Curbside Classic Visits The 2015 New York International Auto Show

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2015: The year Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future II. While we don’t have hovering skateboards yet, many of the advancements we’ve made since 1985 would no doubt look pretty spectacular to someone who just hopped out of a Flux Capacitor-equipped DeLorean from the Reagan era. For us, its another chance to note the year-to-year changes made by virtually all the major automakers.

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The first major change, which I immediately noticed, was the shifting of several exhibitors. For those familiar with the Jacob Javits Center, there is a “North Hall” that requires a short trek from the main exhibits down a long hallway to what you see above. This space used to be where GM set up camp, with all of their makes and models on display. This year saw the smaller Japanese automakers Subaru, Fiat, Scion, and Mitsubishi there instead. Overall, I’d say it was a smart move for General Motors, as potential consumers could compare their products right next to competitors’ vehicles. Plus, separating the entire company from everyone else always struck me as a bit pretentious.

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First up is the future Toyota Corolla hatchback. Uh, hang on, I got that wrong, it’s the Scion iM. Across the pond this compact is known as the Auris, and is essentially their version of that small appliance we see on the road and love to hate because of its poor driving dynamics. Stateside, executives must have felt that naming it after something millennials did in 2005 was a good idea. Scion Instant Messenger! Am I right?

Anyway, this should be a Corolla. With so many hatchbacks like the Focus and Impreza selling in good numbers, not having something like this in every Toyota showroom reflects poorly on the company. My local dealer dropped their Scion franchise some time ago, which means a less informed customer wouldn’t find out about the hatch at all, possibly looking elsewhere for their needs.

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One thing you’ll notice throughout this post is the sheer amount of blue cars that were on display at the show. The first one pictured is the Subaru BR-Z STI concept that ironically was a stone’s throw away from the Scion FR-S, its identical brother-from-another-mother. In fact, I grouped all my pictures by manufacturer, except for these next couple of photos, simply because they’re so much alike.

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Here we have a tricked out FR-S. It’s a great looking car, no doubt about that.

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What would prevent me from purchasing either of these sports cars is the unfortunately spartan interior. I know they’re supposed to represent a back-to-basics approach to cheap, lightweight, and crisp handling cars of the past, but for around the same price I can get a 2015 Mustang that has a better interior in terms of materials quality and technology.

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Now here is a car I can truly savage: the Scion iQ. Starting price? about $15,600. EPA highway mileage? 37 miles per gallon. You’re much better off getting a Fiesta or a Focus, which could cost around the same amount based on incentives and get the same gas mileage.

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And for that price you get a very shoddy interior, with this somewhat tacked-on touchscreen interface being the only decent looking thing inside. 20150412_115025 (1200x675)

Here’s the HVAC controls, which make you bend down quite far just to change the temperature. My brother-in-law called the iQ  “blandyland,” and I would have to agree. I wouldn’t even be excited if I won this car on The Price Is Right.

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Scions first sedan, the iA, is shown here. Basically a rebadged Mazda 2 with the front end of a Darth Vader inspired vacuum cleaner. Toyota is once again dropping the ball by not simply making this the new Yaris and relegating Scion to a footnote in the corporation’s history.

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Fortunately, the rest of the car looks great, and you can tell how similar this looks to both the new Mazda 2 and its big brother 3.

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Mitsubishi is being kept afloat by the Mirage, and pictures really do say a thousand words. Tucked into literally the outermost corner of the auto show, the struggling automaker was not very popular among the public, as you can see above.

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I’ll give the Mirage credit though; it surpassed my low expectations with a comfortable drivers seat and decent interior quality. I have no idea if it is remotely driveable, but the cabin was not at all claustrophobic.

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I will say I was truly horrified at the thin tires that adorn the Mirage. Those might as well belong on a lawnmower. At this point I’ll note my regret at not capturing a Fiat 500x, which I missed due to its similarity to the 500L.

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Next up we have Honda. This is the best shot I could get of the upcoming HR-V because it was absolutely mobbed. I didn’t even have much of an opportunity to sit in it. I have a feeling these new subcompact crossovers are going to be very popular.

