The 2015 New York International Auto Show will come to a close this weekend, and as usual, automakers packed the Javits Center with beautiful new vehicles in hopes of making as big a splash as they could during the crowded hypefest. We attended last week’s 2-day press preview, and we have to say it was a very fun but exhausting trip; the automakers like to keep the press moving around the venue. But we moved quickly and made it to nearly all the press conferences with help from plenty of free coffee and some life-saving free chairs.
Some of the biggest names in the business were there to show off what the next year of production has to offer the market. Automakers all more or less stressed the same common themes throughout the preview, but some of the more unexpected themes included fuel cells, semi-autonomous-driving features, and affordable luxury (with the exception of Land Rover and Jaguar, who touted their models’ steep price tags). Dozens of reveals took place at the press conferences, and we thought we’d share our impressions on some of the biggest.
When the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Hybrid hit the stage at this year’s show, we couldn’t believe our eyes — and that’s a good thing. Brought back to life in 1997, the modern Malibu has been a staple of both the suburbs and rental fleets for nearly two decades. While there was never anything wrong with the Malibu, it was never particularly exciting. Following in the footsteps of its big brother, the Impala (which itself went through a drastic transformation in 2014, becoming the downright sexy sedan it is today), the Malibu ditched its old, dated look and got an injection of awesomeness. Not only that, but Chevy rolled out a new hybrid version of the car as well, a version which boasts 45 mpg city/48 highway/47 combined. If you want a midsize sedan with serious good looks and excellent fuel economy, 2016 will be a good year.
After debuting the Malibu on Wednesday, Chevrolet held a second press conference Thursday to share news of its #BestDayEver of April Fool’s Day surprises and introduce the 2016 Chevrolet Spark. As a subcompact that attracts more attention for its features than its looks or power, the Spark may not be everyone’s idea of a king, but Chevrolet has sold more than 1 million Sparks in 71 markets worldwide, and more than a quarter of U.S. buyers were under 35 at the time of purchase, so it’s certainly very important to Chevrolet’s future. The new Spark’s 1.4-liter 4-cylinder will put out 16 percent more power than the current 1.2-liter, and it will offer a wider palette of active and passive safety features than many cars in its class, including a standard reversing camera. The 2016 Spark looks sleeker than the current version, and it includes Chevrolet’s all-new MyLink radio and an available built-in WiFi hotspot. The new Spark should go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Jaguar built up a lot of hype around its 2016 Jaguar XF, and boy oh boy did it deliver. Designed to compete with the German juggernauts, the XF has always punched well above its weight, and we loved the 2015 version we tested. While the XF’s look doesn’t change drastically from 2015 to 2016, lots of its underpinnings do. Gone is the old all-steel construction, and in comes the aluminum. Largely thanks to this change in materials, the rear-drive XF sheds 132 pounds, while the all-wheel-drive version drops an impressive 265. While the XF’s overall length doesn’t grow, the wheelbase does stretch out about 2 inches, allowing rear passengers slightly more legroom. If you were hoping to get a lot of engine choice in your new XF, don’t worry—you won’t. Jaguar axed both the turbocharged 4-banger and the supercharged V8, instead opting for 2 versions of its 3.0-liter supercharged 6-cylinder—one pumping out 340 hp, the other 380 hp. Whichever you pick will be the right one.
Lexus effectively launched the midsize luxury crossover category in 1998 with its 1999 RX 300. That vehicle was very well received and grew in popularity and engine power over the years, becoming the company’s best selling vehicle, but our reviewer found the 2015 RX 350 a little behind the times tech-wise. Lexus introduced its 2016 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h to a huge crowd as vehicles that demonstrate the company’s technical side as well as its emotional one. The new versions will each feature an upgraded, more powerful version of the current 3.5-liter V6 in a stronger, stiffer body, with a much more aggressive version of the spindle grille up front. Tech improvements center on the new Lexus Safety System+, which brings together a number of existing active safety features including adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and automatic braking.
