Auto Show Future Classics: 2016 Denver Auto Show


Auto shows – where little boys come to stare at big cars and big boys come with their significant others to stare at big sticker prices.  And kick some tires without being hassled.  The Denver Auto Show is this week, and while the flavor is definitely regional without any big reveals I figured there were some new cars out there that I hadn’t seen yet, so why not take a look and share them with you.


After picking up my media credential about forty minutes before the doors opened, I realized that I didn’t need to wait for the huddled masses waiting in line to purchase tickets and join me as the man at the door waved me in onto the floor.  A short distance inside the main door was the VW stand, devoid of anything diesel-related and front and center was the VW Beetle Dune.


Apparently this will be produced and for sale shortly, it’s basically a trim package with a small lift kit and some plastic on the fenders.  You won’t be crossing any dunes in this thing though, as it’s strictly for the road.  Equipped with a turbo, it should be decently quick I suppose, but the Beetle is getting squished in the marketplace overall.


As you may recall, I recently had a Subaru Outback in my fleet and have also had a recent VW.  This Golf Sportwagen Alltrack is pretty much right up my alley with a small lift, all-wheel-drive and bit of fender cladding.  A year ago I would have said these will be all over the place but with VW’s current troubles, all bets are off.


While I took these shots before the doors opened, even when I returned to the VW stand a couple of hours later, it was BY FAR the least attended display area in the room.  It was not tucked away in a corner or anything, but people seemed to actively walk around it instead of through it.  The next couple of years will be very interesting to watch as regards VW.


Over at Buick was the new Cascada convertible.  It’s about the size of the old VW Eos (not sure if that helps anyone picture it) and is quite attractive.  As another rebadged Opel, hopefully this will see some success outside of rental fleets.


Overall the styling works, and there is a definite family resemblance to the Regal and the Verano as well.


It’s not huge inside, but has room for “+2” in relative comfort.  Material quality seemed on par or a little better than the Regal.


Tucked next to the Range Rover / Land Rover stand where pretty much everything looks almost the same to me (is it just me?), I came across the new Jaguar F-Pace.  I was looking at this online the other day and was quite impressed with it and its pricing as well as warranty and service package.  In person it is much longer than I had envisioned.  I thought it was more like the Porsche Macan but it actually almost looks like it has a third row (it does not).  I don’t think the blue color suits it that well, but there are plenty of other colors to choose from including a great dark green.


Here it is from the front and it’s fairly aggressive looking.  I prefer my Jaguars to be a bit more “club room” rather than “gymnasium” but I’m getting older and I assume they are trying for a younger buyer.


My main interior shot didn’t come out but this one of the houndstooth pattern in various areas (here on the door panel) sort of did.  I haven’t seen houndstooth used before in a car interior but it kind of works here and was definitely different.  Other than that it was comfortable and felt good.  I think they will end up selling a lot of these and cannibalizing some of RR/LR’s sales.


I don’t know, the Evoque as a drop-top?  Really?  I guess they figure they’ll have better luck with it than Nissan with its ridiculous Murano Cross Cabriolet but much like Mini and BMW, Land Rover is trying to mine every niche and sub-niche these days.


It doesn’t work any better from this angle (at least for me).  I’ll freely admit that I’m not a fan of the regular Evoque either so maybe that’s the problem.


Sorry for the shaky camera, I’m holding it over my head, but the interior isn’t too bad.  There were tons of convertibles at this show which I found interesting as you really don’t see that many convertibles here.  It’s too easy to sunburn at the altitudes here and the sun beating down on you gets HOT even when the ambient temperature isn’t necessarily so.


The next stand over belonged to Mercedes.  This new thing is the GLE450 with an AMG appearance package.  Basically the size of the regular ML (now also called GLE, confusingly) but with much less practicality due to its fastback shape this is a direct competitor to the BMW X6.


I don’t have much to say about it, really.  It’s big and brash and makes a statement, I’ll leave it at that.


