A wise person once said “Follow a career that you love and you will never work a day again in your life.”
Or something to that effect.
I think we all agree that if you find a job that really defines you and provides plenty of personal “income,”then the money you earn can almost be seen as a bonus… and help avoid the drudgery that so many sadly find in their own work. This was a driving force in my career path and lead me right into the exciting arms of the automotive industry.
And I couldn’t be happier.
One of the annual high points has to be my early Spring visit to The Big Apple for the New York International Auto Show, or NYIAS. This show has grown into a special opportunity for the car and truck makers in the U.S. market to showcase their latest and greatest in a spotlight only New York can muster.
The doors of the Jacob Javits Convention Center opened to the automotive media and press on March 23rd and 24th for an exclusive set of presentations and events, and then remained open for the public from the 25th until April 3rd.
If you are in the area, I suggest you make time to visit. Otherwise, enjoy the following “personal tour” of the show floor that will (hopefully) also yield a little bit of advice if you’re looking to buy a car in the near future.
The Maserati of SUVs
Behold a beautiful new Italian model that is sure to impress. And desire. Near perfect proportions…obviously plenty of horsepower…a delightful balance of delicate grace and sensuous attitude. Who here wouldn’t want to head out on the town with this by your side?
And the car behind this beauty is the all-new 2017 Maserati Levante. Priced from $72,000 to well over $84,000 for the S model, with power ratings from 345 to 424 horsepower, this Italian Stallion will gallop from 0 to 60 in less than 6 seconds and on up to a top speed of 164 mph.
But let’s be honest: Does the world really need another SUV, especially one with this kind of pedigree and provenance? Current sales results would say “yes,” as the world’s wealthy are snapping up this sort of vehicle at near record pace. Range Rover pioneered this sort of high-dollar family hauler and competitors like Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, Cadillac and Lexus have only accelerated the trend. Heck, even Bentley offers the $400k+ Bentayga for the Dubai/Hamptons/Bel Air set. Now the Italians are in the game. Behold…”the Maserati of SUVs.”
Toyota Prius Prime
Toyota “primed” the media with word that they would be debuting the plug-in version of their new 4th generation Prius, but I doubt many saw this coming: Not only is the Toyota Prius Prime able to charge its batteries for 20+ miles of gas-free driving, but it carries an aggressive facelift as well…f ront and rear. I liked it. Liked it so much I told Toyota they should have made all of the new Prii look like this. (and save us the pain of following the standard version in traffic.)
Some may question why electrified vehicles are even making news here in New York, as fuel prices are low and much of the sales action as of late has been in the larger 5 and 7 passenger crossover/SUV segments.
Well…anyone here feel secure that prices will always be so low?
Vehicles like this act like an “insurance policy” for your future driving expenditures. As an owner of a full electric vehicle, I can tell you how nice it is to delete the weekly (or more) “Stop at inconvenient gas station and shell out $45” entry from my calendar. Lastly, and most importantly, near-future emissions and economy standards in the U.S., Europe, and Asia will dictate more and more electrification. You heard it here, first. Plus, it makes sense: If a car isn’t burning gas to go, it isn’t putting out poisons or depleting reserves.
2017 Buick Encore
As mentioned above, much of the reason we have seen record new vehicle sales the last two years are vehicles like the one here. This is the updated 2017 Buick Encore, and it personifies the “biggest” trend in the industry…small lux and near-lux crossovers. Buick pioneered this wave with the original 2014 model and is proudly showing off this shined-up version in New York. New head and taillights are always fun, but the interior got the most love. Why? Because brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus, Audi, Mazda and others joined this fray in the days since so the level of competition is hot. And who wins? We do as buyers of vehicles like this…especially because research shows that our ladies love them!
Don’t despair, dear readers. While I have been focusing on some of the more interesting vehicles and trends to this point, good ol’ pickup trucks are still a part of life in the U.S…today and tomorrow. Nissan recently got back into the ring by taking on the giants in this segment from Chevy, Ford and Ram with an all new Titan. Did you forget that Nissan even made a full-size truck? Well, it seems Nissan did as well. But this new version aims to produce a crack in the U.S. makers armor. And with advancements in aerodynamics, combustion processes, and light yet strong materials, vehicles like this should continue to sneak through near-future fuel economy standards. But don’t forget my words on electrification above, as the big truck market will not be immune. Yes, you also heard that here, first.
Now what would a car show be without a stunning concept car…especially in glitzy NYC? Behold the appropriately named “New York Concept” brought to you by Hyundai. Well actually by Genesis, which jettisoned off the Korean mothership during January’s Detroit Auto Show to become its own luxury brand a la Lexus (Toyota) and Audi (VW). This car represents a rarity in the car biz – it looks even better in person than in photos. Great surface detailing and stance. Hyundai/Genesis has recruited some of the brightest minds in the design and development world and hopefully this car gives a glimpse into their genius.
It seems that Genesis aims to stay true to every car company’s promise to “shake up the norm” with their future products, even though many fall sadly short. Fingers crossed this is their time to shine. And the interior? Beyond the obligatory HUGE screen (thanks, Tesla), the materials, advancements, and sense of control and comfort were all top shelf.
While I hope this provides a little tour of the NY Auto Show, your homework is to join the fun this weekend if in the area – especially if you have little ones to entertain. And if you are not in the New York area, check out the local car show when it passes through your town later this year. It’s a perfect and no-sales pressure way to check out your family’s next set of wheels plus drool a little over the latest sports cars.
Most importantly, it’s also a brilliant way to give “mom” a little break. Maybe suggest she go out and have some “me time” for herself? Buys you all the car time cover you need.
— James Bell
James Bell, a media and public relations expert, is former head of consumer affairs at General Motors.