2012 New York Auto Show Highlights, Day One

April 4, 2012
It's been a busy first day for most of our editorial crew, who spent the day sprinting between media previews at the New York Auto Show.

Among the major U.S. shows, the New York show has a reputation for being a hotbed for luxury-brand and sports-car introductions, as well as the place where some interesting concepts and special editions rolls out.

Well, there was a flying car. But instead, however, the news is primarily the surprisingly large number of mainstream production-car reveals—as well as a few concepts (really prototypes) that looked production-ready.

Here are some of the highlights from day one:

Hands down, the 2013 Dodge SRT Viper GTS is the king of the show so far. The comeback of the iconic supercar, now with a set of modern electronic systems, driver's aids, and connectivity features—along with a more premium trim and a luxurious cabin—isn't just a story for enthusiasts; it's emblematic of the resilience of the U.S. industry, and its recent comeback. And with its 640-horsepower, 8.4-liter V-10, the new Viper remains a glorious throwback—albeit a modernized interpretation—to a muscle-car era of decades ago.

The Viper's premiere was perhaps the hottest press conference among the show previews, as while many of the other models at the show had been teased to the public and widely revealed to the press in advance, Chrysler had kept details under tight wraps.

Fisker Atlantic concept unveiling before New York Auto Show, April 2012

Fisker Atlantic concept unveiling before New York Auto Show, April 2012

Aside from the Viper, one of the most eagerly anticipated premieres at the New York Show was that of the Fisker Atlantic Concept. With slow-going deliveries of the automaker's larger Karma flagship, this new, more mainstream model—still two or three years away—will make it to production, officials insisted. Like the Karma, the Atlantic will be an electric car, but with a small BMW engine functioning as an on-board generator when you've used the battery's charge.

2013 Lexus ES 300h

2013 Lexus ES 300h

Last year marked the introduction of an all-new Toyota Camry; now the closely related Lexus ES family has received a complete redesign for 2013—gaining some of the Camry's improvements, but staking design ground that's further away from the bread-and-butter Toyota sedan than ever—and clearly made to fit right alongside the new GS sport sedans. Look for both a standard ES 350 model this time, with a V-6, as well as a ES300h, which borrows the Camry Hybrid's 200-horsepower, four-cylinder hybrid powertrain.

2012 Toyota NS4 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

2012 Toyota NS4 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

Acura also turned to a hybrid powertrain for the introduction of the Hybrid Concept, a vehicle that very closely shows the look and design direction of the 2013 Acura RLX, a large sedan that's due early next year and set to replace the Acura RL. With a hybrid-based all-wheel-drive system, as well as a direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6, the RLX's powertrain makes 370 horsepower and should deliver strong performance, all-weather drivability, and an estimated 30 mpg in the city and out on the highway.

 

2013 Nissan Altima

2013 Nissan Altima

The all-new 2013 Nissan Altima has been anticipated for months, but Nissan chose the New York show for this best-selling model's official debut. With a much more adventurous, aggressive design than the outgoing generation, and a simple, uncluttered interior appearance, the fifth-generation Altima marks out new design ground without presenting anything that would alienate mid-size sedan shoppers. Fuel economy ratings will be up to 38 mpg highway, thanks mainly to a new CVT, and there's a new Drive-Assist Display and connectivity system in all models. Hybrid options are also on the way.

2014 Chevrolet Impala

2014 Chevrolet Impala

The 2012 Chevrolet Impala has some of the most weary bones (it's still derived from underpinnings that were rolled out in the 1980s) and plain-Jane looks of any large sedan, but that's all due to change for 2014. At the New York show, the next-generation Impala was shown for the first time, and its modern design and up-to-date underpinnings should lift it back away from fleet-special status and onto shopping lists for families wanting a large, comfortable sedan. Versions of the 2014 Impala will offer a four-cylinder engine, a four-cylinder with GM's eAssist mild-hybrid system, and a top-of-the-line 303-hp, 3.6-liter V-6. All models get a six-speed automatic and ten standard airbags, and there's a long list of available active safety items. Chevy's MyLink infotainment and connectivity system is also on tap.

2013 BMW X1, 2012 New York Auto Show

2013 BMW X1, 2012 New York Auto Show

BMW is moving into a new, smaller segment with its upcoming X1 crossover. Shown for the first time at New York, the X1 packs BMW's now-familiar turbocharged four- or six-cylinder engines and should, compared to the X3, sacrifice a little space for a more nimble small-car driving feel and some added big-city maneuverability.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai's mid-size crossover, the Santa Fe, is getting a full redesign for 2013, and it was also shown first here at New York. With more fuel-efficient engines, new Torque Vectoring Cornering Control, a little more interior space, and a new exterior that showcases a “Storm Edge” design direction, the Santa Fe should prove a much more compelling rival to the likes of the Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Equinox, and Ford Edge.

 

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL Class, 2012 New York Auto Show

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL Class, 2012 New York Auto Show

Mercedes-Benz's biggest, most tow-friendly utility vehicle, the GL Class, is also new for 2013 and first seen at New York. Building on some of the changes seen in the new M Class beginning last year, the new GL Class gets new powertrains, including a revised turbo-diesel V-6, in the GL350 BlueTEC, and the turbo, V-8-powered GL450 and GL550. There's room for seven inside, with better space for all, and there's a new “easy entry” system for the third row. Expect some significant improvements to interior trims and materials, as well as top-notch refinement.

2013 Buick Enclave launch event before New York Auto Show, April 2012

2013 Buick Enclave launch event before New York Auto Show, April 2012

GM also revealed modestly refreshed versions of its full-size Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse crossovers. Both 2013 models included substantially redesigned interiors, with new connectivity features, combined with new details on the outside like LED taillights and running lamps. The 2013 Enclave will also come with an industry-first front center airbag system.

2013 Lincoln MKZ

2013 Lincoln MKZ

Lincoln is again struggling to define where it fits in the luxury realm, but the new mid-size MKZ sedan that made its debut in New York is intriguing. Closer in appearance to the Detroit auto show concept than we expected, the new MKZ has a more flamboyant look inside and out, with functional design details like a push-button transmission selector, as well as the latest version of MyLincoln Touch. There's plenty of new dvanced driving aids like a new Lane Keeping System, as well as a new driver-selectable Lincoln Drive Control system, and a massive, 15-square-foot panoramic sliding roof option.

2013 Honda Crosstour

2013 Honda Crosstour

Honda also showed an only modestly different version of its Crosstour fastback at New York. With more rugged cues than the current version, the 2013 Crosstour might appeal somewhat more to the crowd that appreciates the Subaru Outback or the Volvo XC70. That, plus more efficient powertrains and more standard tech should make the Crosstour's packaging more enticing.

For more details on all of these vehicles, along with live photos from the show floor, see our main New York Auto Show page over at MotorAuthority.

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