Tucked way into the back corner near the emergency exit was the Mitsubishi stand.  Three versions of the Outlander in different lengths, a couple of Lancers and a lone Mirage at the end.  There was no electric i-Miev even though it’s on their website.  It could be they don’t sell it in Colorado although we get many of the others and have extremely generous incentives for electrics at the state level.  Like VW, Mitsu wasn’t getting any love at this show (or in the current marketplace I suppose).


This was interesting and obvious although I had never thought about it before.  According to AAA (our dominant road service company for those of us elsewhere) the electric vehicle charging truck can charge all current EVs at Level II (240 volts @ 30 amps) as well as provide an 80 amps charge – the first mobile unit in the nation capable of doing so. AAA will provide members with discharged electric vehicles a quick charge in as little as 15 minutes, which will allow the vehicle to be driven up to 10 miles (depending on the vehicle).


At Audi they had the new A4 but without any fanfare or special signage it took me a walkaround to be sure it was new, it looks extremely similar (too similar) to the current model.


I rented one of the current models last year and really enjoyed it.  I used to be a huge Audi fan and a quick apologist for any issues anyone saw with them, but these days they kind of leave me cold.  Superbly capable but maybe a bit too clinical, Audi’s image has changed quite a bit over the years.  Obviously it’s been successful for them, and I have no doubt they will sell a ton of these but there is very little charm.


Inside it has been significantly updated as well with the now all-too-common “iPad glued on top of the dash” screen.  It’s amazing how within just a couple of years, a huge number of makers have embraced this style.


Next door at BMW was this pretty little 228i convertible.  Similar in size to the 3-series of just a few generations ago I see this as doing quite well, natural competitors are the Audi A3 and maybe even the Buick Cascada.  They are all about the same size.


The rear isn’t bad either, it works better in real life, here it looks a little bulbous.  By the way, the lighting was funky in the Convention Center, my camera didn’t like it, as a result some of the colors look different here than they really do even on the same car from different angles.  I played around with the settings a bit but nothing really worked as well as I would have wanted.  It may be time to sell some of my Curbside Classic stock options and invest in a better camera…


Typical BMW inside, if you’ve seen one you’ve pretty much seen them all.  The color contrast is nice, and those seats look VERY comfortable (the front ones, not so much the rear…)


Yes, the $39,645 number is the starting price.  That gets you the small dish of vanilla.  The nuts, fudge, cherry, and whipped cream?  All extra.  Click to enlarge and see the option prices.  Maybe the Buick Cascada isn’t really a competitor after all, I don’t know.


Oh, baby, is this the new Cadillac CT6?  Yes, yes it is!  I was excited to see this as even though I’ve pretty much sworn off sedans in my stable I really wanted to like this.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys think about it, I was underwhelmed to be honest.


I thought it would be bigger.  Now, it’s not small but it doesn’t have much more presence than the Cadillac XTS does/did which was nearby.  Actually this may be one of the few cars that looks better in pictures than in real life.


I climbed into a TON of cars today and overall this was midpack.  It is amazing how good the interiors have become on machines costing half the price of this.  This isn’t horrible (far from it) but it’s not really “special”, either.  An interesting touch was the rear view mirror which was actually a high-def camera display.  It can also function as a regular mirror if the camera is blocked due to dirt, snow etc.  I can’t really see the advantage over a regular mirror, our back-up cameras are constantly blocked by dirt and snow from driving around here and if the rear window itself is blocked with fallen snow you shouldn’t be driving like that anyway.


Some of our readers demand the “console intrusion factor” shot, so here it is.  It’s good, not a problem.  But the wheel and the instruments aren’t really better than in an Impala as far as I am concerned.


Right above the badge was this flaw in the paint (dead center in the photo).  I did not go looking for it, it kind of jumped out at me.  This is not “Standard of the World” type of stuff.  On one production model, okay, things happen, but on the floor of an auto show where the cars were from the manufacturer and not a local dealer, this should not happen.  It wasn’t isolated either, I found a larger blemish on the tailgate of a $90,000 Cadillac Escalade.  I fear for Cadillac, it’s not really able to compete against who it wants to compete against with this kind of stuff.


Here’s the front.  Clean?  Or Blah?  I think it needs something else and a more ornate badge isn’t that something else either.  I really was excited to see this Caddy but now I’m pretty ambivalent about it.


