Get thee to the New York Auto Show
From today through April 11, the New York International Auto Show will grace the Jacob Javits Convention Center. It’s the largest annual convention to hit the Big Apple and well worth the $14 admission price. If you care enough to read an auto blog, you probably already know Mercedes’ SLS supercar and Chevy’s 230-mpg Volt hybrid make appearances. Below, are some other show highlights.
Acura TSX Sport Wagon
In Europe, this is sold as the Honda Accord wagon. Here, it’ll be known as the Acura TSX Sport Wagon. At almost 16-feet in length, it’s a bit longer than the TSX sedan we’re familiar with. Power will come from a 201-horsepower inline four and economy should reach 30 on the highway. The interior is as nice as the sedan’s (ie: very) and it’s about twice as practical.
Audi R8 Spyder
One of the best-looking cars of the show is the convertible version of Audi’s R8. The soft top version lacks the odd side blades Audi designed into the coupe, and for that, we can all be grateful. The Spyder will start north of $150,000 when it comes to the U.S. this summer, but that’s still tens of thousands less than the Lamborghini Gallardo it shares its 10-cylinder engine with, so it’s kind of a bargain!
BMW 5 Series
BMW’s new mid-sized sedan looks like a winner. The mid-level 535i and sporty 550i are coming in June, to be followed by the “base” 528i later in the year. Power will range from 240 horses in the 528i to 400 in the 550i. The new M5 uber sedan is coming too, but probably not until we’re well into 2011. Interiors are as rich and formal as you’d expect from a German luxury car and the exteriors are curvy without the busyness of most BMWs of the recent past.
BMW 750Li Active Hybrid
Due in June, BMW’s large hybrid will help wealthy owners be frugal and ostentatious simultaneously! This five passenger sedan will start at $107,000 and its supplemental battery power will boost fuel economy 15% over what its 4.4-liter V8 could do unassisted. You could save almost $40,000 by simply buying the base 6-cylinder 740Li, which is also coming out in June. That car is much lighter than the Active Hybrid and thus should handle better, plus it has more trunk space. It’s not like you need that “Hybrid” sticker affixed to the trunk for bragging rights, is it?
Oh right… nevermind.
GM is making excellent use of its Opel division by rebadging the German-built Insignia sedan and selling it here. Due in late May, the Regal will be Buick’s smallest car, but its still an impressive 16-feet in length and I found the rear seat as comfortable as that in the larger LaCrosse. A base model, called the CXL, is powered by a 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine and will get 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway. It’ll come fairly loaded (leather seating, nice stereo, power everything) for less than $27,000. A turbocharged version with 220 horsepower will be available this summer for about $30,000.
This is so much better than the Cobalt that I’m surprised they’re related. Coming in the third quarter, the Cruze will stand as one of the larger compacts on the market. Space inside is great for four and adequate for five in a (literal) pinch. Panel gaps were universally tight and consistent and the car’s cloth-covered dash is striking. GM is looking to raise its corporate average fuel economy and the Cruze’s available 1.4-liter turbo should help – it’s expected to return 40 mpg on the highway.
Coming in June to kick the ass of all comers in the B-class of sub-compacts, Ford’s Fiesta will start at $13,000 for the sedan. The hatchback mini-wagon starts at $15,000. If you’re willing to spend upwards of $20,000, you can lux-out with heated leather seating, a sunroof, and Ford’s SYNC in-car connectivity system. Early reviews indicate the Fiesta is the best handling car in its class and its highly efficient 1.6-liter mill returns about 35 mpg in mixed driving – competitive in its class.
Ford Shelby GT 500
Significantly less frugal than the Fiesta is this most extreme of Mustangs (it does manage to avoid a gas-guzzler tax, though). Due in May for almost $50,000, the 550-horsepower GT500 is less nose heavy this year thanks to a lighter engine.
GMC Sierra Denali HD
Contractors everywhere will rejoice that GM’s heavy-duty work trucks have been redesigned for the first time in four years. The GMC Sierra Denali (and its Chevy Silverado twin) now features a stronger frame and an available diesel with class-topping power and increased efficiency over its predecessor. GM says you can drive almost 700 miles between fill-ups, though it didn’t release actual mileage figures. With 397 horsepower and a Godzilla-class torque rating of 765 pound-feet, the Denali HD can tow 10 tons.
