Curbside Classic Visits The 2016 New York International Auto Show, Part 2

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Welcome to our continuing coverage of the New York Auto show. Are you ready to see some cars? Of course you are, so let’s get to it.

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I concluded the first part of my coverage with a display that made no reference to the automaker that would lead off round two. If you guessed Buick, you were right! Here’s the refreshed Encore sporting a tastefully redone front end.

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General Motors really did a great job updating the Encore and its Chevrolet equivalent, the Trax.


Unfortunately, my pictures of the Buick Envision are too blurry to share, but since the crossover is worth discussing I opted to post this manufacturer glamour shot instead.


Buick is finally getting a mid-size crossover to compete with the likes of the Lincoln MKX and Acura MDX. The worst you could say about the Envision is that it looks too derivative of the Enclave, which has essentially remained the same since its introduction in 2007, with a minor facelift for the 2013 model year. Since several competitors to the Envision have embraced styling beyond a single generation this is a relatively minor complaint.

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Despite my inability to snap any decent photos of the Envision’s exterior, I was able to quickly take this shot of the center stack before it was time to let other people have their turn in the vehicle. I only mention that because there was considerable interest in the Envision and its the primary reason why I couldn’t get any decent shots once I stepped outside.

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Buick continues its climb towards relevancy with the redesigned Lacrosse. Notice anything different about that logo? The Tri-Shield gets color! Smart move, General Motors.

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The Lacrosse shares its platform with the Impala and borrows some of its flair as well, the most notable being the steeply raked C-pillar. That tail lamp setup evokes memories of past models like the Lucerne while simultaneously looking modern. This sedan has come a long way since its first generation.

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Front wheel drive convertibles aren’t exactly hot sellers these days. The 200 convertible ended its run several years ago, Volkswagen discontinued the Eos last year, and rumors about the demise of the Beetle are currently circulating around the internet. Unless I’m mistaken, the Cascada now has this market all to itself.

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The idea of a modern Buick convertible sounds great on paper, but with a starting MSRP of $33,065, the Cascada comes in thousands of dollars more expensive than a V-6 convertible Mustang. The Camaro rag top matches the Buick in price, but incentives could always change the game towards Chevy’s favor.

Pricing and relevancy aside, the Cascada succeeds on the merits; a vote for the Cascada is not a vote for mediocrity.

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True concept cars are a rarity these days. Automakers like Honda now create something more akin to a preview, where the concept closely resembles the production vehicle. With Buick, General Motors created two concept vehicles that push back against this trend. This eye-popping hardtop coupe is one example, the other being the Avenir sedan that was on display last year.

Unfortunately, the Avista concept will not see production, according to officials at Buick. Okay, so the coupe is a massive tease then. This now makes the prevalence of all these near-production concepts more palatable, since there’s never a chance for disappointment with those.

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Pretty much every automaker has a presence in New York, even the supercar manufacturers. This Lotus Evora sits at one end of the display, where it shares space with other exotic vehicles. Given their rarity, this section is always swamped with people, so I generally avoid it. Fortunately I was able to snap some pictures this time around.

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The reign of the Veyron may be over, but that doesn’t mean seeing it in the flesh is any less significant.

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Next up is the Spyker C8 Preliator and the Koenigsegg One:1. The former is one of fifty; the latter is oddly named but produces almost 1,400 horsepower.

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Perhaps its the color, or maybe the less fussy design, but the Lamborghini Huracán looks far more appealing to my eyes than the more expensive cars sitting nearby. Opting for this entry level Lambo costs a little less than the price of thirty year old raised ranch in upstate New York.

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Volvo, maker of vehicles more realistically obtainable than the aforementioned exotics, decided to display two examples of the P1800 at both ends of its section. Their position far above the floor didn’t allow one to get a good look at either coupe once you got close, which was a real shame.

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That minor disappointment was quickly alleviated once I realized the new Volvo products were completely open to the public.

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I’ll take mine in blue, please and thank you.

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The interior shots you’re about to see come from the S90, but since the inside of both models were nearly identical I’ve opted to position these pictures in between the exterior pics of the crossover and its sedan counterpart. Both vehicles share an aesthetically pleasing interior with world class materials. Check out that thigh support!

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Volvo adopts the Tesla style of infotainment management, which places a gigantic tablet right in the center stack. Its integrated very well, and the vents that flank  the screen are downright elegant.

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Volvo decided to partner with Bowers and Wilkens for their high-end audio system, which results in a multitude of speakers spread throughout the cabin.

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Volvo eschewed the traditional look of the rear view mirror with this far more classy design. The black enclosure behind it isn’t as beautiful but it doesn’t impact visibility, as one might conclude from this picture.

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The new Volvo models also feature b-pillar vents and exposed speakers. Both are nifty.

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The S90 shares many visual cues with the XC90, and while I’d take the S90 wagon (which wasn’t at the show) over the sedan and crossover, all look fantastic.

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The S60 Inscription is one of the first automobiles that will be built in China and shipped to North America. As such, this normally staid and completely uncontroversial sedan will be under heightened levels of scrutiny until a verdict is reached about its short and long term quality. Given the circumstances, it would be logical to think that Volvo would be more cautious in selecting the perfect S60 to display, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. That panel gap between the hood and front end is unacceptable even on something like a Toyota Yaris.

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The Volvo exhibit featured more than just the vehicles themselves. Take this unique space devoted to showing off the Bowers & Wilkins audio components that are available on the XC90 and S90. You’ve got the usual assortment of speakers, tweeters, and subwoofers all lined up and ready to blast noise into your face at 1,400 watts of eardrum-bursting fury. Perhaps next year I’ll risk going deaf and actually sample the audio system to see if its worthy of the hype.

