Before anyone flashed their credentials at the gates of the Jacob Javits Center, the 2017 edition of the New York International Auto Show already began.
For the two days running up to the formal press days, various automakers already unveiled their newest wares. Some even threw open the covers way beforehand somewhere remotely further from Manhattan. Talk about spoiling the fun…
Perhaps it could be said how much New York means to the North American automotive market. By running everything up until the public sees what's inside, we must tease them into submission. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles did a fine job in doing so. They teased their 840 horsepower monster – the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon – to maximum fanboy levels. Mercifully, they showed this Hellraiser of Hellcats through videos that could be seen as trailers to new multi-player games. Throw in the “Fast and Furious” franchise in for good measure and anyone dreaming of getting their license might have stunted their growth.
We expected the Demon to rear its wide body to the universe – a fortnight before press days would begin. What else happened at Javits Center or in the pre-show events running up to the main event? I wonder…
Here are V&R's the picks from the 2017 New York International Auto Show…
BUICK X 2.5: One piece of news happened the week before when the Regal was unveiled at a private event in Detroit. This Regal basically broke every rule about it. It is still an Opel Insignia, which means they'll be built across the pond instead of up in Oshawa. They will come in a hatchback and a wagon. The hatch is new to us, since no Regal has ever been sold this way. The big eyes were upon the TourX wagon, which someone called it a “crossover.” No, sorry, not buying it.
By the way, the TourX will be the first Regal wagon sold since 1983.
The Regal was not the only news. The next generation Enclave offers two big headlines. First, it has joined the old Lambda platform-mates in its own transformation with sleeker lines, lighter weight and carryover V6 power. Correction, power is up on this new Enclave – to 302 horsepower. The second headline is the show car launches the Avenir sub brand. Avenir becomes a luxurious step up from normal Buicks in offering high levels of luxury, technology and exclusive details. The combination of the two headlines are indeed a welcome sight for those of us wondering how Buick will grow while redefining the middle luxury segment – if there is still such a thing. Nice SUV, though.
THE NEXT NAVIGATOR: Lincoln perfected the large American luxury SUV when it first came out. Then, Cadillac showed up. It took the market, because simply it was a Cadillac built off of GM's large truck/SUV platform. The folks at Lincoln have been planning and plotting to take back the market it created. From what was shown, the poshness is back! The Continental's 30-way seats have been applied with fine upholstery across all three rows. Power is up from the 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged V6 (don't call it an EcoBoost, please!) to around 450 horsepower. The new Navigator will come in two wheelbases, including an extended version.
If this Navigator does not take back what's rightfully theirs, then we simply lost out on what will be the grandest Lincoln of them all.
THE ASCENT OF SUBARU: What began as a concept last November in Los Angeles shaped up to be a stylish three-row SUV. There are some design advances in the brand, which will help its cause. It needs to be a hit after the Tribeca's failure. In fact, the Ascent will replace the Tribeca in the lineup. Subaru states that the Ascent will be powered by a direct injected and turbocharged Boxer engine. However, we should be wowed by the interior design – the best in Subaru's history. All of these details are pointing to something wonderful in this class.
HELLCAT ALL THINGS: I will get to the Demon in a moment. But, first, FCA introduced a vehicle that the Moparian faithful has been asking for. The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has been oft rumored to be true. It is now for real. All supercharged with 707 horsepower wedged underneath the big Jeep's hood. The Grand Cherokee SRT is already a badass among SUVs. The Trackhawk turns it up to 11. If you want a Hellcat and need more space than a Charger, this will fill the bill.
MORE CLARITY AHEAD: Honda applied this name to their five-door hydrogen fuel cell vehicle several years ago. It was a great concept that engaged a few Californians to try out this technology. There is a second generation Clarity available now – again with the hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system. However, Honda decided to use the same body/platform to add a full electric and a plug-in hybrid driveline. That means we could see the Clarity sold across the country. The Plug-In can get an electric only range of 42 miles, while the gas engine could provide a complete range to empty of 330 miles. This is good news for Honda as it finds way to provide a solid lineup of green vehicles to the marketplace.
FJ CRUISER THIS IS NOT: We miss the Toyota FJ Cruiser. It can follow a Jeep Wrangler onto the trail, but people weren't buying. That is, unless they are off-road enthusiasts. Consider the success of the TRD Pro versions of the 4Runner, Tundra and Tacoma for a moment. If you want a justification for Toyota to explore their off-road roots again, then the FT-4X Concept should do the trick. It looks smaller than the FJ Cruiser, which could put it in the size realm of the Wrangler two-door. It looks like it has short angles of approach and departure – important for optimal off-roading. However, Toyota used the word "urbanite" in the press materials. Yes, as long as they can get out of town and explore the world beyond the tarmac. Otherwise, I cannot wait for the production version of this!
OK, ABOUT THAT DEMON… It is best to talk about the numbers instead of the car. The Hellcat 6.2 liter supercharged V8 has been amped up top 840 horsepower. It can go 0-60 MPH in 2.3 seconds. The quarter mile time was attained at 9.65 seconds at 140 MPH. It puts down 1.8 g's of lateral acceleration. It can take race fuels of 100-plus octane. If you like these numbers and have the money to splurge on it – you might be lucky. There will be 3,000 of these Demons available in the USA, 300 in Canada. That's all there is, really…