By on April 20, 2014


After the relatively low-key debuts at Detroit and Chicago, New York was thought by many to be the show we’ve all been waiting for – full of exciting debuts and important announcements. Instead, we got more of the same – a number of interesting debuts that will be important to the broader car market, but nothing overly exciting for enthusiasts.

But this is TTAC, a site where the introduction of a facelifted Camry was the most popular topic of discussion during the show. And that means that New York was a great show for the B&B.


Miss – Acura TLX: Is this RLX 2.0? It sure looks that way. In a segment that has never been more competitive, Acura drops a dud. The TLX looks like a slightly bigger ILX and offers not one but two underwhelming drivetrains, utterly bland styling and no real reason for buying one, aside. Ok, there are some people who will make the case that this will make a good, solid, reliable luxury car once can buy with confidence – try telling that to the hordes of $299/month 320i leasees who want the Roundel and nothing else. The general public may not care that there’s no manual option, but they aren’t going to be sold on the novelty of a DCT or a 9-speed automatic either. Every time Acura introduces a car like this, it strengthens the case that they should become a premium SUV brand only.


Hit – Alfa Romeo 4C: It’s one thing to look at this car. Sitting inside it – with the deep bucket seats, thick steering wheel and impossibly low driving position – is what makes it feel really special.


Hit – Audi A3 Sportback TDI: A hit for no other reason than it demonstrates that in an era where everyone is paying strict attention to the spreadsheet, enthusiasts can have their voices heard. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves – Audi obviously sees a business case (if nothing else, it’s another diesel offering and it adds credibility to their TDI campaign), and the homologation costs were probably not terribly high. No, we don’t get a manual, and the VW Golf GTD probably will be sacrificed as a result, but it’s nice to know that somebody is listening.


Hit – BMW 228i Handling Pack: Another insignificant introduction for everyone but enthusiasts. BMW has graciously decided to put all the heavy-duty performance goodies (big brakes, upgraded shocks) on the lighter 228i. On behalf of the internet, thank you, BMW.


Dud – BMW M4 Convertible: I just don’t care at all for this car. It’s probably fast and nicely made, but I can’t help but think of the inevitability of these being driven quickly through residential areas with bad techno music blaring from them.


Miss- BMW X4: To quote one industry professional “So…it’s an X3, that looks like an X6 and is the size of a 3-Series Gran Turismo, but has the same shape as a 4-Series Gran Coupe. I think I get it?” In their insatiable quest for volume, BMW has found the Gospel of Niche – and truly lost it.


Hit- Chevrolet Trax: 2014 is the year of the small crossover. Along with the Nissan Juke and BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Audi and Jeep are all getting ready to enter the segment, and you can bet that everyone else is hurriedly readying their entries. The Trax should start at under $20,000, and that will provide healthy margins for a Sonic-based vehicle. If Buick can move 30,000 Encores annually, Chevrolet ought to do much bigger volumes.


Miss – Chevrolet Z06 Convertible: The poseur’s Z06. No thanks.


Hit – Dodge Challenger: It’s a little too retro for me, with the neon hues, Scat Pack badging and blacked out mag wheels, but the only thing keeping the Challenger from greatness was the lack of a proper UConnect system and an 8-speed automatic. Now that those two items have been added, it will be a great pony car alternative.


Hit – Dodge Charger: The retro thing had to come to an end, and this is a nice transition out of it. The upgraded interior is just icing on the cake. Expect the next-generation Charger, based on a Fiat/Alfa RWD platform, to look a lot like this as well.


Neutral – Ford Focus: Thumbs up for the 1.0L Ecoboost. Thumbs down for the re-design.


Miss – Honda HR-V: Honda had the chance to steal the Trax’s and Renegade’s thunder with their new small crossover. Instead, we just got a press release. Also, the name sounds like venereal disease.