I’m not really sure what Nissan is going for here.  There was no signage, no explanatory placard, nothing.  I guess they took a Nissan Rogue and added tracks to it.


Maybe they were concerned that it would be overrun with crowds, so they brought TWO!  But there were no crowds after all…Actually I just realized that the front one is a Pathfinder as opposed to the Rogue in the back (and above).  There is info online about them, if interested look for “Nissan Winter Warrior”.  These will not be in the showroom at your local Nissan dealer.


Nissan did bring a couple of their new Titan XD pickup trucks.  Yes, they are big.  These have the Cummins TurboDiesel engine in them, which may be what they need to compete.  Then again, everyone else seems so firmly entrenched, the pickup market is very tough to break into or get people to switch brands.


It’s no smaller from this angle.  It does have some interesting integrated storage boxes in the rear but you need to be in the bed to really access them.


Inside is on par with the competition.  At first I thought I was actually a little cramped between the door and the center console but it’s about the same as in all the others (Yes, I tried them all).  The door just seemed awfully close at first.  Anyway, material quality is similar to the competition, all of which seem to be about a generation behind that of their better non-truck interiors.


This is the new Hyundai Tucson, which fits in the range of RAV4, CR-V, Rogue, Escape etc.  I really like Hyundai and Kia’s styling these days and this one looks like a slightly smaller SantaFe (which itself comes in two sizes/lengths).  Powered by a 1.6l turbo engine, this should do well in the market.


Alright, I’ll be honest, I cannot stand the black and machined look on wheels that is so prevalent these days.  Hopefully in a couple of years it will pass.  These are better than some, but overall this little CUV is very appealing.  I’m probably another decade away from fully getting over my ingrained dislike of H/K based on their old/original offerings but fully realize these new offerings are completely different.  My kids won’t look at Hyundai/Kia as anything but a complete competitor to the Japanese (having never known any different) and that is when Japan, Inc. really needs to be careful and/or up their game.  I would not hesitate to purchase a Hyundai or Kia for them…


At first I thought this was the new Lincoln Continental so I took a pic, then I realized it was just the 2017 Zephyr (or is it MKZ?), the current 2016 model with the “old” grille is in the background.  Basically this has the new Continental nose grafted onto it.  Great color though!


This, on the other hand, IS the new Continental.  It looks about the size of the Chrysler 300, but lower.


While modern, it looks a lot more traditional than the Cadillac CT6.  I don’t know if that will help it or hurt it.  Either way, new product in a Lincoln showroom that is not just a tarted-up Ford is a good thing.


Check this out – actual COLORS!  And from Lincoln, to boot.  Surprisingly, overall I saw a lot more color at this show than in general, even on larger cars which was nice to see.  I wonder if any dealers will take a chance though and actually stock some of the more interesting ones.  The bottom row shows all of the available paint colors, the top row has four different leather colors (yeah, still not really anything interesting there), and three woods on the right.


Inside looks fairly normal, I first spoke with the booth professional who didn’t know much, but then saw a guy in a suit on a laptop in the corner who said hello to me.  He was apparently from Ford HQ and explained that the doors are soft-close (like trunk lids on 90’s Cadillacs), I’m not sure if people will figure out not to slam the doors.  He was also proud of the seat controls on the door panel a la Mercedes, which is a definite nice feature that should be more widespread and we discussed the exterior door handles, which are all touch sensitive with no moving parts and very nicely integrated into the brightwork on the side.


For the full-frontal fans, here you go.  Very nice grillework.  And the headlights aren’t too shabby either.


For those of you more into, uh, the rear, here’s that as well.  The Lincoln lettering looks great all splayed out, and the tail lights, while looking similar to Dodge’s “racetrack” motif, works better on this somehow.  American cars should have full-width rear lighting in my opinion, it’s one of the things that I loved seeing on older (then more or less current) iron when I was a kid and it stuck with me.


