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In pictures: A day at the 2018 New York International Auto Show

Ross Ballot April 18, 2018 Featured, New York Auto Show 21 Comments

[We’re a little late on this, but such is life. -KK]

Wednesday March 28th kicked off the 2018 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), one that would reveal a wide spread of everything from the most mundane people-movers to race-track-ready adrenaline-spikers and a massive variety of everything in-between. We saw debuts the likes of the all-new Toyota Rav4, all-new Subaru Forester, and the all-new Nissan Altima, and our eyes were treated to unveilings like that of the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak, the Maserati Levante Trofeo, and (who am I that I’m even going to write this…) even the Lincoln Aviator. And I have to mention the Bullitt Mustang which was present, and as you’ll probably gather from what follows after the jump, it was the sole car that had me weak in the knees.

As great as it was to see others like the Porsche GT3RS, Genesis G70 Sport, and JL Wrangler, it wandering aimlessly around the floor of the Javits Center also presented the first chance to plop my ass into the seats of the much-revered Kia Stinger GT and to see, oogle, and crawl all over many other all-new vehicles, like the upcoming Ford Ranger, for the first time.

This was a very good NYIAS in my opinion, if for no reason other than the wide breadth of things to be seen; it felt like the variety was of an even greater range this year than in the past, giving us an eye into how broad and incredible today’s automotive market is. If you notice that much of what follows the jump mimics the photos and words that I blabbered onto , that’s because much of it is in fact the same (and if you don’t follow , you *definitely* should). Hit the jump to see some of my wonderful iPhone photos and read some of my random musings from a day at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

Warning: extremely picture-heavy

Let’s start on a high note, shall we? The first car I laid eyes on this year was Ford’s magnificent GT. Few cars in “production” today draw eyes and evoke speed like the GT does. It’s simply jaw-dropping to behold, even parked atop a show stand, and the design’s deliberately integrated aerodynamics still seem almost too extreme to be legal for the street.

From here I got a quick glimpse of the all-new Ranger, but, with people all over it, decided to keep walking and come back to it later.

Look past the orange truck and behind it lay the 2019 Mustang GT Bullitt, a car that would not draw any more of a stare than would a standard Mustang GT, but that us “in the know” are aware is special in some way/shape/form. Not because Bullitt is a good movie, because it’s dreadfully boring, but because of the Mustang GT-centric car chase that’s so deeply burned into our brains.

Like the Ranger, though, the Bullitt ‘Stang was swarmed by others, so I kept going, knowing I’d come back to this one when fewer others were around.

Here it is, one of the “big cars” of the show: Chevy’s new Corvette ZR1. It certainly makes a statement, but it’s somewhat heinous in my eyes. Too aggressive for its own good, to the point that it’s almost cartoonish. I can’t argue with the performance, but it’s fugly.

I’m not alone on this one, as I overheard somebody else say fairly loudly, “It’s kinda horrendous.”

At this point my eyes had been seared badly enough so I left the Chevy booth for something more palatable, and found myself once again staring at the slew of modified Kia Stingers. We can only hope this car sells well, and that it makes a name for itself in the sports-sedan market.

Even in stock form, it’s a damn attractive piece of machinery. It’s also where I found myself repeatedly sitting whenever my legs/feet needed a break, as the interior is a genuinely nice place to be.

What isn’t, though, is MINI’s GP Concept.

Then I found myself staring at this Mazda concept for longer than most would consider normal. As I’ve said recently, Mazda is killing it these days, and even this concept reaffirms that.

Wait, did I mention I like Mazda? The refreshed, turbocharged Mazda6 was present as well, and should be an incremental improvement upon the already-great 6 (yes, that’s a shameless double-plug).

A little further to the left was the JLR booth, another display of cars being designed at a high level of design. Gorgeous things, these.

$300k is a lot for any car, and especially one with less usability than the vehicle on which it’s based, but I dig the Range Rover SV Coupe. As we discussed on the Cammed & Tubbed Podcast a few weeks back, it justifies its existence in being something special, something bespoke, but not so overstated that it’s obnoxious. Luxury at its finest.

Moving away from sleek to aggressive, the Camaro ZL1 1LE was taking up a fair amount of real estate with its canards and near-slick tires bookmarking the corners of the now-out-of-production body.

Close by, Volkswagen was about to reveal an all-new and somewhat unexpected vehicle….

Enter the Atlas Tanoak pickup. If there was one thing to expect, it was a weird name, and we got it, but news of the truck came almost at the last minute…and it was a good surprise. It’s an attractive vehicle, and one I hope to see on the roads within the next few years.

BUT, with it roped off and hordes of photographers around, I kept walking, and found myself at the all-new Rav4’s display. This was the first big reveal of the day, but hours later it just was clearing out enough to get a good view.