Neutral – Hyundai Sonata: The B&B are very positive on this car, and it looked nice on the floor, but I have two reservations: it’s a bit more restrained that I was expecting, given how radical the prior car was. Also, can anyone really beat the Camry in sales, the Accord in quality/dynamics and the Altima in sheer momentum, to say nothing of the Fusion and equally strong Chrysler 200? Hyundai is capable of delivering a good car – they are going to need to pull out all the stops to stay competitive in this segment.


Miss – Infiniti Lineup: Stale designs, confusing nomenclature and a largely ignored booth. Infiniti is right in going for slow, steady growth ala Audi. Right now, it’s looking rather unexciting, and people are losing interest, Q50 aside. Hurry up with the Eau Rouge.


Neutral – Kia Sedona: Like the Sonata, it looks perfectly good, but are they really going to bring the fight to Honda, Toyota and the Chrysler vans?


Hit – Land Rover Discovery: I don’t care for this SUV or its gimmicky suicide doors, but if the next Disco is like the rest of JLR’s recent lineup, the execution will be excellent, it will be hugely desirable and good enough to help them continue to gain solid footing in the cutthroat luxury market.


Miss – Mazda MX-5 Chassis: Mazda’s exhibit of historically significant Miatas was a great move. The 25th Anniversary MX-5, with its blueprinted engine and chassis tweaks, should be a riot. The bare Skyactiv chassis on display? Well, unless you have a tape measure and can compare the dimensions of the NC’s RX-8 derived platform to this, you don’t really learn a whole lot. Unlike the NA and NB, Mazda is sticking with the multilink at the rear. Boo.


Neutral – Nissan Murano: As gorgeous as it is, I can’t figure out the positioning. The Rogue and Pathfinder both offer seating for seven. The Murano makes do with just two rows. I suppose this is a premium SUV with snazzy styling and an upscale interior, compared to the no-frills Rogue and family-oriented Pathfinder. But I am not quite sure where it fits.


Hit – Subaru Outback: As Subaru cars get more boring, they also improve in terms of quality and driving dynamics. Case in point: the new Forester. If the Outback follows this trend, it should be a very appealing SUV alternative. And for those who want something smaller, the XV Crosstrek exists.


Hit- Toyota Camry: Our most talked about article was about this car, constantly derided as America’s most boring appliance. For such a poorly regarded vehicle, you all have a lot to say about it. My take? The new redesign looks great. It wouldn’t be my choice in this segment, but over 400,000 buyers disagree with me every single year. A home run for Toyota.


Miss – Volkswagen Jetta: Sales of VW’s American-sized compact are sputtering and the new upgrades do little to make it any more attractive. An MQB-ified replacement would be welcome, and soon.

photo (17)

Hit – Volkswagen GolfSportwagen TDI Concept: In Toronto, gas prices just breached the critical $5.30/gallon level (about $1.40/liter) with diesel as much as 30 cents cheaper per gallon. Up north, wagons and manuals are more popular, and the Haldex all-wheel drive on this car would be welcome. But its chances of success in America, where gas is cheap and the weather is milder, are slim. And that means that this is likely a PR stunt by Volkswagen. But we can dream.


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57 Comments on “New York 2014: Hits, Misses, Surprises And Duds...”

  • avatar

    The Charger looked better in person than online pics.

    I was disappointed by many cars that will be volume sellers that weren’t open to the public.

    The GLA, C-Class, Navigator, MKC, ATS Coupe, Charger and Challenger. Even THE CAMRY was off-limits.

    The 2015 Challenger was only open if you sat in their augmented reality driving game.

    The biggest surprises for me were the ELMIRAJ and the BMW I8. Both looked amazing. I definitely see an Elmiraj replacing my mother’s Cadillac- in Red – someday- if it is built.

    I was also surprised by HYUNDAI/KIA.
    The Sonata feels like a luxury car now.
    The Genesis is ugly, but looks better in person.
    The K900 has better features and looks inside than the XTS and the equally priced BMW equivalent.

    K900 has leather, a V8, heated/cooled seats, powered headrests and powered thigh cushions.
    XTS, MKS and 300c lack those features.
    The Japanese and American interiors are also too plasticy and too dark. The cuts look bland. South Korea is really making a name for itself.

