New York 2013: Five Favorites from the Javits Center

2014 Kia Soul - Photo courtesy of Kia Motors America
2014 Kia Soul – Photo courtesy of Kia Motors America

It was good to not have to travel for this one…

Actually, that is not true. If I had the chance, I would have flown off to New York to attend the media days of the auto show at the Javits Center. Anything not to deal with my so-called day job would be a saving grace about now. Then again, what are my honest prospects in moving forward from that position and that company?

/rant

No, I am not done ranting. One of things that was brought up during the course of the New York International Auto Show media days have been the plethora of debuts that happened in the course of three days – between events on and off the floor. The question was brought up a few times as to why these debuts did not show up sooner – in Detroit and Chicago, namely.

The answer is not as simple as a delay. There are many reasons behind not showing certain products earlier due to perhaps time, budget and other considerations.

Yet, New York provided a huge stage for a lot of compelling new products in both production and concept form. After reviewing everything that popped up on the floor of the Javits Center, maybe a Five Favorites would be in order to parse out the ones that sparked my interest.

Certainly not seeing them live would not be advantageous to get the full picture. These are still my picks of the show…let the arguments begin!

KIA SOUL: Sure, it looks like the previous Souls. However, Kia knows when a successful shape does not need to be dramatically changed. All other visual cues did change, but to integrate the latest design tenets of the brand and to help shake up the product for its fans. Knowing several people who own Souls, they would like what Kia has come up to give one its more popular products a needed lift. In all, the improvements of recent model years are carried over for the most part. The new Soul is wider now with a longer wheelbase. The interior gets a serious rework with UVO integration and a lot more. It has become more desirable as a complete package than ever. The Hamsters approve.

JEEP CHEROKEE: Despite the divergent opinions about the latest Fiat Auto-driven new Chrysler product, it offers a lot more than just the look. As demonstrated on stage at the presser, the Cherokee has the capability necessary to become a Jeep. If it was simply a crossover, could it not have the axle travel and articulation it showed over those – um, what were they exactly? The key element to the Cherokee's capability, performance and potential efficiency is the first application of ZF's new front-drive skewed nine-speed automatic gearbox. When I saw the gearbox itself, it was already adapted to all/four-wheel drive. This was an indicator that a lot of thought was put into making sure this Jeep is truly Trail Rated. Is that enough to quell the divergent opinions over the design? Let us follow one into the woods and find out…

2014 Cadillac CTS - Photo (c)2013 GM
2014 Cadillac CTS – Photo (c)2013 GM

CADILLAC CTS: It did what it had to do. It had to be revealed the night before the doors opened at the Javits Center for the rest of the press conference schedule. It had to create the most impact as it made claims to challenge the Germans (again). The new CTS is quite compelling, if not polarizing. Though there were plenty of critiques on the degree of the design in relation to the ATS and the XTS, and questioning various details about the car, one agreement was made – Cadillac is serious about going after its competitors. The addition of the 3.6litre twin-turbo V6 caused an even greater stir – even with talk of 420 horsepower coming from under the hood. What we hoped for with the new addition we almost got – the Vsport. This is not a full-on CTS-V, but a model with the V attitude. For now, we will take it. After perusing all of the numbers and adding up with the upcoming CTS will offer, this might be Cadillac's ultimate answer to the luxury mid-sized sedan segment. The only thing we are waiting for it is the execution through production. That will be one tale to tell.

MITSUBISHI MIRAGE: Let me talk you through this one. For Mitsubishi to regain more traction in this market, it needs got search for new opportunities in segments that could emerge in the next few years. Just like the Outlander Sport, the Mirage appears to be a segment buster. Though it looks the part to compete with the likes of the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit, the Mirage appears smaller. Therefore, the Mirage may be targeted against the Chevrolet Spark, which has been turning some good sales lately in North America. Mitsubishi needs a small car since that is where we are going with new CAFE regulations and unstable fuel prices looming over the new few years. The MiEV is a good electric car, but we would prefer to pump petrol and see it go further out of town. The Mirage is a great companion to the MiEV and fits within the new sustainability model the brand will demonstrate over the course of the next several products. You could see a new push for the Mirage with a wider demographic in mind.

BUICK LaCROSSE AND REGAL: Imagine this: two former Victory & Reseda Vehicle of the Year winners getting their respective facelifts. For one, it was a long time coming. The LaCrosse is now in the position as Buick's top sedan. It needed some upgrades and a style fix to look the part. The waterfall grille got a dramatic makeover and the interior was gussied up for a true luxury feel. The same treatment was given to the Regal, further distinguishing it from its European cousins- the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia. GM went a step further to add all-wheel drive for the first time to the German/Chinese/Canadian sporty midsizer. One thing that caused some stirring amongst the pundits was the offering of one turbo engine for both Turbo and GS models. Power is at 259HP, which caused some enthusiasts to question the loss of 11 horses in the GS. For the non-GS consumer, getting the upgrade of 39 ponies is great news! It actually works either way, but the debates will continue on the GS. Though the LaCrosse had some steady sales since its introduction in 2009, the Regal had been on the losing end of the line, seeing its potential sales jump over the Verano and elsewhere. However, the Regal always had the potential to become a leader in a very specific market segment because, seriously, it is a damn good car. The 2014 model should be even better with the infusion of tech and the option of all-wheel drive – and you need to buy lots of them this time around.

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