Changing gear a little bit, this is the new Malibu.  Looking a little like a shrunken Impala but without the exaggerated rear fenders, this is (to my eyes) a beautiful design and probably my favorite Malibu design of the recent generations, and possibly the best looking current Chevrolet.


I don’t think it has a bad angle.  The wheels work well too, and if they’d only de-brass the Chevy bowtie in favor of a simple chrome outline or something I wouldn’t have anything to complain about.


The engine is a 2-liter turbo, which is the way the world is moving these days.  Turbo technology isn’t even remotely exotic anymore, and frankly the technology is very reliable these days.  This car should (in theory) have nothing to worry about from an engine perspective.


The camera distorted the hues a bit, to my eyes it all worked very well while inside.  As a result of the shape, the head room in the back seat could be better though.  It’s better than in the Fusion (for me) but nowhere near as good as in more traditional shapes such as the Camry.  If this is a family car it’s great, it it’s for the carpool to work and everyone is over 6 feet tall, maybe a test fit is in order.


It may start at $22,500 but this one was about $14,000 more than that, which is a staggering percentage increase more on par with what Mercedes and Porsche do, click on the sticker to see all of the info.  I liked that quite a few of the makers had the actual stickers on hand for perusal.


As you’ll recall from above, I wasn’t all that enamored with the Cadillac CT6.  On the other hand, I was bowled over by this Hyundai Genesis.  It’s not completely new anymore, in fact I saw two right in front of me driving down here, but the shape is wonderful and very modern without being over the top.


This is the interior the Cadillac should have had.  Gorgeous leather, magnificent wood (or is it fake, I don’t know, I don’t care, it looks great).  Everything looked like it just belonged where it was, nothing looked lifted from anything else, and it was a really, really nice place to spend some time.


This thing is SO much nicer than the first generation and easily as good (on the surface at least) as what Lexus and some of the Germans are doing.  It’s one of those cars that, to me at least, you look back at when walking away from.


VW should take note of Hyundai’s warranty.  It could help them.  They did offer that in the Touareg I had (but not the rest of the line) but they didn’t make a big deal about it, and I learned about it by accident when buying, having expected the usual coverage.  But there is no reason not to offer a great warranty if you need something to differentiate yourself, if your reputation is somewhat tarnished, and if you are confident in your own product.  I fear perhaps that last one may be the issue…Anyway, good on Hyundai, they definitely get it.  This car’s cross to bear is that is shares showroom space (and staff) with much more pedestrian offerings, and it deserves so much better.


This appears to be the new 2017 Buick LaCrosse, available this summer, not that you’d know it by the signage.  The only clue that it wasn’t the current model is the fact that you weren’t allowed to touch it.  And thus couldn’t fall in love with it on the spot, which is kind of the point here, isn’t it?


It’s probably a great car, but will probably not do much for Buick.  The man in the plaid cap seemed very interested though.


While I was sampling pickups to compare to the Nissan Titan XD, I came across this one.  It was the largest pickup at the show with a sticker to match.


Biggest logo, too.  No wallflower, this.


RAM 3500 Limited Crew Cab 4×4 Long Box Diesel.  $75,950.  Wow.  At least you saved $500 by deleting the 20″wheels and tires in favor of the 17’s which I’m guessing is probably required in order to get the dually rear end.


According to some, it wouldn’t be Curbside Classic if we didn’t slobber all over a Toyota Corolla, so I found an appropriately Beige (metallic) one to sample for you.


I’ve never owned a Corolla myself but do find this generation’s styling very attractive, if conservative.  Sometimes conservative works.


Millions of people just need and want something to get them through the daily slog to work and back and this is perfect for that. Totally inoffensive, meticulously assembled (in Mississippi now!), and ready to start every time for, well, pretty much forever.


Check this out.  Soft-ish black plastic at top, beige plastic for the doorhandle insert, with an alu-look trim strip at top and then a dainty orangy-woody-looking trim strip set just below.  This went all around the cabin and looked very rich.  There was no need to do this, nobody would miss it, but it adds a lot to the perception of quality and style.


And they start at $17,230.  I’ve bought a lot worse cars that I’ve spent a lot more on.  People may hate on them but they are good value for money. (In my opinion).


