2013 NYIAS in Review

Easter Sunday may have been a day of quiet reverence or respectful celebration for many millions of people.  With perhaps a tinge of guilt, I spent the day at an altar of an altogether different sort.  The 2013 New York International Auto Show opened to the public last weekend at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.  It runs through today.  Like many here in the Northeast, I made the trip to Midtown Manhattan on Sunday to see all that the auto industry has to offer.

Personal Favorites
Every year I pick a favorite car.  Last year it was the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion that looks like a family sedan designed by Jaguar or Aston Martin.  The year before it was the 2012 Range Rover Evoque Coupe.  This year it’s a little more complicated.  No one car sold me instantly or wholeheartedly.  There was no love at first sight.  So I’ll share my thoughts on a few, and then include a slideshow near the end.

Favorite Interior
My favorite vehicle interior is that of the all-new, full-sized Range Rover in Autobiography trim level with the Rear Executive Class seating option.  Now I typically try to avoid paying too much attention to vehicles costing in the neighborhood of $130,995.  I’m fairly sure that I’d never buy one even if I could.  But I’m also a sucker for a fixed, rear-seat center console, the likes of which only occasionally appear in the most expensive sedans on earth.  I don’t know why a fixed rear console appeals to me, but it does.  Big time.  And this Range Rover has one.  I love it despite the fact that it limits rear seating rear capacity to two, and further reduces curb-side egress to only one of the rear-seat passengers.  Obviously I’m not going to find myself chauffeured around in one of these Range Rovers any time soon, and I’m almost certainly better off for it.

Favorite Relatively Affordable Vehicle
I went to New York expecting to dislike the 2014 Jeep Cherokee.  When I first saw spy photos of it months ago, I wrongly assumed that it was replacing the current, very attractive Jeep Grand Cherokee.  And I wasn’t thrilled with what I was seeing.  I wasn’t very happy with Jeep’s official photos either when they became available, though I was assured that it looked better in person.  And thankfully, it does.

It turns out that the new Cherokee is a just-big-enough, just-capable-enough, all-terrain SUV, provided that you opt for the Trailhawk configuration, 271 horsepower 3.2L V6 engine and Trailer Tow Group.  Otherwise it’s just a Grocery Getter.  The abundance of black plastic on the 2014 Cherokee in all trim levels leaves me thinking that black paint is the only appropriate color choice at this time.  I’d expect body-color trim to arrive at some point in the future, making the Cherokee more attractive in other colors.  Somehow I could see myself driving one of these in the snowy but densely-packed Northeast.

Favorite Technology Item
Audi builds great looking cars, though I worry that their long-term upkeep may bankrupt anyone not comfortably ensconced in the Top One Percent™.  They also brought my favorite thing to New York that was not a car.  Audi teamed up with Tagboard to feed their electronic signage with social media updates throughout the week.  Those who Tweeted or similarly mentioned hashtags #Audi and #NYIAS might see their post on the 30-foot screen in Audi’s booth.  I’d love to see some metrics behind Audi’s social media outreach during the show as a result of their partnership with Tagboard.

The 2014 Silverado / Sierra
I happen to drive one of the best-selling vehicles sold in the United States, the current-generation, full-sized Chevy Silverado pickup.  Think of my choice as a throwback to my rural Indiana childhood.  My Silverado, in 4×4 Z71 trim, is capable, confidence-inspiring, and good looking too.  The new 2014 Silverado and its GMC Sierra stablemate are at least two of those three adjectives, with the looks being somewhat subjective.

To my eye, the all-new 2014 Silverado looks ever so slightly more squared off, masculine and purpose-built.  And that’s great.  For a truck.  But sooner or later, GM will have to release a new Tahoe, Avalanche, Suburban, Yukon and Escalade on this chassis too.  The current Tahoe and siblings look absolutely gorgeous in my opinion.  They look at home anywhere from the construction site to the country club, and at a kids’ soccer field in between.  I fear that a Tahoe or Suburban based on the new Silverado design will only look appropriate in black with S.W.A.T. team members riding the foot rails on both sides.  Now there’s a market for that, just as there’s a market for movies featuring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.  It just happens to be a slightly narrower niche than the pool of potential buyers for the current Tahoe, et al.  I hope that GM proves me wrong with a full-size SUV holding broad appeal.

And now for some random pictures taken using an iPad…

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The New York International Auto Show, and similar auto shows in other major cities, are always a little bit overwhelming.  Sensory overload, and all that.  At the same time, it’s a whole lot of fun.  And there’s almost always a technology tie-in too.  For instance, I heard a salesman describing the aforementioned 2014 Silverado as, “like having a Nexus or an iPad on the dash.”  He was speaking figuratively, of course, about GM’s feature-rich touchscreen console with 4G LTE connectivity.

Now my day at the show ends sooner or later, and it’s time to go home.  Which in my case, ironically, doesn’t involve getting behind the wheel at all.  The train took me from Midtown back to my little city in Connecticut, and practically right to my front door.  At least I’d have a reason to drive the next day.

The 2013 New York International Auto Show runs through 7:00 PM this evening at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Meanwhile, I’ll be working on a real tech post for next week.

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