Auto show in Baltimore draws shoppers, but mostly dreamers

They came to the Motor Trend International Auto Show in Baltimore with five cars on their list and a plan to narrow it down to three.

"We're moving out of the minivan category because we're now 50-somethings with no kids to haul," said Mindy Doring, who was checking out the inside of a Hyundai Elantra with a sticker price of $16,445 and 40 miles per gallon on the highway. "It's now about comfort and the ability to throw down the seats and move a piece of furniture."

Doring and her husband, Mark, came from their home in Catonsville to shop and were part of the all-business category among attendees of the show, which runs through Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The other, much larger crowd of people lining up to get into the showroom Saturday: the dreamers.

This group included wide-eyed children and their wide-eyed dads, who seemed most often to warm to the trucks — the bigger and more loaded the better.

"I like the Acura MDX, a high-end SUV that's out of my price range," said Chris Moneymaker, who came to the show with his dad, brother and 6-year-old son, Carter, whom he was helping into a red Toyota Tacoma four-door pickup. "My wife said not to even look at anything like that."

The Acura starts at $42,930.

But that was nothing compared to the $92,850 Jaguar XJL sedan that Predrag Durkovic was looking at. Though, he said, for that kind of money, they could have built in a little more legroom.

"It's not worth it," he said. "It's too small."

If the British luxury car wasn't going to do it, the show — presented by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association and produced by Motor Trend Auto Shows LLC — included hundreds of cars, trucks and crossovers.

There were Subaru wagons with standard roof racks for the outdoorsy types, boldly colored Ford Mustangs for the muscle guys, crisp silver Cadillacs for the overachievers and the new Fiat 500 for the city folks with tight parking options. The little Italian hatchback was declared "cute" over and over by female showgoers and "small" by their male companions.

Perhaps the biggest dreamer was James Dickerson of Forest Hill. He just got his learner's permit, and his car of choice was — a car. Though, as he tested out the driver's position in a $25,720 Volkswagen Beetle turbo, he said if he really had a say his new ride would be a Subaru Impreza WRX (starting at about the same price).

His father, Bob, who gave up his Beetle when his son became too big to fit in the back seat, said he might like that Jag he could see out of the corner of his eye. James' mother, Carole, who comes along to the auto show every year as part of the family's Valentine's weekend, just wanted something reliable.

For others, the dream was also part practical, and green. There were dozens of cars offering more than 40 miles to the gallon, including many hybrids and plug-in electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt.

"I like the savings on fuel and being green," said Jen Sauer, as she photographed her 2-year-old son, Kaleb, on his grandfather's lap in the driver's seat of a Toyota Prius. "It gets twice the mileage of my Chevy Equinox. Maybe in a few years."

It may be more than a few years for Kevin Freeman, whose love of small, sporty coupes and roadsters has taken a back seat to fatherhood. But that didn't stop him from taking a look at the highly anticipated Subaru-Toyota collaboration: the Subaru BRZ.

"There's a lot of buzz about this car," he said of the 2013 model of the two-door coupe. "It's a very nice-looking car, very sexy."

His nearly 3-year-old daughter Kylie's favorite car: The one that was shiny and spinning.

If you go

The Motor Trend International Auto Show continues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $6 for students and members of the military (children under 12 admitted free with an adult).