No car generated as much buzz at this year’s show as the Lincoln Continental Concept. Lincoln hasn’t built a Continental since 2002, but that could all change very soon, as the concept we saw in New York is rumored to be very similar to the car Lincoln hopes to put into production next year. There’s no denying the Continental Concept is a fantastic-looking car, but some have criticized it for being too fantastic. The most prominent of these critics is Bentley’s design chief, Luc Donckerwolke, who said, “I would have called it a Flying Spur concept and kept the four round lights.” Donckerwolke went on to ask Lincoln designer David Woodhouse, “Do you want us to send the product tooling?” All we’re going to say is that the Continental Concept looks even better in-person than it does in photos (and it looks great in photos). We’re excited to see this car hit production and hope it comes to North America when it does.
McLaren had the distinction of being the only supercar manufacturer with a press conference at the show, and with that opportunity it announced the McLaren 570S sportscar. The 570S continues McLaren’s tradition of making beautiful cars match their beautiful engine. The sportscar receives power from a 3.8-liter twin turbo V8, a newer iteration of the engine found in the P1 and 650S. Capable of producing 562 hp through its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, the 570S aims to offer supercar performance and style on the cheap (well, cheap for a supercar). It’s easily the most affordable and attainable McLaren on the market, with a price tag just below $200k. It was certainly impressive to see up close, though, like most anyone, we’d rather see it on the track.
To be completely honest, we aren’t entirely sure what to make of the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander. We’re glad to see Mitsubishi still making cars, but the Outlander reveal was… slightly underwhelming. There is little new to the Outlander beyond aesthetic changes, both interior and exterior. But this may prove to be Mitsubishi’s first step to digging out of the hole in the automotive market it has inhabited for the past few years. Its press conference was one of the more awkward presentations at the show, which may be a reflection of Mitsubishi’s current place in the market. But the presenters were certainly doing everything they could to make a positive impression on the press in attendance. Mitsubishi even gave away the chairs used at the press conference, which for better or for worse, was the most memorable part of the presentation. Boy, those were some nice chairs.
The Nissan Maxima got a nearly complete redesign for 2016, and we feel it’s a marked improvement (even if we aren’t particularly fond of the floating roof). Performance-wise, the Maxima doesn’t quite stand out, but it certainly has the horsepower (up around 300 hp) and mileage (about 30 mpg highway) to keep pace with the other sedans in the market. Of course, it comes with the safety features that Japanese automakers love to emphasize with predictive forward-collision warnings and rear cross-traffic alert. Semi-autonomous-driving safety features made a few appearances throughout the show, and Nissan presented its own take in the form of Nissan’s Driver Attention Alert. This system detects erratic driving and drowsiness and provides an awakening alert to the driver, ensuring that the Maxima does not miss out on the safe-driving hype.
While many of the cars at this year’s show showcased advances in technology that turn more control over to computers, one car left automotive purists salivating: the 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder. Porsche won hearts left and right by rewarding its most loyal fans this year with a car meant to be driven for the sake of being driven. Want such distractions as air conditioning and a radio? You’d better look past the Boxster Spyder—it doesn’t come with either (although you can order them at no charge). Want to drive an automatic Boxster Spyder? Sorry, like the Cayman GT4, the Boxster Spyder is available only with a 6-speed manual. Is Porsche worried about how well the Boxster Spyder will sell without an automatic variant? Absolutely not. The Cayman GT4 went on sale in February and is already sold out. Porsche expects the same of the Boxster Spyder. If you want to get your hands on one, don’t hesitate. The car goes on sale this October, but dealerships are already accepting orders. There’s a chance this one will be gone faster than its 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds.
Toyota’s most popular SUV is finally becoming part of its prolific hybrid lineup: The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid seems like a completely logical and predictable extension of the Toyota brand, and despite the obviousness in its inception, the RAV4 Hybrid was among the more exciting reveals of the show. Toyota took the model introduction as a chance to introduce some of its new safety features including Bird’s Eye View Monitoring and Toyota’s Safety Sense. The Bird’s Eye View Monitoring senses the area surrounding the RAV4 and provides a simulated top-down view to assist with parking and driver awareness. Toyota Safety Sense features a package of semi-autonomous driving features including pre-collision braking, lane-departure alerts, a pedestrian pre-collision system, and adaptive cruise control. Toyota made sure to showcase its most advanced features in what is sure to be a hugely popular hybrid.
What’s your favorite car from the 2015 New York International Auto Show?
Note: You can see lots more photos and cars from this year’s New York International Auto Show in the NYIAS web site’s Vehicle Galleries, and we’ll share more coverage from the show next week.
-hollerin, jharrington and zwaller
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