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APA at the 2018 New York International Auto Show

By Ron Corbett: APA Staff Writer



With over one million visitors expected to pass through the turnstiles at the Jacob Javits Convention Center by the time it closes on April 8th, the New York International Auto Show is the best attended new car event in North America.

The first media day was full of new vehicle introductions from major manufacturers, but for the second year in a row, the second day was very low key, with no significant product reveals. Except for Alfa-Romeo, Fiat-Chrysler were notably absent from the show this year, GM unveiled only a performance version of the Cadillac CT6 and a Lincoln Aviator concept car was all that Ford had to offer. 

Like last year, there was much chatter about electrification and autonomous vehicles, but this year's show reflected the actual market, which is increasingly dominated by crossover vehicles. 

There was no mention of the twin elephants in the room, world trade controversy and U.S. fuel economy regulations, both of which have the potential to upset the marketplace. World trade agreements over the last few decades have resulted in vehicles like the Audi Q5 and Volvo S90 being built in one plant for worldwide consumption. If NAFTA collapses, the Mexican-built Q5 could incur tariffs when imported to Canada or the United States, and the Volvo, built solely in China, might incur tariffs when entering the United States. The second elephant is the U.S. EPA fuel economy regulations established late in the Obama Administration. The regulations set a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard in excess of 54 miles per (U.S.) gallon by 2025. The move toward this standard has already impacted the market by leading to smaller and smaller engines with turbocharging, even in luxury cars. The auto industry, which is already working to meet the existing standard for 2025, now faces a period of uncertainty.      


Håkan Samuelsson, President of Volvo Cars, accepts the World Car award for the XC60 in New York

The World Car awards have been a feature of the New York show for many years now, growing from a sleepy affair on the second day of the show to an extravaganza that has replaced the previous Keynote Speaker kickoff. The key criterion for the World Car awards is that vehicles are offered in at least two of the three continents -- Europe, North America and Asia -- where the eighty-two voting journalists, are based. The mix of vehicles nominated is always interesting, as many of them are not available in North America. This year, the three 2018 World Car finalists, the Mazda CX-5, Range Rover Velar and Volvo XC60, were all crossovers!   


The 2019 Corolla debuted in hatchback form at the New York show

Like its C-HR and Prius showroom mates, the new Corolla is based on the Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA). A new 2L four, called Power Force, is found under the hood. Power reaches the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT. The interior is stylish but rear seat legroom is disappointing. The cargo area is ample and versatile. The second-generation of Toyota's Safety Sense System, called TSS 2.0, will be standard. 

The new RAV4 is significantly "truckier" for 2019 than its sleek predecessor

Like the new Corolla, the RAV4 is built on Toyota's TNGA architecture. Dimensions are essentially the same as before. The "Power Force" 2.5L four and eight-speed automatic transmission from the new Camry power the new RAV4. The hybrid features the new 2.5L four hooked up to a CVT. The cabin is roomier than before and cabin materials are improved. All-wheel drive models feature Multi-Terrain settings; with programming for snow, mud, sand and rocks. The second-generation of the Toyota Safety Sensing system, referred to as TSS 2.0, will be standard on all trim levels.   

Retro be gone. The new Nissan Altima has a crisp, modern appearance

After a bizarre styling mis-step with the previous Altima, Nissan joins the contemporary mainstream with the latest iteration of the vehicle. The interior is clean and modern and features class competitive space. While the cabin looks plush, the upper dash and door tops lack the soft-touch surfaces expected in this class. 

With direct injection and 80 percent of its internal components redesigned for 2019, Nissan states its 2.5L four is a new engine. New for 2019, and still rare in the mid-size segment, the 2.5L Altima is available with all-wheel drive. The previous 3.5L V6 has been replaced by the 2L variable compression turbo four that debuted in the new Infiniti QX50. All-wheel drive is not offered with the 2L turbo engine. 

Pro-PILOT, Nissan's semi-autonomous lane keep assist system, is available. Autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and lane departure, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings are standard.  

