It’s good to be home.
(Apologies for the crap photos. The camera I used is probably worse than most phone cams–it’s a freebie from one of my dad’s training exercise giveaway. It uses SDRAM and doubles as a decent webcam; but once you remove the internal AAA batteries, you lose all photos stored. A fine pin-hole camera, on that note, even if it overexposes like crazy. Anyways, it’s not like you need my pictures; plenty of professional images of these babies online.)
Wednesday the week after seems to be a good day to visit the 2006 New York International Auto Show. It’s becoming an annual tradition for my father and I; especially now he works in the auto industry, it’s unavoidable. A grunt worker like him actually benefits the intel, and I got a bit of his sales pitch when we were doing “how fast can you fold down the back seats of an Odyssey?” versus “LOL I can fold down the back seat of a Sienna faster than you.”
But he’s good company; his perspective takes him to a weird place that’s something between a detached critic and a zealot Honda boy who doesn’t care for things like the S2000 or the Civic, si senor? I mean, which Honda boy doesn’t? So he isn’t one. Maybe until the 4-door ones come out :).
The first vendor we hit up greeted us over the PA with slightly accented English followed by “Konnichiwa, Minnasama” and the Japanese (for service?) was pretty surreal. Sadly most of their new Nissan models were the preproduction 2007 line, so we can’t even sit in them. The new Sentra GTR is way better than what my friend Steve drives, that said. I spotted the infamous X-Box360-mobile and took a shot, failing to locate the sweet new GTR prototype… That didn’t really bother us, all said and done. Infiniti’s simple offering reveals just how badass the M35/45 are when it comes to interior pimpage. So nice. We sat in the Q after that and the design just wasn’t up to standard with the new M’s. In retrospect we should’ve came back to Nissan some more, but oh well.
Toyota and Lexus offers much the same. Avalon is still a nice old fogie car, and it really makes you wonder if getting something like the new ES or GS is worth it. They are nicer, but are they worth the tags? The new LS is definitely really nice, but I don’t know if I can really appreciate the difference. In any event you can’t help but to compare them with the Infiniti M45…still doesn’t match up. And now that there’s no more MR2 or Celica, Toyota is eh.
Of course, the bad boys of Europe still offer the most affordable (at least they let you sit in the cars), top-of-the-line luxury. The innards of a Mercedes S550 is still remarkable. The BMW 650 is nice, but not that nice; considering they’re almost the same price-wise, eh. I’ll stick to a BMW 550 or just go for the M6. Which looks just like a M5 from the inside. They really like them paddle shifters, too! It’s in like every damn car.
We grazed through some of the American offerings on the top level. Woo Pontiac. Woo Dodge Woo Saturn. Woo Chrysler. The new ‘vette is not new anymore, so that’s pretty boring. They still don’t let you sit inside the viper. The Charger Super Bee is the cutest muscle car I’ve ever seen, and I think they’re copying the interior from the Mustangs, or something.
Around the bend and through what’s left of Saab is the land of Ford. Well, besides THEM APPLES. Mmmm apples. The A3 is as expected, and if you can bring the price tag down by a few notches it would really be a nice car to own for yuppies. Yuppies with paddle shifters and DSG and nice zoom-zoom…hmm. The Q7 is crap, that said; you would expect a high-end consumer label from Europe to pimp their ride better.
Before I forget I should also mention we breezed through Honda somewhere back there. We played black magic with the Fit’s back seats and we did the same with several other hatchback small-fries. I think a couple other cars came pretty close, like the A3, but dang, the Fit is Go–go stuff the hell out of it. Then again, the Aveo still starts a couple G’s below (even if it evens out once you add the safety options).
But yes, the land of Ford. And there is like, 20 Mustangs out there. All it did was confuse me because they all look different, some are even modded. I was like, “zomg where is the Shelby Mustang?” Oh, not that. Well, not too much excitement; we spent more time looking at the new sedans. Mazda wasn’t too exciting either; sat in the Shinka and the MX-5… it is more refined. I was kinda surprised at the Pontiac Solstice; the GXP model has like 350HP or something, and it looks just like a meaner MX-5 (with hardtop!) that cost just a tad more. It’s definitely an American alternative. Copying? It’s always good to have options at that level; even if when the newer cars can also be like crap (relatively), like the Saturn Sky Redline. All the more makes this really pretty baby hopeful. Com’on Mazda, you can do it!
Volvo is still boring, that said. I sat in a Lincoln Town & Country for a breather. Then I realized luxury only makes impression when you can excel at something truly special. Like having a mad amount of interior room; or awesome console design and ergonomics? Super leather work (yeah, Jag XK is badass)! Which automatically brings me back to the M.
Downstairs are where the trucks and SUVs are, plus some of the other vendors like Mitsubishi, Kia, Subaru, and VW. We did the tour fairly fast; played backseat magic with Sienna and Odyssey. And then there was ZOMG WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? The boothlady was doing a spiel on the new Dodge concept, which seemed to be the way they’re going. It’s basically out-Ridgeline the Ridgeline. Now that’s free market economics at its best. If you’re a car critic that rated the Ridgeline to be some badass thing even if everyone else you know bought a damned Avalanche, thank you. I look forward to hearing about the Rampage.
Some other notables include the VW Eon. It felt like something in between a Jetta and a low-end Passat. I guess if you think the TT isn’t for you, this will fit the bill. And yeah, paddles and DSG… Speaking of which, the GTI interior is rather nice, so if you’re looking to do that, you have my blessing.
The new WRX is more refined; but that doesn’t mean very much. The new Eclipse is also more refined…and that also doesn’t mean very much. The other surprise, as far as refinement goes, is the Subaru Tribeca. I always despised the car because it’s got an ugly rear, but the inside is really pimp. It almost reminded me some of the German copycats like the Mercedes R. For 3 and a half grand it’s a good deal. On the other hand the Kia Amanti went up in price but dropped a bunch of interior niceties. It also marks the first time I put my butt in a Rio. It’s not too bad.
We looked at some pickups, walked inside a Sprinter–my dad has some weird attachment to that car–took some pictures at the Toyota Nascar thing (just for you Zek!) and call it a day. We’ll skip the marketing up on the third floor and head home. Well, that’s not before stopping by Scion (they always have fun prototypes) by parking my rear in a tC and the Mazda thing outside across the street from Javits Center.
Kero-Chan Check style list:
- Best Luxury Offering: Infiniti M45. Sweet design wins the day.
- Most Innovative Vehicle: Dodge Rampage. Hopefully beating the Ridgeline
- Best Prototype: Mazda Kabura. I want it already~
- Biggest Crowd: Ford. People like them. They be from da hoods, yo!
- Best Value: Pontaic Solstice, Porche Cayman S. I didn’t know they were so “cheap”!
- Coolest Car: Audi RS4. Dang, man.
- Interesting New Pick: Acura RDX. It’s CR-V Si.
- Best Looking Car: Charger Super Bee, Audi S4. I’m a sucker for classic.
- What’s In: paddle shifters, GPS
- What’s Out: gadgets, exotics and pure sports.
- What’s missing: Nissan GTR prototype, the new Lamborghini