The New York auto show is one of the big three annual auto shows in the country along with Los Angeles and Detroit. At these three shows, almost every manufacturer shows up, and many try to introduce something new. The New York show takes place on the verge of spring, in the hopes of enticing customers into showrooms and out onto the roads. Even with Winter still gripping the Northeast, it is worth the trip into the city to see what is coming to a dealer near you. It is particularly fun at classic velocity, to see the concept cars, and the ways in which the manufacturers are mining their past.
First, a couple of trends. Matte and Satin finishes are apparently the new thing to have on your supercar. Lamborghini, Mercedes, Audi (who may have started this trend), Porsche, Jaguar, all seem to have very high-end supercar models with these finishes. All I can say is that like caviar, it must be an acquired taste. The next is the significant decline of the electric vehicle, at least as evidenced at the show. This was all the rage a year or two ago, and this year much less so. The best evidence of this are the two areas set aside for the jeep experience, and the E experience. The jeep experience had a very long line all the time, while you could walk up and get right in a car at the E experience. To be fair, I must also note that almost every manufacturer now has a Hybrid offering in their lineup, so perhaps it is just that it has all transformed into the more mainstream Hybrid segment. The last trend of note was co-branding. It seemed like almost every manufacturer was offering models or treatments that were partnerships with other organizations. Marvel and DC comic characters were popular, there was a pin-striped NY Yankees Prius, a Hot Wheels Camaro, etc.
Returning to the concepts, my favorite of the show was probably the Subaru WRX concept. This car looked production-ready and featured impressive styling. The Hyundai HCD–14 concept was also an impressive vehicle from a styling perspective. This brand has really become competitive on the styling front with the top European manufacturers. I also really like BMW active touring concept. It looks like a three series wagon, but has roof features and a tailgate that are more reminiscent of an SUV or minivan. The Lexus concept took my prize for most bizarre, with the way that the front grill consumes the entire front of the car.
The compact car segment is a hotly contested space, which is a good thing to see. The offerings from Subaru, Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, and even BMW, continue to offer great packaging and features while keeping mileage relatively high, even in conventional internal combustion offerings. I made a point of sitting in all of them, and the space offered at least in the front of the passenger compartment was very impressive. They did not feel excessively cramped, and headroom was decent. The one area of the compacts that was not improved, was price. They are all creeping upwards. But not to worry, the subcompacts are now the size price of what compacts used to be.