There was one of those “ah-ha!” moments this week at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), open today through April 7. Among the show’s 1000 vehicles, including new introductions, concepts and exotic supercars, a vacuum cleaner built into a minivan made a lot of people say, “I wish I’d thought of that.” The vacuum cleaner is featured on the 2014 Honda Odyssey Touring. Running on either auxiliary or engine power, its there to clean up after a load of messy kids or dogs.
Of course, there’s much more to see at NYIAS for car aficionados. Some of the themes emerging on the show floor include more smaller SUVs/crossovers, the continuing resurgence of GM as a major force, continued emphasis on better fuel efficiency even as luxury & speed continue to be popular.
In the smaller SUV/crossover class, the new Range Rover Sport rolled into the media unveiling with James Bond (Daniel Craig) driving. Even with a new power train, body and interior, more cabin technology it is still 800 lbs. lighter. Jeep’s new front-wheel-drive Cherokee, reintroduced after more than a decade on hiatus, replaces the Liberty. Its nine-speed transmission should boost the 4-cylinder engine’s fuel economy 45 percent, but it also comes in a 6-cylinder version. Also in this class are the re-do of the Toyota Highlander with a longer wheelbase and more seating; 2014 Acura MDX, also roomier and now also in a front-wheel-drive version; and the refreshed Dodge Durango. Two new hybrid crossovers in this group are the V-6-powered 2014 Infiniti QX60 and the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid – Subie’s first gas-electric vehicle.
If you’re not ready for an SUV or crossover, but still want expanded cargo room, wait for next year’s return of Volvo’s V60 wagon, gone from the U.S. market for the last two years. This wagon has been popular in Europe and Volvo is betting that U.S. consumers wanting a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle will be interested.
General Motors is making a big splash, beginning with refreshed versions of the Buick LaCrosse and Regal showing the biggest changes inside and with an upgraded, simplified infotainment system. Cadillac’s revamped 420-hp, twin-turbo V-6 CTS is clearly ready to compete among mid-size sedans like the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. Chevrolet roared in with the Corvette Stingray Convertible, reworked Camaro SS and the hot racing Camaro Z28.
Several other manufacturers are showcasing speed. SRT’s mean-looking Viper TA is here but only 33 will be made. Clearly race-worthy at 640-hp, it’s also still street-legal. Porsche is showing off the 50th anniversary version of the 911 GT3 with 475-hp and able to do zero-62 mph in 3.5 seconds. Scream up to 195 mph for only $130,400. A bit more ($174,000) will get you one of just 25 Jaguar XKR-S GTs with supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engines that will do zero-60 in 3.9 seconds.
German rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW all are showing new models. Benz’s subcompact front-wheel-drive hatchback B-class Electric Drive has a 100kW electric motor that goes from zero-60 under 10 seconds and has a range of 115 city miles. The CLA45 AMG is a front-wheel-drive compact sedan designed to appeal to younger drivers. BMW is offering its Active Tourer concept with a three-cylinder engine plus electric motor that it boasts will get 95 mpg. Coming this summer is the 3 Series Gran Turismo with longer wheelbase and more rear passenger room. BMW’s 328d is exciting true clean-diesel believers with its promise of 180-hp that does zero-60 in 7.2 seconds with fuel economy in the 40 mpg range.
A less-luxurious German entry is the 7th generation Volkswagen Golf. The GTI is 220 lbs. leaner and can be had with turbo gas or diesel. VW says hybrid and electric Golfs are in the works. Other more-modest offerings come from Kia with new versions of the Soul, Forte and Optima.
The choices here seem endless, but with the public hungry for cars, that can only be a good thing.