Curbside Classic Visits The 2016 New York International Auto Show, Part 3

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When the auto show circuit invades the Jacob Javits Center, the main players are split into three sections. Level 3 features all the mainstream automakers, while Level 1 hosts trucks and smaller exhibits. The North Hall, which in previous years belonged solely to General Motors, features the likes of “the other guys,” like Fiat and Mitsubishi. Other organizations prop themselves up pretty much wherever they can fit.

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Mercedes, of course, is not one of those smaller companies. Above is the luxury sedan of a luxury sedan – the S600 Maybach, which you may remember was more of its own brand some years ago. Today it “merely” exists as a $200,000 upper trim level.

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If you want to show some additional love for Daimler products there is plenty of swag now available for you to purchase.

Mercedes probably doesn’t have their own brand of flamethrowers. However, the sheer amount of paraphernalia brings to mind this perpetually relevant scene from Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs.

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On the other end of the spectrum we have the cheap and cheerful smart brand, with several different fortwo models showing off their unique paint schemes.

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Is a small car like the smart fortwo appealing in an era of cheap gas? The answer, of course, is a resounding no, with the entire non-capitalized smart brand selling just over 2500 units in the first half of 2016.

It’s not hard to understand why a brand entirely based around one model of microcar is failing. Cheap gas aside, the competition, which I’m assuming is the subcompact and compact car segments, offers far more space, variety, and refinement for roughly the same price. There is also no fuel economy penalty for choosing something like a Focus or Mazda 3 hatchback over the fortwo either, as the smart only manages to eke out an EPA highway rating of 39mpg, either matching or trailing the aforementioned vehicles, which exist not one, but two segments above the smart. Trim level names like pure, passion, prime, and proxy certainly don’t help the situation either.

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To single out the fortwo for its underachieving sales numbers is probably unfair, as nearly all electric and hybrid cars, along with their internal combustion counterparts, are suffering from declining sales. It’s highly unlikely that sedans, coupes, and their hybrid counterparts are going to completely fade away, but if a vehicle like the i8 doesn’t make a case for itself then its as good as gone.

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Speaking of niche coupes, BMW had an M1 parked atop their section and above the other members of the M family of performance cars. Those empty tables suggest that you have to be a bona fide member of the bourgeoisie to even get within smelling range of the M1.

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I didn’t expect to be enamored by the M2, but its attractive color, just-right size, and no-nonsense design really appealed to my tastes.

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Acura hasn’t exactly been thriving as of late, with middling sales figures and ho-hum products. Since I’ve never been a fan of the “beak” or “shield” grille that debuted a number of years ago I’m going to agree with those pundits who said the design wouldn’t perform very well in the marketplace. Fortunately, the contemporary Acura front ends are far more restrained than they used to be.

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In fact, we may have reached the apotheosis of the design with the new NSX.

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The NSX and the i8 look a bit similar, which is just fine, since both are very attractive coupes.

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Acura had to move on from its storied design language at some point, with the MDX being the first mainstream Acura to wear the new look.


Upon seeing the MDX I was immediately reminded of the grille on the current Taurus SHO.

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Alfa Romeo is still very much a niche brand in the United States. Will the Giulia change that? It just might. Then again, we’re in the crossover era, and sales of luxury sedans have been sharply decreasing for a while now.

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A cursory glance at the interior revealed a high quality cabin that fits right in with the competition.

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If you’re looking for a more exciting color combination than beige, Alfa has you covered with this red and black interior package, which feels more in line with the sporting nature of the Giulia. As is common these days, the Giulia comes equipped with an electronic drive control system, in this application called the Alfa DNA Pro. The other dial controls the 8-inch touch screen.

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Out back, the Alfa looks somewhat anonymous, with a design that brings to mind cars ranging from the Elantra to the Passat to the A5. Fortunately for the Giulia, it seems luxury automakers are currently content with slowing down the pace of exterior design change, as models like the BMW 3 series and Audi A4 retain their looks beyond one generation.

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The 4C has been praised for its driving dynamics while getting criticized for a lack of any type of cargo space. Calling a sports car “pure” because it prioritizes its performance over literally everything else might seem superfluous, but in the case of the 4C that term is extremely apt.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a better shot of the 33 Stradale, which is a shame, considering how rare they are. I’m surprised Alfa even brought one to the show.

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Looks kind of like a Lotus from the back, doesn’t it?

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With a 1,500 pound curb weight and a 230 horsepower V-8, the 33 Stradale was extremely quick for its time, with a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds.