Not much info was available on the new Odyssey coming this fall, but it’s an inch lower than the current model, as well as wider and longer. The overall look is sporty, which is a first for a minivan.
Six inches longer than the already full-sized Genesis, this four- to five-passenger executive coach will be the most luxurious Korean sedan ever attempted here. Price is not finalized, but will be in the $50,000- to $60,000 range. As this vehicle is largely based on the excellent Genesis, and shares it’s smooth 4.6-liter V8, there’s every reason to expect good things from this car.
Looking like a puffed up Mercedes CLS, the Sonata has a class-competitive 2.4-liter four with between 198 and 200 horsepower. I loved its build quality and everything about the stylish dash was delightful, I but found the back seat surprisingly cramped considering that that the Sonata is considered a large car by the EPA.
Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex.
… and it’s very comfortable.
Prices in the full-sized XJ line will range from $72,000 to $115,000 when it comes to market in June.
The Optima sets a new benchmark for Kia. A few years ago, the brand featured fit and finish on par with Soviet farm equipment, but it’s been continuously improving, and can now hold its own with all Japanese, German and American competitors. The Optima features gorgeous, aggressive styling that isn’t obviously derivative of any other marque. Due this summer, the mid-sized sedan also features a stylish interior with plenty of room for four adults. The sporty SX model on display has supportive French-stitched leather seats and a panoramic glass roof. As a sign of the Korean manufacturer’s ever-increasing quality control, door gaps are super tight. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 200 horsepower will power base models, while a turbocharged 2-liter mill featuring direct-injection puts out an impressive 274 horses in the SX. A hybrid version of the base engine will come down the pike in early 2011. Pricing wasn’t available, but since this is Kia’s Camry and Accord fighter, a base price around $20,000 seems reasonable to me.
Due next January, this sporty hatch is based on Lexus’s recently introduced near-luxury sedan, the HS 250h. The CT200h features a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor. Total output is 134 horses, significantly less than the HS’ 187, but at a smidge over 14-feet long, the CT will be compact and light enough to deliver decent performance, claims parent Toyota. Fuel economy will be spectacular at an estimated 44 mph in mixed driving.
Lexus’ $375,000 supercar has a 553-horsepower V10, reaches 60 in 3.7 seconds and can top out at 202 mph. Starting this December, the brand will hand build 500 examples, then end production of the most expensive Japanese car ever to reach our shores.
Coming in July, the Mazda 2 will feature air conditioning, power windows and locks and remote keyless entry for less than $15,000. At 13 feet, it’s a bit longer and roomier than the Mini and about as frugal. I was told to expect up to 35 mpg.
Mercedes-Benz E350 Sport Wagon (E350 4MATIC)
The wagon version of Mercedes bread-and-butter mid-sizer is coming to market this June at a little under $60,000. Featuring a 3.5-liter V6 and standard all-wheel-drive, this cavernous wagon has all the advantages of a crossover SUV, but without a high center of gravity to mess up handling. Wagons are almost perfect family vehicles and the E350 will be the best you can buy here. As an added bonus, the Merc features rear-facing kids’ seats that flip up from the rear cargo hold. They bring total passenger capacity to seven AND allowing your well-bred scions to greet drivers coming up behind you.
This car isn’t due here until the Fall of 2011, but a short drive of a right-hand drive MiEV convinced me that it’s a viable means of transport for city dwellers. It looks small enough to wear around your neck, but easily accommodated my cheeseburger-enhanced frame as well as statuesque spokesmodel. The MiEV has plenty of room for an average family of four. Range will be an issue though, as the aforementioned spokesmodel noted that the five-door hatchback’s expected range is only 45 to 85 miles, depending on use.
She could not reveal pricing, but said it’d be comparable to Nissan’s Leaf a larger hatchback with a slightly longer range that will sell for $33,000 starting in December. Though Tesla and a few other start-ups are selling electric cars, the Leaf is expected to become the first all electric car offered for sale by a major manufacturer in the U.S. (GM’s EV1 beat all others to market, but it was only offered as a lease… and the same goes for Mini’s electric car, introduced more than a decade later.)