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The rear door handles instantly remind me of the ones found on the old W-body coupes. Unfortunately I think the amount of plastic created by this design detracts from the otherwise attractive greenhouse. Then again, it’s going to be an entry level crossover, and I doubt many people will view that as a deal-breaker.

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One of the only true concept vehicles at the show was this FCV concept, which I’m assuming is a fuel cell prototype of sorts. It kind of looks like something that Captain Kirk of the rebooted franchise would use to pick up chicks on future Earth.

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Or maybe its a good ride for an older Han and Leia to take on the way to their favorite restaurant?

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Moving on to current vehicles, the interior of the 2015 Civic almost completely turns me off. This angle exaggerates the two-tier dash a bit, but if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, that upper tier really feels imposing and would be a deal-breaker for me if I was in the market for a new compact. I prefer the interior of my Focus by a significant margin.

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My brother-in-law gave this Civic concept Best In Show status. He was blown away by the design, and I certainly can’t blame him. It seems like the next gen Civic will have more passion compared to the current one, and that can only be a good thing. They just need to polish that rear end a bit.1454 (1200x900)

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Yeah, that is a good design. I’m looking forward to the reveal of the production version.

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Speaking of green things, GM had a couple of redesigned Sparks on hand. Overall, they look like quite the step up from their older counterparts, with a better design, more horsepower and a larger interior. These should do well.

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This was the point where the spokesman told us that the white Spark next to him was called Toasted Marshmallow, which was simultaneously the moment I walked away.

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GM also had the new Volt on hand. I’ve always thought that gasoline/electric hybrids were the way to go, and it pleases me to see such a significant update to a car I already admired from afar. This is a much better design than the current gen, and if there were an H badge where the bowtie currently resides, I’d call this a very successful redesign of the Civic.

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I wasn’t kidding. Despite what you may think of GM, this is a good looking car. Plus, its blue! It won’t be the last blue car we see either, as 2015 seems like the year the color becomes ubiquitous.

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It was rare to see cut-away models this year, but Chevy rolled out this white volt in all its dissected glory.

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The interior, although far from view, also looks like a major upgrade.

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The Malibu nameplate has had a storied history since its revival in the late 90’s. I’d argue the first generation qualifies as a Deadly Sin. These days however, the newer models have made progress, with our own William Stopford finding a lot to like about the current generation. Even if this new Malibu cribs its looks from the 200 and the Fusion, it’s still a big step up from the 2015. My only real gripe is the placement of the bowtie, which should either be higher or not have the painted bridge surrounding it.

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The rear end looks great, however. A noticeable upgrade from the current generation.

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I still can’t drop the feeling that the Impala design is superior to the Malibu’s–just that much cleaner overall. Oh well, they’re both good designs. 1364 (1200x900)

Check out the Trax! Chevy’s entry into the subcompact crossover segment. This was also a popular stop for auto show attendees, although the fanfare wasn’t as crazed as with the Honda.

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Its hard to make out, but that rear bumper is already scuffed up quite a bit. I take it this particular one will be a demo.

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The interior of the Trax was pretty bare, and the materials quality was lacking. Perhaps my expectations for this segment are higher than they should be. 20150412_133133 (1200x675)

Moving on to Buick, we have the upcoming Cascada, which is essentially an Opel with a different name.

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It looks pretty, though. We’ll have to wait and see if its attractive design makes it the car of choice for retirees in Florida.

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Speaking of concept cars, here is the Buick Avenir. I’m not sure Buick needs a range-topping sedan like what you see above, especially since GM is really touting the CT6.

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A nice design, no doubt about that, but the business case isn’t there.

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I had to stop and take a close up shot of the GMC Canyon because these things are big. They really aren’t much smaller than a Sierra or Silverado.

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I found myself liking this color, which was surprising.

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Rounding up the last GM products is the all-new Cadillac CT6. This is the brand’s attempt to gain further credibility by gunning for the big luxury sedans. Since its introduction essentially warranted a name change for literally every other Cadillac nameplate, it had better be good.

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The redesigned Sonata has a more sculpted front end, which I prefer over its predecessor’s.

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More importantly, I found the interior to be pleasant. Even if the aesthetic quality of the interior isn’t the best, it was a comfortable place to sit. Note the increasing use of two- and three-tone interiors. Automakers are adding far more flavor to their interiors now, and it shows.