Hey, check it out, it’s Marty McFly’s truck!  This one’s been on the show circuit for a while now, but is based on the new Tacoma with a lot of ’80’s accessories.


I’m surprised Toyota doesn’t offer a “McFly” accessory package or that more dealers don’t put something together, I think they would sell at least a few of them.  Shifting gears, a common refrain in criticism of the new Tacoma is that you sit with your legs straight out in front of you.  I tried a couple and that’s not really true.  In a 1971 Porsche 914 you sit with your legs straight out in front of you, in a Tacoma it’s not like you are on your kitchen chair, but it’s really not horrible at all.  What is horrible is how intrusive the sunroof was in every single one they had, there was not one without a sunroof for my 6’1″ frame to get cozy in.


Speaking of the Tacoma, here is its biggest competitor these days, the Chevrolet Colorado with the most pathetic little wheels I have seen one of these with, ever.  I decided to shoot it as I do not believe that any of us will ever see one in the wild equipped like this, except maybe in Jason Shafer’s work fleet if they downsize to this model.


It’s not even a total stripper, it has the 4×4.  Those little foot-cubby steps in the rear bumper are a nice touch though.


They make this in a crew-cab configuration, but this is the extended cab with the jump seats.  Doesn’t look so fad even with the front seat adjusted for me (6’1″, 32″ inseam).


Your humble author donating his body to science.

Dude, get me out!  This would not work even for a quick trip to lunch, there is nowhere for the door to go if I don’t want my knee shattered and I’m so wedged in, there wouldn’t be much point in wearing a seatbelt, I’m not going anywhere.  (A big thank you to a bemused random show-goer that was passing by at the right moment)


I don’t know, at $29,000 and change for this Colorado, this makes that $75,000 RAM from earlier look like a better and better value.


Like many of you, I found a little vomit in my mouth after seeing the first pictures of the new Prius a few months ago.  Fear not, it looks a lot better in real life.  Really, it’s not bad at all and you will get used to it quickly.  Except for the wheel covers.  These were the saddest wheel covers at this show, by far, and would have taken the cake at the wheel cover QOTD last week.


Really, it’s ok.  There will be thousands of these in Eugene, Berkeley, Boulder, soon enough.  And the red color is pretty.


The interior is better in real life as well, with more dimension, that light colored dash is not just a vertical cliff, it flows very nicely.  What is weird though is how some of the plastics are kind of a pearly white color (I don’t mean the dash in this picture), in this one it’s where the gear selector is below the center screen, but with the beige interior it was used in the cupholder between the seats.  I guess sort of futuristic but I’d have to spend some time with a brochure to figure out which is most acceptable.


After all that Prius-ness, I need something a little meatier and this is just the ticket.  The 2016 Porsche 911 Turbo S, in all of its glory.


I’ve been a good boy (mostly), really, I deserve this.  This is the one picture where the camera did in fact nail the color.


$207,840 seems entirely reasonable.  Almost.  I could probably do without the Rear Center Tunnel Stitching in Deviated Thread to save $80 and maybe do without a few other bagatelles, but look, it gets 17/24 mpg city/hwy.  Probably not while doing 0-60 in 2.9 seconds though.


I was more than a little surprised to find the fine folks at Porsche encouraging showgoers to go on, have a try…Don’t need to ask me twice.  I could get used to this, simply perfection.  And there are even two cupholders that unfold majestically from that trim strip above the glovebox.


More man-splaying opportunities for Mr. Shafer…no problems with the center console.


Alright, enough hedonism.  Coming back down to Earth I was surprised that Scion had its own display area.  This may be the last show that features Scion, the NY show is next week, someone please let us know if you go.  There were only four models on hand; the FR-S and the tC I didn’t bother with as they are familiar, but the other two are sort of new.


This is the “iM”, which is familiar to our non-American readers as the Toyota Auris, pretty much a Corolla 5-door hatchback that is obviously a great and desirable car to us because it was forbidden fruit here in North America.


It’s not bad-looking at all, and sort of takes up where Mazda’s 3 left off after its first generation looks-wise.