A little Crosstrek, a little Compass, a little Highlander, etc…they’re all in there. A derivative design, but it’s chunky and bulky in a way the Rav4 has never been before.

Then there’s the Corolla Hatch, which…well, let’s just say I’m glad there’s a manual transmission paired with a hatchback body. The styling…I’ll let you judge for yourself.

One thing I did notice this year was the presence of colors. Everybody had a bold new color to show off, and that was most evident at the Audi booth, which, after years of having a mostly bland palette, awed me with their new green.

Even the grays had some depth to them, or a flat glossiness that worked to better show off the car’s curves.

Oh, LC500, why aren’t the rest of the models in Lexus’ lineup as dramatic as you?

Juxtaposition at its finest: bright red LC500 near, blah-painted SUVs far

Year after year I find myself drawn to the ATS-V. Maybe it’s just that it’s an alternative to the M3, but it’s under-appreciated and faster than anyone expects it to be…and it’s quite the looker, too.

(Can you tell I love the top-down hood photo?)

BUT…and this is an industry-wide criticism…piano black should NOT be present on any surface, in any car. At least the V had a manual transmission to negate the awful interior finishing.

As the owner of a Toyota 4×4 with a snorkel, I wholly approve of the new TRD trucks and the accessories, like the snorkel pictures below.

What I don’t approve of, though, is the tires that come on the above-pictured Tacoma. I’m sure they’ll do “fine,” but these Goodyears are absolutely no substitute for a proper off-road tire. Even Goodyear itself has options that are light-years better on the trail, where these trucks are supposedly meant to be used. An easy fix for the owner, but one that they shouldn’t have to make when they’re already spending $35-45K.

Going from one off-road section to another, I finally got to see the JL Wrangler in person. As a life-long Jeep fan, seeing it certainly had some importance to me. I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint.

 

Jeep had a Trackhawk present as well, and though I’ve seen probably ten out on the roads, it was my first time sitting in one. It very well might have the meatiest steering wheel I’ve ever laid hands on.

*Walks into Mitsubushi booth, weeps internally over the Evo and Eclipse (NOT the Eclipse Cross)*

$15k for a Mitsubishi, $65k for the GLA45 below. That’s a lot of coin for a car with interior material quality like this one has, but it’s probably a riot to drive.

Ford’s F350: massive. Beyond massive, actually. I’m about 5’10” tall on my best day, and the steering wheel was just about at head-height. Hilariously huge.

Unintentionally, I stumbled upon the BMW booth at the back of the basement. While I don’t love their SUVs and CUVs themselves, I do like the placement of the heated steering wheel button:

What I don’t like, however, is piano black trim. ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE!

The new Buick Regal GS might win the award for sleeper in the attractiveness category:

 

Good seats, too:

The rear end is a bit bland, though.

With crowds having thinned, I got up-close-and-personal with the Tanoak. Lucked out, too, as I was among the first to be there when they opened the doors for the media to see the interior.

Next to it was the Atlas Cross Sport, a very Range Rover-esque CUV/coupe-thing.

Very Range Rover, indeed:

Back to reality: Hellcat. Is there a meaner front end on the planet?

Oh, look: new Altima. Yawn.

Meanwhile, things were being fixed at the Alfa booth. You cannot make this stuff up.

We also saw the debut of the Cadillac XT4, which looks good on the outside…

…but not so much on the inside. It truly looks decidedly low-rent, and while material quality seemed decent, it has the appearance of a car ten years older.

Genesis G70 Sport: simply gorgeous. Yes, inside and out.

Lincoln’s new Aviator is also quite attractive. It, too, has a Range Rover feel to it, but Lincoln is finally carving out a little corner for themselves in their restrained but good-looking offerings.

“Forbidden fruit”:

 

The all-new G-Wagen. It looks like Brabus got their hands on it in the design process.

Best seats of the day, again, go to Mercedes for the thrones in the S-Class Coupe, here in the S550.

Subaru then revealed the all-new Forester, which is extremely similar to the one it replaces. Aside from the rear, people will have a hard time telling them apart. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….I guess.

At least it has .

And then I finally happened upon this:

Porsche’s new 911 GT3RS. Between the see-it-from-space paint, the wings, the vents, and the carbon fiber, it’s simply one of the most aggressive production vehicles I’ve ever seen. It cannot be ignored, and it’s in your face in every conceivable way. I can’t decide if I love it, or if I’m scared of it.

They even brought along an old friend for the sake of showing how far the nameplate has come:

This is the new Maserati Levante Trofeo. Powered by a 590-hp twin-turbo V8, it’s sure to rival many of the other “super-SUVs” when it hits the roads later this year. So while they might have improved the performance, they haven’t improved the way it looks. It is still rather unfortunate in my mind, and anybody buying one would be better off with a Trackhawk for less money and inevitably with fewer headaches.

