The good, the bad, and the casualcore.
Once again, the New York Auto Show played host to an incredible variety of new debuts. The show has everything from affordable mainstream cars to luxury machines to far-out concepts. For once, there was a refreshing lack of autonomous-pod concepts; instead we saw a handful of high-performance toys and various sensible family crossovers. In fact, we had a tough time whittling down the choices for our “Hits” section.
If you missed any of our New York coverage, be sure to head to our landing page to check it all out. We covered every debut in detail, with full photo galleries of everything that’s new this year.
Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
When Dodge set about building the Challenger Demon, engineers specifically decided to do something different – i.e. not another road-course champion like the Chevy Camaro Z/28 and Ford Shelby GT350R. That a sub-10-second drag car can be both street legal and come with a factory warranty is an incredible achievement. The car is a moonshot effort, a “because we can” statement of purpose. Oh, no, the Demon has no real relevance to most car buyers. But the audacity of its existence deserves huge respect.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Hellcat Jeep! Hellcat Jeep! Do we need to say more? The long-awaited Trackhawk is finally here, with 707 supercharged horsepower. With all-wheel drive, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will hit 60 miles per hour (96 kilometres per hour) in 3.5 seconds, which makes it quicker than a number of sports cars. The Demon may have been the big SRT show-stopper here in New York, but don’t discount the awesomeness of the super cool Trackhawk.
Buick Regal TourX
Wagons are back! That’s exciting not just because, as car writers, we are legally (not really) bound to always love every station wagon. No, we're happy that Buick, of all brands, is here to take on the likes of the Audi Allroad, Volvo Cross Country models, and Subaru Outback with the lifted, fender-clad Regal TourX. It’s a recognition that while not everybody needs or wants the size of a crossover, but plenty of people need/want all-wheel drive and lots of cargo space. Buick officials tell us they’re interested in this type of “whitespace” model that pushes the brand into new directions, and we really hope the TourX is a success.
This is how you do a mid-cycle update. The Jaguar F-Type gets a couple minor visual enhancements, and a new four-cylinder engine, which results in a much lower starting price point. Talking to Jaguar executives, we’re told the four-cylinder F-Type isn’t just a plug-and-play job, either – the exhaust has been tuned to make sure it still sounds like an F-Type, and the smaller engine takes 45 kilograms of weight directly out of the car’s nose, improving overall balance. We’re as excited to drive this version as we are any other F-Type.
As far as stupid marketing terms go, this one is pretty bad. Toyota has an entire section of its FT-4X press release that explains the concept’s “casualcore” nature. The company says, “A shift from multiday, extreme, high-effort excursions to brief, unplanned, casual adventures is an overwhelming reality for Generation Y.” An overwhelming reality? Get bent. In fairness, we like the FT-4X as a whole – super cool, like a tougher Jeep Renegade. But “casualcore?” Just stop.
In Your Face SUVs
It appears the giant, monolith SUV trend is back in full swing, evidenced here in New York with the Lincoln Navigator and Infiniti QX80 Monograph. They’re huge, ugly, and have stupid light-up badges on their grilles (a trend that seriously needs to die, right this instant). Sure, the interiors seem nice, and there’s room inside for all your dictator friends, but nothing screams "unnecessary excess" like one of these blingy big boys.
Nissan 370Z Heritage Edition
There are many great things about the Nissan 370Z: Classic sports-coupe shape, gutsy V6 engine, available Brembo brakes, still available with a manual gearbox. Yet the car is feeling long in the tooth, and a Heritage special edition only serves to remind us this car is aging. Yellow accents and black stripes are cool, no question. But we’d rather see performance enhancements or a hint of, maybe, a newer Nissan sports car. Fewer special editions, more new sports cars!
The Show Is Done Before It Even Starts
Officially, New York Auto Show press days were Wednesday and Thursday. Unofficially, most of the biggest news was already out in the open before we even got here. On Tuesday alone, half a dozen automakers held events to show off their New York debuts. By the time we arrived at the show in person on Wednesday, we’d already seen new metal from Buick, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and several other manufacturers. It’s a smart tactic (introduce your car before its debut will be drowned out by other introductions) but it makes the actual auto show somewhat anticlimactic.
Steven Ewing and Jake Holmes contributed to this story.
Live Photos: Nathan Leach-Proffer / Motor1.com