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Thread: 2015 New York Auto Show Results/Discussion :-P

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    2015 New York Auto Show Results/Discussion :-P

    I went with my most petrol-headed friend on Good Friday, the first day it was open to the public. For starters, 99% of the cars were unlocked, much to our delight. There was no hint of the garbage from 2013 when even Toyotas were sealed up. We had a three hour limit because I had six hours of classes early in the day (why?) and he had to get somewhere shortly after dinner. Translation: I have to go back to see every brand. I didn't even get to sniff Subaru, GM, Ford, and many others. I'll go in the order of brands we stopped by:


    Yota is pretty much everything you'd expect these days, save for styling on a few models that may be mildly offensive to some. I personally like the looks of the Avalon and Highlander the most in-person, while I'm indifferent to the likes of Carolla and Camry. The cars are now all moderately well-built-- no more sharp-edged plastics that will cut you as you get in and out, and no more snap-on/snap-off interior components that allow you to remove entire console and door panels with little effort.

    The refreshed Camry was quite nice inside, actually. The dashboard is more solid than before, the front door cards are quite a bit nicer in their materials and layout, and the whole thing felt quite a bit more solidly screwed together. The leather in the XLE was surprisingly nice-- recalling Lexus-- and the leather/alcantara combination seats of the XSE reminded me of some SEL Volkswagens. But I have to be honest and still rank it near the bottom of the segment. The rear door panels, for example, even in the high-trim XLE and XSE display models, are almost entirely hard plastic. You get a soft arm rest at waist-level, and a tiny padded section in the center of the door, and that's it! I have heard that LE models are ALL hard Fischer-Price plastic back there except for the arm rest. The cabin's carpeting was as thin and rough as you'll find. The headliner felt like sand paper-- perhaps the one part of a Camry interior that you might still injure yourself on. Toyota, this is not a "killer interior." They still have a lot to learn from the Koreans, VW, Mazda, and even the Big Three. But it is an improvement.

    The Carolla right off the bat looked a bit wierd to me (I've seen them outside and they look better there), but at least it elicits some type of reaction. I do like the front end, with its headlight eyebrows, small restrained grille and horizontal themes. The funky C-pillar is far more digestible to me than some of the awkward new Lexi. Surprisingly, the stance and wheel fitment is not too bad, unlike many others in the compact economy segment. The interior is GREAT and like its Avalon and Highlander brothers, is a sign that Toyota is starting to give a damn about fit and finish again. I honestly like this interior more than the Camry's in terms of materials and build. Everything is rock-solid, the dash upper is all stitched leatherette, and unlike the Camry, it does not give when you press on it. It feels pseudo-German. The door panels, front and rear, both follow the annoying trend of having hard plastic upper sections, but most of the rest is refreshingly soft, with big, cushy, lovingly stitched arm rests. The faux leather in the uplevel trims felt fine, and overall, I got a very nice feeling sitting in this car. The rear seat leg room is very impressive. HOWEVER, I could not purchase and drive this car. I'm 6'3'', and with the front seat all the way back and steering wheel all the way up, I could not fit without banging my thighs and knees on the column. I guess I just found out where they got that rear seat legroom.

    I've already detailed the Avalon and Highlander, but suffice to say that their interiors are excellent and the exteriors look a lot nicer to my eyes than prior generations. The new Maxima may owe the Avalon something when it comes to slathering the entire cabin in soft, supple, stitched surfaces as if it were a poor-man's C-class. I didn't bother with the Priuses (Prii?) because no one I know wants one. The one friend who had one hated it and traded up to a Lexus RX450. I was really interested in the other SUVs, especially my beloved Land Cruiser, but I will have to return to see those. We ran out of time.

    One thing that made me smirk and chuckle was how try-hard Toyota was to mask itself as "sporty!" Yeah, I get it, the newer models drive much better than before. And lo!-- is that a double-wishbone front suspension on the Highlander?!?! What happened to MacPherson and his glorious struts? But some of the attempts are hilariously contrived, like the quasi-Predator grille on the Camry SE, or the slammed white Avalon on black 19s. Yeah, sorry, but no one's going to mistake that for a Maserati.