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The Cadillac XT5 effectively replaces the SRX as the luxury brand’s sole crossover and is all new for 2017.

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Cadillac’s Art & Science design language is starting to look a bit dated, but the Xt5 wears it well.

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Sales of the Escalade have been pretty consistent over the last several years. This stands in contrast to other nameplates sporting a Cadillac badge that continue to suffer year-over-year declines.

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At this point it’s incredibly foolish to think any sedan can help a brand get back on its feet after an extended period of declining sales. Enter the CT6, the first full size rear wheel drive car from Cadillac in twenty years.

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The CT6 rides on the Omega platform, an all new design that is likely going to underpin future crossovers from Cadillac. This is the product Cadillac deserves, but not the one it needs right now. To be fair, the CT6 looks good, even if Art and Science should be retired, as I mentioned before. It may not look like the car was swarmed with people based on the above picture but I can assure you that was the case, as you won’t see any interior shots due to the steady flow of older white dudes constantly entering and exiting the cabin. I’m curious how many of those onlookers will actually pluck down their hard earned money for a CT6.

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I didn’t consciously put my pictures of Lincoln’s display directly after Cadillac as the route I walked at the show did that for me. But if I did organize my pictures in a more deliberate manner the two American luxury brands would still end up next to each other. Lincoln seems to have found its footing after many years of being neglected, while Cadillac appears to be losing sales amidst a reorganization that has produced dubious benefits for the brand.

There are two different approaches to developing luxury vehicles: the German way and everything else. Cadillac made the conscious decision to compete directly with Europe while Lincoln found inspiration in Lexus. The CT6 and Continental represent those choices perfectly.

The Omega Platform, which underpins the CT6, is designed for rear and all wheel drive and as of today will remain exclusive to Cadillac. Lincoln employs the CD4 platform for the Continental, which debuted in 2012 with the Fusion and is also used in the Edge, MKX, and MKZ. Contemporary Lincoln vehicles have yet to introduce a new platform before its Ford counterpart, and all of Lincoln’s unibody products are front or all wheel drive.

General Motors has invested far more money in Cadillac than Ford has with Lincoln. Was it money well spent? Cadillac currently has one crossover; the others are several years away from arriving at dealerships. Lincoln has a crossover in the compact, midsize, and full size segments, with a quasi stopgap vehicle in the Ford Explorer Platinum for those who don’t find the MKT attractive, which is currently 99.9 percent of the known universe.

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Enter the Continental. Since Lincoln products directly use Ford platforms and powertrains, a failure of the brand would result in a minimal loss of investment for Ford. Some would say that is an inherent weakness with Lincoln, but I disagree. With the slow decline of the sedan, Ford’s use of existing platforms may even be the smarter decision, but time will tell.

Without a time travel machine we have no idea how the Continental will be received once it arrives in showrooms later this year. On digital paper though, it looks like it can hold its own against the likes of the CT6 and Volvo S90. Lincoln stretched the CD4 platform about four inches in total length and over five inches in wheelbase compared to the MKZ. That comes up a bit short with regards to the CT6 while the S90 is smaller in both dimensions.

The powertrain choices for the Lincoln are competitive, with the Continental having a much more powerful entry level engine in the 305 horsepower 3.7 liter V6. The Volvo and Cadillac each come standard with turbo fours, putting out 245 and 265 horsepower, respectively. Since Ford has recently put more emphasis on engine development, the Continental debuts with a six speed auto, while the others have eight speed units. At the top end the Lincoln uses an exclusive 3.0 liter twin turbo V6 which puts out 400 horsepower and 400 Ibs. of torque. This is almost exactly similar to the optional twin turbo V6 in the CT6, which makes 400 horsepower and 400 Ibs. torque. The Volvo trails the Americans, as its hybrid motor is rated at 316 horses and 300 Ibs. torque.


I think the Continental looks very good, and visually it holds its own against the CT6 due to Art & Science overstaying its welcome. The S90 loses out to the Lincoln only because its rear light package ruins an otherwise stellar design. What I don’t understand is why Lincoln decided a white Lincoln would be the best option when so many superior options are available. Does anyone else always picture the mid 60’s Continental in black like I do? I can’t be the only one. That screenshot from the official Continental page shows a plethora of superior options to white.

