New York City skyline (by Flickr user AngMoKio)
The New York International Auto Show has the the best-attended public days of any of the nation’s car shows. It’s also the end of what we call “auto-show season,” and it leads into the typically busier springtime, when dealerships and auto malls bustle with shoppers.
The NY show is also where a number of automakers have decided to reveal new versions of some of their top-selling mainstream models—and their pragmatically minded luxury models. While that might seem surprising if you’ve ever had to drive, park, or do pretty much anything vehicle-related around the Big Apple, the timing, the media limelight, and the crowds add up to an irresistible venue, and the debut of some much-awaited models.
As we leave Javitz Center, we’ve rounded up some of the most important production-vehicle debuts from the press days here.
Click on to see our own live photos of the most important, all-new vehicles that made their debut here at New York this week, along with a few more mainstream models that have been given a new lease on life with major changes or new variants.
From there you’ll find our previews on each—as always, aimed for the savvy shopper who does a lot of research. And when you’ve browsed those, head over to Motor Authority's New York Auto Show hub for more detail and the enthusiast side.
It’s up to you...
The fully redesigned, fourth-generation 2016 Lexus RX luxury crossover is, without a doubt, one of this upcoming model year’s most-changed vehicles. It borrows some of the edgier styling cues of its smaller sibling, the NX, and then kicks it up a notch. Add in more of a focus on performance and safety-oriented technology, and the result is something that’s definitely still practical but will no longer be seen as bland. It’s now brash and bold and daring—exactly what Lexus RX buyers haven’t been, but hopefully exactly what they want to be.
With the outgoing Optima, Kia truly pushed past the brand’s humble roots and rather homely styling—to a far more fashionable future that’s proven a hit with Americans. Now that model will soon be replaced by a completely redesigned 2016 Kia Optima, and the operative word seems to be ‘refinement.’ This new model builds on the bold, Euro-influenced design of its predecessor, but wraps in massive improvements to steering, suspension, and interior comfort—as well as a new 1.6-liter turbocharged engine in some models that should bring even better fuel efficiency. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but we bet the Optima will remain a very desirable car for more than just value.
The Maxima bears Nissan’s longest-running and most-recognized nameplate. And at the New York show, the new version of the ‘4DSC’—the four-door sports car, in Nissan-speak—that made its official debut is sure to be recognized. While the fully redesigned 2016 Nissan Maxima doesn’t make a leap so radical as what the brand did with the new Nissan Murano, the Maxima definitely doesn’t disappoint in looks; it’s a beautiful, strong sport-sedan design from all angles. And with an upgraded safety set, as well as active ride control, active noise cancellation, and a warmly styled, expressive interior, the Maxima is a sport sedan in all but its front-wheel-drive layout and a luxury car in all but its mainstream badge.
After a period that’s seen Chevrolet’s aspirations dashed by other models with better looks, better mileage ratings, and bigger back seats, Chevy’s changing that—with a redesigned Malibu that addresses all those shortcomings, and more. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu shown at New York stretches the proportions to a far more handsome result, and a new Malibu Hybrid model harnesses some of the technology from the Chevy Volt to earn EPA ratings of 48 mpg city, 45 highway. If it can hang on to its great safety ratings, we think GM will have something much closer to the heartbeat of America.
The Scion iA isn’t just the youth-oriented brand’s first sedan; it’s also the product of a new agreement between Toyota and Mazda—and of a new Mazda assembly plant in Mexico. The 2016 iA will offer an astounding level of standard features for the price—things like keyless entry, cruise control, and push-button start, all of which are usually reserved for more expensive trims—and its base price will land in the $16,000 range, Scion says.
Underpinnings like the 106-horsepower four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic or manual transmissions break no new ground; yet with Mazda underpinnings through and through, we’re expecting a little more verve and driving enjoyment from this one than the specs suggest.
Hatchback versions of the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, and Hyundai Elantra GT have a new rival in the 2016 Scion iM. Very closely based on the Toyota Auris, a car that’s sold in Europe and other markets, the iM brings a little more international flavor and refinement to the Scion lineup, while essentially replacing the now-discontinued Toyota Matrix—as Scion is sold as an extension of Toyota dealerships.
Even though the 137-hp four-cylinder engine is hardly hot-hatch territory, the frugal iM gets other things like a rear independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and front sport seats, that go to assure its ‘hot hatch’ credibility. And of course buyers can choose from a long list of accessories and performance upgrades to make it their own. Sure, Scion might be a brand constantly in flux—a ‘laboratory,’ its execs have said more than once—but we like how the currents have brought this one Stateside.
It’s all a bit confusing, we know. Mercedes-Benz is moving to a completely new naming structure, and as part of that the M-Class is now called the GLE-Class. But the GLE is more than a rebadged ML; it gets a full-on refresh that gives it more emphatic styling, a chunkier, more sculpted look, and new trims and finishes, plus a new powertrain lineup that budges this luxury SUV lineup in a more efficient direction while pushing up performance as well.
Cadillac holds ‘iconic’ in its pocket with the praiseworthy, like-no-other Escalade SUV. And before you ask what’s been stopping them from doing the same thing with sedans, take a look at what the brand unveiled at New York. The brand-new CT6 gets an aluminum body structure, and aluminum panels, plus things like active rear steering, an Active Chassis System, and standard all-wheel drive.
It may not quite be the iconic model Cadillac needs, but it measures up—and gets closer than ever to tussling with German sport sedans.
The 2016 Infiniti QX50 gets no extreme makeover, but we’re including it in this list because it’s been quite meaningfully recast. By adding 3.2 inches of wheelbase and about four more inches of legroom, Infiniti makes this already handsome, fine-driving performance crossover a lot more appealing.
For years—decades, really—Subaru has practically owned the market for smart, rugged all-wheel-drive wagons with an affordable pricetag. But we can see the 2016 Volkswagen Golf Alltrak changing that. With an inch more ride height, 4Motion all-wheel drive, and some rugged lower-body protection—plus great SportWagen versatility—VW could be seen in a new light.
When it was last redesigned, for 2013, the Toyota RAV4 lost the available V-6 and optional third-row seating, and became a model that instead catered to the vast majority of pragmatic, budget-minded crossover shoppers. Now Toyota’s giving the RAV4 a mid-cycle refresh that looks aimed at broadening the appeal beyond the no-frills crowd—to those who want more of an emphasis on safety, technology, or fuel efficiency.
The RAV4 is the first model to offer a low-priced Toyota Safety System suite of active safety items, and a new RAV4 Hybrid model uses the same powertrain from the Lexus NX300h—allowing better performance and far better mpg. Add some trim upgrades and a tuck here and there, and the 2016 RAV4 is simply one that’s now a lot more likely to make the shopping list.