2019 New York Auto Show Recap - Thrill Meets Chill

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
2019 new york auto show recap thrill meets chill

This year’s New York Auto Show left me feeling a bit baffled. The 2018 edition was fairly eventful, both in terms of what was shown at the Javits Center and what I experienced during my off hours (no one randomly approached me on 8th avenue attempting to sell me cocaine this year), but this year seemed, as a fellow employee of our corporate mothership said, “chill.”

Not too chill – the morning was busy. And there was at least one important reveal after lunch.

Still, compared to 2018, the 2019 edition of the New York International Auto Show felt a tad more relaxed.

Here, then, are my random and scattered thoughts to what we saw last week in that big, crowded, noisy city scrunched between New Jersey and Connecticut.

Hyundai Venue: Perhaps the most consequential debut from New York, the

Sonata has all sorts of eye-catching details, becoming one of the most attractive cars in its class again. While I don’t like all the styling details – the steering wheel looks dismal – the overall package is good. I especially dig the streaks that slink over the hood, emanating out of the headlights. Oh, and the news that an N-Line version is on the way is heartening.

Lincoln Corsair: I’m on record as one of the few people who liked the outgoing Lincoln MKC, confusing nomenclature aside. So, on paper, I should like the Corsair. And I do. The gas engines are familiar, and a product rep told me that the chassis isn’t all that different from the MKC. The looks are very different, however, both inside and out, with the Corsair borrowing from the attractive big-sibling Aviator. It’s a departure from the MKC, but I still dig it. And while the MKC sold well enough, I think the Corsair is a much stronger entry from Lincoln. The brand’s recovery continues.

Toyota Highlander: Count this as the biggest “loser” for me. Toyota tried to dial up the aggression here, but failed. While it’s not weird for the brand to stay a bit conservative with the looks of a popular family hauler, we know Toyota can make an SUV look cool while still giving off the image of relaxed comfort. See the new RAV4 for details. If the RAV4 can turn my head, why can’t a Highlander? Why does suburban conformity have to reign in this class? Regardless, Toyota will sell approximately a bajillion of these things. Perhaps I’ve answered my own question.

Acura TLX PMC: This is the part where I disclose that Acura hosted my travel to NYC. But even factoring that in, I wouldn’t normally mention a special-edition sedan that’s limited to 360 units. Yes, the Valencia Red paint – which takes five days to apply – looks great, along with the blacked-out wheels. But that’s not the point. It’s not about this particular car, but rather what it represents – which, I hope, is a new direction for Acura. While I am not a fan of the ethical murkiness that involves an automaker hosting us for an auto show, one perk is the chance to pick the brains of key OEM employees. And Acura reps insisted that they’re well aware of the brand’s recent stumbles and what it will take to make things “right” in the eyes of enthusiasts. Assuming they follow through on their promises, it’s possible that Acura is on finally on the right track. I need to see more than a cool-looking TLX to be convinced, but perhaps this is a baby step in the right direction.

Mazda CX-5 Diesel: Tim Cain already said what needs to be said about this vehicle, and Steph has made the same points in our Slack channel, so I’ll defer to them. Moving on.

Kia Habanero: I don’t have much to say about a Stinger with Drift Mode, beyond that it sounds cool. But the Habanero concept seems to be a preview of yet another small CUV for urban buyers. Perhaps a Kia version of the Venue, if they’re not satisfied with a Soul?

Subaru Outback: I’m not covering every launch here, if you hadn’t already noticed, so I’ll close this piece with my take on the next Outback. Dropping the available six-cylinder engine in favor of the four-cylinder turbo found in the Ascent, the Outback gets minor cosmetic changes while keeping the distinctive Outback look. The interior gets a major upgrade, but overall, the Outback remains identifiable. Almost certainly the way Subaru wants it.

With that, the domestic auto-show season rests until November. Now come the first drives.

[Images: © 2019 Tim Healey and Matt Posky/TTAC, Subaru]

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3 of 23 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Apr 24, 2019

    Manhattan is a stupid place to have a car show. There I said it - lol.

  • TMA1 TMA1 on Apr 25, 2019

    The existence of the Hyundai Venue probably has more to do with the SSangyang Tivoli, which is pretty popular in the Korean domestic market and looks very similar. Hyundai made it for Korea, the fact that tiny crossovers are a hit in the US is just a bonus for them.

    • Bd2 Bd2 on Apr 28, 2019

      Made it more for India. And yeah, while they could use a Tivoli competitor, larger CUVs (like sedans) sell better in Korea. Both the Santa Fe and Palisade are among the top 5 sellers in Korea. The Kia Carnival (aka Sedona) and Sorento are among the top 10, as is the Hyundai Grand Starex (a large minivan) - making half of the top 10 "people movers." The Kona outsold the Tivoli by a good margin last month.

  • Cprescott Yawn.
  • 28-Cars-Later Wrangler people are crazy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Transition" to layoffs, this guy is the Bob(s) from Office Space.
  • Vap65689119 As a release engineer I also worked in quality, if they are serious they should look at Toyotas business model which has their suppliers as genuine partners, thats how you get a quality product
  • Mike-NB2 I seem to have landed in an alternate universe. $12,000 for a Jeep that's going on a quarter-century old and with an automatic transmission? Wow.