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I had to include this refreshed Veloster because of its matte blue paint scheme.

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Are we seeing the debut of the first car-based pickup to be sold in the US? I’m reading that this thing may actually see production.

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More blue! I don’t think there was a bad blue on any model at the show. It looks good on the new Tucson as well.

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Now I didn’t take any exterior pictures of the Equus, so you’ll have to make do with this shot of all the glorious controls you get as an occupant of the rear seat.

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Here is the screen that was in front of me in the rear seat. It doubles as the head cushion for the front passenger.

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Now we’ve arrived at Mazda HQ. I guess they really don’t want you to forget their tagline.

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Now THIS is a 21st-century Miata. I could see myself in one of these for sure.

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Just don’t expect a great time when reaching for your beverage in your new Miata.

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Our third subcompact crossover! The CX-3 blends right in with the current lineup.

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The Mazda 6 received a light refresh and it looks better than ever. Definitely one of the best looking cars in its segment.

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The interior had fantastic quality all around, but I would never buy the 6. Know why? I don’t like the inside of my car having what looks to be an Ipad glued on top of the dashboard as an afterthought. Complete deal- breaker.

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Mazda had their larger CUV lineup close buy, and I noticed they all had their roof racks filled with cargo. Other manufacturers did this too. Its the first time I’ve noticed them doing it.

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Now on to Nissan. What you’re looking at here is the new Maxima, in a very nice shade of blue. I practically threw up when I first saw pictures of this sedan, but in person it’s a far more attractive design, and I have little doubt it will win over Nissan loyalists.

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I’m not sold on the partially blacked out C-pillar though, as it seems largely unnecessary. Another mark against the sedan is its sole powertrain: a  3.5L, 300hp V6 that’s front-wheel drive only. Isn’t the Maxima supposed to have a performance angle? It doesn’t seem like it could compete with a Taurus SHO as of right now.

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The new Rogue has been out for a while, but I felt compelled to share a picture of its interior, which I found to be tastefully designed. I’d question the steering wheel’s ability to withstand stains after years of use if I were a prospective buyer.

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Despite this unflattering angle, the new Murano leaves the same impression on me as the future Maxima; looks awful on the internet and distinctive in the flesh. The presentation by the spokeswoman on the right was awkward due to showgoers being able to go inside and climb around while she was speaking. This was the only vehicle I saw that had a window sticker on it as well.

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I’ll just quickly say that the new Titan looks like a Chinese knockoff of the F-150 and leave it at that.

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Here’s the Infiniti QX30 concept. Nissan had better get this into production as quickly as possible to capture some of the very hot compact luxury crossover segment that is super hot right now.

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The most festive display area award this year goes to Volkswagen, which had these disco balls above their models accompanied by catchy music.

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The cheeriness doesn’t hide the case of the missing three row crossover, which Volkswagen has said will arrive over and over again, without actually revealing a production unit. Is it any wonder that they’re not doing so hot in the states right now?

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Here’s a smart move on their part: an all-wheel drive Golf wagon for our market. If its reasonably close to the price of an XV Crosstrek it should sell decently. This was one of the few cars that you could climb in despite not being for sale yet. Since it’s almost identical to the Golf wagon on sale currently, that probably isn’t a big deal.

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FCA has done a good job following their acquisition of Chrysler. The Dodge Charger looks like the brawny cruiser it was always meant to be. Here’s an R/T hanging out by its lonesome. There were no Hellcats at the show, probably because they want all of those units at dealerships pronto so they can immediately hand the keys to the throngs of customers lining up to buy them.

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Of note is the dash of the Charger, which has acres of disappointing grey plastic.

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It also has this strange looking shifter, which resembles a video game joystick more than anything else. It did feel good in my hands though, and was made of good quality materials.

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I was impressed by the interior of the 200 and really got a kick out of the mocha colored seats. They were also very comfortable.

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I was less of a fan of the steering wheel, which really bothered me by not having a hole in the bottom spoke. Just a subtle piece of cost cutting, methinks.

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I really liked the driver’s instrument panel, and it more than makes up for that cheap steering wheel.

