2013 New York Auto Show Winners and Losers: Luxury Cars
There was a heavy concentration of new and redesigned luxury cars at this year's New York International Auto Show, and they spanned the price spectrum from the relatively affordable Acura MDX to the nearly unobtainable Rolls-Royce Wraith. Editors Joe Bruzek, Joe Wiesenfelder, Aaron Bragman and Mike Hanley pick the winners and losers of the show below. Check out our rankings of mainstream cars and concepts here.
2014 Acura MDX
Joe Bruzek: Loser
The new MDX just doesn't pull off an auto show debut very well. Its differences of a new, lighter weight chassis, direct-injected engine with better gas mileage and new rear suspension are substantial changes that will be most noticed on the road. The few changes outside and inside won't turn many heads on the auto show floor.
Joe Wiesenfelder: Winner
I agree it isn't going to set anyone's heart ablaze, but a lot of people go to auto shows just to shop, and those who do will find that Acura didn't screw up what's arguably its best model. By that virtue, it remains a winner.
Aaron Bragman: Winner
This MDX looks to me just like the last MDX, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing - the shape remains one of the most attractive luxury CUVs on the market, and the changes to the underpinnings should make it an even more enjoyable drive. Now if only we could get Acura's sedans to somehow look as good as this one, single model in the lineup.
Mike Hanley: Loser
The new MDX looks a lot like the concept that came before - typical of Acura. I wasn't a fan of the concept's timid styling and thought it too closely resembled the Lexus RX, and that's still the case. The MDX was the one Acura that really did bold design well, and now that's been lost.
While the 3 Series Gran Turismo hatchback is decidedly less awkward than the Gran Turismo version of the 5 Series, it seems like a redundant model considering a 3 Series wagon exists. Gran Turismo models don't have the 3 Series sedan's sleek and low-slung look and instead use a clunky, rear-heavy sculpture. The wagon maintains the 3 Series sedan's clean proportions.
The greater backseat legroom and cargo room are big points in its favor. But I agree the wagon is a better-looking car. I'm all in favor of any trick that might make Americans think they aren't buying a station wagon, but the X1 and X3 are much better ways to do it than the 3 and 5 Series Gran Turismos. You [can] [t1]have too much of a good thing. The 3 Series line is good. Enough already.
I don't dislike the GT shape quite as much as the rest of the automotive media seems to, but this Gran Turismo idea seems to be the answer to a question nobody asked. This is BMW trying to eke out as many variants on the same platform as it can in order to win a sales war. Nothing about this car is subjectively better than the 3 Series wagon, which is superb.
I like wagons as much as the next car enthusiast, but as wagons go the 3 Series sport wagon isn't very practical. The 3 Series GT addresses that model's interior roominess issues in a big way, and does so without ruining the 3 Series shape.
The CTS' long hood and sloping rear roof could pass for a much more expensive flagship car. The ATS inspiration is apparent in the front styling and inside but with more flair from its longer profile. Non-performance models of the CTS have started to show their age, and the new CTS revitalizes the interior with a higher-quality vibe.
The current CTS represents large shoes to fill - one of the best models from GM and one of my favorites in general. I might prefer the second gen's styling, but this is a well-done evolution. The interior looks great, especially the matte-finish open-pore wood trim. The front seats seem more comfortable than the plank-hard backrests that remain the current model's greatest flaw.
In my opinion, the CTS is the star of the 2013 NYIAS. Pictures do not do it justice - it is long, low and beautifully sculpted. There isn't a bad angle on it; the best view is looking at it head-on with those LED light pipes all lit up - there isn't anything else like it on the road. This is what we were promised 21st century Cadillacs would look like back in the 1990s, and more importantly, this is most definitely GM hammering another nail in Lincoln's coffin.
I was pretty enthused about the new CTS when I saw the first photos, but after seeing it in person much of that enthusiasm has waned. Sure, the front lighting is cool, but the rest of the design seems lost between Cadillac's Art and Science past and what it wants to be in the future. The leather-wrapped interior is very nice but what's with the tight backseat? I thought it would be roomier with the stretched wheelbase.
When standing in front of the 2014 Equus, I had to bring up our auto show report because I couldn't perceive any difference from merely looking at it.
On its own merits, the Equus was already a very good car - a limousine at a bargain price. I know because every one I've seen has had livery plates on it. Even with its incremental improvements for 2014, I still don't know why I should care. Maybe it belongs at some kind of trade show, but not a consumer auto show.
As best I can determine, Hyundai is using this car to determine whether or not an eventual luxury brand is possible in the U.S. It's learning about customers, developing expertise and testing the waters. But the changes on this 2014 model are so minimal nobody is likely to notice.
For the money, the Equus is a richly appointed, comfortable full-size sedan. I also like the freedom afforded by Hyundai's version of the increasingly common knob-based controller, but like the other guys said, the minimal changes were lost in the bustle of the show and probably won't register with consumers visiting the show either.
