After a two-year forced break (thanks for nothing, Covid), the largest consumer auto show in this country is returning to downtown Toronto. Traditionally serving primarily as a showcase for new vehicles, this year’s show is getting creative with interactive displays, collector car exhibits, and even an indoor driving track featuring the newest electric cars.
Kicking off on February 17 and running until February 26, the Canadian International Auto Show (its official name, by the way) will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Packed with activities for families of all ages, the show floor is open until 10:00 pm nearly every day. Tickets can be purchased from the show website and those who use the GO trains can take advantage of combo tickets with special pricing.
There are ample opportunities to have fun with the family at this year’s show. Here are some of our favourite family-friendly interactive activities and cool displays.
Those of us who’ve whiled away many hours snapping together Lego bricks will enjoy the life-sized Lego Technic Lamborghini Sian FKP 37, comprised of more than 400,000 pieces and on display at the show this year. As a collab with Automobili Lamborghini, the model took a team of 15 Lego designers investing nearly 9,000 hours in development and detailed construction to bring this marvel to life. Just don’t knock it off a table, OK?
Speaking of tables, adjacent to the Lego Lambo is an entire room dedicated to the fabulous bricks. There are spaces for kids (and kids at heart) to build their own Lego racers and send them down a scale track, competing for bragging rights and the chance to have their creations placed on display during the show. And, of course, there is a wall full of car-themed Lego kits just waiting to put a dent in your credit card. Pro tip: they’re worth it.
Classics from the ’80s & ’90s
Parents ready to show kids how they used to tie their hair back in a neon scrunchie and don acid-washed jeans should check out the octet of tremendously preserved rides from the ’80s and ’90s as part of a display by the crew that handles the too-cool annual Oblivion summertime car show. Justin Sookraj is the founder of Oblivion, owner of a DeLorean-specific shop called Wells Auto, and a gearhead who knows all too well the appeal of reconnecting with the cars from one’s youth. A cherry GMC Typhoon will be on display, plus a Jeep YJ straight from Jurassic Park and a few other period-correct beauties. Another awesome part of the display? An entire room filled with retro arcade games – no quarters required. Party on.
New Vehicle Global Debuts
The show isn’t just one of the hottest tickets in town for Torontonians, it attracts eyeballs from across our country and around the world. This explains why manufacturers sometimes decide to use the event as a stage for global auto show debuts of their cars. This year, Hyundai will be hauling the covers off its RN22e concept car, a high-performance electric vehicle developed by the company’s go-fast N division. With all-wheel drive, slinky styling from the Ioniq 6, and packing lessons from Hyundai’s electric touring car race program in motorsports, the RN22e is a must-see for anyone wanting a glimpse into the future of fast cars. Kids will love the chance to be one of the first in their class to see these hot new concept cars.
Mattel Hot Wheels Display
Touted as the world’s best-selling toy, Hot Wheels is returning to the Toronto Auto Show as a featured exhibitor. And they’re not just showing up with boxes of pint-sized scale models – though there will be plenty of those on display as well. Kids will love the five life-sized Hot Wheels vehicles from the Hot Wheels Garage of Legends and collector cars will be on hand, at least one of which will look very familiar to gamers who’ve spent time mashing buttons in the latest iteration of Forza Horizon on Xbox. And be sure to use The Force to find the too-cool Star Wars Darth Vader Car. There are also Hot Wheels play areas and some local cars with outrageous paint jobs.
Fancy experiencing what a Jeep can actually accomplish off-road when being driven by a professional? This year’s Camp Jeep is a 20,000-sq.ft. exhibit in which auto show attendees can experience a Trail Rated off-road course designed to stretch the legs and capabilities of Jeep vehicles. Stars of the track include a stair climb, a composite mountain stretching more than a dozen in the air canted at a 35-degree angle, and a 30-degree banked articulation wedge. The latter is not the same as a coconut pie wedge, though there are great food vendors near the show. This is the first time Camp Jeep has been brought to Canada and will be open to families but there is a height requirement, so check the stature of your youngsters before hopping in line.
And what would the day be without a civics lesson? Many people know that numerous popular family vehicles are made right here in Canada – the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota RAV4 are just two examples – but did you also know we are also home to an all-electric concept car that aims to put our country on the map for designing zero-emission vehicles? It’s called Project Arrow, a collaboration of more than 50 partners led by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association in a bid to show that Canada has the engineering chops to take on Tesla and other EV makers. Project Arrow will be showing its concept crossover-type vehicle at this year’s Auto Show.