Perhaps the coolest vehicle of the entire show was the Mobility Conquest, a wheelchair-accessible trike based on BMW’s excellent R 1170 motorcycle. Designed in the U.K., where it’s known as the Martin Conquest, our Ohio-assembled version of the bike features a remote-controlled access ramp, hydraulic disk brakes, and a thumb-controlled clutch.
If you’re in a wheelchair, but have full use of your arms, all you’d need to do is wheel in and ride off. Well, you’ll also need about $55,000.
Besides being larger and slightly less expensive than the outgoing model, the second generation Cayenne is also expected to be 25 to 40% more efficient across the board. These mid-sized SUVs are lovely to behold, though that’s entirely appropriate with a starting price of $47,000 (rising to $105,000 for the Turbo version). Sport and Turbo versions are due in July, followed by base and Hybrid versions in the fall. That Hybrid has a combined 385 horsepower between its supercharged Audi-derived V-6 and electric motor, but will return mileage in the mid 20s.
Bill Clinton was president when the 9-5 was last redesigned. It’s long-overdue successor is coming in June. This is a pretty sedan. It sits wide and has an aggressive look that’ll serve it well against competitors like the Audi A6 and BMW 5-series. The only exterior styling misstep is the plastic make-believe air vents marring its lower flanks.
So many automakers are using this odd styling cue that I think it’ll go down as the new millennia’s version of the tailfin.
The 9-5 has an awesome perch for the driver and its rear seat, which looks tight on first glance, is surprisingly roomy once you settle in. A 300-horsepower V6 will be the sole powerplant at first. If consumers can get past the fact that Saab almost went to Valhalla, I think they’ll like this car.
Spyker C8 Aileron Spyder
I’m very glad that Spyker purchased Saab but hope whoever designed this monstrosity stays FAR away from the Swedish firm. The 400-horsepower, $220,000 Aileron is a cartoonish monstrosity of vents, chrome-plated porthole-like air ducts, and general ungainliness. Spyker has sold less than 100 cars in its five years in America, probably because our drivers aren’t blind.
Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Subaru, one of the few manufacturers to do well last year, has supplemented the hatchback version of its performance flagship Impreza WRX STI with a sedan version. The new car has the same 305-horsepower Boxer engine and all-wheel drive system as the five-door model, as well as its sensibly-designed but cheap-looking dash. An extra 6.5-inch length gives the sedan more cargo space, though. Subaru says its trunk will hold three golf bags, though I can’t imagine there’s THAT much crossover between gonzo street racers and practitioners of that genteel sport. Visually, the new sedan is sure to get noticed with wide flaring fenders and a gigantic rear wing that the manufacturer says bestows zero lift. It’s coming in the fall and pricing is yet to be released.
Suzuki Kizashi Sport
Primarily an appearance package for Suzuki’s new-last-year five-passenger sedan, the Sport features new wheels, trim, a decorative rear spoiler, and a suspension lowered by 1cm to slightly tighten-up handling. The Kizashi is already smaller and sportier than most competitors and is one of the nicer sedans in the $20-25,000 range. The interior is pleasant and well-equipped, though I found headroom limited. In contrast, trunk space seems way bigger than its 13.3 cubic feet would indicate. At a bit over 15 feet in length, the Kizashi fills the same niche as the first generation Nissan Altima – it slots almost perfectly between most compact and mid-sized sedans. I hope it enjoys similar sales success.
Toyota’s gigantic new Sienna van looks like a great value in the $25-35,000 range. It features both a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and a stout 3.5-liter V6, each of which return decent low-20s mileage. These not-so-minivans look roomy enough to move the entire population of Holland (and their windmills). They have a lovely interior with an almost perfectly flat floor.
Toyota also had a refreshed Avalon on display. Due later this year, the main differences are new high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and LED taillamps. Tell your grandparents.
Back on the market after a year-long absence, Volvo’s S60 is loaded to the gills with high-quality leather seating, your choice of real aluminum or real wood trim, and a sunroof. Its 300-horsepower turbocharged six is among the most powerful engines Volvo’s ever offered, yet fuel economy is up 10% on the first generation S60. The car is fairly small for a mid-sizer and space in the back is tight, but the front seats qualify as thrones.
As is its way, Volvo is also trumpeting the cars safety features, which include an optional pedestrian avoidance system that can detect when someone suddenly moves in front of the car and automatically slam on the brakes.