The turnstiles are spinning at the Javits Convention Center and for good reason. The 2018 New York International Auto Show is winning raves as the year’s most significant North American event, with dozens of significant debuts.
This year’s NAIAS covered plenty of ground: from long-range electric vehicles to high-powered performance cars – even some high-performance electric vehicles. Followers of automotive design will have plenty to talk about, too. The show underscores all the dramatic changes sweeping through the auto industry, even on the retail side, as more manufacturers announce new subscription programs.
Whether you’re heading down to the show or simply trying to check out from a distance the most significant, intriguing and unusual cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts on display, here’s a handy guide to our dozen favorites.
(Live from NY! Click Here for our complete coverage of the 2018 NYIAS.)
Cadillac XT4: The Detroit automaker once dominated the American market and has been struggling to regain momentum. It hopes to do that with a flood of new utility vehicles, including the compact XT4 which also features Super Cruise, a semi-autonomous technology that allows hands-free driving on well-marked freeways. Caddy also rolled out the 550-hp CT6 V-Sport premium luxury performance sedan.
Genesis Essentia: A Korean luxury car? That might once have seemed absurd, at least until Hyundai rolled out the Genesis and Equus models. They’ve been rebranded under the new Genesis brand which promises to add a range of new models. The emphasis will be on SUVs, but a big question at this year’s NYIAS is whether Genesis will also build the striking, sci-fi-like Essentia Concept with its gullwing doors.
Honda Insight: The original Insight was the very first hybrid sold in the U.S., but its quirky, two-seat design limited its appeal. A second version didn’t fare much better. Now, Honda is hoping three’s a charm. The 2019 Insight is based off the popular Civic, features a more conventional exterior, a more well-equipped interior – and it boosts performance without sacrificing fuel economy.
Hyundai Kona: The mainstream Korean brand has three major product debuts, including updates of the Santa Fe and Tucson utes. But the big news is the introduction of the Kona Electric. That’s a BEV version of its recently launched Kona, the smallest SUV in its line-up. Kona Electric features a sporty battery-drive unit that bests both the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt EV at 250 miles per charge.
Jaguar I-Pace: The British marque only recently entered the SUV market but I-Pace is its third offering. It’s also Jaguar’s first all-electric. By moving the batteries and motors under the floor, I-Pace offers a cabin two size classes larger than its body would suggest. It will also become a central vehicle in the new driverless ride-sharing service Waymo is launching this year.
Kia K900: The Korean automaker has been delivering plenty of surprises lately. That includes the decision to launch an all-new version of its big luxury sedan, the K900 – which many expected to vanish while the brand put more focus on the award-winning Stinger GT. The ’19 K900 is even more lavish than before. But Kia had a busy NY show, also revealing updates of its smaller Optima and Sedona models.
Lincoln Aviator: Like Cadillac Ford’s luxury brand once was an American powerhouse. It is rolling out an assortment of new models to rebuild its image, backing that with an emphasis on the “customer experience” that includes free pick up for service and repairs. The Aviator is a lavishly equipped and highly styled midsize SUV.
Mercedes-Benz: Has been flooding show floors with all manner of new products lately, and it has a lot to see in NY, including the four-door AMG GT that debuted in Geneva. New for this show, however, we get not one but three new versions of the C-Class given the AMG treatment. And buyers of the C63 sedan, coupe or cabriolet models will have the choice of 469 or 503 hp 4.0-liter turbo V-8s.
Nissan Altima: The Japanese automaker is out to prove that the sedan isn’t dead. The 2019 remake features one of the show’s most stylish designs. But it’s also one of the most technologically sophisticated cars to debut. It gets semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist as well as Nissan’s breakthrough VC Turbo engine that can change its compression ratio to deliver both better mileage and performance.
Subaru Forester: The Japanese automaker now has two distinctive offerings bookending the utility market: the latest version of its Forester model is compact yet manages to squeeze in more passenger space. At the other extreme is the new Ascent, a large three-row utility vehicle. Debuting in NY, the Forster adds an intriguing facial recognition system that warns drivers who are distracted or fatigued.
Toyota RAV4: The largest Japanese automaker was another pioneer in the crossover segment with its original RAV4 model. But what was once derisively written off as a “cute ute” is bigger and better, with a strong design belying Toyota’s reputation for plain vanilla styling. It also comes with an extensive array of the latest high-tech safety and driver assistance technologies bundled together at an affordable price.
Volkswagen Atlas “Family”: The German maker has been struggling to rebuild its image in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal but gained sales in an otherwise weak 2017 market. Credit it’s all-new, three-row Atlas SUV. For the NYIAS it rolls out the sportier, two-row Atlas Sport Cross concept that will go in production next year. There’s also the Atlas Tanoak Concept which hints at a possible midsize pickup.