Given my tremendous enthusiasm for just about anything automotive related, it’s needless to say that attending the New England International Auto Show is an annual tradition I thoroughly enjoy. I’ve gone just about every year since 1997 and let me tell you, this year was one of the best.
As I went around and checked out the wide assortment of new models, from the affordable compacts to the luxury SUVs, I noticed a lot of trends, but there was one in particular which stood out. It’s amazing in the last few years just how far cars have come, both in levels of technology and overall refinement. These feelings were especially true when it came to the interiors.
Even a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a decent amount of cheap, hard plastics in many interiors, depending on make and model. But the overwhelming majority of 2015’s mainstream cars proudly present interiors that are of higher quality than many luxury cars from 2008.
I made sure to take plenty of pictures this year – they may come in handy when writing CCs on some of these cars twenty years from now. My collection of auto show photos from the late-Nineties already have. But without further adieu, let’s get to some of my favorite future Curbside Classics from this year’s show.
Upon arriving, I immediately headed over to Acura to check out the new TLX. I’ll be honest when I say that I was most excited about finally seeing this car up-close in person. I’ve been very happy with my 2010 TSX these past two and a half years, and consider the TLX a very appropriate replacement for it in a few years.
Since the TLX came out last summer, I have read a ton of reviews, mostly positive, but naturally some found faults. I’ll just say that upon seeing it up close and sitting in it, I was very impressed. The exterior looks far more substantial in person. Likewise, these soft yet supportive Espresso leather seats strike an appealing tone that stands out from the typical beige and black. The interior laid out very nicely, with an attractive design and premium materials. Unpretentious luxury.
It may be hard to tell from this picture, but the Acura MDX offers this gray-greenish Eucalyptus leather. Nothing too bold, but again, it’s nice to see that automakers are beginning to offer some more interesting interior color schemes.
The Kia exhibit was full of its most attractive lineup ever, one that included several all-new vehicles such as this redesigned Sorento CUV. Looking more premium and aggressive than ever, it’s astonishing to think of how far the Sorento has come from the puny SU-wannabe a decade ago.
Unsurprisingly, I gravitated towards the also totally-new Sedona, which I found even more so improved. In fact, I even chose to test-drive it at Kia’s ride and drive. To be honest, I couldn’t believe I was driving a minivan. Composed ride, great acceleration, and very car-like handling.
The interior, with its conventional sedan-like center console looks like it could have come out of a luxury car. High-quality materials, Nappa leather thrones, and an abundance of technology such as cooled seats, surround view monitor, and cross-traffic alert really solidified my opinion that Kia is fully changed brand.
Another car I wouldn’t have believed a decade ago was this Hyundai Genesis. While the first generation Genesis was a luxurious effort from Hyundai, its design never really wowed me. That’s changed for this second generation Genesis, whose imposing long hood and grille help make it one of the most elegant-looking cars of the show. I only wish I could say the same for its interior, whose design and switchgear I found a bit too Sonata-like.
I next took a brief trip over to Infiniti, which I was surprised to find virtually empty of show goers, despite the crowds. This macho QX80 appeals to my aggressive nature. No one would dare cut me off if I were driving this.
Moving on to Lincoln, I sat in this equally tough and heavily refreshed 2015 Navigator. Despite being an updated version of the generation that first appeared in 2007, the Navigator is still an incredibly posh and technologically up-to-date vehicle. The overall look is more upscale, without trying as hard, and I was more impressed with it inside and out than the all-new Cadillac Escalade. On an important comfort note, the door sills are low enough to comfortably rest my elbow while driving.
The new Escalade, while more chiseled than its predecessor just doesn’t do it for me. Especially in black ESV form, the Escalade frankly looks like a hearse.
This new ATS coupe is more my style. While not as menacing as the CTS coupe, its airier greenhouse and more formal roofline nod to Cadillac coupes of the past, something I like.
I had to swing by Dodge to check out the facelifted Charger. Looking smoother and more sinister than ever, it wouldn’t be a car I’d ever consider owning, but I’d sure like to drive one.
There were several all-new entries in this country’s most competitive segment, the mid-size sedan category. These “imported from Detroit” Chrysler 200s proved so popular that I couldn’t get a chance to sit in the front seat.
At least from my quick sit in back of a 200C, things were rather splendid with rich feeling leather and at last, a truly premium aura. I’ll give the Chrysler 200 “most improved”.
For other mid-sized entries, conservatism seemed to be the trend. This included the redesigned Hyundai Sonata…
…and the equally conservative Subaru Legacy. At least in the Legacy’s case, the 2015 should appeal to a wider audience than the more quirky styled car it replaces.
More enthusiastic styling could be found in the sculpted lines of this Mazda6. While the exterior is among the most dynamic in its class its interior, while high quality, left something to be desired in terms of design and accent trim.
