Mar 21, 2013 (The Morning Call (Allentown - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Cars, kids and community: That's the the focus of the 2013 Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show, says Tom Kwiatek, executive director of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association.
More than 250 vehicles -- the most ever -- will be on display March 21-24 at Lehigh University's Stabler Arena and Rauch Fieldhouse. You'll find the newest cars, from the fuel-efficient hybrid SUV Ford Escape to the fast sleek convertible Porsche Boxter.
This year, there is so much more. A visit to the auto show will support area nonprofit organizations and help raise money for Lehigh Valley Health Network's children's hospital. There's even a 5K to benefit Cetronia Ambulance Corps.
"Our auto dealers have come together to support the community," Kwiatek says. "We made a concerted effort to strengthen our philanthropic efforts in the community. It's really a partnership."
Cars, of course, are still the main attraction. More space than ever -- 120,000 square feet -- is devoted to vehicles, not just cars but also motorcycles and recreational vehicles. Manufacturers include Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Nissan, Harley-Davidson and more.
New this year, browse the automotive high-end in the Luxury Pavilion in Stabler Arena devoted to top-of-the-line vehicles from manufacturers such as Jaguar, Lexis, Cadillac and Lotus.
Open-road enthusiasts can check out a selection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Non-riders can experience the thrill of riding a Harley with the Jumpstart Rider Experience.
Returning is the emphasis on green vehicles, from ultra-fuel-efficient compacts to hybrids and electric and diesel-powered cars. This year you can test-drive the Nissan Leaf all-electric car.
The Kids Zone is sponsored by The Children's Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital and features activities with a focus on health and safety. Kids can take part in the LVHN Robotic Simulation Olympics, in which they compete for prizes on robotic simulators used to train surgeons.
The Ford Ride and Drive Program returns, letting let you test drive some of the newest Ford vehicles.
Here's a quick look at car show highlights:
New this year, the show is dedicating all of its display space in Stabler Arena for its Luxury Pavilion. The showcase includes cars from Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, Mini Cooper, Porsche and Volvo.
Included are the Jaguar XF, voted by U.S. News and World Report as one of the Top 5 large luxury cars; Mercedes CL65 featuring a massive and twin-turbocharged V12 engine; the elegant midsize, front-wheel-drive Lexus ES 350 sedan; the stylish crossover utility vehicle Land Rover LR2, and the Lincoln MKS, the classic full-size luxury sedan.
Green Passport Contest
Returning is the Green Passport scavenger hunt, which draws attention to the latest in environmentally friendly vehicles. Pick up your passport at the entrance to the show and track down the green vehicles, including electric cars, hybrids and plug-in hybrids and turbodiesels. Get all 18 spaces on the passport stamped and turn it in to be entered into a drawing for prizes.
Kids Zone includes LVHN's Distracted Driving Simulator and tips on bicycling and skateboard safety. There will be games, music and prizes by Radio Disney noon-1 p.m. Saturday.
Outside in the parking lot, see emergency vehicles, and watch a landing of the LVHN MedEvac helicopter at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Watch or participate in LVHN's Robotic Simulation Olympics. Qualifying rounds are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The competition continues 4-6 p.m. April 11 at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, and finals are at the LVHN Health Fair at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown on June 11.
Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Showcase
Check out the latest heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring Harley-Davidsons in a new car show feature. Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association will bring 18 of its classic bikes, including the Road King, the Tri-Glide, Ultra Limited, Fat Boy Low Rider, Night Rod Special and the Seventy-Two.
The Harley-Davidson Jumpstart Rider Experience combines a Harley-Davidson and a stationary support stand created so anyone can feel what it's like to ride a Harley. Mount the bike, set your boots on the foot pegs and fire up the engine. Give the throttle a twist and hear the recognizable Harley sound. Sitting on the bike, you can shift through the gears, all under the watchful eye of trained personnel.
At a new RV Showcase in the parking lot next to Rauch Fieldhouse, you can browse through luxurious motor homes and check out convenient pull-along pop-ups. See the latest in recreational vehicle technology from all the leading brands, provided by Harold's RV Center, Itasca Motorhomes, Heartland Travel Trailers, Bighorn 5th Wheels, North Trail Travel Trailers, Trail Runner Travel Trailers and Summerset Popups.
Ford Ride and Drive
The Ford Ride and Drive Program will let you test-drive some of the newest Ford vehicles, including the Focus, Fusion, C-Max Hybrid, Edge, Explorer, Escape, and F-150 pickup. Ride and Drive is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot adjacent to Rauch Fieldhouse.
On Saturday the Lehigh Valley Ford dealers are hosting Ford Motor Co.'s Drive 4 UR Community program in an effort to raise $6,000 for the children's hospital. For every person who test-drives a new Ford, the local dealers and Ford Motor Co. will donate $20 to the hospital.
Nissan Ride and Drive
New this year, you also can test-drive the all-electric Nissan Leaf, and experience the powerful alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. Sign up at the Nissan booth 3-7 p.m. Friday, noon-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.
The Great Ambulance Chase 5K
Cetronia Ambulance's 2nd Annual Great Ambulance Chase 5K Race will start at 8 a.m. Sunday at Stabler Arena as part of the auto show.
Registration is $35 and participants can run or walk the 5K course. Registration includes admission to the auto show on Sunday.
An award ceremony will be held after the race at 9 a.m. in the Hospitality Suite on the 2nd floor of Stabler Arena. Racers will receive awards for the top three male finishers and top three female finishers in various age categories.
All proceeds benefit Youth 911 education programs offered by Cetronia Ambulance Corps.
The auto show debuts Community Days, a partnership with area nonprofit organizations. The 26 groups are selling $10 tickets to the Auto Show, which are good Thursday and Friday. The groups receive $5 of the ticket price. Groups include Bethlehem Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Club of Easton, Dream Come True, Easter Seals of Eastern PA, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Valley Youth House. Contact individual groups for tickets.
Many of the groups also will set up displays at the show Thursday and Friday.
"We're thrilled with both the quantity and quality of nonprofits taking part in Community Days," Kwiatek says. "This promotion will give us the chance to give even more back to our community, while at the same time raising awareness of these invaluable organizations."
Kwiatek says last year the GLVADA donated $150,000 to local charities, most of which it raised from the auto show. GLVADA contributes 50 percent of its annual proceeds from the car show to nonprofit organizations.
"We are doing what we can to lend a hand and I think you'll see more of that in the future."
GREATER LEHIGH VALLEY AUTO SHOW
-- When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 21 and 24; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 22 and 23
-- Where: Stabler Arena, Rauch Fieldhouse and West Pavilion, Goodman Campus, Lehigh University, Bethlehem
-- How much: $10; $7, seniors and children 5 and over.