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While not quite a match for last month’s Geneva extravaganza, there were a significant number of new products to see at the New York show, and a few intriguing concepts on the side.

New generations of mass-market vehicles such as the bolder 2019 Toyota RAV4 and revamped Subaru Forester premiered. As did hotted-up variants such as the Maserati Levante Trofeo, the Audi RS5 Sportback and the Jaguar F-Pace SVR.

More US-focused offerings that made world debuts included the all-new Nissan Altima sedan, Honda Insight hybrid car, and some American luxury including the Cadillac XT4 crossover, Lincoln Aviator PHEV luxury SUV, and Acura RDX.

We also saw upgraded versions of well-known cars such as the Hyundai Tucson with its revamped cabin, and the made-over Mercedes-AMG C63 muscle car, which one of our founders in particular liked. A lot.

That’s not to mention concept metal such as the MQB-based Volkswagen Tanoak light duty luxury pickup truck, electrified Genesis Essentia coupe that shows Korea’s metal in the premium market, and the adorable Mini Electric, a battery-powered version of a classic Cooper. What would Mr Issigonis say?


Alborz Fallah, in New York

Best production car: Toyota RAV4

Okay, look, I’m not sure what is going on. First, we had the new gorgeous Corolla, now the super handsome and rugged new RAV4 – and I am totally confused.

Toyota, what the hell? I want the old and boring conservative Toyota back. Take it easy, will you? We are not used to you making nice looking cars. Take a leaf out of Subaru’s book and calm down.

Best Concept: Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak

Wow! Just make it.

Biggest Miss: Infiniti

Everything at the stand. Not one single car you can confidently say is Better than its competitors in any category.


Paul Maric, in New York

Best production car: Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

This car is so ridiculous that I absolutely love it. I mean who doesn’t get a smile on their face at the thought of a car that can make it down the quarter mile in less than 10 seconds and still be totally legal for the road.

It looks mean in person and it’s hard not to love how much effort has been crammed into make this a straight line shooter.

Best concept car: Genesis Essentia

This isn’t a big show for concept cars, but the all-electric Genesis Essentia really lifts the brand image. It looks amazing and represents an electric future for Genesis — a car brand that’s still finding its feet in the market.

If it gets the green light, it will make it into production by 2020/2021.

Biggest miss: Infiniti’s presence

While the exterior of some of Infiniti’s cars look great, they are totally let down by poor interiors and ancient infotainment technology. We snuck a glance inside a few models at the Infiniti stand and even the newest cars are dated by the time they are released.

There really is limited appeal for this brand in Australia and I’d love to see what they’re planning on doing to turn that around.


Tony Crawford, in New York

Best production car: Mercedes-AMG C63 S

It’s only a midlife refresh, but it’s one of the most substantial facelifts ever undertaken by Benz (that’s new C-Class in general), with 25,000 new part numbers from a total of 70,000.

Everything has been improved, including the lights, grille, engines, transmissions, suspension and interior (though it doesn’t get the latest NTG 6.0 MBUX infotainment system from the new A-Class). The C63 S sedan and coupe look a touch more aggressive now and better for it. This is a very polished car from AMG that should exceed the success of the previous iteration.

Best concept car: Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak

If you thought the Toyota Tundra looked the business as far as full-size pick-ups go, think again.

It’s a tough-looking truck with a car-like cockpit and plenty of passenger space. It’s also got a damped tailgate, and apart from the spacey lights, it looks and feels like a production model (inside and out) and with pick-up sales still booming in the lucrative US market, this VW version may just steal the show.

Biggest miss: Subaru Forester

I rather wanted to give this to the Infiniti QX80 facelift, but, even though it was on display in New York, it was revealed five months ago… so, the Forester.

It may well prove a good unit when it lands in Australia, but it barely looks any different to the model it replaces – and yet it’s a brand-new generation, which usually means a brand-new design.


Trent Nikolic, in Sydney

Best Production Car: Maserati Levante Trofeo

Having been blown away by the capability of the petrol Levante when it finally landed on Australian shores, I was left thinking it wasn’t really lacking anything… until a 440kW V8 became available. The Urus has got every manufacturer looking for more power.

Best Concept Car: Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak

Yes please. This was a tough one, with some genuine contenders here, but les see VW put this thing into production. Love it.

Biggest Miss: Dodge Demon

I love the Dodge Demon. I’d sell an organ to drive one. But I thought it was already sold out. So what the hell is it doing at another motor show if you can’t buy one?


Mike Stevens, in Melbourne

Best Production Car: Maserati Levante Trofe

I wasn’t expecting to like this, because I’m not a big fan of the Levante… but hot damn they’ve really made it look tough with this one. And 433kW is nothing to shrug at! Gets the nod from me.

Best concept car: Genesis Essentia

Hooly dooly. I really wanted to give my vote to the Atlas Tanoak (because mate it’s a bloody good-looking ute), but this thing… wow.

I’m not in love with the grille opening, but the rest of it is just wildly retro cool, a really wonderful nod to all the American and European and even Australian coupe concept designs of decades past. Just spectacular work.

Biggest miss:  Toyota RAV4

I have a feeling this thing will grow on me when I see it in the flesh and I’ll be eating these words later, but for now… this is a miss for me. Purely as a matter of personal taste, though: for my money, it’s just an inelegant design, too chunky and weirdly proportioned, and oh-so-American.