Acura might take the cake for biggest badge of the day:

Oh, look, the GT3RS again! I couldn’t take my eyes off this thing. I was drawn back to it by some weird kind of gravity. It’s unbelievable.

Mazda brought out an updated CX-3, which remains positioned as a great-looking but decidedly tiny CUV.

Not as good looking as their Kai concept, though:

Wandering away from the booths in which I had spent so much time, I willed myself into the Hyundai/Kia sections. This new Kona was polarizing to say the least.

Can’t say I love the drive selector. It seems extremely easy to hit the wrong button, and goes further away from “way to control the transmission” and more towards “keyboard.”

Nexo? I hadn’t heard of it until I saw it. Another eco-friendly offering in the swath of hybrid and fuel-efficient offerings from the South Korean manufacturers.

Then, noticing that there was nobody around the Bullitt Mustang, I made a break for it.

It’s absolutely fantastic.

But, much to my dismay, a group of people interrupted my drooling session, so I seized the opportunity to look closer at the new Ranger.

The exterior of the Ranger looks great. It’s blocky and chiseled just enough to be competitive with the Colorado/Canyon and Tacoma, but not so much so as to step on the toes of its big brother, the F150.

I couldn’t fit behind myself, though. Mark one point down for the extended cab configuration.

And then there’s the interior. In short, it’s not good. Given, this is a preproduction model and things will undoubtedly change, but it feels and looks very cheap. It’s comparatively space-ship like compared to that of the previous Ranger, but the interiors of the Tacoma and the GM twins is undoubtedly better…and they’ve all been around for years already. Hopefully it gets better for the production run.

Finally, and at the very tail-end of the day, the crowds had thinned and I had a few moments completely to myself with the Bullitt Mustang. It speaks for itself in that I kept coming back to it so many times, and it’s the car that I’d spend my own fifty-large on if I had so much to spend. I simply adore the Mustang Bullitt.

As you can probably guess by now, it’s my Car of the Show.

 

And that’s a wrap for my coverage of the 2018 New York International Auto Show. After confessing my love for the Bullitt Mustang to the Bullitt Mustang (don’t worry, I checked to make sure nobody was around before doing so), I grabbed my coat, walked to Grand Central, and headed home. This year’s show was a fantastic exhibition of what the automakers have to show for themselves, and gives me genuine hope for the future of the auto industry. If things like the Stinger, GT3RS, and Bullitt Mustang are still being built, we’re still in good shape…and if things are being fixed around Alfas, all is still right with the ways of the car world.

  • Fred

    Think I learned more of what’s new just looking at your pictures. Thanks.

  • Sjalabais

    Scrolling down, the Mitsubishis look terribly out of place. Did you talk to anyone there?

    This Mazda concept is actually a nicely updated “old” and thus well-known rear end…without getting all 2005-retro about it:

    • Ross Ballot

      Good eye…I definitely see the lineage in the concept. They’ve done a good job of evolving the general design while moving it forward enough to be on the leading edge of automotive design (at least for cars in this price range)…

      Didn’t talk to anyone at Mitsubishi, but then again I don’t recall even seeing anyone at Mitsubishi to talk to. Could have missed them, but their stand did in fact feel hopelessly out of place. Like a blast from the 90s in a very modern show.

  • outback_ute

    Interesting to see some details of various cars, from memory the last motor show I went to was the one in Sydney when the Alfa 8C Competitizione was out!

    I don’t understand why they had to change the Ranger so much, only to make it look uglier – below is the ‘normal’ aka ROW one. For years these size extra cab pickups didn’t have rear seats fitted in Australia, I’d be treating them as suitable for children or emergency trips only, otherwise just weatherproof storage. Most sales here would be the full double cab or single cab. For the interior, it looks the same but the silver paint is killing it really, the screen size would make a difference. It is a balancing act to make it cheap for the work versions and fancy for private buyers.

    The Tanoak might be an interesting supplement to the Amarok in Australia as a better replacement for the car-based utes, but I doubt it will be built in RHD. The Mini GP concept looks over the top for the sake of it, as opposed to the Corvette ZR1 which is obviously functional. Did that Camaro have carbon fibre wheels by chance?

    • Zentropy

      I agree– the Ranger’s existing front fascia is much more appealing. Change for the sake of change didn’t work in this case.
      As for the Tanoak, I think the way the bed integrates forward into the cab is cool looking, but that short, Camaro-esque greenhouse sucks. I hate feeling tucked down behind tall sheetmetal with only gunslits for visibility.