Just over $20k for something assembled in Aichi, Japan which is the same assembly plant that the the Lexus LS460 is built in is not a bad deal at all. This will shortly be available as a Toyota, so get your Scion iM now and it may end up being a rare and desirable one-year wonder.


For an even better deal look over here at this slightly more dour-looking car.  Yes, that is basically a Mazda 2 (which is no longer available in the US) 4-door sedan (a variant which we never had), but with a different front end and Scion iA badging.


$17,500 and hecho en Mexico.  I don’t know, I’d probably just choose the regular Corolla over this.


The interior isn’t bad and it even has the new iPad-like screen feature.  Still, it’s surprising that Toyota found it advantageous to buy cars from Mazda instead of finding something else of their own somewhere.


I consider the Kia Sedona to be one of the best-looking minivans on the market today.  Of course it’s newer than all of the others so that helps but it does look nice without offending.


JD Power gave (or sold) it an award for something, anyway, here’s the front.  The color is more accurate in the first picture.


The interior is quite stylish as well, but that off-white interior would have no place in my garage.  This one was wearing fine, but the Optima with the same color interior was starting to stain blue from everyone’s jeans on the driver seat.


At first glance, this seat looks to be quite the party piece…


However, after climbing aboard with a similarly sized individual in the driver seat and the second row seat backed literally all the way to hitting the third row seat, I realized that only a ten year old would be able to enjoy the full recliner function and that isn’t going to get me to pull my wallet out for it.  It is not possible for an adult with more than maybe a 25″ inseam to stretch their legs out in this.  Better to just use the seat as normal, it folds up like a regular seat.  Or just skip that option entirely.


This one was pretty much the top of the line for around $43k.


Let’s head back to Audi to check out the new Q7.  Like other Audi products it’s gotten a little more recti-linear and now looks more like a station wagon that’s raised up a little bit.


There was a target-market mid-30’s couple all over this thing while I was looking at it.  He wanted it SO BAD, but she kept pointing out that the third row was a joke (it was), he was trying to see if the second row center seat could be removed while she argued that it wouldn’t make a difference, the third row was still a joke.  He was crouched in the back trying to make it work, and she was having none of it. Half an hour later I came by again and they were still there, he had convinced her into the passenger seat, but she still looked dubious while he was in the driver seat pretending to drive.


Anyway, it was nice, and a worthwhile update over the old one, I’m sure they’ll sell every one that can build at full sticker, but again left me kind of cold.


This particular Q7 may have been an auto show hack for the last three months for all I know but I still don’t think I should have been able to find a driver seat that had worn through.  If Mrs. ThirdRow’sAJoke would have seen that, I’m pretty sure it would have turned into an instant no-sale.


Here’s the new Kia Sportage which is most likely basically the same as the Hyundai Tucson underneath.  Again, attractive styling with nice detailing but those blasted black/machined wheels.


The Sportage has come a very long way from the very rough and tumble first generation that we got over here.


That’s quite an impressive-looking headlamp cluster.  I know the first thing we at CC think is how much would that cost to replace in five years when we clip a fence post but for now, it’s as nice and intricate looking as units on cars twice as expensive.


Actually it is different than the Tucson in that the one we saw earlier had the 1.6T and this one has the 2.4 naturally aspirated engine.  $32 large isn’t cheap but this seems to have pretty much all the toys on it as well.


Acura had exactly one of each of its sedans on hand and five or six of each of its SUV/CUV’s so I guess we know where their focus and sales are these days.  This is the RLX which is rare enough that I don’t know if I’ve seen one before today even though I believe it’s been on the market for a few years.


The $67,000 price of this hybrid version probably has a lot to do with that.  I remember back when this car’s first generation, the Acura Legend, was the first Japanese car to break the $25,000 barrier and that was a big deal back in the day.  Of course that day was thirty years ago but on average it seems cars have been getting less expensive compared to everything else.  This price seems like a big ask, no matter how nice the car is.


Sedans aren’t selling these days, but this would be a nice ride to pick up in five years for thirty cents on the dollar.  But for $67k, I think a lot of sedan buyers are looking at E-Classes and 5-Series’.