    The Chrysler 200 disappointed me in not being more spacious. The Sonata is now a bigger car and has higher build quality than the 209, despite the lack of a V6 and AWD.

    I’m disappointed that Jaguar only sent the XJR to the show, but not the XJ ULTIMATE. Meanwhile Mercedes let you play in the W222: allowing everyone to get a whif of wealth:

    Tray tables in back, reclining seats, etc.

    The W222 was the show stealer. When my Jeep’s term ends, I think one might find its way in my driveway.

    …or an RS7.

    If anyone wants to see video, I posted a full 1:30:00 video on my youtube, and several snippet videos using my SONY HD NX5 pro camera. Can’t wait for iPhone6 64GB so I can shoot 5 hour long videos from the convenience of the phone.

    • 0 avatar

      A good summation by both Derek and BTSR. When I sat in the new 200 I thought its interior was the best in class for quality of materials. Does the Sonata beat it?

      • 0 avatar

        The Sonata beats the 200 on fit and finish, but not on features. Uconnect Touch is the best infotainment system on the market and you won’t find another car with AWD and a V6 under $34,000.

        But why can’t the American cars have bright interiors with White, tan and cashmere colored leather on the seats and dash/ headliners?

        The American plastics and faux leather/suede don’t look as good as Hyundai’s.

  • avatar

    Where are all the brown, manual transmission, diesel wagons? No sale!
    >>sarcasm off>>

  • avatar

    Thank you, Derek, and the entire TTAC team for a week of great coverage from NYC.

    One note: I think a lot of us have been a little hard on Mazda for not showing the ND Miata. Compared to the Toyobaru press machine, Mazda has not been creating lots of hype well before the car is developed. They didn’t promise us anything at NY, because the Mazda simply is not ready. The anticipation is entirely in our own heads.

  • avatar

    Poor Infiniti. They’re about to be among automotive duds like Volvo and Acura. They had something going with the Infiniti G and instead of building on that, they throw away all of that brand equity.

    The Chevy Trax was one of the most interesting to me and should be a great volume seller for younger buyers. If I were in my early 20s, I’d consider one as a first new car. It’s not too big, not too small, has a high seating position, decent options and it’s not too expensive.

  • avatar


    I feel like you are being a bit pessimistic on the Sportwagen front (and of course I would say that.) Every northeastern and rocky mountain Subaru or VW owner I know (and yes, they are exactly the same people) is drooling over this car, with more than a few sporting obvious and inappropriate chubbies ever since the pics started coming out of the show. My, decidedly non-mainstream, friend group aside I’m thrilled that we’ll finally be able to put the internet cliché to the test in the modern car market. This is, for the first time in modern memory, actually a stick shift wagon awd diesel that you can order in brown (probably.) If it does well you can perhaps stop being so apologetic and cynical about being an enthusiast, and maybe even go back to the Good Work of trying to convert the sheep to our church of awesomeness and better vehicles.

    My wife wants one (and will get it knowing her,) my in laws are definitely getting one, their immediate neighbors will soak up at least two or three and all of those buyers would want exactly this, the most expensive, body kit equipped loaded profit-margin-mobile. I fail to see the mistake in releasing it as is, especially since there are officially no other attainable stick shift wagons at all, never mind awd high mileage ones.

  • avatar

    After your talk about how you preferred the non-S 200 to the S version I am surprised that you liked the Camry. The new LE looks like an SE from two generations ago and the XSE is just ridiculous. Why does Toyota think a sporty Camry is what people want? No one expects it to be a 5-series (even a 5-series isn’t a 5-series anymore). What people seem to want is initial, tactile quality that matches the Toyota/Lexus vehicles of the mid-90s. Instead we get something that looks like Pepboys puked on it. Toyota went full Pontiac. You never go full Pontiac. This redesign will sell droves of Accords, Fusions, and Altimas.

    • 0 avatar

      Completely agree. The Manga Menace approach bleeding over from Lexus is utterly inappropriate to the taste and mentality of Camry buyers.

