I’m on a new project through work and it’s brought me to New York City for the next two weeks. It also happens to co-inside with the New York International Auto Show. Since I missed the Toronto International Auto Show, I figured I’d spend some time there.
Yes I got my car geekery on, in New York City. Ironic, given I would never even attempt to drive in this city, If I lived here, I’d have no need for a car.
Let’s start with companies that impressed me.
Genesis – My Aunt and Uncle had a Hyundai Stellar and friends of mine had a Hyundai Pony. They weren’t bad cars, and I remember the Stellar fondly. I’ve driven many a Hyundai in my time and more recently, I’ve had mixed feelings about them. I have also driven a number of Kias with mixed feelings too – Some fantastic, others where I’m not feeling the road at all.
The interior of the Genesis shows just how far Hyundai and Kia have come. In short, the Genesis feels more like a BMW killer than Infinity or Acura ever have. Yeah, you can joke about Hyundai’s start in North America. You have to start somewhere. You can see the efforts of hiring German design gurus has had on Kia and Genesis.
Toyota – The look of the Camry and the Avalon blew me away. Gone is the stuffy looking design, and in it’s place is a nicely appropriately aggressive look. Hat’s off Toyota, you haven’t gone so ridiculous on styling, that I’d consider both of these cars in the future
MINI’s Countryman Plug-In Hybrid – My dealer will often skimp on loading up demo cars with the greatest and newest technology. I’m often left wondering, if I order another MINI and it’s a Countryman, how will the interior look? The interior, and especially the technology inside has to impress me on a car. MINI went all out on their Countryman Plug-In Hybrid, and I’m more than happy to say that, essentially, we could get the interior to mostly match our 5-Door MINI Hardtop – save for the upgrades that the Countryman comes with.
The newly upgraded MINI Connected infotainment system is very nice too, and I very much liked the design of the interface. So there we have it – the Plug-In Countryman remains on our list.
Honda Civic Coupe – WOW, what a change, sporty… Everything you’d want in a Civic. I really liked the LCD-based glass dashboard which many manufacturers are moving towards. It really makes the Civic look futuristic. Will we be saying that in the future when we look back? We’ll see.
Ford F-150 – If I were a truck guy, I’d be lusting over a Ford F-150. Annoyingly to my friends who have them, I’m not a truck guy. I can, however, acknowledge, rightly so, that Ford is doing it’s best to make the F-150 more economical on gas. After all, trucks are an important vehicle. There are people that legitimately need them. What really impressed me is the off-road monitor that tells you what angles your truck is at. It’s fun stuff like that, that I like.
Nissan and Kia Ski Gondolas – Tank tracks on an SUV? Sure!
Lincoln Continental – Hot damn! Definitely a head turner in that segment.
GM Bolt – I don’t know what happened to GM, but again, another fantastic EV!
What didn’t impress me
Piano Black Interiors – Toyota a Honda, hear this – Piano Black is not sexy. Sure looks great when it’s polished and dust free, but when it’s smudged, dusty and dirty, it’s not pretty. Just don’t. Stop!
Mercedes putting Smart into a corner – Come on Mercedes, Smart is a fantastic car maker. Create the demand for them like BMW has with MINI.
Chevy Volt – The Volt is a desirable car for me, I love the concept, I love what GM has done with it – It doesn’t feel or look like a typical GM product. In short, it’s the only GM product I would even consider. However, sitting in the back seat – I sit OUT the back seat. Out because there’s no headroom and with the lift gate open, my head sticks well out the car. FAIL!
And finally, what I’m still wondering about
BMW – I’ve been focused on German luxury cars for a few months now because, honestly, I would love to own a BMW. Always have. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with status. They’re phenomenal vehicles to drive, they have awesome infotainment systems in them.
There’s something that feels like it’s missing in the 3-series. Yes, it’s BMW’s starter car, but there’s something that feels almost a bit cheap to warrant the expense in the interior.
Sitting in the X3 and X5, it almost feels like the leather interior hasn’t been cared for, or maybe it’s the plastic interior of the MINI looks so much better, that genuine leather no longer looks right.
And all this after having test driven both an X1 and the new 5-Series a few weeks ago and really liking both. I guess it comes down to, what are my expectations? What am I expecting in these cars? It could be that some of their models are just, outdated…
Audi – I’m not sure what to think of Audi, honestly. I really like the glass cockpit design, possibly even more so than BMW’s. I like that Volkswagen Group is expanding that design to other brands, like Volkswagen. I like the technology.
I’m surprised I fit in the back seat of an A4. So maybe Audi should be in my impress me list.
Problem is, I was so soured by Audi at the Toronto International Auto Show a few years ago, because they were douchebags that wouldn’t let you sit in any of their cars. When it comes down to it, they’re just supped up Volkswagens with slightly upscale interiors, but with some fantastic engines and technology. They’re special, but they’re not that special, unless you’re talking about an R8… Now that is special and drool worthy.
Still, I have mixed feelings about Audi and I think it’s similar to how I feel about BMW, but they’re not outdated… What am I expecting in these cars?
Volvo – I had a chance to play around with Volvo’s new Sensus infotainment system. I can see the attempts that Volvo are making to combine safety, a large readable infotainment system that’s not flashy. Problem is, the UI is not always intuitive.
It certainly is better than the too many buttons on the last of their current generation vehicles. What were they thinking? And to think, as a kid, I loved pushing buttons. Even that younger version of me would have said, too much!
I did like the wood trim in the various vehicles, and generally, I liked the interiors. Well thought out.
So those are my thoughts, from someone who isn’t an auto journalist, just a guy into the look and feel of cars.