The New York International Auto Show has been closed for some time. But, its resonance is still felt.
In years covering auto shows remotely – now called the "Home Edition" – this was one of the best. It rolled out very significant debuts – with more impact than the other majors on the global circuit. These debuts showed the urgency of manufacturers to create vehicles that will have an impact on their brands and selected markets.
All well and good, but which ones will actually have that impact? As I review the tape (i.e. the video from the pressers), I came up with some favorite production-ready models from the 2015 New York International Auto Show.
The best thing about all this – I did not have to wear that name tag with that name from my birth certificate on it…saving the embarrassment from the floor of the Javits Center.
2016 CHEVROLET MALIBU: General Motors made a bold move on the highly contested mid-sized family sedan market. It is not just in the look – an Impala-influenced “fastback” design with a wide dual port mouth that represents a departure in the segment. It is not just in propulsion – going with an all-turbocharged four-cylinder lineup, plus a Volt-influenced Hybrid system. It is not just about space – GM claims it has improved rear seat space, the biggest complaint of the current Malibu. It is about the willingness to present a complete product that has the monumental task of eating into the sales of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. It also has to beat back the Chrysler 200 and Hyundai Sonata to do so. That is a hell of a job to undertake. If the execution through series production is excellent, GM may have a winner on their hands.
2016 CADILLAC CT6: Johan DeNysschen made his pitch for Cadillac's path towards global luxury car domination. Though many have criticized him for porting over programs De Nysschen implemented at Audi and Infiniti to Cadillac, he knows that it takes product to drive image. The CT6 also took its lumps for not going further towards the aura of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, there are many reasons why the CT6 will create its own impact by marching to is own drummer. Consider the fact that it is a rear-drive biased design with most units sold as all-wheel drive ones, equipped with V6s – turbocharged or not – and offers the promise of Cadillac luxury. While it carries current design elements, understand that the CT6 offers luxury car buyers their own interpretation of a flagship in a Cadillac sense – something luxury car buyers may have to consider. But is it enough? I'm fine with the CT6 as a big luxury Cadillac – as it is intended to be.
2016 NISSAN MAXIMA: What one car could wake up a dying segment? While the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger still attracts owners under the age of 55, Nissan's swoopy big sedan should join this duo. Why? After years of abandoning the original Four-Door Sports Car (1992, to be exact), Nissan created one that is exactly what it advertises. The floating roof may not be of everyone's taste, but it should direct a lot of eyes to it. It still has VQ35 power, though an overhaul yielded 60% new parts inside of it. What will win back big car buyers is the fact that this is a sports sedan that is within reach of big car budgets without crossing over to a premium brand. Like the Murano, the Maxima becomes a premium product with a mainstream badge – and that's a good thing! Even better, this is the follow-up to the real Four-Door Sports Car…the 1989 edition, that is.
2016 HYUNDAI TUCSON: They are serious about the three-crossover/SUV strategy. There's no question that the Tucson has become the most improved vehicle in its segment – a hotly contested one. It certainly looks the part and has the power options to help its cause. What the Tucson represents is a challenge. Can Hyundai nudge themselves into the arena, owned by the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape? The Tucson has improved looks, a premium-looking cabin and added the 1.6liter turbocharged four-cylinder to the lineup, while connected to an improved all-wheel drive system. Hyundai also made a commitment to market the new Tucson along with their two Santa Fes. This triple threat will help the company gain momentum in the crossover/SUV market that they are looking for.
CIVIC COUPE CONCEPT: While it is a concept, American Honda's Executive Vice President John Mendel proclaims that this is what the 2016 Civic will look like. It looks like a good view of what to expect from the next Civic, however there is more to a green concept coupe. It represents Honda's commitment to a global Civic again. Sedan and coupe development will be in the domain of Honda's North America R&D team, adding the hatchback to the mix will help the car's cause here. Before anything suggest that the Swindon-built hatch will take away the shine from the Canadian/Indiana-built sedan and coupe, consider how much it took to get to this point. Consider that from this expanded lineup, we will have the first turbocharged V-TEC developed in North America, along with the anticipation of the Type-R. When Mendel asked the crowd at the Javits Center about whether to bring this hot hatch stateside, there was a resounding affirmative to that question. If Mendel truly said he'll do it on that stage, he must know that it will help the Civic's cause greatly.
2016 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER: I know some of my readers are enthusiasts of the three-diamond brand, while others just want to see it go away from our shores. However, I need to address the latter group – they're not going away. The 2016 Outlander is the biggest argument towards the brand's future in the USA and other global markets. While the new look of the brand is integrated onto the existing Outlander, Mitsubishi went on to make over 100 improvements including sound-deadening glass to strengthening structural integrity – all designed to tackle rid equality, structural integrity, noise, vibration and harshness. Some might ask "why didn't they do all of this in the first place?" A valid question, but let me respond by saying this – better do it now than never. The Outlander is one of the great values out there. It should be priced aggressively as it was for 2014 and it should also be the lightest three-row crossover/SUV in the market. This is one huge argument for Mitsubishi to continue doing business in this country.