NEW YORK – Spend any time here in the Big Apple, and you’ll quickly find that between the fleets of black limousines and yellow taxi cabs, the traditional three-box, four-door sedan still plays an important role here on the crowded streets of Manhattan. So it was no surprise to find a pair of American brand luxury sedans battling for attention here at this year’s New York International Auto Show.
Arguably the biggest surprise — and most-talked about — premiere here at the show’s Jacob Javits Center venue was the Continental Concept, a full-sized?flagship sedan from Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand.
Designed mainly for Lincoln’s relaunch into the world’s largest luxury sedan market, China, the turbo-V6/all-wheel-drive Continental will lose its “concept” label next year when it goes on sale.
Also designed mainly for Chinese plutocrats is the new 2016 Cadillac CT6.
The Caddy full-sized sedan is a technological statement for the American luxury brand, with intensive use of lightweight materials, a 34-speaker sound system, massaging seats all-around and a revised CUE infotainment system. Aimed directly at German flagship sedans like the BMW 7 Series, the rear- or all-wheel-drive CT6 will come with a turbo-four and a pair of V6s, with up to 400 horsepower.
While both the Lincoln and Cadillac sedans require a certain level of income to own (or be driven around in), the NYC show also had a wealth of sedans making their world premieres for buyers with thinner wallets.
Following the dramatic styling wake created by the current Murano mid-sized crossover, the new 2016 Nissan Maxima four-door sedan made its debut here.
Clearly based on last year’s Nissan Sport Sedan Concept, the Japanese automaker is launching the front-wheel-drive, five-passenger sedan as a “4-Door Sports Car” — a tagline last used in the 1990s. A revised V6 gas engine gets direct-injection and 300-hp, while Nissan is boasting the new Maxima is lighter and stiffer than the outgoing version, helping it “push the performance envelope in its segment” enough to rival luxury sports sedans.
In what has?seemingly becoming an annual event, Chevrolet debuted yet another redesigned Malibu mid-sized sedan for 2016.
This time, the new Malibu gets a more upscale and larger interior, a Hybrid model based on Chevrolet Volt mechanicals, and a major styling update that makes it look like the slightly larger Chevrolet Impala or a Toyota Avalon, depending on who you talked to here at the show.
Also here in New York, we saw the debut of the second-generation 2016 Kia Optima mid-sized sedan, which receives more refined styling inside and out, and a 1.6L turbo-four gas engine added to its engine menu. We also saw the new 2016 Scion iA, a subcompact sedan based on the Mexican-made Mazda2 four-door that will be confusingly sold as a Toyota Yaris sedan in Canada later this year.
As much as sedans played an appropriately big role during the debuts here in New York, inevitably, a host of new crossovers were also unveiled, many of which were targeted at wealthy buyers.
From a price point status, Mercedes-AMG led the way with its new 2016 G65. As the flagship model of the ancient Gel?ndewagen SUV range, the G65 sports a 6.2L twin-turbo V12, makes 621 hp, and will cost over $220,000 U.S.
If you can’t afford the über G-Wagen, you can always move down to the new, US$200,000 2016 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography. The latest topline Rover?gets a 550-hp supercharged V8 and a longer wheelbase.
If $200,000-plus SUVs are out of your price range, the New York show also had a few other luxury crossover debuts that may meet your budget.
The new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE is the renamed version of last year’s mid-sized ML-Class. Here at the show, the German automaker debuted the GLE 350 and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63. When it goes on sale this fall, expect a wider rage of powertrains, from a four-cylinder diesel to V6 and V8 gas to a new plug-in gas-electric hybrid.
Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand came to the Empire State show with a pair of small luxury crossovers.
The redesigned 2016 Infiniti QX50 still sports a 3.7L V6 and a chassis based on the Q50 sports sedan. But a longer wheelbase frees up more space for rear seat passengers and new styling front and back makes it look like more recent Infinitis.
The Japanese brand also showed for the first time in North America its forthcoming QX30 compact coupe-crossover in concept form. Based on the existing Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, the small Infiniti is said to go on sale within the next year.
And for buyers who want AWD in something small but not a crossover or SUV, Volkswagen confirmed its Golf SportWagen Alltrack will go on sale next year as a 2017 model.
Although sedans and crossovers leading the list of premieres at this year’s New York Auto Show, a few sporty and fun-to-drive cars also debuted here.
We saw premieres of the McLaren 570S (a new “entry-level” model from the British supercar maker), 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder (a lighter, more hardcore version of the midengine roadster), and the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Club (a track day model of the new roadster).
However, one of the biggest surprises was the unveiling of the new Honda Civic Coupe Concept, a prelude to the tenth-generation Civic coming this fall.
In addition to a production version of the Civic Coupe, Honda says the new Civic will also come as a sedan and a long-awaited four-door hatchback. But perhaps the most exciting news for enthusiasts is that both the Civic Si and a Civic Type-R performance models will be offered in North America as well.