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Color aside, the Continental does have a nice aura surrounding it, partially due to those slick electronic door latches. Did you hear about Lincoln offering complimentary loaner vehicles, paired with pick up and drop off service, on all their cars for the 2017 model year? I don’t think the introduction of this new feature and the expansive new program are a coincidence; customers aren’t going to be able to enter their car if the battery calls it quits. If the solution involves never setting foot in the dealership I doubt many people will complain.

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Since the Continental is still several months away from its debut those electronic doors were programmed to remain shut. The Lincoln’s interior quality possibly trails the Cadillac, but ultimately comes out ahead as the CT6 cabin felt too imposing and claustrophobic. Neither American compares favorably to the S90, but its practically unfair to evaluate those cars to the Volvo, as its interior quality likely keeps some Mercedes executives up at night.

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Rear seat audio and climate controls are important for livery drivers, but I question how much use the system will see with regular retail customers.

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The Navigator concept is a big, brash luxury truck, which is exactly how it should look, with a powder blue that makes the color choice of the nearby Continental even more egregious. Perhaps that was by design.

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All of the auto blogs believe the gullwing doors will not make it into the production model and I’m inclined to believe them, as the doors would add significant cost and complexity to the redesign. Then again, it  would distinguish the Navigator from the Escalade in a very visible manner. Ford recently paid quite a bit of money to acquire a launch edition Tesla Model X, which many surmise was destined to be torn down so its electric drivetrain could be studied. I have my doubts, because there is no unique battery or transmission in the X; its propulsion system is largely a carryover from the S. The only difference are those gull wings doors, and Ford rushing to get their hands on one as quickly as possible makes sense if they want to get the new Navigator – with trick doors – to dealer showrooms as soon as possible.

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All of Lincoln’s recent concept vehicles have hewed very closely to their final production model, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the new Navigator debut with looks nearly identical to this prototype.

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The current Navigator is solely available with the same twin turbo 3.5 liter V6 also used in the F-150 and Expedition. It already makes a healthy 380 horsepower and 460 Ibs. ft. of torque, which means we may not see any power upgrade when it makes its move to the next gen model. I’d be surprised if Ford’s new 10-speed transmission remains absent from the new truck.

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Even though the Navigator sells in small amounts, there is still a lot of interest in the nameplate, at least if we’re only using the car show attendees as a barometer. This was one of the more crowded displays at the show.

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I’m always baffled by Infiniti. They’re both everywhere and nowhere, with attractive designs that for some reason make me go “meh.” Maybe I just don’t like the brand?

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Or is it because there are no Infiniti dealers in my area? Here’s a bit of trivia for you: following I-87, there is only one Infiniti dealer from the Tappan Zee bridge to the Canadian border. That’s kind of weird.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for this particular luxury brand, I do like the Q60. Work on that dealer network Nissan!

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Speaking of companies that are definitely working on expanding: Genesis. We’ve seen a lot of brands go belly up recently, and some of those brands deserved to die. Still, its nice to see some new blood entering the fray, even if its just Hyundai flexing its muscles a bit.

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The New York concept is striking and definitely sets itself apart from the competition. I’m excited to see what Hyundai will conjure up for the brand.

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Genesis consists only of sedans for now, but I imagine that will change soon. Regardless, the former Genesis will occupy  showroom space with what you see above: the range topping G90. Hyundai clearly wants the new brand to gain some recognition, as this was not at the Genesis section but instead within visual range of the entrance.

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Pretty much every Subaru model sells in numbers that must make the executives in Wolfsburg jealous. Remember when Subaru was a small, humble automotive outfit? Today, the opposite is true; combined, Volkswagen and Audi failed to outsell the quirky Japanese brand by approximately 20,000 units for calendar year 2015.

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The Impreza has never been known for having killer looks. Over the last ten years the best looking Impreza variant oscillates between the sedan or the hatchback, depending on the era.

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This time I’d say Subaru finally nailed the formula and designed an attractive Impreza in both forms.

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The sedan’s profile isn’t drop dead gorgeous, but calling an Impreza good looking is a massive achievement compared to the four door Subaru released a decade ago. That thing was hideous.

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2016 marks the end of the Scion experiment. Ironically, sales are up considerably from last year, no doubt due to the arrival of the Mazda 2 based iA and the iM, itself a Corolla hatchback.

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I remember the first year Scion appeared in New York. They brought a certain vibe to the show, with their flashy concepts and ear busting sound systems. The youth oriented lineup definitely stood out from the competition, with the tC appealing to my 18 year old self.

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This xA gets an almost Prowler-like makeover.