When driving the new non-sport 2013 Land Rover Range Rover, I always lowered the suspension when parked because it looked so mean slammed in the weeds with the wheels tucked close to the fender. The Range Rover Sport exemplifies that look with smaller proportions and a sleeker roofline. Land Rover promises this version is more dedicated to handling performance. I like it.
Right or wrong, I was always offended that the Range Rover Sport traded on the "real" Range Rover's good name. Now, instead of being based on the cheaper LR4, it's based on the newly redesigned Range Rover. I guess I'll have to get over the name usurpation now that three of the company's four products are called Range Rover. Oh, and the 2014's really nice.
I'd like this thing even if James Bond hadn't driven it into the press reveal party the night before the show (where he said not one word, waved and promptly walked off stage). The Range Rover Sport is just a celebration of glorious excess in terms of power, appointments and style. But this is excess done right - it's 800 pounds lighter than the model it replaces. Eight hundred pounds! A status symbol and deservedly so.
The Evoque-style taillights looked a little small in photos of the new Range Rover Sport, but they play better in person. The SUV has a presence about it that's not readily found in the luxury class; this is a car that's going to be noticed.
This compact sports sedan purposely mirrors the impressive CLS-Class four-door "coupe," which was Cars.com's Best New Car for the Boss in 2013. While the entry-level CLA45 AMG may be for the middle management "boss" and not the CEO like the CLS, there's no less dedication to making the CLA45 AMG a legitimate AMG product. It really does look like a shrunken CLS63 AMG with carbon fiber elements and race seats - and also the most-powerful production four-cylinder at 355 horsepower mated to a dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive.
I really tried to see this as a winner, but when I look at it, all I see are impressive specifications. In my experience, Mercedes has built many vehicles that look the part - in the skin or the spec sheet - but don't feel it. It's certainly less true with the AMG variants, but I'm not feeling generous enough to call it a winner until I find out if it feels like one.
This thing is going to be a riot. A massively powerful turbo engine, all-wheel drive, a seriously nice interior and an actually accessible price for an AMG product? Add to this the fact that it doesn't look almost identical to its larger brothers (unlike the Audi A3/S3 sedan), and my nod goes for the CLA45 AMG to win the entry-level German hot sedan sales award next year.
The performance specs are impressive (though I wonder about long-term durability with so much power in a small engine) but the CLA45 AMG's design - and that of the CLA-Class in general - leaves me underwhelmed.
Any car with massive rear-hinged doors that show off opulently trimmed door panels to anyone looking is worthy of attention. The Rolls-Royce Wraith is deserving of a closer inspection with its ultra-luxurious interior and also its fastback, two-tone shape.
I can't say I find rear-hinged doors as fascinating as many do, even when they're the only doors, as opposed to just the rear ones. Here's what I do like about the Wraith: everything else, including its name. Rolls has a Phantom, a Ghost and a Wraith. Rear-hinged doors don't do it for me, but apparently I find apparitional model names uncommonly satisfying.
How can anyone not love this thing? It's massive; it's hand built; it's more opulent than Donald Trump's commode and twice as ostentatious. It costs as much as a three-bedroom house in most Midwestern cities. I wouldn't exactly call it beautiful, but it is most certainly a special piece of the automotive landscape, and I'm glad it exists.
Eh. The name is fabulous but I find the fastback styling abysmal as the C-pillars are excessively chunky. Would a conventional coupe version of the Ghost been so bad? I don't think so.
Wagon fanatics have made their demands clear, and automakers have complied with wagon variants of many entry-level luxury cars like the Audi A4, Acura TSX and BMW 3 Series. The Volvo V60 is a wagon version of an already great entry-level luxury car, the S60, so the additional cargo space it offers will extend the S60's reach to more families and active-lifestyle users.
Car reviewers tend to favor wagons. Maybe we're like-minded, or maybe if you occasionally get to fling a Porsche around the neighborhood you're less uptight about your image behind the wheel of something as practical and sensible as a good old station wagon. I say the more the merrier. I think Volvo still brings up the rear among sport sedans, and the V60 seems a more appropriate body style than the S60 sedan for the Volvo gestalt.
I'm not terribly enamored with this wagon, which frankly looks like every Volvo created since designer Peter Horbury brought curvy styling to the boxy brand with the C70 convertible way back in 1996. Yes, we as automotive journalists rejoice whenever a wagon is confirmed for this market, but what is the compelling reason to pick this over a BMW 3 Series wagon, Audi Q5 crossover or even a Cadillac CTS sport wagon? Bring back something quirky in the vein of the old 850 T5-R, and I might give it another look.
A certain bricklike image probably materializes in your head when someone says Volvo wagon, but the new V60 is nothing like the brand's wagons of yore; there's a fluidity to the design that gives it a contemporary feel. Crossovers are the automotive darlings of the moment but maybe wagons will have their day yet again.