Which is fine, really, because a) the car’s clearly designed for that gargantuan share of the global audience, and b) you can’t please all the people, all the time. In hindsight, perhaps I should’ve given this vote to the Forester for being so damned boring. 


Scott Collie, in Melbourne

Best production car: Toyota RAV4

I never thought a Toyota crossover would be my favourite anything, but here we are. The new RAV4 is, to my eyes, the strongest proof that Toyota has its mojo back.

It would have been easy to make it a C-HR on steroids, or to have rolled out a dull, watered-down take on the FT-AC. Instead, it delivered something bold. Not everyone will like it, but the fact Toyota had the nerve to stick to its guns is worth applauding.

Best concept car: Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak

The slinky Genesis two-door runs it close, but the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak was impossible to look past.

I have a massive crush on the Honda Ridgeline, so the idea of a Volkswagen take on the formula is seriously exciting. Also, Tanoak is a great name for a ute – who else is looking forward to the Amarok Eucalyptus Edition?

Biggest miss: Subaru Forester

As an ex-Subaru owner, the brand’s current line-up is something of a disappointment. It can’t keep promising so much with its concepts and failing to deliver.

The Forester is totally uninspired, both inside and out. The fact there’s no turbo (for now, at least) is just the icing on a disappointing cake.


Kez Casey, in Melbourne

Best production car: Maserati Levante Trofeo

Finally Maserati’s station wagon (if you think this is an SUV you’re kidding yourself!) gets an engine befitting its storied badge.

Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with the snarly V6 that’s already available, but a 440kW V8 with sinister black-pack styling and a gorgeous leather interior make the Levante Trofeo too good to resist

Best concept car: Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak

Sure, Volkswagen already has the Amarok, and this new ute lacks the ruggedness of body-on-frame construction, but surely there’s a swathe of Commodore and Falcon Ute owners looking for a suitable road-biased replacement?

Although the Tanoak is a little higher-riding than Australia’s dearly departed utes, its SUV base makes it the perfect trend-leader for a range of medium duty soft-roader pickups.

A big petrol V6 for those with no love for a diesel engine, and some seriously expansive lighting details make this a very cool concept with a feasible chance of making production.

Biggest miss:  Toyota RAV4

It looks as though Toyota has tried to force-feed its mid-size softroader a dose of ruggedness, but something’s gone awfully wrong in the execution.

There’s no doubt the TNGA platform underneath and a range of new engines will make the RAV4 better to drive than it’s ever been, and the interior is vastly improved, but multiple styling teams have had a stab at the new looks and the lack of congruence between the front, sides, and rear make this absolutely jarring to look at.


James Wong, in Melbourne

Best production car: Audi RS5 Sportback

Wasn’t expecting this to be revealed at all. With an extra pair of doors and added practicality in the luggage area, the RS5 Sportback offers blistering performance in a family-friendly package for those who don’t want the RS4’s wagon body shape.

0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds is just about quick enough, and like the coupe, you can get it in that beautiful Sonoma Green metallic – which might just be my favourite vehicle colour at the moment.

Best concept car: Genesis Essentia

Time and time again the Koreans prove they are a force to be reckoned with, and the Genesis Essentia is just another case of that. With an old-meets-new design, and an all-electric powertrain capable of propelling the Korean GT from 0-60mp/h in 3.0 seconds, the Essentia could serve the basis for the luxury brand’s first proper performance halo car.

Add to that the gorgeous interior that features Cognac leather (mmmm) with quilting (my favourite) contrasted with Oxford Blue elements, and the Essentia gets me a little bit excited about attainable electric sports cars – the Rimac is a little too expensive for me at the moment.

Biggest miss: Subaru Forester

Still looks the same, no turbo. Do I need to say more?


Mike Costello, in Melbourne

Best production car: Cadillac XT4

I’m not voting for the car itself, as much as what it represents. America’s most iconic car brand is returning to relevance with product aimed at growth segments, and it looks highly competitive.

The XT4 is bigger than a BMW X1, but smaller than an X3. Although Cadillac says it rides on a unique platform, the car is likely built around the same basic D2XX architecture as the Holden Equinox.

None of this is as important as the idea that General Motors might actually broaden the Cadillac brand to partly (at a higher level, yes) fill the Opel-shaped gap in its portfolio in various global markets. RHD maybe?

Best concept: Lincoln Aviator

Ford Motor Company’s premium division is putting its bleak days behind it and making bold American luxury cars again, for the home market and regions such as China. Plus, it’s bringing back some famous nameplates.

The Aviator ‘preview’ SUV being shown in New York this week continues the trend. It’s a three-row crossover SUV to sit below the Navigator, and the company’s first plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The vehicle you see is nominally a concept, but expect few changes to appear on the production model due next year.

Biggest miss: Honda Insight

Honda’s hybrid is reborn, and it’s no longer a weird-looking gen 2/3 Prius knockoff. It’s a sleek Civic-esque passenger car with petrol-electric fuel economy and some class. As you may have figured, it’s not the car that’s a miss.

It’s the fact that Honda isn’t making it available for Australia for the time being. That’s its prerogative, but seeing our conservative market overlooked time and again for cool green cars because the business case seldom stacks up is… dispiriting.


Enough of us bloviating. What do you think? Tell us in the comments… 

MORE: All New York motor show news




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