Though labelled a concept, this Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak concept truck looks production ready

Named for a species of tree native to the U.S. Pacific Coast, the Atlas Tanoak concept is an Atlas-based unibody pickup similar in concept to the Honda Ridgeline. Some observers note that the Ridgeline is a sales flop, but if Volkswagen could sell nearly 5000 units of the Tanoak in Canada like Honda did last year, it would be no doubt consider it to be a success. 

The Tanoak is longer than the Atlas and has greater ground clearance than its crossover donor vehicle. The 3.6L V6, eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive system from the Atlas are employed on the Tanoak concept. The production version of the Atlas Tanoak should go on sale in about a year as a 2020 model.   

The third-generation Acura RDX debuted in New York 

While the previous RDX was an assemblage of various Honda group components, the new model is to be built on an Acura exclusive platform and features Acura's own Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. Honda threw its silky V6 overboard in favour of a turbocharged four cylinder like the original RDX. Acura representatives at the show stated that engine refinement, a real issue with small, powerful engines, is better than a number of key competitors. Power is funnelled to all wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. The SH-AWD system can send up to 70 percent of power to the rear wheels and can shift torque front to back and from side to side. 

The cabin of the RDX, with interesting shapes, finish combinations and high quality materials, is a big improvement compared to its predecessor. The cabin is roomy and comfortable and cargo space is ample. Acura's new True Touchpad infotainment system looks more user friendly than the controller it replaces.  

Though not unveiled at the New York show, the new Cadillac XT4 was hiding in full sight 

Roughly the same size as the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1, the XT4 is Cadillac's entry in the compact luxury crossover segment. Cabin space and cargo volume closely mirror those of the BMW. Cadillac has updated its Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment device, adding a rotary controller to make navigating the system less cumbersome. Power stems from a revised version of GM's 2L turbo four which is equipped with active fuel management and cylinder deactivation for 2019. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. Power reaches the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission in all cases.  

The next-generation Hyundai Santa-Fe made its public debut in New York

The next-generation Santa-Fe, shorn of its "Sport" suffix, was unveiled in New York. Exterior style further explores themes first seen on the latest Hyundai Elantra GT. The cabin is styllsh, roomy and comfortable. A third-row seat is available once again. An interesting new cabin feature is a sensor to alert the driver that the rear seat is occupied. 

The normally aspirated 2.4L and turbo 2L engines will be joined by a 2.2L diesel engine sometime after the vehicle is launched.  

The fifth-generation Forester moves to Subaru's new Global Architecture for 2019  

For the new Forester, Subaru opts once again for a gentle evolution of style rather than a noticeable break with the model it replaces. Underpinning the new vehicle is the Subaru Global Architecture, which supports the Impreza/Crosstrek and Ascent, and will eventually be Subaru's sole platform. Cabin styling is very traditional and controls are straightforward. Seating is comfortable and the longer wheelbase of the new model results in greater rear seat legroom.

The 2.5L flat four returns for 2019, now with direct injection and a stop/start system, but the 2L turbo XT models have been discontinued. All-wheel drive is standard and power reaches the wheels via a revised CVT. SI Drive, with Intelligent and Sport settings, is standard. An optional drive mode permits the driver select Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings. Subaru's optional EyeSight collision avoidance technology is joined by a driver alert feature for 2019.

The 2019 Volvo V60 goes on sale this fall  

Volvo's sleek V60 broke cover at the New York show this year. This Belgian built wagon will be followed by the U.S. assembled S60 sedan. The V60's cabin is sumptuously outfitted and has competitive passenger and cargo volumes. Volvo's T5 (2L turbo), T6 (2L turbo and supercharged) and T8 (a plug-in hybrid feature added to the T6) engines will be offered on the new car.  

The Kai Concept is an early glimpse of the next Mazda 3

As demonstrated by the Takeri, which presaged the Mazda 6 and the Koeru, which became the CX-5, Mazda concept cars are precise previews of upcoming production vehicles. Except for show car details such as small mirrors, oversized wheels and frameless door glass, the Kai Concept is essentially the next Mazda 3.