Yes, there are a few cars, but SUVs are capturing most of the headlines at this year’s New York International Auto Show. Automakers are shoring up gaps in their SUV lineups and revamping models that already are popular in the hottest-selling part of the U.S. market.
Leading the way is Toyota with an all-new RAV4 compact SUV, which last year was the most popular vehicle in the U.S. that isn’t a truck. There are also new SUVs coming from Subaru, Volkswagen, Acura, Cadillac and Lincoln.
There won’t be many cars. Nissan is showing off a redesigned Altima midsize sedan, while Toyota is rolling out a new Corolla hatchback (see Page D2). Kia is uveiling a new K900 big luxury sedan, among others.
Volkswagen put a toe into the Detroit-dominated pickup truck market with concept built on extended Atlas SUV underpinnings. But SUVs, which hit a record 43 percent of U.S. sales last year at just over 7.3 million, according to Kelley Blue Book, are stealing the show.
Here are some wheels to watch as the 10-day show continues through Sunday, April 8, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan:
ACURA RDX: Honda’s luxury brand telegraphed the new entry in the red-hot luxury midsize SUV market with a concept vehicle unveiled in January. Now it’s displaying the production version in New York. The revamped RDX gets a new chassis for better ride and handling. The distance between the wheels is 2.6 inches longer for more cargo and passenger space. Its old V-6 engine is replaced by a 272-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor, mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 RDX is due in dealers by the middle of this year.
TOYOTA RAV4: Toyota sold almost 408,000 RAV4 compact SUVs last year, making it the new American family car and the top-selling vehicle in the nation aside from Detroit’s popular big pickups. In an effort to stay on top, Toyota is revamping the RAV for the 2019 model year. The fifth-generation comes on all-new underpinnings that the company says will give it better handling and a smoother ride. It’s also slightly wider and a little lower. New looks are more chiseled and athletic, and the distance between the wheels grows by 1.2 inches for more passenger and cargo space. It comes standard with Toyota’s safety system that includes automatic emergency braking. It’s powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed transmission, or a 2.5-liter gas-electric hybrid system with a continuously variable transmission. The new RAV hits showrooms in the fall.
SUBARU FORESTER: An all-new 2019 Forester compact SUV will go head-to-head with Toyota’s top-selling RAV4. The fifth-generation also gets a new chassis for better ride, handling and crash protection. It’s powered by a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with fuel-saving technology that shuts it off at stop lights. That’s up from 170 horses in the current version. Subaru estimates it will get 33 miles per gallon on the highway. It also has a continuously variable transmission that keeps the engine revving at efficient speeds. The distance between the wheels grows by 1.2 inches to give the Forester more rear-seat legroom. Headroom, hip and shoulder room also grow. All versions get standard safety features including automatic pre-collision braking. The new version hits showrooms later this year.
CADILLAC XT4: The compact SUV is now the largest part of the U.S. market, and Cadillac hasn’t had a product to offer — until now. The new XT4 is built on underpinnings specifically designed for the Cadillac brand and comes with sculpted looks and an interior that Cadillac says is luxurious and spacious. The company says it will have segment-leading back-seat legroom. It’s powered by a 237 horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission that will get an estimated 30 miles per gallon on the highway. The XT4 is available in the fall and starts at $35,790, including shipping.
LINCOLN AVIATOR: Ford’s luxury brand finally gets an Explorer-like midsize SUV with three rows of seats to compete in the hot luxury SUV market. It will have a twin-turbo engine of undisclosed size as well as a plug-in hybrid option. Ford says it will have tapered lines and a roomy interior. It also gets standard safety features such as automatic emergency braking and can be opened and started with a smart phone. The Aviator goes on sale sometime next year.
VOLKSWAGEN ATLAS CROSS SPORT CONCEPT: Volkswagen broadens its growing SUV lineup with a five-seat version of the three-row Atlas. The company calls the Atlas Cross Sport a concept, but it’s almost ready to be built at the automaker’s U.S. factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. The new version is 7.5 inches shorter than the seven-seat Atlas. The concept is powered by a 355-horsepower plug-in hybrid system with a V-6 gasoline engine and a battery that can take it 26 miles on electric power. The hybrid concept can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, VW says. There’s also a “mild hybrid” with 310-horsepower from a V-6 and a smaller hybrid battery. The SUV is due in showrooms sometime next year. Mileage and price were not announced. Florida Times