Although entering its third year in this generation, my favorite mid-sized sedan was the Honda Accord. Its exterior design is hardly polarizing, but has an upscale quality to it that many competitors lack. I also found its interior to be the most comfortable, with the best outward visibility. The Touring model I sat in was just as nice inside as my 5-year old TSX. Luckily Acura too has stepped up its interior game.
Crossovers are still king, and in the hot mid-sized CUV class, several all-new models were also to be found, both from mainstream and luxury brands. This third generation Nissan Murano aims at recapturing some of the allure and high style of the first generation. Its design is rather mesmerizing in person, although it is likely more show than go. The carryover engine is Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.5L V6 and its transmission is unsurprisingly CVT.
Over at Lincoln, this fully-redesigned MKX seeks to boost Lincoln sales, flying on the coattails of the successful MKC.
Speaking of the MKC, I settled quite comfortably into its interior. While its narrow front seats may pose a problem to some larger individuals, they coddled my small frame quite nicely. This White Sands and Espresso leather scheme looks great!
New trucks were also on display, like this GMC Canyon. Along with its Chevy Colorado sibling, these are GM’s first mid-size pickup trucks since the first generation Canyon and Colorado were discontinued in 2012. They are also the only American mid-sized pickups sold in the U.S.
Things were pretty packed over at Mercedes, making it hard to get into every car I wanted to. I did wait my turn for a chance to sit in the all new S-Class coupe, whose insides are just as beautiful as its exterior.
The AMG version especially looked menacing and dare I say muscle car-like.
On an unrelated note, the Mercedes exhibit seemed to be the place to pick up a date, as in my short time there, twice I was hit on by rather attractive women, albeit two women who were at least 10-15 years older than I am (not that I minded though). The second even informed me that although she was married, she could sneak away for the day 😉
Anyway, another car I was particularly excited about was the new Lexus RC. Staying very true to the concept vehicle, the RC is shot of adrenalin in Lexus’ lineup, which tends to attract the demographic that would otherwise consider Buick. It’s easily the most sexy Lexus since the original SC.
While all of these cars will one day be considered “curbside classics”, some will reach this point sooner than others. I made a special effort to photograph cars I knew are on their last go round and will likely not be present next year. This included the good but way overpriced Volkswagen Eos…
…the long-running Audi Q7, a vehicle whose design I’ve loved since its introduction a decade a go, and whose successor is unfortunately disappointing…
…the Jeep Compass and Patriot duo, who always seemed to be playing catch-up…
…the first generation Lincoln MKX, which debuted in 2007, and was heavily updated in 2011…
…and the recently renamed Infiniti Q40 (neé G37) that was so good they decided to keep selling it an extra two years. Despite kicking around since 2007, the Q40 remains one of the best, if not the very best 3-Series fighter from Japan in terms of dynamics.
Possibly departing after this year is this Volvo S80 that’s been with us since 2006. No successor has been announced yet, but it’s already very long in the tooth. The interior is still very appealing in its Scandinavian way.
Last, but no least is the Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country duo, who will be replaced by a single all-new minivan wearing only one of these names. The other nameplate will likely live on as a new crossover vehicle.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed my pictures from the 2015 New England International Auto Show. Existing Curbside Classics can only be covered so much before they run out. So long as the world continues producing cars, there will always be fresh blood down the line for future generations. Check back in about fifteen to twenty years for a trip down memory lane!
Sounds like a day well spent among the cars and cougars!
I’m betting the Dodge G V disappears soon as Dodge has a few cargo vans already though Chrysler doesn’t have a good record with SUVs or crossovers and might want to give it another try.
With most car companies, you laugh at the silly designs. With Infiniti, you wonder “what’s up with the names?”
As a Honda “fan” I would love to own a new (ish) Accord, with a 4 cylinder and manual transmission. Maybe soon.
Technically, it’s Ram that has the cargo vans, not Dodge. While it sounds as though I’m being pendandtic, I make that point to question why another marque was needed. I’m no expert, but during the bailout it seemed like we needed less brands, not more.
Back to Dodge losing the Grand Caravan: There’s been a lot of speculation about this on allpar, and other sites. The reasons given are that most GCs are sold as low-content, low-profit fleet vehicles, and that Dodge is being transformed into a car brand, with a few CUVs. Also, building all vans under one model name makes it easier to claim the title of “best selling minivan.”
Given the industry’s desire to keep the lines running, and to eat the profit on incremental additional units, I’ll be interested to see how long this lasts…if, in fact, it actually ever happens.
Thanks for the tour Brendan. Was the head room in the Chrysler 200 as bad as it looks from the outside? I wonder how long it will be until sedans that prioritise interior space instead of trying to look like coupes come back. No wonder C/SUVs are popular.
Did you see the BMW i3 or i8?
