2013 New York Auto Show: Plenty of Value But Little Wow Factor

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By Charles Poladian | March 30, 2013 1:48 AM EST

The press got an early look at the 2013 New York Auto Show and while there were plenty of unveils, cars and conferences, three things stood out at the auto show. The three talking points coming out of the show include the 2014 Highlander, the Subaru concept car and the lack of a “wow” factor.

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Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and the 2014 Highlander got plenty of buzz as it was the first unveil at the 2013 New York Auto Show. Toyota also hyped the redesigned mid-sized Sports Utility Vehicle heavily before the auto show with teasers revealing just a small portion of the car.

The mid-size SUV has become the preferred family car and the segment’s popularity showed at the auto show as several other automakers unveiled mid-sized SUV’s but the 2014 Highlander stood out with its attention to style while maintaining the safety and fuel economy features that drivers have come to expect from the vehicles.

Some of the 2014 Highlander highlights include a redesigned exterior that will appeal to a younger demographic and broadens the potential consumer-base for Toyota’s vehicle. More interior space means more room for passengers and cargo space for everything from groceries to supplies for an extended road trip. The 2.7-liter four cylinder or 3.5-liter V6 powertrain options means the new Highlander will have some power as well. Fuel economy was stressed during the press conference and the 2014 Highlander will also be available in a Hybrid version.

Mid-sized SUV’s were a focal point of the 2013 New York Auto Show but concept cars also had their time in the spotlight. Perhaps most surprisingly, Subaru stole the show with its first concept car that was unveiled on Thursday. The turbocharged WRX concept car had Subaru looking forward with a much more aggressive exterior.

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As previously noted by IBTimes, the Subaru’s WRX concept car gives a glimpse of what to expect from the future Impreza. Expect a more performance-based vehicle and a powerful engine. Subaru remained tightlipped about details but there were plenty of exterior elements of the WRX concept to dissect. Carbon fiber design elements were not just for show as the hood was designed to reduce the weight of the vehicle while giving it a lower center of gravity. The interior is still being designed so there were no interesting technology features to fawn over.

While the debuts at the 2013 New York Auto Show focused on quality, with an emphasis on fuel economy and performance from many automakers, there was a lack of surprises. Photos of Jeep’s 2014 Cherokee were leaked well in advance of its official debut in New York, the other debuts focused on consumers.

Scion’s tC Sports Coupe is another nice entry into the brand’s lineup that offers style and performance but still priced for a younger demographic. Rolls-Royce had the flashiest unveil with the Wraith but the luxury vehicle was already shown off at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. had a strong showing with three new vehicles and Mercedes-Benz unveiled the smallest AMG available in the United States but there were no real talking points coming out of the show unlike the 2013 Detroit Motor Show where Elon Musk and Tesla Motors discussed the future of green technology or new fuel cell technology instead it’s about 2014 Highlander or the Honda minivan with a built-in vacuum.

At the 2013 New York Show it is about the consumers which is why the focus was on mid-size SUV’s with only a couple of debuts being geared for a more exclusive audience. There is plenty of value, and quality, that will be shown off at the 2013 New York Auto Show during its public days, March 29-April 7, and enough style to make the show an experience for the thousands that will attend. 

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