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2013 Cadillac XTS. (GM/General Motors)
2013 Cadillac XTS. (GM/General Motors)

Best of the Lot

Do they sell cars at the auto show? Add to ...

I was at the boat show with a pal and I noticed that he managed to get a couple of decent deals while purchasing some electronics. There were also some interesting prices with the boats themselves. Now, I was wondering if the Toronto auto show might be a good place to buy a car. Do they sell cars at auto shows? Also, I noticed that the Detroit auto show was charging $12 for an adult ticket while Toronto wants $20. What gives? And, my sister-in-law, having once actually bought a large boat, gets annual free tickets to the boat show. Since my last two vehicles have been General Motors products, might I be able to count on them for the same courtesy? – Kevin

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Vaughan: Is the Pope Catholic? Kev, c’mon. Of course they sell cars at the auto show. That’s what it’s all about.

The whole affair is one big cash cow for TADA – the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association. They own the show and control everything about it. There are sales reps galore. It’s open season on you. You’re paying TADA 20 bucks for the privilege of being the prey at a hunting ranch.

Cato: C’mon, Vaughan, that’s one way to look at it. Here’s another: 15 concept cars, 1,000 assorted vehicles, mostly new ones many people have never seen, collector cars, fancy exhibits – you’ll get more for 20 bucks than you’ll get paying $200 to watch the Maple Laughs lose another one.

Vaughan: I would never pay for a Leaf game. Which brings me to free tickets to the auto show: I doubt it. The only way might be to call the sales manager at a dealership where you bought your last two cars and ask. Or threaten.

Cato: Tell your GM dealer that if he wants to sell you a third, cough up some tickets. And Kevin, use your visit not just for a winter outing in February, when Toronto is as dull and dreary as a Stephen Harper stump speech, but also to hunt for deals.

Vaughan: Well, all I could find in the way of deals was a particular VW dealer who was giving away a free set of rubber mats with each new vehicle sold. That won’t break the bank.

There are others who are labelling their usual promotions as Auto Show Specials, but there’s nothing really special about them. No wait, GM gives you a straight $500 off everything on top of whatever else you might be able to negotiate.

Cato: But there is some fine print around what GM modestly calls The Best Car Contest Ever: you’ll need to enter at the show and then you’ll get an e-ticket worth $500 off a GM vehicles. Except it’s not because GM charges the dealer a $250 participation fee. So that $500 voucher is worth $250.

Vaughan: Kevin, when you look around the big booths the auto makers have built, you’ll see guarded entrances leading behind the display. That’s where the sales reps take you into little back offices for haggling. I believe the waterboarding has been discontinued this year, however.

Cato: Vaughan seems to channelling his inner Dick Cheney. The negotiating can be entertaining. Kevin, you just need to be well-armed with pricing and packaging details, know your models, and all the other nuts and bolts of haggling. Think of it as a real-life game of Monopoly. Bring along a spouse or your girlfriend or someone posing as such. Do the “good cop, bad cop” routine. It works. Put yourself in a mindset where you’ll enjoy the arm-wresting.

Vaughan: Cato likes facts, details, mountains of information. So here’s some more: There are two types of people patrolling the floor at the displays.

Category One includes the Product Specialists. They wear running shoes and carry clip boards. They are there to actually answer questions about the vehicles.

Category Two is the Sales Reps and they wear shiny suits and alligator shoes and carry cellphones. They have the keys to the backrooms I was talking about earlier.

Ford Fusion.

Cato: You are awful, Vaughan. Spitting out hoary, old clichés about car sellers. Look, Kevin, whether you treat Toronto as a sales show or not, we want you to eyeball three vehicles, for sure. We’ll call them the Best of the Lot at the auto show and they represent the dramatic change that has happened in Detroit.

First, the all-new 2013 Fusion mid-size sedan. Might be the best-looking car in the entire auto show and it will be sold with gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

Vaughan: Then there’s the 2013 Cadillac XTS. It’s being built in Oshawa and will become the flagship of the Cadillac brand when it hits showrooms in the spring.

2013 Dodge Dart.

Cato: Finally, the 2013 Dodge Dart. It rides on an Alfa Romeo platform and is proof of what is happening in a Fiat-owned Chrysler. This partnership is working. So far.

Vaughan: Nonetheless, Kevin, buyer beware.

HOW THEY COMPARE



2013 Ford Fusion (preliminary)

2013 Cadillac XTS (preliminary)

2013 Dodge Dart (preliminary)

Wheelbase (mm)

2,850

2,837

2,703

Length (mm)

4,869

5,131

4,671

Width (mm)

1,852

1,851

1,829

Track, front (mm)

1,476

1,505

1,466

Engine

2.54-litre five-cylinder

3.5-litre V-6

2.0-litre four-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

170/170 lb-ft

300/264 lb-ft

160/145 lb-ft

Drive system

Front-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive

Transmission

Six-speed automatic

Six-speed automatic

Six-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)

1,554

1,812

1,439

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

TBD

TBD

TBD

Base price (MSRP)

TBD

TBD

TBD

Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

Follow on Twitter: @catocarguy

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