Bright Lights, Big Debuts
In America four major auto shows anchor the U.S. auto show “season.” After the traditional start to the new model year in the fall, the auto shows begin featuring cars for the following model year: Los Angeles in November, Detroit in January, Chicago in February and New York in March or early April, making the New York International Auto Show the final major show of the season. And — as in many cases — the best is saved for last. Over the years hundreds of new vehicles have been shown for the first time at the auto salon in the Big Apple, but we have limited space and you have limited time, so let’s look at highlights from the last 10 years — enough to get your motor runnin’ until we report on this year’s New York International Auto Show, which takes place March 25 – April 3, 2016.
2006 NY Show – 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
For many Jeep enthusiasts, the idea of a 4-door Wrangler was utter sacrilege. But at the 2006 New York Auto Show press preview Jeep debuted the Wrangler Unlimited, boasting the legendary off-road capability of a Wrangler but with room for the whole family. And Jeep unveiled the new model to journalists in spectacular fashion – the Unlimited was completely buried in a mound of dirt, so Jeep had the NY Fire Department dig it out via their high-powered fire hoses.
2006 NY Show – 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line
Before General Motors shuttered the Saturn brand there was the sexy Sky roadster. This high-performance Red Line edition of the Sky made its debut at the 2006 New York show, equipped with a 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Styling was more aggressive with a unique front fascia, 18-inch wheels and dual exhaust.
2007 NY Show – 2008 Ford Flex
Ford already had a 7-passenger crossover in the Taurus X; however, the Flex was a fresh approach to the typical SUV. Seating is very comfortable — even with seven adults — and the unique design built on the Volvo S80 platform makes for a roomy interior. With Microsoft SYNC interface and available amenities such as a rear-seat entertainment system and integrated refrigerator, the Flex stood out then as it does today.
2007 NY Show – 2008 Subaru Impreza / WRX
The 2007 New York Auto Show saw the debut of the redesigned Impreza and sporty WRX. Larger and more spacious inside, the new models were actually lighter than the outgoing versions. Styling was also redone, most noticeably in the new grille and headlights. Available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the 2008 WRX features a 224-horsepower turbocharged boxer engine powering all four wheels.
2008 NY Show – 2009 Nissan cube
Nissan decided to try something a little different when it introduced this small boxlike vehicle at the 2008 New York Auto Show. Already sold in Japan, the cube coming to America had been a big rumor and its appearance in the Big Apple confirmed Nissan’s intentions. Although the cube on display that year in New York was powered by an electric motor, when it arrived in U.S. showrooms it was only available with the expected gas-powered engine. Unfortunately, cube didn’t really make the cut and only lasted on the U.S. market until 2014.
2008 NY Show – Saleen S5S Raptor Concept
This bright yellow exotic captured everyone’s attention at the 2008 New York show, and signaled that Saleen might be coming to market with a successor to the vaunted S7 Twin Turbo. The S5S Raptor got its power from a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission. According to Saleen, with 650 horsepower on tap the S55 Raptor could reach 60 mph in a mere 3.2 seconds, with a top speed exceeding 200 mph. The expected price was to be around $185,000, but unfortunately we never saw this car again.
2009 NY Show – Acura ZDX Concept
The idea of an SUV that has sleeker styling yet offers less utility had already been tackled by BMW with the X6, so Acura followed suit in 2009 with the introduction of the ZDX concept. Practically the same as the production vehicle that followed shortly, the ZDX was a “personal sports coupe that defies categorization,” according to Acura press materials. The idea didn’t make a lot of sense to us, and apparently it didn’t to the buying public — the ZDX only lasted four years.
2009 NY Show – 2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster
A mere one year after the redesigned 370Z replaced the 350Z, Nissan took the wraps off an open-top version of the legendary Z car. Sticking with a soft-top instead of the retractable hardtop that many sports cars had already adopted, the 370Z Roadster can drop its top in about 20 seconds, with the entire works hidden below a hard tonneau cover. With 332 horsepower on tap sending power to the rear wheels, the 370Z is a great option for an open-air sports car.
2010 NY Show – 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon
Just a year after Cadillac introduced the high-powered CTS-V sedan, the luxury brand made every family-hauling auto enthusiast’s day with the debut of the CTS-V Sport Wagon. Boasting 556 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, the CTS-V wagon could blow the doors off almost any other family car on the market at the time. Available with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, the CTS-V Wagon features Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 performance tires mounted on 19-inch forged aluminum wheels.
2010 NY Show – 2011 Hyundai Equus
The Equus had been on sale in Korea since 1999, but in New York Hyundai announced that the company’s new flagship would be coming to America. Designed to rival such lofty competitors as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS, the 2011 Equus featured all of the expected luxury amenities including high-end wood and leather trim, a roomy rear seat as well as available seat massagers and a rear-console refrigerator. From Equus evolved the new Genesis brand that Hyundai began launching in 2016.