      • outback_ute

        I gather the Ranger chassis/frame was re-worked to some degree for North America, then I suppose they may have justified playing with the front sheetmetal as part of integrating the metal bumper – not sure why they would bother doing that, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed any Rangers here getting around with damaged bumpers and I wonder if any fleets would demand it. One change apparently was to close the fender-hood gap by 0.5mm; this would have cost a noticeable amount of money for no real gains (IMO).

        I wonder is the Tanoak greenhouse any worse than the Atlas – presumably the production version wouldn’t be. I didn’t note it before but I would expect the Tanoak to drive significantly better than the Amarok due to the different origin of the front suspension and likelihood of lower load rating for the tyres.

  • Zentropy

    I’ll happily take late coverage when it’s this extensive. Great photos.

    Of note, I really like subtlety of the Bullitt Mustang, but the color really bothers me. Maybe it’s a trick of the light, but every photo I’ve seen of this car– inside under artificial lighting, or outside under natural– makes the paint color look way too blue. I’ve never seen one side-by-side with a ’68, though, but my recollection of the movie car was that it was not that shade at all.

    • Ross Ballot

      Thank you…wish the quality of the photos hadn’t been ruined when they were compressed, but “oh well.”

      There’s a little blueness to the Bullitt’s paint but in person it’s not that noticeable, or not to me at least. It’s still very green…but if it were less metallic and more just “green” (like that of the original car and even the recent tributes) it would be better to my eyes.

    • Maymar

      Granted, the original car is very weathered, but the original Highland Green was quite a bit flatter, greener (and I think a bit darker) than the 2018 car,

      • Ross Ballot

        I tend to doubt it had as much metallic to it. While in general I like showcasing how far paint has come, I agree that the 2019 Bullitt Mustang would have been better off if the paint was a little flatter and a little less reflective.

        • Zentropy

          By “flatter”, I assume you guys mean “less metallic”. “Flat” in my mind is a sheen, which would imply that the surface has a very low luster. Both metallic and non-metallic paints have a high luster. Non-metallics may not sparkle, but they still reflect light.

          I have a ’66 Mercury that is the original Olive Mist Metallic (equivalent of Ford’s Ivy Green Met.), and I can tell you that these finishes had high metallic content, even by today’s standards. However, the size of the metallic particles can affect the way a paint throws light, making them appear darker or lighter. They don’t, however, tend to change the alter the pigment hue (unless colored metallics or pearls are used).

          Metallics aside, I think the 2019 “Highland Green” paint formulation is distinctly more blue in hue than the one used in 1968, and even compared to the last-gen Bullitt. I’ve seen a 2009 up close, and it’s much closer to the original HG than the new 2019. I’m not saying the new color is bad, but I don’t think it’s as true to the original, nor as attractive.

  • crank_case

    *scrolls*
    *scrolls*
    Oooh Ultima GTR/Evolution
    *scrolls*

    • Zentropy

      I thought it looked oddly out-of-place. That car has hardly changed in what feels like 20 years (not sure when they started making them).

      • crank_case

        It’s essentially a kit car so the body hasn’t changed much, but what goes in underneath is up to you and your budget. It appeals to me more than most supercars? There’s a sort of honesty about it, something that’s clearly intended to be thrashed out on track without worrying about breaking some unobtanium whatsits.

    • Ross Ballot

      Very out of place, very happy to have seen it near the Mitsubishi booth

  • Maymar

    I don’t think Bullitt is boring, exactly, but its pacing is very different from a modern movie. Wouldn’t be remembered much if it weren’t for that car chase though. Still, no way Frank Bullitt could afford the Mustang named after him (for that matter, he couldn’t afford that downtown SF apartment either, no matter how many TV dinners he bought).
    Also, I like the Corolla, at least if you contrast it against the Civic. Hopefully they’ll announce a more exciting version down the line though.

    • Ross Ballot

      The pacing is the biggest issue I have with the movie. Otherwise…it’s fine. You hit the nail on the head…if the chase scene hadn’t been in it, and if it hadn’t been McQueen, it would never have been even remotely worth mentioning

      • outback_ute

        The pacing is pretty typical for the era, its like ‘waiting’ for the chase to start in The Italian Job.

        Was SF real estate always that expensive? I suppose that particular location would be, Russian Hill not far from Nob Hill.

    • Vairship

      Next you’re going to tell me that cops working for Miami’s Vice squad can’t afford a large sailing yacht, an alligator, and a Ferrari without being “on the take”! 😉

      • Maymar

        Hey, at least they explained the Ferraris as coming out of the impound, right?

        • Vairship

          I’m not sure that admitting to stealing from the impound makes things better for good ol’ Sonny. Even stripped for parts a Daytona or Testarossa would be more than a cop can afford 😉