      As a rule, we abhor any public manifestation of aggressiveness. We like bunnies, tidy lawns and quiet clothing.

      • 0 avatar

        Joke. So, the tacky Fusion is good, but the tacky 15 Camry grill is unacceptable? Only a Metro Detroiter would make such a statement.

        • 0 avatar

          Huh? Can’t mean me… I think all current sedans except the Accord are poo.

          And “Metro Detroiter”? Keerist.. I’d have OD’ed on bacon burgers by now if I ever had to live in *another* ghetto.

        • 0 avatar

          Well the Fusion is Swarovski tacky while the Camry is Tap Out shirt tacky. I consider the Ford less egregious although I don’t love either.

          I live in Florida.

        • 0 avatar

          As a Camry buyer, I have to agree with the first poster. I do actually like a sporty Camry though, just not one with a bass-mouth grill.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I’d normally agree, but then tacky & tatted has become the new norm. Witness the quick embrace of the Sonata…that surprised me in what is usually a relatively conservative market.

        It all started with the Audi grill, and those damn Alterrza tail lights on the Altima and Fusion I tell ya…

    • 0 avatar

      I think Toyota has fallen for the negative spin by Detroit marketing on it’s current set of vehicles. Truth is Toyota’s current styling is classy and conservative … unlike the gaudy Altima, Sonata, and the super gaudy Fusion. Unfortunately, Toyota made the mistake of following the gaudy designs … this will push a lot of sales over to the Accord. Note how the next Sonata is being toned down. They get it.

      I was waiting for the 15 Camry to replace my 12 Camry Hybrid, which has 20K miles on it. But, after seeing the 15 Camry, I am already looking at the 14 Accord. Looks like a 14 Accord LX will be in my driveway shortly. As much as I wanted a Toyota Hybrid, I will be giving that up for a gas Honda just to get more conservative styling.

      Toyota, you had better hope I am an outlier and not part of a trend. Last thing I want to be seen in is an “Altima, Sonata, Fusion” look alike, even if it is much more reliable with superior resale to those 3.

    • 0 avatar

      While I personally like this refresh a lot, I agree with you in a business sense. This could definitely be a polarizing design. However, as with all new cars, wait until you see it in the volume trim. When the contrasting-color grill has been ditched and those wheels are replaced with hubcaps for the L and LE, it could look very different.

      • 0 avatar

        They had examples of the XLE on the floor and it looked very nice. Much more restrained than the SE, which I am not a fan of in current or refreshed versions.

      • 0 avatar

        True, I haven’t seen them in person but I have seen pictures of the ’15 XLE and although it isn’t as ridiculous as the XSE I still think it is insanely overwrought compared to Toyotas of the past.

        If “boring” used to sell Toyotas then that company is going to be in trouble.

        These days if you want a mid-size that isn’t manic and with any subtlety your options are pretty much just Honda and VW.

    • 0 avatar

      All this Camcord talk makes me sleepy

  • avatar

    Honest question: Why are so many hating on the convertible Z06?

    • 0 avatar

      The new corvette is decent. Personally, I prefer a base model.

    • 0 avatar

      …probably because there’s already a better-handling targa available: most convertibles end up being used as boulevard cruisers rather than the way they were meant to be driven, hence the Z06 specification is essentially for bragging rights…

      • 0 avatar

        Unless the inevitable bigger wheels really screw up the ride, the Z06 now has, in Supercharged form, sufficiently more powah everywhere to be a better boulevard cruiser than the base. The earlier ones with just a racier NA engine, were definitely more specialized track tools; but not really anymore.

        It’s a point likely lost on those whose enthusiasm lean towards too short to sleep in wagonletts, with clunky, smelly drivetrains, clumsily handling awd systems and a mean time to complete self detonation of all constituent parts, is in the vicinity of the Chevy’s quarter mile time, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Because people who are supposedly ‘enthusiasts’ write intense criticism of those they deem unfit for their titles. A form of purity testing in order to satisfy their own ideological goals.

      In other words, they want everybody to drive and think like them and the fact that the corvette is a big track car than that they deem the boulevard cruisers as an affront to their identity.