    What a difference from the old days! I remember when you couldn't get into Ze Germans without proving you were worth 7 figures. Now, any slob can get into Maeratis! These cars were on an elevated platform with a narrow entrance ramp leading up to it. It sort of made you feel like you were "above" the other show attendees.

    We sat in the Ghibli first, which was quite delicious. Yes, it's the size of a 3-series and costs $20k more, but it's a significantly nicer interior than what you'll find in that segment, C-class excepted. There was a liberal use of nice, soft materials throughout, fantastic leather and wood panelling, and a surprisingly nice build quality given the hit-or-miss reputation that Italian brands have. Everything was as you'd expect from a European marquee-- near-perfect driving position, great ergonomics, and a sporty feel to the cockpit. The car is wide, and feels that way.

    Then we tried the Quattroporte, which I had sat in for the first time last year in Chicago. Good God is this interior wonderful. The feeling of fine finishes from the Ghibli is increased by a factor of 10. The leather is butter, the alcantara headliner was the plushest thing you've ever felt, and overall the materials were just fantastic. However, it did not feel quite as tight in build as the Audis and Benzes we sat in, nor did it have the extent of precise, metal switch gear of those vehicles, the MB cars in particular.


    This is where the you-know-what got real! My friend is a little bit of an Audi fan, and even he said that they were more impressive than he expected. With the exception of Mercedes-Benz, nothing else at the show felt so much like it was built from Mayan stones. The solidity of these cars is from another world. Forget shutting the door-- just the act of opening one, of grasping and pulling the exterior handle, gives one the impression of heavy, durable, precise machinery. We sat in the A3, S4, A6, S6, A8, and Q7. While those higher up the line had nicer interior trimmings, every single one had this fantastic sense of build quality. Nothing in the interiors would bend or give when you applied pressure to it. The switches-- even the turn signal and wiper stalks-- were all weighty, and moved with a precise, well-oiled motion that is hard to describe. It just felt like a million bucks.

    I am a midsize sedan guy, so the A6 was my favorite of this bunch. It was that "just right" size, and the aura of the interior and driving position when you first get in is the closest match for my beloved E-class that I can find. Everything just feels PERFECT-- the visibility, the ergonomics, the materials, the spaciousness (just enough to feel airy, but not so much that you lose a sense of a cockpit)-- damn, this cabin must have been obsessively slaved over by the engineers. Pictures do not do any Audi interior justice. If Infiniti wants to ape something for the next Q70, I'd say look no further than the latest Audi and MB cabins.

    The A8 was much like the A8, but bigger and more expensive-feeling. I honestly think that this is the only one approaching the new W222 S-class in quality. As such, the Mercedes is still significantly nicer, but this really exposes the 7-series and Lexus LS as being outdated and not "premium" enough. Most who are in-the-know understand that A8s have been using alcantara on the door cards to complement the leather and wood inserts, and I must say that this is the BEST application of such a design. It looks and feels a bit haphazard in the Cadillac CTS, but in the A8, the proportions and grade of the materials are just right. The buttons/switches in the A8 are mostly metal and felt uber-expensive, similar to the S-class, but there are a few here that are plastic while the S goes insane by throwing metal-everything at you (as if it were a Rolls or Bentley). The rear seat is immense, with power recline, heating/cooling controls, etc. Basically everything you don't need, but want, is present. A nice touch in this segment is how they affix an elegantly curved wood veneer to the front seat backs. One last thing that stood out with the A8 (and the S-class) is how the trunk is finished better than the cabins of most $30,000 cars, with the plushest carpeting imaginable, aluminum kick plates, and solid metal cargo hooks.

    (to be continued after I get fat off of Easter/Passover dinners)
    Last edited by JayG35; 04-04-2015 at 04:58 PM.

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