Hey, a Miata!  Unlike many people, this is the first time I’ve found myself liking the new styling of this generation Miata.  Something about this color.  It was weird and reminded me of wet drywall mud with metal flake of all things but I found it very attractive and better than the usual pearl whites which it is kind of similar to but different (the car next to it was pearl and markedly different).  This is more gray as opposed to yellow/tan.


It’s called Ceramic Metallic and also available on the new CX-3, apparently.


I think it’s the slightly wider wheels/tires and the black lower body accessory that make this look better to me.  The regular model looks a little knock-kneed from the direct rear view.


I climbed inside it and was instantly transported back to the first-generation Miata that I used to own.  It’s a very similar fit with enough legroom that I didn’t have to put the seat all the way back.  Less room than in my 911 but pretty much perfect for a fun run through the canyons in the morning for instance.


This is the replacement for the Cadillac SRX, now named the XT5.  It looks to be the same size as the old model but the styling clearly is in line with the CT6 sedan.


To my eyes, it needs something, I’m just not sure what.  There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t stand out either.


But let’s consider its most obvious competitor and coming to an upscale elementary school parking lot near you any day now, the new Lexus RX350 (or 450hybrid as seen here).  The RX went super-angular this time around and it’s another of those that looks bad in pictures but in real life works well.


I originally though that black piece between the rear passenger and the rear window was opaque and just a plastic filler to make the roof “float” but you can see it (part of it at least) is a window with some function to reduce what might otherwise be the mother of all blond spots.  I think these will be all over the place very soon.  The last couple of generation of RX were almost indistinguishable from each other, I think now people will be tripping over themselves to trade the old in for the obviously new.


The interior is very well done, with one of the larger (much wider) screens than the norm.  The wood looks great and the overall ambiance is beyond reproach.


The same grille works a little less well on this, the new Lexus LX570.  Starting around $90,000, this is of course very similar to the Toyota Land Cruiser on which it’s based (which was not present at the show, strangely enough).


I’m really falling in love with the Mercedes GL I’m driving these days but this (or the Land Cruiser) is something that I could see replacing it one day, especially if gas remains at or near its current price level.


Speaking of Mercedes, this is the new GLC300, which is replacing the very angular old GLK.  It’s a little bland, and if you removed the badges seems to have more than a few hints of Hyundai SantaFe, but was impeccably finished.


It’s attractive but does not have much ornamentation at all, less than usual for a Mercedes.  Maybe they are heading in this direction, the C-Class sedan looks a bit in this vein as well.


The cabin is a superb place to be, that large slab of wood that flows down the center console is very rich-looking for this size class.  The screen isn’t as intrusive when in the driver seat but looks awfully tacked on here.


Jaguar’s new XE looks quite sharp but sadly was all locked up.  It seems to be sized like a previous generation A4 or 3-series and will probably count the Alfa Guilia as a competitor as well if that ever arrives here.


It fits perfectly well within Jaguar’s current design language.  As with the Jaguar F-Pace CUV above, the warranty and service plan may make a big difference here.  I know my wife still raves (positively!) about the dealer service when we had an X-type a long time ago.


After looking at the Corolla earlier, I decided to look at its competitors as well.  I had heard good things about the new Sentra and it certainly competes against Corolla.


It looks a lot like a shrunken Altima but otherwise doesn’t really have a lot of personality.


The inside wasn’t as nice as the Corolla either.  I’m sure it’s not a bad car (what is these days?) but don’t see it competing except maybe on price which is an unfortunate situation to be in.


Of course the Civic is the other natural competitor to Corolla and having owned a couple I was intrigued.  Corolla and Civic used to be fairly similar (superficially at least) for about a decade in the 90’s, but now they couldn’t be further apart stylistically.


The Civic is huge now, and feels larger outside than the Corolla.  I think both will do very well but will sell to very different people this time around.  The last couple of generations of Civic were very modern-looking, this one takes that even further.  My interior picture didn’t come out, but the inside is much busier than the Corolla as well, although it no longer has the two-tiered dash that I found brilliant and everyone who had never used it hated.