    • 0 avatar

      Because people like to pretend that ‘enthusiasts’ buy these cars, and not middle-aged slightly overweight men who want a boulevard cruiser. Guess what? Most AMG sales go to people who rarely drive faster than 45, most Land Rovers go to people who will never leave a paved road, and most Supercars sit in a garage where the biggest problem is keeping batteries charged.

      I love the Z06 ‘vert for the same reason I quietly cheer Cayenne sales – it means the parent company stays healthy enough to occasionally do something like the 918.

      • 0 avatar

        i have a coworker who drives a ‘Vette convertible. She’s not a performance driver, but she’s exactly who you’d like to see coming down the street: a foxy, immaculately turned out lady in her early 40’s. Not every ‘Vette driver does a combover.

  • avatar

    Soo. let me get the straight. You can place a Lexus grill on a Camry and its ok but if a Lincoln looks like a Ford then ohhh helll no..really?

    • 0 avatar

      The Lexus cars are UGLY. And I don’t appreciate the stolen NIKE check mark.

      What: are they trying to sell to the Jordan sneaker crowd?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s actually a matter of trickle down versus bottom-up. If you have style trickling down from the top, that’s okay, as long as the high-end brand goes there first and moves on once the style becomes pervasive. It gives the impression of the cheaper cars getting better. If you have a widely recognized style used on your mass-market brand creep upwards towards your high-end brand, it gives the impression that you’re cheaping out on the more expensive cars.

  • avatar

    The Sonata’s new looks are a signal to me that the pressure is going to increase even more in this segment. Although I was a fan of the old car, I realize the appeal of the design was limited. This new design has the potential to attract more conservative customers, especially given the radical restyle of the Camry.

    Otherwise, the Trax is the most important debut at this show from an industry perspective, I think. I could see Chevy getting a lot of volume out of that fairly easily. My only question is where will it be built? In Korea or in the US alongside the Sonic?

  • avatar

    I pretty much agree with your summary, though I’d probably predict the Murano more of a hit just because it’s been very popular and now it finally looks different enough to say it’s new. I also think the Charger is closer to miss, because it’s just getting old and the new face just doesn’t help that much

  • avatar

    Miss – Chevrolet Z06 Convertible: The poseur’s Z06. No thanks.

    Did you really just call the C7 Z06, which loses absolutely nothing from the coupe version except gaining 50 pounds a poseur?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Yeah, and I’ll second it. With no rollbar, it’s useless.

      • 0 avatar

        For tracking. Or rolling over. Now that I’m thinking about it, I vaguely do remember having heard of some strange tribe of car buyers who tend to do very little of either……. They must have been of the “poser” tribe, I guess..

        It’s not really “my” type of car either, truth to be told. But not for lacking a rollbar. more because all ‘Vettes are too wide, too bulky, too powerful and too darned low to appeal to me anywhere but on a track. But if I were to buy any ‘Vette, the Z06 ‘Vert does look like a meaningful upgrade over the standard car even off track. For people who like low, powerful, wide and bulky, that is.

  • avatar

    Sadly the Challenger still does not have the visual grace of the original. Bloated and clunky by comparison.

    Too bad, it could really be a cool car.

    • 0 avatar

      “Visual grace,” really? I don’t think the modern Challenger has ever had grace of any kind. It’s always been a brick on wheels.

      I’m a fan of Chrysler’s design work lately, but I can’t even tell the difference between the new Challenger and the previous one. They look exactly the same to me. I don’t understand how Gilles and his team can make anything else look good but can’t pull the slightest bit of class or elegance out of the Challenger.

      Digging the new Charger, though.

  • avatar

    ++++full of exciting debuts and important announcements. Instead, we got more of the same+++

    What were you expecting? Cosell calling Sinatra @ MSG?

    What’s with burnt leaf orange? I see it all over the floor. I have it already on my dull 2011 Sentra SER… Soo 3 years ago.

