New York City. In case you haven’t heard of it, this bustling metropolis in southeastern New York State is where relaxation and perspective go to die in the name of curbside hot dogs and the world’s angriest cyclists. It also hosts the annual New York Auto Show, the unofficial end of the season’s auto show circuit and a lovely place to take in some new sheet metal before the spring and summer hiatus. But just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s good. So here’s a quick download on what was worth seeing and what you will need another hot dog to forget.
Genesis Essentia concept
Let’s make one thing clear: I had a cup of Ramen noodles for lunch that has a better chance of reaching Genesis’ dealerships than this Essentia concept. Nevertheless, this is what concept cars should be about: awe-inspiring design and construction flourishes that include honeycomb carbon fiber panels, a pushrod suspension, scissor doors and a glass bubble roof that looks ripped straight out of a Hotwheels design/my dreams. Experiments like this are too rare at auto shows these days, so kudos to the folks at Genesis (tagline: We’ll Give You $100 Not to Mention Hyundai) for making it happen.
2019 Toyota RAV4
At the risk of sounding like someone who’s seen “She’s All That” 100 times*, Toyota (Freddie Prinze Jr.) just totally gave a makeover to the previously-dorky RAV4 (Rachael Leigh Cook), and whoa baby is this thing a looker. The RAV4 is already the most popular non-truck vehicle on the market, and this kind of makeover will no doubt solidify those credentials. After an adolescence nearly as long and awkward as my own and with equal amounts of headgear, the latest RAV4 is well built, well designed and even offers a sporty hybrid version. Well done.
*95. I’ve seen it 95 times, and it’s aging like a fine wine.
2019 Audi RS5 Sportback
After denying the U.S. market the chance to feast its eyes on the delightful, four-door Sportback A/S/RS5 in its previous generation, Audi is finally showing us some proper attention. The A5 (which we've tested) and the S5 have already hit the market, and now we get this RS5: 111 horsepower per door, a sub-four-second 0-60 time and all of the practicality of an SUV with none of the me-too sameyness as all the other Audis in the Lululemon parking lot. Though it’s a little overdue, it’s just nice to have Audi’s affection.
Lincoln’s Aviator: big, handsome, powerful and most importantly, not named like previous Lincolns (which all sounded like Eastern European recreational drugs).
2019 Subaru Forester
Subaru, recommended as a GOOD BUY by 4 out of 5 golden retrievers, used the NY show to launch its all-new, fifth-generation Forester. Allegedly. At the risk of asking a dumb question, are we completely sure this is the new Forester? When it was revealed, the supposed 2019 model was perched high atop a stage overlooking the crowd, so it was hard to tell.
Honestly, if Subaru had just vacuumed the dog hair out of the back of the old one and added larger wheels, it would look exactly like this. Not that that’s a bad thing, but with the sales strength of Honda’s CR-V and the soon-to-be-updated Toyota RAV4, Subie’s gotta bring their A-game or things could get ruff. I’ll show myself out.
VW Tanoak Concept
Let me get this straight: VW — wanting to boost volume in the U.S. — skips over the subcompact crossover segment that’s currently more popular than Free Tub of Mayonnaise Day at your local Cracker Barrel. And instead VW says, “Yeah, what ‘Merica is really dying for is a midsize, unibody pickup truck from the same company that made Herbie the Love Bug?” No.
It’s not that the Tanoak is poorly executed or awful to look at. It’s not at all — though the name makes me think of an overly bronzed tree from “Jersey Shore.” It’s just that if I wanted a lukewarm truck that gets me no respect at my weekly football/arm wrestling/chest-hair-density measuring contest, I’d just bring Honda’s Ridgeline.
2019 Lexus UX
This was the first time I’d seen the UX in person; it debuted earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show. It wasn’t worth the wait. Was the Lexus UX designed on a vibrating mattress? Inside a sub-zero meatlocker? At gunpoint perhaps? No? Then can someone explain the uneven and incongruent lines thrown on this thing? Just when the spindle grille was looking good on the LC and LS, this not-so-cute ute comes along looking like it was drawn by Homer Simpson.
The RS5’s display color: Anything that matches a necktie from my Uncle Chet’s Montgomery Ward collection or Kermit the Frog’s armpit in the sunlight shouldn’t be on a car.