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I get mixed signals from the controls of the 200. The shift dial is cool, but you would have to divert your eyes pretty far from the dash for your HVAC settings and the like.

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I didn’t get any photos worthy of sharing that featured the exterior of the new Renegade due to the entire borough of Queens temporarily occupying all areas surrounding each of the models on the floor. So I decided to snap a pic of the coolest feature of the Renegade.

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Out of all the subcompact crossovers on display, the Renegade had the highest quality interior.

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It also had these sweet two-tone cloth seats, which were very high quality and quite comfortable.

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Jeep even had this display of all the swag you can get buy to show you’re a fan even when you’re not driving one.

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This Compass wanted some friends to talk to but must have recently farted and didn’t realize it, so people stayed away. Or maybe it’s just a vehicle way past its prime.

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The new Edge has now switched to the current generation Fusion platform, which means a huge upgrade in driving dynamics over the previous version. Its also longer and wider to differentiate itself from the Escape.

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The interior is surprisingly similar to the outgoing model in looks, but not in material quality. It’s vastly improved over the old Edge. Those leather seats felt superior as well.

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Ford also listened to customers who complained that the buttonless center console was frustrating to use and wisely added some buttons to the new car.

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Ford gets an award for having the oddest piece of furniture in its section. This spinning top-like thing was entertaining for about 30 seconds yet drew many curious folks from nearby. Alas, the video featuring yours truly looking like a 5-year-old on the thing was botched and is not worth sharing.

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Maybe you were wondering why I didn’t start out with the hottest Ford products coming soon to a dealership near you. My answer is: I have no idea. Anyway, feel free to gawk at the Focus RS in all its beauty. I’m curious if the all-wheel drive system will find its way to the less sporty versions for the next generation.

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This shade may be a bit too light for my tastes, but I’m still convinced there is no such thing as a bad blue.

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Curiously, Ford had a Focus and Fiesta ST decked out in this excellent blue, but the doors were locked on both with a “prototype vehicle” sticker adorning each of them, which was odd since I could not detect anything different from the versions already on sale aside from the color.

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Proving Ford can design performance cars for all income brackets, the GT is here to compete with the best Italian sports cars. This is my first purchase after winning the lotto.

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The GT350R was also there, missing A/C, a rear-view camera, and other frivolities that are featured in lesser, non-track ready Mustangs.

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Ford also had all their EcoBoost engines on display.

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Speaking of which, did you know that you can get a 1.0L, three-cylinder in a Focus?

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It understandably has one more gear than the 2.0L four-cylinder version. I imagine you’ll need to shift often to keep the engine in its optimal power band.

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Speaking of performance, the Raptor looked menacing even while standing still.

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More excellent blues. Ford was actually handing out little Raptor models for anyone under 12. Since I have morals, I decided not to punch a child and steal one. I’ll instead call Ford out on their ageism. Those bigoted jerks!

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Ford sells quite a few Explorers each month, so its not surprising they decided to do a light refresh on the three row crossover instead of a full redesign. The new front end looks very similar to the Range Rover.

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It looks like Ford is switching up the grilles for different trim levels on the Explorer, like the automaker already does with the F-150.

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Ford has come a long way compared to even five years ago. A short time ago you only had the Mustang and SHO as your options if you wanted a sporty car from the blue oval. Now you have more than double that, and Ford is touting the RS so much that they put one up on display here in lieu of the Mustang, which I believe has always had the honors of holding that spot until now. Let’s just hope we see a Fusion RS soon.

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Here we have it: the new Continental. Besides eschewing the alphanumeric naming scheme that Lincoln has stuck with for the last ten years, the new sedan is a return to form with a design that evokes memories of the brand from its glory days. Armchair analysts will tell you the formula for putting Lincoln back on the map goes something like this: Step 1 – Create a rear-wheel drive performance coupe from the Mustang platform. Step 2 – ???. Step 3 – Profit. I disagree with that assessment. Ultimately, if this new Continental looks the same in production form and sports the rumored 3.0L, 400hp EcoBoost with all-wheel drive, it will go a long way toward restoring the storied brand to its previous heights.

