The 2014 New York International Auto Show opens to the general public today, but we were lucky enough to preview it during Press Days. Featuring the debuts of more new models, redesigns and special editions of older models than we could possibly cover in a single blog post as well as huge crowds, lots of loud music and crazy lights, and a growing social media focus, carmakers threw a terrific event for the press that bodes well for the public event as well as the next year’s worth of new cars. Here are some highlights.
The 2014 edition of the show marks a number of anniversaries, including the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first Mustang, the 100th anniversary of Dodge, the 25th anniversary of the Mazda Miata and the 20th anniversary of the Subaru Outback’s debut. Ford celebrated its anniversary by installing a new Mustang on the roof of the Empire State building, as it did with the first Mustang back in 1964, and the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Mark Fields, opened the press breakfast with a focus on innovation. A little later he also debuted the Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition, a version based on the current Mustang GT with Performance Pack of which only 1,964 versions will be produced, each of which will include a plaque featuring Bill Ford’s signature and look fantastic.
Dodge noted that you learn a lot in 100 years and introduced 2015 versions of the Challenger and Charger, each of which will be available with a Scat Pack of MOPAR upgrades. The new Challenger, based on the 1971 edition and offering a classic Shaker hood for Hemi-powered versions, looks great, although the new Charger got a more thorough upgrade with a shorter front end that looks a little more like the Dart. They both get a speedy new 8-speed automatic transmission and should be available later this year, but Dodge’s new Double Up program allows a 1-year lease on a 2014 Challenger or Charger that will convert to a 3-year lease on a 2015 without any change in payments.
Mazda’s stand was packed with a more than a dozen versions of the Miata, stretching back to production number 14 and ranging from stripped, track-ready racers to very rare fashion-photo-shoot-ready special editions. A good-size crowd including a number of originators of the 1989 debut model gathered for the unveiling of a new MX-5, and the limited-edition anniversary version of the third-generation model looks great. The stand also featured a stripped chassis for the upcoming fourth-generation model, but fans will have to wait to see more of the new version, which should debut at next year’s Chicago Auto Show.
Subaru credits its original Outback with launching the crossover category and helping drive the company’s fifth consecutive year of sales growth in the U.S. The debuting new version should be available this summer and looks a lot like the new Legacy up front. It’s slightly larger and roomier than the 2014 version but also gets better mileage, as well as a new infotainment system and a quieter interior. A new version of Subaru’s dual-camera EyeSight driver-assistance system will be available as an option.
Heritage matters in the auto biz, but this year’s New York show also includes plenty of focus on innovation. Toyota’s presentation of the new Camry followed the opening breakfast and featured one of the biggest crowds we saw at the show. With a new fascia that looks Lexus-ish, the new Camry certainly looks a little more aggressive from the front, but the 2015 version will carry over current powertrains. It should be stiffer and quieter, though, and the 2015 Camry will offer an optional wireless charging system for smartphones.
Jeep introduced its new Renegade by bringing two very different versions on stage. The Trail Hawk version arrived at a stop on a very steep descending ramp just above the stage, while an example of the Latitude trim stayed level and allowed attendees to get a better sense of and look at the cabin and cargo area. Jeep has set sales records for two consecutive years, and company president and CEO Mike Manley looks forward to an increasingly global focus, particularly on China, Brazil and Europe.
Acura introduced the production version of its new TLX, which will replace the TL and TSX and should arrive this summer. Base models will get a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, and a 3.5-liter V6 with a new 9-speed automatic will also be available. Front-wheel drive will be standard, but a Precision All-Wheel Steer system (P-AWS) should improve handling, and V6 versions will offer a new version of Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) that’s 25% lighter than the current one.
Social media was a noticeable presence at the show this year, with the Scion display offering swag to attendees who shared their attendance of the show electronically in addition to the FR-S Release Series 1.0 and the xB Release Series 10.0. And this is New York, so a few stars came out for the press event, and who knows who might show up by the time the show closes in the next 10 days. Jon Hamm helped introduce the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelson added his thoughts on Swedishness to Volvo’s press conference, and we spotted Martha Stewart checking out Scion’s new xB.
The New York International Auto Show opens to the general public today through April 27th, and anyone interested in attending or keeping tabs on the excitement should check out the NYIAS app and look for the official #NYIAS hashtag in social media.