This is the Chevrolet City Express, which is actually a badge-engineered Nissan.  Nissan didn’t have theirs at the show so I looked at this instead.  Tall but small, this competes against the Ford Transit Connect and the small Ram ProMaster City.


I suppose people don’t buy utility vehicles like this for their looks (or lack thereof) but this pretty much defines boring.  I heartily prefer the Transit Connect over this.  Dual sliders are a great feature on these little trucklets and while the cabin was very plasticky (and doubtlessly hard wearing) it was still comfortable.


Two doors and lots of cargo space, what more could a small delivery service or florist etc need.


I’d forgotten that this would probably be present, the new Chrysler Pacifica which will be replacing the old Town & Country.  While looking at this, there was a T&C just behind me, I actually overheard someone saying that the old van seemed like a great deal at just over $40k as it seemed to have “everything”.  It took a lot of self-control to keep myself from laughing out loud.  At $25k in its basic configurations that old van may be okay, but no way is it worth anywhere near $40k these days, especially around here where that 6-speed transmission hunts like a rabid dog going up the mountains.


The new Pacifica is certainly boldly styled in a very “organic” way.  I didn’t find it to be quite as interesting as I did when I saw pictures of it the first time a few months ago though.  Maybe color or trim level has a lot to do with it on this van.


Big hatch, folding seats, typical minivan formula.  Supposedly this generation will have a hybrid option, I am not sure where the space for the batteries will come from although a thin layer under the floor would presumably  work.


Again, another roped off vehicle; I had to use the zoom to get this picture and it’s hard to see a lot of detail.  From what I could see, it seemed on par with the competition.  Of course, both the Sienna and the Odyssey are due for refreshes in the next few years which will reset the clock again.  In the meantime I think this will trade on its styling for a while as well as being “American” even though it is assembled north of the border while the competition is built here.


The new Honda Ridgeline is based on the Pilot (as before) but with much more mainstream styling this time around.  It’ll be interesting to see if it’s better received this time around, especially since smaller pickups are coming back into favor.


It’s funny, it’s innocuous to the point of being bland, the Chevy Colorado that was right next to it looks much more “truckish”.  This one may appeal to a very different market segment, perhaps one that was not previously interested in a truck.


Staying with Honda for the moment, this is the new HR-V, appearing on our shores for the first time.  This size class has exploded over the last couple of years with tons of new entrants.


As the CR-V moves a bit upmarket, there is room for this, which is sort of a Fit on a raised platform, which is what all the kids seem to want…


The interior was okay, plenty of headroom and enough legroom front and rear.  As is expected, shoulder room is a bit tighter.  I find it interesting that the touchscreens seem to be getting closer to the passenger, our Highlander is the same way, some of the functions on the right side of the screen are almost a bit of a stretch away.


Audi’s new R8 mid-engine sports car is attractive and while very similar to the older model, different enough that I wasn’t confused as to whether it was the old or the new model.


Besides a Porsche 911 variant, the R8 is probably the most everyday usable sports or supercar with generally great reliability and usability, even if it is limited to two people.


For some reason, even though there were some Lamborghinis, Ferraris, a McLaren, and even a Koenigsegg at the show, this one still seems to me the one that is a real car, and not just some super exotic toy to be discarded as soon as a newer, shinier one comes along.  Audi has come a long way over the last couple of decades and this is one of their most shining accomplishments.


In the department that covers things that I’m not sure anyone has been clamoring for, we have this BMW X4 M40i.  According to BMW this is what you need to “Boldly conquer the road.”


Basically it’s a smaller version of the X6 but based on the 3-series platform and endowed with a twin turbo 3.5 liter inline six putting out 355hp.  Starting price is $58,795 with lots of opportunities to increase that number.


That’s a lot of badging…With that, I will leave you to ponder all that is new and marvel at the state of the automotive universe.  Hopefully Paul (or Will?) will rerun this in twenty or so years and we can all be amazed at the old photos with perfect versions of the beaters we see as we walk to work or the store…

The organizers of the Denver Auto Show graciously provided me with complimentary entry.  My parking fee was all on me.