The curtain rises on the New York Auto Show this week with the usual Broadway scene-stealers: Finely tuned supercars with deep baritone pipes, gorgeous luxury sedans, land yachts as tall as skyscrapers. But like a Shakespeare play, there will be plenty of meat for the masses at the Jacob J. Javitz Convention Center including a dragstrip-ready Dodge Demon and a track-ready Jeep Grand Cherokee.
To keep customers coming to the box office, automakers are introducing new variations of popular crossovers at the show which opens to the public on Saturday.
Luxury crossovers in particular will have their day in spotlight: Shoppers from the Empire State and California buy a quarter of all luxury vehicles sold in the U.S, according to IHS Automotive. New York City alone accounts for 14 percent of national luxury sales, so Javits — like the Los Angeles Show in the fall — is an epicenter for pricey new toys.
Buick has been setting the auto world on fire in recent shows with the introduction of gorgeous car concepts like the Avenir and Avista. But it’s innovative SUVs that have redefined the brand. The wraps will be taken off the second generation of the full-sized Enclave SUV this week. A new Avenir edition should take Buick to a new level of luxury.
Buick’s successful risks in the sport-utility segment have emboldened it with sedans, too. The Regal Sportback and TourX, unveiled last week at GM headquarters to dropping jaws, will make their public debuts in New York. The slinky, five-door hatchback and wagon designs deserve billing alongside the BMW Gran Sport hatch and Volvo V90 Cross Country wagon.
Lincoln is expected to introduce the latest generation of the Navigator full-size SUV. Three New York blocks long and taller than Radio City Music Hall, the big Lincoln will be hard to miss.
Infiniti is teasing its big hunk, the QX80 sport ute concept, with a refreshed wardrobe for its plus-sized bod.
“The incredible popularity of SUVs and crossovers right now make even niche models a worthwhile risk,” says Edmunds auto analyst Ed Hellwig. “These variants create a winning scenario for automakers: They require minimal additional R&D investment, are typically very profitable and create a halo effect that has the potential to boost sales across the entire model line.”
Landing in the middle of New York’s sparkling pool of luxury will be two cannonballs from Detroit: the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
Dodge has been teasing weekly hints of a Hellcat successor (isn’t 707 horsepower enough?) with short videos previewing details of its new Demon. It will debut Tuesday night before the show. You’ll hear its roar from the Hudson River all the way to Detroit.
The Trackhawk, meanwhile, gets stuffed with the Hellcat’s 707-horse engine and will hit a top speed of 180. That should get the kids to soccer in time.
Javits’ first-class seats are more crowded than ever as new brands like Genesis try to carve out sales in a space defined by Mercedes and BMW. Hyundai’s luxury division rocked the show in 2016 with a “New York” concept (naturally) meant to show the design future for the fledgling brand. Genesis will debut an all-new sequel to that show-stopper this year.
Mercedes will not rest on its laurels as it unwraps a squadron of new cars: the Mercedes AMG GLC, Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet, Mercedes AMG GT, and a sedan concept
The GLC compact SUVs are particularly noteworthy on how much popular compact utes are now getting the same sport trimmings as sedans that were once the Europeans’ bread and butter. The GLC and GLC Coupe will both get the Mercedes AMG performance badge complete with insane, 4-liter biturbo V-8 engines producing up to 503 horsepower.
After a much lamented styling detour that stuck Acura with the infamous “bottle-opener grille,” Acura is re-making the brand from its Precision design concept introduced in Detroit a year ago. The TLX sedan will showcase the latest Acura design look, first seen on it MDX crossover last year
Amidst all the Broadway glitz and muscle, some smaller-size players will also get their time in the spotlight.
Honda will drop yet another variation of the all-new Civic: the Si sports coupe and sedan. The Si is a young motorhead’s wall poster come to life with a rear wing and huge front air scoops feeding a 205-horsepower turbo under the hood.
Subaru will show an all-new version of the Crosstrek crossover which has vaulted to stardom in crossover-crazed America. Basically a jacked-up Impreza wagon that debuted at last year’s New York Show, the Crosstrek is built on the same global platform and gains significant technology upgrades like smartphone apps. The Japanese maker will also show a refreshed version of its popular Outback wagon.
Other expected reveals of note:
■Porsche will drop not one, but four U.S. premieres this week including the 911 GTS, 911 GT3, Panamera Sport Turismo and Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. Jaguar’s F-Type, too, will purr into town with a minor tweaks to designer Ian Callum’s coupe masterpiece.
■Toyota will reveal its FT-4X urban utility concept. Hyundai and Volkswagen will stick to basics with a refreshed versions of their Sonata and Golf cars.
■The Mercedes E-class cabriolet will get four-wheel drive for the first time – in addition to the expected headrest heaters.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at email@example.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.