2012 New York Auto Show

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Date Posted: April 7, 2012
By Zack Spencer

The New York Auto Show is a treat to attend, right in the heart of Manhattan with the hustle and buzz that only this city can provide.

The New York Auto Show is a treat to attend, right in the heart of Manhattan with the hustle and buzz that only this city can provide. The theme at the entire major auto shows this year is that style and sexy is back. No longer can a car maker put out a well made, safe, fuel efficient and reliable car, they now have to do it with fantastic styling both inside and out. The crop of new cars coming to market is fighting in a very competitive market. Here are the highlights of this years show.

2013 SRT Viper

SRT is now a brand inside the Chrysler Group and the flagship model is back, capturing the most fanfare of the entire show. Drop dead sexy and powerful looking; this latest Viper is built off a heavily modified version of the last Viper. The 8.4L V10 engine produces 640hp and with an eye to weight savings (100 lbs.) this new Viper competes with very expensive Italian exotics. Power is nothing without control so the SRT Viper is shod with the widest Pirelli tires they have ever produced and a four-stage stability control has now been added. Other advancements include an adjustable suspension and launch control. Inside the Viper has gone upscale with the seats supplied by the same company that fits inside Ferrari cars, plus a large instrument cluster and the highest quality materials.

2013 Lexus ES

Lexus continues their revolution with a new exterior design language that is migrating from model to model. This sharp looking ES is only slightly longer than the outgoing model but the wheel base has been stretched to provide more interior space than a Mercedes E-Class. The interior is a showcase of what Lexus is doing right with only the finest materials and a back seat that could be used for limo service. The current 3.5L V6 has been retained but with weight saving of 35 kg, the new SE is promising additional fuel savings. With an emphasis on a more spirited driving experience, this latest ES, which is running on an all-new platform, should retain the traditional ride that buyers are looking for but also appeal to a younger buyer. There is also a hybrid model called the ES300h but this one will have a 2.5L 4-cylinder at the heart of the system, a departure from the V6 hybrid of the past. Prices have not been announced, that will come at the lunch later this spring but expect it to be equal or less expensive than the current car.

2013 Lexus RX F-Sport

Not just a sportier model in name, this new RX F-Sport actually has teaks that will improve performance and handling. Fitted with a new 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, this updated model will be faster 0-100km/h but also more efficient. 19-inch wheels along with a lower and stiffer suspension and adaptive AWD system should prove to make this a more agile crossover. Exterior updates include F-Sport badges but the interior gets aluminum pedals and unique leather coverings on the seats and other surfaces.

2013 Toyota Avalon

Built off the same platform as the new Lexus ES, the Avalon benefits from a longer wheelbase and slightly longer dimensions. Designed, engineered and built in the United States, this new Avalon has a bold design that showcases the direction Toyota will be heading in the future. The interior is larger and covered with high-grade materials plus a host of electronic goodies. Toyota claims that the stiffer body will be quitter on the inside and provide a much better driving experience compared to the older and rather soft sedan. Pricing has not been announced but the trend has been to keep prices the same or even drop when a new model is introduced.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe has been a huge hit in Canada, constantly a top three selling crossover. Hyundai has taken the opportunity to blend two products into one with the elimination of the Veracruz and the introduction of a long wheelbase Santa Fe for more room and a third row of seats. The long wheelbase model has roughly 4-inches of additional room between the wheels but the cargo area and the width is greater, making the three row unit look much bigger than the regular 5-seater. Not as much of the flowing design seen in other Hyundai products is evident in the new model, in fact the Santa Fe has an almost Ford look to it; it is a handsome unit from all angles. The interior is an evolution of the existing model with a nice combination of materials and colours and as always a good use of high-grade materials. The 5-seat Santa Fe is lighter by 266 lbs. and comes with either a2.4L direct injection 4-cylinder with 190hp or a turbo 2.0L unit with 264hp and both are fitted to a 6-speed automatic. The long wheelbase motor is a direct injection 3.3L V6 with 290hp. Look for the short wheelbase model this fall, with the longer model to arrive in early 2013.

2013 Nissan Altima

The Altima is a bit of a sleeper in Canada but it is the third best selling mid-sized sedan and in the US it is number two just behind the Ford Fusion. With such a successful car Nissan was determined to improve the car in the areas they felt could be improved but left the things that buyers enjoy. The current 2.5L 4-cylinder and 3.5L V6 have been carried over but the Continuously Variable Transmission has been revised to produce less friction and provide a great range of ratios. The biggest change is the lighter body structure that sheds 79 lbs. to produce the most fuel-efficient mid-sized sedan but also the quickest in its class. Nissan claims that their driver-oriented performance will be improved and the passengers are treated to an improved interior with more room and finer materials. Arriving this summer the Altima will go on sale for $23,698.

