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Auto industry roars into 2016

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PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JOHN M. VINCENT -  Last year's most anticipated debut for auto enthusiasts was the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. It was worth the wait for the 2-seat roadster that moves back its roots -- lightweight, affordable and downright fun.

Fueled by low gas prices and interest rates, America’s auto industry is flying to new heights, with sales for 2015 reaching record levels. Last year's U.S. new car and light truck sales are expected to exceed 17.5 million units when all the numbers are tallied — the highest number in the industry's 125-year history, breaking the last record set 15 years ago.

There are projections that 2016 sales might exceed 18 million units.

Although there are fewer brands in the market, those that survived the Great Recession are building more models than ever before. Many of those will be on display when the 2016 Portland International Auto Show throws open its doors on Jan. 28 at the Oregon Convention Center.

If you can’t wait that long, plan to attend the Sneak Peek Charity Preview Party on the evening of Jan. 27. You’ll not only be able to enjoy great food, beverages and a relaxing atmosphere, but you’ll have a chance to win a new Lexus IS 200t. Tickets for the formal gala are available at the auto show’s website.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JOHN M. VINCENT - Visitors to the Portland International Auto Show will experience the latest in automotive connectivity and entertainment. The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro features a 4G LTE data connection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.This year’s show offers far more than just a chance to see the cars. Auto show producers have strived to create immersive, interactive ways for you to learn about what is available and what best fits your needs and lifestyle.

You’ll even be able to get behind the wheel of cars from many manufacturers during ride and drive programs on the streets around the convention center. Volkwagen’s scheduled to bring their fully electric e-Golf to the test drive program that is also expected to include Toyota, Subaru, Scion, Ram, Chrysler, Fiat, Jeep, Dodge, Mazda and Kia.

The Tech Center has expanded to include far more than just green vehicle technology. Visitors to the show will be able to explore what’s available now and what’s to come in vehicle connectivity, entertainment and efficiency. Travel Oregon will highlight the region’s growing electric highway.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JOHN M. VINCENT - Compact and midsize pickups are making a comeback with new entries from Toyota, Chevrolet and GMC. The all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma (pictured) is available in extended and crewcab models.One of the most popular cars in the Portland area is the Toyota Prius. For 2016, the Prius is all new, more efficient and dynamic than ever before. Attendees will have the opportunity to win a decked-out Prius Four model, being given away on the final day of the show.

Fresh off its debut at the North American International Auto Show, Chrysler’s newest minivan is expected to make its first west coast appearance at the Portland show. The new van features a plug-in hybrid powertrain, allowing it to travel several miles on electrical power alone before the gasoline engine is engaged.

Reach John Vincent at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @OregonsCarGuy on Twitter.