Jen Lubbers
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Mustang Wishes and Minivan Dreams at the 2016 Dayton Auto Show

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3-year-old Dylan tries to reach all the pedals at the 2016 Dayton Auto Show

dayton convention center

If you ask my three-and-a-half-year-old son Dylan what his favorite toy is, he’ll simply say, “Cars!” Which car? Any car. ALL cars. Vehicles of every kind, actually. He truly loves them all. He takes them apart, takes the tires off to switch them with other cars, stacks them up, lines them up, races them, smashes them, bathes with them, and even sleeps with them. It’s not unusual to find a stray Hot Wheels car buried in my purse or tucked in his coat pocket.

But what does he love even more than toy cars? REAL cars. He’s always on the hunt for car carriers and tow trucks when we’re driving around. The more cars loaded up, the better. He points out cars that are crashed, old, shiny, small, huge, loud, or have more than one exhaust pipe. (“That means they go really fast!”) And he regularly asks me why we’re considering buying a minivan instead of a yellow Ford Mustang, which is his favorite car of all. (Trust me, buddy. I think Mustangs are way cooler, too.)

So I was thrilled to learn that the Dayton Auto Show was coming to the Dayton Convention Center February 25-28, and I knew it would be the perfect opportunity for Dylan to get up-close and personal with some really awesome vehicles. And while I knew my little gearhead would have a blast, I was personally looking forward to checking out some new cars myself considering we’re planning to buy a new one before Baby #2 arrives this summer. (Well, let me rephrase that; We’re getting a minivan. It’s kind of a done deal. And truthfully, I’m really excited about it!)

Once we made it downtown, Dylan loved the walk over Jefferson Street from the parking garage to the Convention Center.

dayton auto show

We shortly made our way over to the show, and from the moment we walked in, my son was truly in heaven! He was so amazed that hoods were up and doors were open on just about every car, and he was allowed to look, touch, climb in, and explore to his heart’s content. He definitely took advantage of the situation, and I loved letting him explore so many different vehicles that he might not have been able to otherwise.

dayton car show

Measuring up next to the 2016 Cadillac Escalade

I was pleasantly surprised that the show had such an open feel and was easy to navigate. It was laid out so well and I was impressed by the number of cars that were on display. Nearly 200 vehicles in one place could seem overwhelming, but the Dayton Auto Show made it easy to navigate between makes and models. It was fun to be able to sit in an incredibly expensive Lexus one minute, then hop over to a more practical Toyota to see what they really looked and felt like on the inside–not to mention without a hovering salesperson.

car shows for kids

After getting a lay of the land and seeing some fun vehicles, I was ready to check out the minivans. I have to admit, I got pretty excited about this 2016 Toyota Sienna!

dayton cars for kids

2016 Toyota Sienna at the Dayton Auto Show

It was gorgeous inside and out, and felt so much more spacious than my current set of wheels, my trusty old 2007 Saturn Vue. But with baby #2 on the way, Mama definitely needs space. From there, I got a closer look at the 2016 Honda Odyssey. Be still my heart…

honda dayton auto show

odyssey car show

He approves!

After getting my mom-mobile fix, it was back to the fun cars again. One of the kid favorites seemed to be a tiny blue Fiat 500. Another parent and I remarked that it was almost like a Mickey Mouse car and just needed a set of ears. It looked incredibly fun to drive, and the kids thought so, too!

The trucks and SUVs were also a huge hit with the kids, especially the bigger trucks and this eye-catching purple 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited:

Jeep dayton auto show

There were also plenty of oohs and aahs from kids and adults alike around this stunning 2016 Chevy Corvette. It was incredible!

corvette dayton auto show

And of course, Dylan was over the moon to see his favorite car of all: a yellow 2016 Ford Mustang!

mustang dayton auto show

But the piece de resistance of the show had to be this incredible BMW i8. The Lamborghini-style doors really caught everyone’s attention, and it was truly a sight to behold…

bmw i8 dayton

Trying to go under the ropes to get a closer look…

BMW dayton auto show

When it was finally time to go, Dylan and I were both pleasantly satisfied. As someone who doesn’t shop for new cars often, it was an exciting, hands-on opportunity for me to see cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, hybrids and minivans (!) from so many automakers all in one place. And for my son, it was thrilling to finally sit in the driver’s seat of some of his favorite vehicles, push buttons, climb in truck beds, and share his excitement with other car enthusiasts of all ages.

We had a great time at the 2016 Dayton Auto Show and can’t wait to cruise over to the event next year–in our new minivan, of course.

  • Jen LubbersContributor

    Jen Lubbers is the creator of, a local lifestyle blog about finding fun activities and events for kids and moms in the Dayton area. A lifelong Daytonian, Jen became a stay-at-home mom in 2013. She loves finding places to go, restaurants to eat at, classes to attend, places to shop, and events to attend with her son. Jen and her husband Matt are expecting their second child in July 2016. Follow Jen on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.