Curbside Classic Visits The 2017 New York International Auto Show, Part 3

I’d like to begin this post with an apology. Over the past several years I’ve developed a minimum standard for auto show coverage: document all the new or interesting products from all the mainstream automakers. Traditionally, that goal has been easily achieved, but this year I could not successfully complete my mission. The reason? Subaru decided to move back to the main floor after spending many years in the North Hall. Maybe they wanted to occupy space that would attract more foot traffic. Perhaps they deliberately attempted to sabotage my coverage of the auto show in an effort to undermine my credibility. We may never know the truth. But a lack of photos won’t stop me now, or ever. 

I don’t have any shots of the Subaru Ascent in the flesh, so these official shots will have to do the trick. The Tribeca, Subaru’s last attempt to sell a three row crossover, was a rare failure for the company. Can Subaru atone for the past? It’s definitely possible, and the Ascent’s design certainly hits all the right notes.

Since the concept already looks like a production-ready design, I doubt we’ll be in for any surprises once the real thing makes its debut.

The Ascent’s cabin looks less like a production-ready design, but its at least eighty percent of the way there. Obviously Subaru isn’t going to turn the window switches into one giant touch sensitive panel and those vents will adopt a more realistic design on the real thing. Hopefully the interior color scheme moves over to the production model as well, because the combination of brown, white, and silver look great.

The Ascent will likely be the largest product to use the Subaru Global Platform, which will underpin all future vehicles from the automaker.

Curiously, the concept features a seven seat configuration with three seats in the back, a setup that is not common in the three row full-size crossover segment. Usually only vehicles like the Ford Expedition come equipped that way, and since the Ascent isn’t as wide I can’t see the design making its way to the production model.

The Acura TLX is a a decent car. Not as distinctive as an older TL, but still pretty nice. Especially now that Acura moved on from the giant beak motif that plagued their lineup for years. I wanted to dislike the new grille and went into the Javits Center with an anti-Acura mentality, but the truth is that the new design works.

The new front end improves the TLX, but the overall exterior is generic. This is probably why sales of Acura’s sedans keep falling. They just aren’t as distinctive as they used to be.

If I had to shop for an Acura, I’d be more inclined to pick up an MDX. It just wears the new look better than the TLX.

Acura swag! I can’t tell if that thing at the bottom is a laptop case or a handbag. Either way, Acura’s designers need to get to work on it.

In contrast to Acura, Infiniti boasts unique styling throughout their entire lineup. In the case of the QX30, while the exterior stands out from its competitors, its platform is shared with the Mercedes GLA, which is quite apparent when you look at the two side-by-side.

The duo ostensibly fit into the compact crossover segment, but their ride height falls short in a way that makes the vehicles more like really tall hatchbacks.

Unfortunately, the QX30 suffers from sunken screen syndrome, a malady currently present in many modern vehicles. Makes the interior of smaller cars feel bigger than they should.

At least the stitching is real!

BMW released the i3 several years ago to much fanfare, and the little EV still gets a whole lot of attention.

This particular floor model contained an absolutely opulent interior. Pretty much every surface was covered in leather or fabric, although I couldn’t tell if any of it was alcantara.

Lexus get a new flagship for 2018 in the form of the LS 500.

Despite the crazy spindle grille up front, the LS 500 ends up looking very nice overall.

This particular model is the hybrid variant, which comes equipped with a twin turbo V6 and two electric motors for a total output of 354 horsepower. The transmission is a CVT mated to the Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System, a fancy name for what is essentially a four speed automatic that works with the the rest of the setup to eliminate the rubber band effect that plagues many CVT transmissions currently on the market. The result is performance similar to a conventional ten speed automatic transmission. Pretty cool stuff, and I reckon we’ll see it spread to other products in the future.

The floating roof motif is another trend increasingly spreading throughout the auto industry. Is it a fad? I have no idea, but it is one design I thought I’d hate until I stumbled upon the Murano several years ago. I despise them intellectually, but on an emotional basis I find them acceptable.

The LC 500H resided on the floor this year, and just like the RX, it sports a floating roof.

The coupe looks a lot more interesting than the sedan.

In a break with tradition, Mitsubishi did not take the least populated section award for 2017. Instead, that distinction goes to at least half of the Lexus display, a development I did not expect.

And in case you figured attendees shied away from sedans while gravitating towards crossovers, here is a shot of the NX F Sport, all by its lonesome.

In a more populated area, Lexus had this concept drawing a few eyes.

Given its appearance I think its safe to say that this concept predicts a future subcompact crossover from Lexus. It looks too much like the recently released C-HR to be a coincidence.

There is a hallway that connects the North Hall to the rest of the Javits Center, now called “The Link.” This year Venturi brought the Buckeye Bullet 3 to this area. The vehicle is claimed to have a top speed of 372 mph, which would make it the fastest electric powered car in the world. The current record stands at 307 mph and is held by a predecessor of the Venturi.

Upon entering the North Hall attendees were greeted with an interesting sight: a discontinued car. I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen a recently axed vehicle at the show before, especially one just sitting in the automaker’s lineup as if nothing happened. I remember reading a while back that FCA had a huge number of 200’s languishing in dealership lots, so it makes sense they would want one at the show.

Unlike the 200, Chrysler’s Pacifica is still in production. The minivan borrows the entire front end from the 200 and looks good while doing it.