Headroom in the 200 didn’t seem exceptionally low, though I’m 5’7″. Although there were several in which I did hit my head in while sitting up front.
The i8 wasn’t there, the i3 was, although there were a mass of people swarming around it, so I didn’t bother to get up close. I’ve already seen some i3s out on the roads.
At 5′ 11″, I couldn’t get in or out of a ’15 200 rental I had without bending unnaturally low to not bang my head against the overhead sill. Part of the reason for that is that the front seats sit pretty high, which contributes positively to comfort once inside.
Apart from that, build quality and driving experience (with the four-cylinder) left me pretty underwhelmed. It’s better than the old 200, but not in any way I could see equivalent to a CamCord.
My Dad saw the i8 when he was at CES a few weeks ago, “I responded nice basketball shoe!”
I really must be missing something because I think this and the i3 are the ugliest pair of cars ever made, not only that, but the complete antithesis of classic BMW designs, but everyone seems to be in awe of them.
How many come with my one no compromise requirement…a manual transmission?
Sadly not many. A handful of Honda and VW products were really the only I noticed. There was a very nice fully-loaded Honda Accord coupe in San Marino Red with a six-speed. I sat in it, but didn’t take any pictures.
What did you think of the Canyon/Colorado and was the Hyundai CUV with a bed on display? Looked like a subaru brat to some extent.
I think they did a good job with the Canyon/Colorado, especially considering what the last ones were. The Canyon’s Sierra-inspired front end looks a lot more substantial than the Colorado, which somehow tends to look narrower and less like an American pickup. I didn’t see the a Hyundai CUV with a bed.
The Canyon front end is real Tonka-truck stuff. I’m a little surprised that none of the manufacturers has taken the opportunity to gain a little highway fuel efficiency by acknowledging aerodynamics, but then plenty of truck fans demand they look like Tonkas. The amount of change they have done from the international version of the Colorado is interesting.
Ugh, three coupes. Well I guess since these are the only future curbside classics, I may as well bitch about why I didn’t buy them now in the future today.
The S class looks like a facelifted circa 2006(?) W221, neither of which do I find that good looking to begin with with that goofy Beetle mimicking arched roofline, although I do appreciate that it’s a true hardtop. Plus it’s not in my price range.
The ATS I like the sedan, and I rarely in my life say the four words “I like the sedan”, so naturally I should love the coupe. But I don’t. It looks stubby compared to the the sedan , the door is way too long and it just looks kind of awkward, although better than the Pinto shaped CTS coupe by miles. And if Cadillac wants to be Mercedes, make it a real hardtop, that would make me much more receptive to it.
The Lexus? Well that pic is flattering, since the front end isn’t visible, but I can’t help but think belated Infinity copy(seriously, compare it to the pic below). It’s not unattractive but it does nothing for me, it’s neither that good looking, nor innovative, nor that technically appealing for me to consider.
It seems like all the non retro coupes these days are taking a safe and tried and true approach, same basic principals as 90s coupes. Solid B pillar, no roll down windows and generally a pretty bland and stale roofline (hasn’t the arch look been used enough at this point?) S class aside, if these are the cars that are the only hope for the 2 door I don’t see it being revived for future models anytime soon.
Infiniti was smart to keep producing the G37/Q40 to fill in sales gaps because the Q50, with mediocre, derivative styling, overpriced option packages, and unreliable technology, has not lived up to expectations – as sales figures continue to demonstrate:
Infiniti Q40 1,184 (12/14) 1,460 (12/13)
Infiniti Q50 3,855 (12/14) 4,568 (12/13)
I loved a G37 rental I had, an upgrade I put over 2000 miles on. San Fran, to Eureka then Morro Bay. I didn’t even put premium in her and still got near 30 mpg. That engine was beyond sweet, and the trans was nearly as good as a LS Lexus. The interior (the dash was too Altima like, but the seats were great) and sound system (Bass was too strong, midrange/ imaging and treble were weak and the EQ could’nt fix it) was my only complaint, an ES licks them in those areas. Depreciation is very favorable with them, I may have one in the future…I only buy used, of course. The renaming will only make them cheaper. 🙂
Granted I have put only 25,000 miles on my 2010 sedan since new but it has been a wonderful car, a combination of qualities of the 300ZX Turbo and Maxima that I owned previously. They are very reliable cars and the Q40 is content rich for a reduced price (costs less than four years ago). Brendan’s comment that this model remains competitive is so true. The interior is dated but still attractive and comfortable. Highway mileage is great; in-city not so much but as expected for a naturally aspirated 328 HP engine. I wish the Q50 were a better car; I originally planned to get one. You won’t regret buying a G/Q40 in the future.
Great point, and I shouldn’t complain about the sound system- that jewel of an engine makes its own music. And the dash ain’t that bad in the right color. I also agree about the Q50, this topic is tired- but that renaming thing was beyond stupid. My woman would be furious, but you have made me closer to pulling the triger on one.