2013 Ram 1500

Big changes are in store for the fastest growing pickup truck on the market. The 305hp Pentastar V6 used extensively across the Chrysler group is now the base motor on the Ram and it is matched to a new 8-speed automatic for improved gearing and class leading power and efficiency. Electric power steering has been added to reduce load on the engine and provide better efficiency. Two Hemi engines are still available but those motors do not get the 8-speed. Inside the cabin a rotary dial shifter on the dash instead of on the console controls the 8-speed automatic. This provides more room on the center console for bigger cup holders and storage. The Ram is also the very first pickup to be equipped with an adjustable air suspension that can raise or lower the truck by up to 4 inches. This is handy for loading items into the bed and getting passengers in and out of the cabin. On the highway the suspension drops to reduce drag. The new Ram is lighter and this along with the new V6 engine produces a 20 gain in fuel economy.

Acura RLX concept

The RL flagship model has been almost forgettable, in fact I suspect many Canadians couldn't point one out! Acura hopes to change this with an all-new RLX concept featuring state of the art technology including an all wheel drive hybrid system. The base model will receive a 3.5L V6 powering the front wheels but actuators on the rear wheels will be able to turn the rear wheels for batter handling. With the all wheel drive model there will be three electric motors, one assisting the front wheels and two separate electric motors in the back for power but also better control in corners. The electric motors have a combined output of 70hp to bring the AWD model up to 370hp, where the FWD model receives 300hp. A 7-speed duel clutch automatic will be fitted into the AWD model but the FWD receives a 6-speed. Expect the new RLX to arrive as a 2014 model.

2013 Honda Crosstour

In order to get away from the station wagon look of the current Crosstour, Honda has raised the vehicle and added lower body cladding to make this rather odd looking vehicle much more crossover like. Other teaks incuse a new more aggressive looking front grille and headlights and a higher and more sculpted back design. Power is carried over from either a 2.4L 4-cylinder or 3.5L V6. Regardless, this is still a bit of an ugly duckling.

Mazda6 Concept

Mazda has been revived with their Skyactiv technology; the new CX-5 is enjoying very strong sales. The next model to get this new technology will be the Mazda6 in roughly a year and a half. This concept is a strong indication of just how stylish the new 6 should be. What is really exciting is that this new model will also be the first to receive Mazda's Skyactiv diesel engine.

2013 Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet introduced their new front grille design with the unveiling of the 2013 Impala. GM is hoping that buyers other than fleet managers and rental car companies will find the new Impala eye catching enough to buy one. The Impala certainly looks much better with higher doors, smaller side windows, rear fender hips and standard 18-inch wheels that make this Impala similar in shape to the Dodge Charger. In person this is very good looking car. Big changes under the hood as well with the introduction of eAssist to the base 2.4L 4-cylinder to provide a boost of electric power to provide better fuel economy and pump out 195hp. The 3.6L V6 is back in this Impala and should prove to be engaging thanks to 303hp. This is a big car and with mid-sized cars growing in size, the market for this full-sized model might be slim even with its good looks.

Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Encore

All three full-sized crossovers get new styling front and back making them looks more modern and polished. The guts of each model remain relatively unchanged except for a centre air bag between the front passengers to help in rollover situations; this is the first of its kind.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Subaru will pump up the compact crossover segment with a model smaller than the Forester, called XV. Based on the Impreza platform, complete with nine inches of ground clearance, similar to the Outback, this crossover is targeted at buyers who might want a small car but need more for their activities. The same 2.0L 4-cylinder found in the Impreza will power the XV through either a 5-speed manual transmission or continuously variable unit to all four wheels. Power is rated at 148hp, yet this small crossover will produce excellent efficiency. The main competition will be the Nissan Juke.

Infiniti LE concept

This concept is a full electric car that we should see on the road in about two years. The LE stands for luxury first and electric second, meaning this will be a full blown Infiniti model complete with all the luxury touches but powered by Nissan's LEAF technology. Infiniti has a great looking and futuristic car complete with techy gadgets, the biggest being the ability to charge the car through an electro magnetic field, eliminating the hassle of plugging the car in. Time will tell if this ever comes to pass.

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