7 Best Cars from the 2016 New York Auto Show
Every year, residents and visitors of the Big Apple flock to the New York International Auto Show to see the most impressive newcomers to the automotive industry. This year, attendees were not disappointed. Popular brands like Mazda, Chevy, Nissan, Lincoln, and Acura showed off new and improved models, while others introduced quirky vehicles designed to catch the attention of the audience. If you’re thinking of hitting up the show during its last few days, make sure you check out the following outstanding models.
2017 Acura MDX
Technically, the Acura MDX is getting a mid-cycle refresh—a new grille and some new standard equipment—which is no big deal. But the exciting bits are under the sheetmetal: The MDX will get the hybrid all-wheel-drive system from the NSX sports car, and that’s big news. The system uses a gas engine/electric motor combination to drive the front wheels and two separate motors to drive each of the rear wheels. Yes, the hybrid system saves fuel—Acura estimates a 5 mpg improvement over the current all-wheel-drive MDX—but it also provides fine-tuned traction, which should make it exceptionally sure-footed in rain and snow. (It should also improve handling on dry pavement, already an MDX strong point.) It’s a great example of how Acura and its parent company, Honda, find ways to expand technology beyond its original goals: Not only does the hybrid system get better gas mileage, but it delivers improved safety as well.
2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Chevrolet sold a ZL1 version of the fifth-generation Camaro, which featured a fire-breathing 580 horsepower supercharged engine under the hood. 2016 sees an all-new Camaro, visually similar to the old one but smaller, lighter and trimmer—so trim, in fact, that even the least powerful engine (a 275 hp turbocharged four-cylinder) can launch it to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, making it as quick as a 1970 Chevelle SS454. The new 2017 ZL1, introduced at the New York show, is the opposite end of the scale: It gets a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, the same engine found in the Corvette Z06 and Cadillac CTS-V, and this time it’s up to about 640 horsepower (Chevy hasn’t announced exact numbers yet). Coupled to either a six-speed manual or a 10(!!)-speed automatic, it promises ridiculously quick acceleration. It loses the horsepower war to the 707-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat, but its lighter weight should make the Camaro the faster car.
Genesis New York Concept
Ever since Hyundai introduced its rear-drive luxury car, the Genesis, there has been speculation that the Korean automaker would launch a separate luxury brand. Word has come down that Hyundai has finally taken the plunge: The new brand is called Genesis, and the top-of-the-line Hyundais (Genesis and Equus) will be its first cars. But what of the future? At the New York show, Genesis introduced the New York concept (pander much, Hyundai?). This car is too far-out-there to be considered a preview of a future model, but it does give us a good idea of the kind of styling and amenities that will appear on and in future Genesis models. The existing top-of-the-line Hyundais are excellent cars that are underappreciated in the luxury marketplace. Perhaps the new brand will earn them the recognition they deserve.
2017 Hyundai Ioniq
Hyundai showed off a one-two-three punch with three versions of its new Ioniq: A hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and a full-on battery-powered electric vehicle (EV). All are built around a 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine; the plug-in version gets a larger battery that allows up to 25 miles of electric-only driving. The EV, meanwhile, has an EPA-rated range of 110 miles, slightly better than the Nissan Leaf. All three come in a tidy and attractive compact package that bears a close resemblance to Hyundai’s Elantra compact sedan, with an aerodynamic shape that recalls the old Honda Insight and the previous-generation Toyota Prius. Hyundai says the hybrid and EV versions will hit showrooms first, with the plug-in hybrid following before the end of 2016.
Lincoln Navigator Concept
The Navigator Concept was easily one of the most noticeable vehicles at the 2016 New York Auto Show—how can you miss that giant gull-wing door? The bad news is that gull wings will not be coming to Lincoln showrooms, at least not on the new Navigator; Lincoln says they were used as a way to show off the concept’s lovely blue-tinged interior. But the exterior styling does give us some idea of what to expect when the all-new Navigator makes its appearance sometime next year. The big grille is certainly distinctive, but the overall shape (best seen with the door closed) bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the Range Rover. No doubt that’s intentional. The Navigator’s chief rival, the Cadillac Escalade, is selling like crazy despite its exorbitant price, so there’s no question Lincoln is eager to get the new Navigator into showrooms as quickly as possible.
Mazda MX-5 RF
Mazda introduced an all-new MX-5 Miata last year (as a 2016 model) with a manually-operated soft top, and we expected a power-retractable hardtop to follow—but we weren’t expecting this! The MX-5 RF (“Retractable Fastback”) features flying-buttress rear pillars (think of the old Dodge Charger from the Dukes of Hazzard) that remain in place while the roof panels and rear window disappear beneath the body work. Top up, the MX-5 RF has the look of a classic long-hood sports car like the Jaguar E-Type; top down, it looks a bit like a Porsche 911 Targa (though not quite so awkward as the current one). Styling-wise it makes one hell of a statement, but it remains to be seen whether buyers will be willing to trade good looks for a top that doesn’t completely disappear. The retractable hard-top outsold the soft-top version of the previous-generation MX-5 Miata, so Mazda could be taking a gamble.
2017 Toyota 86
Toyota’s decision to discontinue its youth-oriented Scion brand leaves a question: What will happen to the cars? Most will live on as Toyotas: The recently-introduced Scion iA and iM will become the Yaris iA and Corolla iM respectively, but the FR-S sports car will get a complete name change to 86—the same moniker it uses in other markets. 86 is a reference to AE86, the internal code name for the rear-drive Corolla coupe of the 1980s. This car has developed a cult following—though not very powerful, it’s great for drifting, a form of racing (and driving) where the car mostly goes sideways—and to which the Scion FR-S (er, sorry, Toyota 86) is equally suited and adept. Along with the new name, Toyota is giving the 86 a restyled front end and a slight bump in horsepower for manual-transmission cars (205 hp, up from the FR-S’ 200).
Aaron has been writing about cars for about 20 years, but he’s been a car nerd for as long as he can remember. A native New Yorker, Aaron started his car writing career as a college intern at What Car? Magazine in London, England. Nowadays, he lives in Los Angeles, near some of the best driving roads in the country, and he writes for a plethora of publications including Forbes.com, Edmunds.com, Autobytel.com, Diesel World Magazine, and About.com, where he has been the resident Cars Expert since 2004. He is also a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year Jury. Aaron is fascinated by everything on wheels, but he has a special place in his heart for truly unlovable vehicles—including his dreadfully slow diesel-powered GMC Suburban, which does not love him back.