  • avatar

    I like the Murano. It’s the only Nissan SUV I would buy. It’s for people who prioritize style and performance over functionality and ease of use

  • avatar

    Acura’s past history with transmissions doesn’t instill confidence with the TLX.

  • avatar

    True, Torontonians are paying the equivalent of $5.30 a US gallon this Easter weekend, but is actually about $4.82 when converted to USD.

  • avatar

    Ok, why “Thumbs up for the 1.0L Ecoboost.” ?

  • avatar

    I hate the X4 and everything it stands for, and I doubt I’d care for most of the people who’d lease one. They will move every single one they build.

  • avatar

    The fascination, or just plain loyalty, you and others have towards all things Subaru or many of the Chrysler products troubles me.
    OK. The newest little Cherokee got hit here at TTAC.
    But the Grand Cherokee as well as these Dodge cars? Both still have horrible MPG. THe whole Jeep design makes me feel cheated inside on room. There is none! The floors high and roofs low. Not sure if this is due to a flaw in the architecture or just plain bad design. The Subaru continually offer the same damn engines year after year after year.
    Ditto the Chryslers.
    And do you REALLY like that new front end on the Charger! Wow! It looks horrible. Looks like they are going to jam that ugly crossbar onto us no matter what. Really…I would take the older look any time.
    To like this look and yet pan the Focus leaves me wondering about the whole review.

  • avatar

    What’s to dislike about the Focus’s new look? I would take that grill ten times over the old one.

    The Camry is an interesting gamble, I wonder how it looks in Toyota’s standard dark grey.

  • avatar

    Seems to be an aquatic theme at NY this year. Nissan is over the top, and the Challenger makes me think of whale sharks.

    The Challenger is a behemoth, and I’ve never really thought much about them as a result. However, since I can’t remember the last time my commute was shorter than 25 miles one way, I’ve developed a soft spot for highway cruisers over the years. Challenger offers a manual transmission, RWD, glorious V8s, seating for four adults, and a huge trunk. All for around $30k. Not a natural canyon carver, but it sounds like it isn’t incompetent either, at least in R/T trim and up.

    God help me, but I might be interested despite the bulk and street presence.

  • avatar

    “Neutral – Ford Focus: Thumbs up for the 1.0L Ecoboost. Thumbs down for the re-design.”

    Interesting, my opinion is exactly the opposite. I really like the styling changes up front – much cleaner and more cohesive than the 2012-2014 model, whose front end was the weakest part of a generally appealing design, with that 3 piece lower grille and the unfinished-looking upper opening (which made it look like the hood wasn’t fully latched). On the other hand I think the 1.0 EB will be very underpowered in this car. 120hp to move nearly 3000lbs? Maybe being manual-only will help, but I doubt by much.

  • avatar

    Trax or whatever it has be called in Australia, looking like a big Miss

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. GM already has one small CUV that doesn’t run very well, the GEO/Buick Encore – with lousy performance and lousy mpg. This is just a cheaper version of the over-priced Encore.

      I suspect the real hit will be the HR-V.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    X4 = hit. I like weirdo European cars.

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    As a happy minivan owner (I’m an engineer and like functional forms – the minivan is nothing if not that) I can say that the Sedona’s marketplace performance will depend primarily on feature set, initial quality, and long-term reliability. It didn’t make much difference what it looked like, as long as it avoided the alien bug styling of the Nissan Quest.

    I think it mostly gets it right in that category–the exterior styling is mainstream, the dashboard looks nicely laid out, and it has all the standard entertainment and convenience features. I think the car-style center console is a risk, but I can see why they did it–the lower third of the center stack is out of reach while driving, and thus fairly useless anyway.

    The only thing I see as an issue for it is the fold-up center row seats. That’s probably going to seem lame/old fashioned to people who have used stow-n-go, and it looks like it takes away a foot or more of length in the cargo area.

  • avatar

    Not sure how you can fit seven people in a Nissan Rogue. Then again my parents did cram themselves and four kids-to-teens in a Hyundai Pony…

  • avatar

    Dang, that White BMW looks like a Cylon helmet (original Battlestar Galactica version).

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