And Acura, please make a real Legend again.
Brendan, thanks for the auto show tour. There’s something there for most anyone.
The first time I saw the current Escalade, it was a black one parked adjacent to the local farmer’s market, and all I could think was why someone would drive a hearse to market. However, it was just someone’s personal vehicle. There is some element about this vehicle’s design that suggests “hearse” to me, too, but I can’t say exactly what that might be.
Though it was almost universally panned yesterday, I think a Datsun B210 looks miles better than that QX80. Heck, even an F10 looks better than the QX80.
You are one funny soul! and right on… Escalades seem to be perfect mortuary vehicles, in so many ways- especially in triple black with limo tint. Weirdly dignified and a true Cadillac. Not a psuedo BMW.
And I’ve never fancied an Escalade, but those TV commercial they have are great.
I agree, I’m not an Escalade kind of person, either, but I enjoyed the “My Baby Drove up in a Brand New Cadillac” spot over the holidays.
I love the color of the leather in that Acura. That Q40 has also stolen my heart because I have a weakness for all things Infiniti.
But please. Southern girl. Give me that Canyon in red!
Cadillac offers a similar leather (Kona Brown) in the CTS. I think picture 4 is a CTS, but with the light color interior and some wood trim.
Totally agree about the new GM full size SUVs. A good friend bought a black Chevy ‘burb recently, and they do look like a hearse. And that huge C pillar makes for a gigantic rear quarter blind spot. Only my wife’s Acura MDX is worse in that regard. That is one of my main complaints with many modern cars… crap visibility. Good thing you can get blind spot warning systems on these things. The BLIS on our MDX has saved my bacon numerous times.
The short wheelbase GM SUVs are ok, but the long wheelbase ones are so blunt looking. I’m not a truck person by any stretch, but I thought the previous generation was a high point for styling in every iteration. The taillights on the new Escalades make me think it’s a Volvo every time I see one in traffic – a terrible association considering “Volvo” carries the exact opposite catchet/vibe to “Escalade”
I’m glad the sedan segment is staying conservative while keeping fresh, because things have been getting really overwrought since 2010 or so. A lot of the new CUVs/Vans make me cringe, even though I don’t mind the ’00s versions.
Not to go on a Luddite rant or anything, but I can’t stand any of these new interior designs. Putting aside the overly complex TV screens (which I’ll probably mellow on in 5-10 years just from exposure), the styling just looks… weird. Even though it will probably look ancient by the time it’s paid off, I’m so appreciative that my VW’s interior is basic and clean. IMO, car interiors hit a high point around 2005-2010 for design. Simple enough to be functional but stylish enough to look sharp (unlike 1995-2005 interiors which were blobby and bland as toast). But then again, everyone feels like the new cars of their adolescence where “the best”, so YMMV.
+1 on the interiors. I liked a lot of interiors circa 2007/2008, and it seems like every car I liked in particular in that period got a less than satisfying update soon after. I don’t mind the LCD screens in the center stack, I think it was inevitable. But LCD gauges that have exploded in popularity are where I draw the line, they look TERRIBLE. All the worst aspects of digital and analog!
My 2014 CTS has the reconfigurable gauge display, which can be configured to 4 gauge displays, simple, enhanced simple, both of these are digital displays, then two analog style displays. I like the performance version which can display slightly more information than the balanced display. While many complain about the CUE system, I find it to work fairly well.
Wow those S class coupes are REALLY nice. And are they pillarless hardtops too?!?!
I like the ATS coupe also…hope that gets a hi-po version. A clean handsome 2 door with a manual and something under the hood is something you just can NOT have enough of.
The Lexus RC is a breath of fresh air for a pretty stale and musty brand. As you said, they’ll be Buick II in no time if they don’t get some mojo.
Was the new Nissan Titan on display? Too bad they copied Ford. The interior is a huge upgrade, that part I do like. And the fake fender ‘vents’ and huge ‘Titan’ emblems everywhere is almost like Nissan decided they better splash the name all over the truck so you know it’s not a Ford. Even went with the dip in the high beltline door glass for the mirror. The V8 Cummins is interesting, though.
I didn’t see the Titan, though I just passed through Nissan quickly. I wouldn’t say they blatantly copied Ford. Sure there’s similarities, but there’s really only so much you can do in the full-size truck segment while still keeping the square “masculine” front end that is preferred.
Unfortunately for those of us in the northeast, because of its timing (more or less simultaneous with Detroit) the Boston show gets short-changed on just-announced designs like the new Titan. We’ll have to wait until next year to see that one in person.
that white two door in the first photo is something only a mother could love ! The ‘bottom feeder’ front end style that so many are coming up with are the worswt on the market !!
I think it’s 4 doors actually, but yes, the front end is a bit too much.