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Here’s the schnoz of the refreshed Camry, which sports a front end that I can actually call attractive.

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The Camry does have two large demerits though: this horrible design cheat to make the C-pillars look thinner than they are, and an unremarkable interior.


Even Toyota had a sexy blue on display, although this color/trim package isn’t for sale as of this writing.

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Toyota had this FT-1 concept on display, which is rumored to be the next generation Supra. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Lexus had two new CUVs on display at the show: the new NX series compact, and a redesign of the RX series. Here’s the gaping maw of the NX, complete with Nike-swoosh daytime running lights.

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The rear end is much better looking.

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Again, the interior shares the glued on infotainment screen that is featured in Mazdas and other vehicles. I also found that mouse pad left of the shifter unappealing; it reminded me of a 90’s IBM laptop.

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And here is the Lexus RX, sprouting the Cylon-inspired snout of its stablemates. The rest of the crossover looks pretty good. We’ll see if this changes sales at all.

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Alfa Romeo also had a presence at the show as well, putting the 4C right up front. I hope to see one of these in the flesh someday.


Is the Volvo’s comeback vehicle? If so, it should be successful, it looks good and stands out versus other luxury crossovers.


Finally, we have the actual production version of the NSX. We’ve been teased with concepts for so long that this is almost anticlimactic. Whatever, I just can’t wait to see the inevitable comparison between this and the Ford GT.

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Mercedes had a few GLA models on hand. Boy, are they short! It almost looks like a CLA hatchback rather than a true compact crossover.

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I promise this is the last time I tell you about my distaste for interiors with this setup. In my opinion, the interior of this GLA has the worst execution of this design.

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Mercedes also had its Metris vans on display. They seem to occupy a size between the small vans like the Transit Connect and NV200 and the bigger full size ones like the regular Transit or the larger Promaster ones.

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They also had a few decked out Metris vans as well. Doesn’t that rear end remind you of the previous generation Pathfinder?

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Looks like the van is going to play a role in the upcoming Jurassic World.

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This was the first time military recruiters were at the show. The stand indicated they were from West Point, which isn’t too far of a drive north from the Javits Center.

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The basement, or Level 1, is always host to a variety of vehicles not directly related to brand new cars, trucks, or crossovers. They had an actual fire truck there this year, which was hard to photograph due to its size.

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Premier Restorations had this sweet first gen Charger on display.

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As well as this second gen Camaro. No joke: “Take Me Home Tonight” just happened to be playing while I was walking by. I found it quite appropriate.

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The NYC Police Museum returned for the second time, with much more vehicles to display, including a 1930 Mack.

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They also had this sweet vintage Plymouth.

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As I understand it, most of the cars from this collection are personally owned by retired NYPD officers. I’m guessing this belongs to a cop who liked the older green-and-black color scheme so much he had to have it on his late-model Interceptor. Can’t say I blame him.

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The previous color scheme of blue and white is featured on this two-decade-old Caprice, and it looks fantastic.

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I’m fairly certain those guys standing by the Caprice are the retired owners of the vehicles you see here. Major kudos to them for showing their classics at the show.

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Overall, an excellent display of genuine classics.

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They also had some more modern steel there as well. I imagine the cop who gets this as a squad car does not have the greatest relationship with his boss.

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A New York State Trooper Charger was also present. I’ve always liked this color scheme.

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Who killed the electric car? Absolutely no one. And the big players were present at this cool demo track near the NYS Police Museum Exhibit.

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You could climb in and get a ride in a number of all-electric cars, like the i3.

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None of the Soul EVs were being used, for some reason.

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It was very strange seeing all those cars buzz around the track with no noise to accompany their movement, only the occasional tire squeal from the surface they were riding on.

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Nearby was this Hummer H2, the polar opposite of an electric car.

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There was also this horribly outfitted Lamborghini on display. Despite its looks, I’d happily take it for free.

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And finally we arrive at what greeted us as we left the Javits Center. Perhaps a few of these will end up inside at that museum display in a decade or two? Anyway, thanks for checking out my extensive coverage of this year’s auto show.

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Curbside Classic Visits The 2014 New York International Auto Show

Curbside Classic Visits the 2013 New York International Auto Show