2011 NY Show – Scion FR-S Concept
At the 2011 New York show the world got its first look at the long-awaited sport coupe created from a joint effort between Subaru and Toyota. Still in concept form, the 2011 FR-S (Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport) was a properly-proportioned sports coupe that would get a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine sourced from Subaru when it went on sale the following year. Later that year we would get to see its Subaru twin, the BR-Z.
2011 NY Show – 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
In 2011 Jeep introduced a completely redesigned Grand Cherokee, so it was only a matter of time before the SRT team had their way with this popular SUV. A major boost over the previous version, the 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 boasts a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 producing 470 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, making it the most power model Jeep had ever built up to that time. The performance stats are impressive: 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, a top speed of 160 mph and .90g on the skidpad — not the numbers you’d expect from a 5-passenger SUV, but they certainly get us excited.
2012 NY Show – 2013 SRT Viper
The Viper always bring excitement to an auto show, and at the 2012 New York show journalists were treated to the all-new SRT Viper reveal. This reborn snake features an all-new interior as well as updated exterior styling with a carbon-fiber and aluminum skin. Stiffer and lighter than the previous generation, this Viper also got a power boost: the big 8.4-liter V10 engine put out 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. Top speed exceeded 200 mph and the new Viper could accelerate to 100 mph and back to a full stop in less than 12 seconds.
2012 NY Show – Terrafugia Transition
It’s a popular sci-fi prediction transferred from generation to generation — in the future we’ll all have flying cars. Well, all of us may not have them yet, but there was a flying vehicle on display at the 2012 New York Auto Show. The Terrafugia Transition may be more of a road-going airplane than a flying car, but it is a plane that can be driven like motor vehicle. With wings folded the 2-seater has the footprint of a large SUV and can be driven via standard carlike controls. After arriving at the airport, the wings unfold, flight controls appear and with a rear propeller to provide thrust, the Terrafugia can take to the skies.
2013 NY Show – 2014 Jeep Cherokee
It had been more than 10 years since Jeep had sold a Cherokee, but at the 2013 New York show the nameplate was back, but with a design as far removed from the original as possible. The sleek styling and unique headlights made the Cherokee stand out from the rest of the crossover crowd, but with three new 4-wheel drive systems and a Selec-Terrain traction control system, the Cherokee would live up to the vaunted Jeep off-roading reputation.
2013 NY Show – Subaru WRX Concept
Automotive concept cars often function as teasers, providing a glimpse of an upcoming production model. Unfortunately, this sexy WRX Concept was simply a tease — although some styling cues were used in the next-generation WRX, for the most part the concept was not seen again. Low and wide with bulging fender flares, a large hood scoop and sleek lines, the WRX Concept was exactly what we would have loved to see on the road with Subaru’s 300-plus horsepower turbocharged engine and legendary all-wheel drive. Someday, perhaps.
2014 NY Show – 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible
A scant few months after Chevrolet introduced its most capable Corvette ever, the brand went one better in New York and removed the top. This was the first Z06 convertible since 1963, and thanks to its supercharged 650-horsepower V8 engine it provides a whole new definition of wind-in-your-hair motoring. The Z06 reaches 60 mph in less than 3 seconds and boasts lateral acceleration of 1.2 g. The top can be operated via the key fob or at speeds up to 30 mph.
2014 NY Show – 2015 Hyundai Sonata
An all-new Sonata made its debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show, representing the 7th generation of the Korean sedan. The exterior design — called Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 by Hyundai — gave Sonata a much more premium look and took the car to a new level. Inside, premium features and materials make the Sonata much more competitive in a very tough midsize sedan market. The updated Sonata’s style has since been picked up by the rest of the Hyundai lineup.
2015 NY Show – Lincoln Continental Concept
One of the stars of the 2015 New York Auto Show was the Lincoln Continental Concept, a car showcasing a new full-size Continental luxury sedan that was ultimately introduced in early 2016. The Lincoln Continental Concept introduced a new face for Lincoln, as well as a new 3.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 engine, which is to be exclusive to Lincoln. The design features a sleek profile and a new centered chrome grille, as well as LED matrix headlamps with laser-assist high beams and signature full-width taillights. Inside, the Continental Concept includes Venetian leather seat and door panels, Alcantara seat inserts and armrests, rose gold trim around the instrument cluster, and shearling wool carpet.
2015 NY Show – 2016 Jaguar XF
The all-new XF made its debut at last year’s New York Auto Show — the first complete redesign of this sport sedan since it debuted as a 2008 model. The new Jag showcases a more coupelike profile with a longer wheelbase, more interior space and very low aerodynamic drag. The XF was the second model based on Jaguar’s aluminum-intensive architecture, with weight reduced by 132 pounds for the rear-drive car and 265 pounds for the all-wheel-drive variant. The Jaguar XF launched with a choice of two supercharged V6 engines producing 340 or 380 horsepower. Available technology includes full-LED headlights, Laser Heads-Up Display, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue-Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Intelligent Speed Limiter and Semi-Automated Parking.