If you told me in March that Mitsubishi would actually attract show goers to their section this year, a response about such an event only occurring when pigs fly would not have been irrational, given the years of photos I have to back up that claim.

And yet here we are.

2017 marks Mitsubishi’s 100th anniversary, a milestone the company promoted with this picture and nothing else. Paramount’s limp approach to Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in 2016 immediately came to mind.

Mitsubishi intends to revive the Eclipse name in the near future, with that product being called the Eclipse Cross. It wasn’t at the show for some reason, but the Outlander was. The Outlander sits on a platform that made its debut during the George W. Bush administration. In a move that should surprise no one, Mitsubishi will continue to use the GS platform on the Eclipse Cross.

The interior of the Outlander is thoroughly mediocre, but better than expected.

Don’t consider that an endorsement of the Outlander. Tucked underneath the infotainment of the crossover is what I’m dubbing the Zone of Sadness. I don’t think any other vehicle on the market has an area like this. Sure, entry level cars have button blanks in some spots, but not as blatantly obvious as this section in the Outlander. The five horseman of the car interior apocalypse can’t even stand in formation correctly: that non-button on the left already looks like its in danger of shaking loose. Then again, maybe it wants to break free.

Essentially the five seat version of its larger sibling, the Outlander Sport gets a refresh for the 2018 model year.

Front end aside, this is a pretty decent design.

The Mirage got a bit of a refresh last year that helps it look a little less cheap than before.

That being said, the Mirage still wins the award for loneliest vehicle at the auto show even if the brand managed to avoid that distinction this year.

Was Mitsubishi’s popularity a ruse? The small living quarters movement, or whatever its called, decided an auto show would be a good place to show off their products. I guess there probably isn’t enough interest to fill the entire Javits Center, and considering these specific houses can be put on a trailer, it makes a certain amount of sense to advertise the homes there, as I’m sure a decent percentage of visitors own vehicles capable of towing them.

I couldn’t tell if one or multiple companies brought their tiny homes to New York because the official auto show website just lists “Tiny Houses” on the floor plan for the North Hall, and I didn’t take any picture of corporate logos because this particular section wasn’t exactly on my to-do list. But what I do know is that the area was full of people waiting in line to check out the interior of these things, and its not hard to guess why, because how often do you get the chance to experience something like this?

And even if Mitsubishi benefited from the exhibit, there were enough people lurking around the Outlander and Outlander Sport for me to think their interest was genuine.

Following in the footsteps of its siblings, the Buick Enclave gets a complete makeover, ditching the Lambda platform for the C1XX, a variant of the E2xx platform that succeeded the Epsilon II. The current generation Traverse and Enclave grew in size slightly while the Acadia shrunk down considerably. GM deliberately decreased the Acadia’s footprint so the crossover could better compete with the likes of the Ford Edge and Jeep Grand Cherokee, a wise move that reduces internal competition.

The Lambdas always looked a bit bloated for my tastes, although the previous generation Enclave wore the look a bit better than the other members of the trio. Even so, these are massive cars, and GM’s full size crossover lineup are the biggest of the bunch.

You may be wondering why this next photo is also that of the new Enclave. The answer is apparent when you look at the grille. This is a regular Enclave, while the blue example belongs to the Avenir line, which is basically Buick’s version of GMC’s Denali.

The Lacrosse received favorable reviews from auto critics, and while I still think the sedan is possibly the worst named vehicle in history, the car succeeds on the merits.

Seriously though, what’s next? The Toyota Basketball? Ford Volleyball? Nissan Tennis?

GM’s obsession with expansive grey trim on the center stack continues with the Lacrosse. If you’re fine with that setup you’ll be happy to hear that the cabin is full of high quality materials.

Buick’s second smallest four door is slated for the chopping block with the introduction of the 2018 model. However, the Regal name lives on in the “I can’t believe its not a sedan” hatchback.

Hatchbacks with a sedan like profile generally stay on the other side of the Atlantic, but sedans are dying, and automakers are faced with an interesting quandary. Do they simply kill the traditional four door sedan, or find ways to make the configuration more marketable? Buick did both. I suspect the Regal can simultaneously satisfy both sedan enthusiasts and customers looking for something with a little more cargo flexibility.

Buick is also going to sell a Regal wagon, a development I did not see coming.

GM clearly wants to take down the Volvo V90 Cross Country with the the Regal TourX. They could conceivably do so, as the wagon looks just as good as its Swedish counterpart.

Over at GMC the Terrain gets a redo. It will join the Equinox in offering a diesel model, which will be one of the three turbocharged engines available.

While every recent GM redesign has improved the looks of their respective predecessors, the Terrain ends up looking better than the Equinox.

GMC also helpfully raised this Sierra up so visitors could stare at a section of the truck they’d likely never see if they owned one.

I don’t think an automobile can get much cleaner than this. I doubt they even leave the factory in such a spotless condition!

Superlatives for Part 3

Best interior: Buick Lacrosse

Worst interior: Mitsubishi Outlander

Most likely to succeed: Subaru Ascent

Most likely to fail: Mitsubishi Mirage sedan

Saddest area of the Javits Center: Approximately 40 percent of the Lexus section

Happiest area of the Javits Center: the kids play area next to the Chrysler Pacifica