they will take a picture of your face and let you in. You don’t have to have your keys with you and you always have your face with you! The lime green color (Sao Paulo Lime) was cool, too.
  1. I liked the looks of the Corvette Stingray, but I also liked the name stingray because it’s the name of a fish-and I like fish. I also like the sports car part because I don’t get to ride in them a lot of the time.
  1. The Ronald McDonald Car was unique because it was bold and, if I could, I would buy it and it would be fun for everybody. I was like, this is really cool. I’d like to drive it…it’ll make you laugh and it would be enjoyable for everyone. (This “car” measures 23-ft. long and is a 29EEE shoe! There is another car like this that is in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but this is the only one in the world that is street-legal; it’s built on a Chevy half-ton truck chassis and has a V-8 engine.)
Paint Colors Up Close. Photo: Sue Mead

Paint colors up close. Photo: Sue Mead

For Eve, “the Houston Auto Show was really cool because I got to see all the cars and stuff that I don’t really see a lot.” So far, she doesn’t care about the price of cars, top safety features and she’s mostly oblivious to powertrains, but she does like the sound of a healthy throttle note and especially enjoys a moment of joy when I push the pedal for a short burst.

Eve was one of more than 65,000 visitors who came to the show that combined land and sea with cars and boats; it was held in the NRG Center and covered 700,000 ft. of exhibit space with more than 500 vehicles from 30 brands and more than 200 vendors from the top brands in boating fishing and outdoor sports, as well. It was the 40th year for the auto show and the 67th year for the boat show. with both the latest vehicles and boat models, in including electric offerings in both categories.

Generation Alpha is the next Audience for Auto Shows!

I remembered that when General Motors bought the Hummer brand many years ago, the auto maker sent researchers to the show and interviewed young children to ask about their favorite vehicle at the show. That year, the Hummer was selected by the greatest number of young people, and, with that, GM bought the brand. Before going to Houston, I knew that Eve and her friends would be getting their drivers licenses in about seven years, but I didn’t realize that she is a member of Generation Alpha. I did some research and learned more about them: they are the first to grow up with iPads, social media and digital media as part of daily life. And they are already in some degree of consideration for automakers and will become more so quickly.

Do I expect Evie to become a car journalist or racer? No, but she has learned a lot about what moves us in our world today and, while I’m still a somewhat cool grandmother, she is a great travel companion.

Sue Mead, who was among the first women to test and compete in the off-road field, travels the globe... More about Sue Mead