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Of course you can’t have a functioning audio system without power. The hybrid powertrain in the XC90 has plenty of it in the form of a 2.0 liter supercharged and turbocharged gasoline engine paired to an electric motor, with the whole setup producing about 400 horsepower and 472 Ib-ft of torque. If you’re scared of all that complexity Volvo offers other, more conventional engines to choose from.

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Closing out the Volvo section is this giant moose which Volvo presented without any sort of context. My guess is that Volvo wanted you to know that the advanced safety features available in their lineup will help prevent you from colliding with one of these beasts, because what else could this thing possibly convey?

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Giant corporate logos are creepy when they’re hanging directly over you. If Nick Carraway of The Great Gatsby attended the show I have no doubt he would find this red monstrosity just as unsettling as the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleberg.

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With the Toyota logo hanging ominously over their heads, attendees were treated to a pop quiz on automotive knowledge. The people on the stage ended up winning tickets to a race at Watkins Glen.

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Toyota packed its exhibit with a number of Prius hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

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In order to distinguish itself from the regular hybrid variant, the plug-in Prius carries the “Prime” moniker. I don’t know if the autobots were powered by a gasoline electric hybrid system, but I thinks its safe to assume Toyota got the name from the Transformers franchise.

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The Prius attracted a lot of attention when it was first revealed. There is no doubt that the styling is controversial, and many people disapprove of the new design, but I don’t count myself as a member of that club. This is a classic case of a vehicle looking better than the pictures suggest. Of course, in this era of cheap gas the redesign may not matter all that much in the long run, as Prius sales are likely to decrease as people flock to crossovers.

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Could compact cars be hurting hybrid sales? It wasn’t that long ago when 30 mpg compacts were desirable; today 40 mpg is a foregone conclusion. With highly optioned small cars retailing for about $25,000 before incentives, there is a strong case for going with something like a Corolla, especially when the fuel economy penalty isn’t severe. Speaking of the Corolla, what you see above is the refreshed version in 50th Anniversary trim. I’ll give Toyota credit for introducing a model in this shade of purple, although since the stickers that adorned this Corolla claim its a prototype there is always a chance it could be nixed before its on sale date.

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With the rise of Tesla, fully electric vehicles are now rapidly becoming mainstream. This makes vehicles like the Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai odd ducks that can only make a business case for themselves in places like California, where strict emissions standards encourage automakers to manufacture cars with limited appeal. Despite all this, both Japanese automakers continue to soldier on with new or updated versions of their alternative energy pariahs.

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Nostalgia is pretty much an entire industry these days, so it comes as little surprise that Toyota found an extremely dubious way to exploit it by showing off this Mirai as something that Marty might have encountered during his trip to 2015 in Back to the Future II.

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I will say this: the Mirai already looks like something from the franchise even before being explicitly altered to appear like one.

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Did they really have to integrate a Mr. Fusion blender into the design? By now we all know that if you’re gonna build a time machine you might as well do it with some style; the DeLorean wins this battle every time.

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As for other Toyota models that wish to stay firmly in the present, you probably don’t want to own this Rav4 adorned in Yankees pinstripes. Do you think a person shopping for a used Rav4 would pluck down their hard earned cash for this? Maybe if the price was right, and it just might be, because I’d bet any car with a Yankees paint job depreciates faster than their non-baseball themed counterparts, even in a place like New York.

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With the Scion mark being folded into the Toyota brand, the awkwardly named FR-S is gone, replaced with the more appropriate 86 moniker. These haven’t exactly been flying off the shelves as of late, so it will be interesting to see if Subaru and Toyota opt to develop a next generation coupe in the near future.

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With all the talk about electric cars, autonomous driving, and ride sharing, its clear that traditional car ownership will look a lot different in the next 30 years or so. Automotive companies are starting to realize this, hence what you see above.

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You might not want to take the i-ROAD on the highway, but for an urban environment this three wheel contraption might make sense.

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As the polar opposite to the aforementioned vehicle, the Lexus LC500h is one of the latest hybrid luxury cars that can run with the best of its internal combustion counterparts. The LC coupe is essentially following the path of the Tesla Model S; a car can have a hybrid drivetrain and still be cool as hell.

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In terms of styling, the LC looks quite good, and a quick sideways glance might fool you into thinking this a future version of the Corvette.

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Like finding out your attractive date is really into Pogs, the sexy LC500h is a downright weirdo on the inside. Using a 3.5 liter V6, a CVT, two electric motors, and a four speed automatic transmission, the coupe ultimately musters about 354 horsepower. Lexus pegs its 0-60 time at under five seconds, which is somewhat impressive, but one has to wonder if the price premium will be worth it.

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The same can be said for the regular LC500. A 467 horsepower V8 is nothing to sneeze at, but your average Mustang or Camaro nearly matches that figure, with a strong value proposition to boot.

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The RC coupe runs into the same problem outlined by its bigger brother: other brands field cars with better performance credentials at a cheaper price.

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A quick visit to the official webpage confirms this, with the RC F Sport coming in about $47,000 minimum. Considering the amenities offered by the Mustang GT Premium, a Lexus coupe doesn’t seem worth it to anyone other than a Lexus loyalist.

If you think I left out some brands in my coverage, you’re absolutely right. Part 3 is in the works and will be arrive soon.

Related Reading:

Curbside Classic Visits The New York International Auto Show, Part 1