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Lowered wheels and multiple subwoofers were always a staple of Scion; this xB is no different.

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The subwoofer insanity continues.

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If Skynet ever rises up against humanity, it may need to conscript some cars into its army. This sinister tC certainly looks like its on the hunt for John Conner.

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With the official demise of Scion right around the corner, the iA, iM, and FR-S will arrive in showrooms with a Toyota badge for the 2017 model year. The iA becomes the Yaris iA, and the iM transitions to Corolla iM. The FR-S will soon be called the Toyota 86, which is the name used globally. I imagine the “i” naming scheme will disappear once the next generation of the Yaris and Corolla arrive at dealerships several years from now.

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Overall I’d say Toyota’s requiem for the Scion division worked really well. It was a classy sendoff to an interesting period of Toyota’s history. Fitting then, that the last Scion picture features a future vehicle concept that shows what could have been.

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Fiat’s 124 Spider impressed nearly all the big auto magazines and websites, and why shouldn’t it? It’s a Miata with Italian flair.

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This particular Spider gets a nice looking two tone paint job.

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Here is a more toned down version of the Spider, with a lively blue and tasteful wheels.

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This year the Mitsubishi section seemed especially barren, with the Mirage easily taking the trophy for loneliest vehicle in the Javits Center. This sedan is definitely a 2015 model year as the car took a break for 2016.

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And here is the 2017 Mirage in all its glory, being looked at by absolutely no one else.

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Level 1 of the Javits Center hosts all the trucks and commercial vehicles, among other things. Most notable was the redesigned 2017 Super Duty lineup. This redesign follows the F-15o in featuring an aluminum body and strengthened steel frame.

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The cab of the Super Duty is now the same one used in the F-150. I thought using the cab of the F-150 would make the Super Duty look awkward, but that was not the case, and I highly doubt customers will notice the change.

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If you’re mobility impaired, I imagine your automotive choices are quite limited. This Explorer “MKV” by BraunAbility increases the options out there, and a quick visit to the company website demonstrates why you might want to pick the Ford: all the other choices are minivans. I wonder if we’ll see a Transit Connect version in the future.

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Aftermarket companies bring a number of exotic vehicles to the show for advertisement purposes and this year was no different in featuring a diverse collection spread throughout the Javits Center. This owner tweaked his or her NSX in a manner that doesn’t ruin the good looks of the Acura, which is always a good thing.

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The Vintage Automobile Museum Of New Jersey decided to display a number of their vehicles at the show, a collection which included this DeLorean.

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This strange vehicle is dubbed the “Extra Terrestrial Vehicle Space Car” and was appropriately sitting next to the DeLorean. Apparently this thing is based off a 1987 body and sits on the frame of a 2006 Chevy Aveo. Regardless of its underpinnings, this contraption definitely looks like a vehicle plucked straight from the 2015 Hill Valley that Marty traveled to in Back To The Future II 

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This 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is far more appealing.

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The Detroit Electric was produced from 1907-1939. The name has since been resurrected and will be featured on a new electric vehicle based on the Lotus Elise chassis, just like the Tesla Roadster.

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This 1937 Packard Super Eight seven passenger limo can still carry people in style.

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Even though the cars featured in Grease were a bit newer than this 1940 Ford Coupe, I don’t think it would have looked out of place in the movie.

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Would the 1931 Model A fit in as well?

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This Cadillac looks nearly identical to the vehicle featured below so I don’t have specific information about it.

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The 1911 Hupmobile Model 20 was destined for failure simply due to its horrible name, but this specific example is notable for its 46,000 mile journey around the world, which began in 1910 and lasted for eighteen months.

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I imagine all of us would rather own this 1961 Chrysler 300G.

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Or maybe this 1956 Bel Air?

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No doubt the USMC’s Murcielago is desirable, but any other owner would get it repainted to something a little more fitting for civilian life.

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I’ve never actually watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a musical with the least appealing name ever. Regardless, this replica looked quite good and attracted a surprising amount of onlookers.

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Tony Garofalo, the retired NYPD officer who dropped an eye-popping $100,00 to create the replica, was sitting right there! I decided against asking him any questions as he was in the middle of his lunch, so this article about his project will have to do. Maybe he’ll be there next year.

Related Reading:

Auto Show Future Classics: 2016 Denver Auto Show by Jim Klein

2016 New York Auto Show, Part 2

2016 New York Auto Show, Part 1

2015 New York Auto Show

2014 New York Auto Show

2013 New York Auto Show