Car shows create a one-of-a-kind opportunity for car shoppers. All the major automakers are present, and they all bring the bulk of their vehicles currently for sale. You can even see upcoming models before they arrive at dealerships. Whether you are shopping for a family car, truck, SUV or luxury sedan, at the auto show you're able to compare all types of vehicles without any sales pressure.

car shows

The four main shows (Detroit, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles) tend to steal the bulk of the auto show attention. But there are dozens more held around the country all year long. Here is a rundown of the main auto shows and tips on how to locate the closest auto show to you.

Detroit Auto Show

Public days: January 14 - 22, 2017

Its official title is the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), but many people know this event simply as the Detroit Auto Show. This is not only the biggest auto event in the U.S., it's also one of the largest in the world. In 2015, about 50 vehicles made their worldwide debut in Detroit, including the new Ford F-150 Raptor, the redesigned Nissan Titan pickup and the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Car shoppers attending this Midwestern event can view about 750 different production models on the show floor. The auto show also features a rich presentation of concept cars and upcoming new cars, giving buyers a sneak peek at many vehicles months before they are set to arrive at local dealers. Even the exhibits are Las Vegas-like in their extravagance. In 2016, Ford built an upper story on their display inside the conference hall, with escalators assembled on-site to take visitors to the second level.

Chicago Auto Show

Public days: February 13 - 21, 2016

With its annual event set at McCormick Place, the Chicago Auto Show has the luxury of spreading out across more than a million square feet of space. The enormous venue allows for some unique displays, including indoor vehicle test tracks. The 2016 show, in fact, will include three test tracks. Dave Sloan, general manager of the Chicago Auto Show, notes that Jeep's track "really is an off-road experience for people," complete with a rugged, rocky terrain and an indoor hill to traverse. A separate test track for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) offers tastes of several of its brands – such as Dodge and Chrysler – and features an acceleration lane. One year, Sloan says FCA gave rides to more than 80,000 attendees during the Chicago Auto Show. Toyota is also building a 30,000-square-foot test track inside McCormick Place for the 2016 show, complete with a car-sized teeter totter.

In addition to enjoying these experiential activities, Sloan says Chicago Auto Show attendees will be able to check out about a thousand different vehicle models, including some by carmakers that skip out on other car shows. "Mini, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Maserati … they're all here," reports Sloan.

New York Auto Show

Public days: March 25 - April 3, 2016

The ambiance of New York is different than Detroit's, and this is reflected by the Big Apple's auto show. While Detroit's event acts as a hub for the auto industry – drawing carmaker executives and industry leaders – the New York International Auto Show tends to focus more on the luxury and sedan markets.

"New York is home to more affluent shoppers and influential television personalities," writes Bloomberg's David Welch and Mark Clothier. "The New York auto show has long been a place for luxury brands to show the wealthy and fashion conscious of Gotham their coolest new looks." In recognition of this, Cadillac recently moved its headquarters from Detroit to New York City, selecting the 2015 New York auto show for the Cadillac CT6 debut.

New York is also an important market for family sedans, say Welch and Clothier. Last year, the new Chevrolet Malibu, Kia Optima and Nissan Maxima were all unveiled here. But you won't be disappointed if you're shopping for something other than a high-end vehicle or family sedan. According to the show's website, almost a thousand different vehicles will be on display for the 2016 event. 

Los Angeles Auto Show

Public days: November 18 - 27, 2016

While Detroit is best known for launching mainstream vehicles, and New York holds sway over premium brands, the Los Angeles Auto Show is famous for its green car scene. California not only has strict emissions rules for carmakers, but it's also one of the few states that sells alternatively-fueled vehicles such as the Fiat 500e and the hydrogen-powered Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell. The LA auto show offers a full range of vehicles beyond green cars as well, taking over 870,000 square feet at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

How to find an auto show in your area

While the four events listed above are the largest auto shows in the U.S., they are not the only ones you can attend. Auto Shows of North America lists more than 60 international and regional shows held in the U.S. and Canada, including the Chicago Auto Show, the Atlanta International Auto Show and the Philadelphia International Auto Show.

Find out why car shows matter to you, and get tips for attending an auto show. When you’re ready to buy, head over to the U.S. News Best Price Program for guaranteed savings on a new car, truck or SUV. And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more car shopping advice.