2016 New York International Auto Show: Talk of the town

By KBB.com Editors on March 17, 2016 1:45 PM

As the last major auto show of the season, the New York International Auto Show has a lot to say about the state of the industry. On the table in New York are comings and goings of various nameplates, the industry’s drive for better fuel economy kicking into high gear and the growing importance of the mid-cycle refresh in keeping the sales ball rolling.

Toyota in the spotlight

It’s hard to believe that it was just two years ago that Toyota unveiled the mid-cycle refresh of the 2015 Camry in an effort to give this mainstay family sedan a boost in the market. Since then, rivals including the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata have either introduced totally redesigned or facelifted versions underscoring the importance of keeping products fresh. Toyota is relying on a similar strategy for its 2017 Highlander crossover SUV, which will sport a new look and features.  New York will also serve as a curtain call for the Scion brand, which will wind down at the end of the current model year. There is a final Scion tC Rlease Series bowing at the show as Toyota announces its strategy of renaming the models that will carry over. The Scion FR-S becomes the 2017 Toyota 86, which pays homage to the original rear-drive AE86 Corolla and the recently introduced iM wagon becomes the 2017 Corolla iM and the iA sedan is dubbed the Yaris iA.

More mileage

As manufacturers look towards the 2025 deadline to achieve 54.5 mpg in Corporate Average Fuel Economy, the pace of introductions of plug-in hybrids as well as models with fewer cylinders begins to quicken. At the show, Hyundai will have the North American debut of the Ioniq line to counter the Prius, adding that it will include hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure EV options, while Mitsubishi will show its Outlander plug-in hybrid. The new 4-cylinder version of the Porsche Macan SUV, as well as the North American debut of the flat-four powered 718 Boxster, underscores the fact that even high end sports car companies are reducing cylinder count to boost fuel economy.

Mid-cycle madness

Beyond the revamped Toyota Highlander, other vehicles getting a mid-cycle refresh include most notably the Acura MDX, which will have a new nose to reflect a shift in styling direction at Honda’s upscale brand. Mercedes-Benz is also revealing a fresher face and new features on its entry level CLA-Class and Volvo will have a new model in its XC90 lineup, the Excellence, a luxury 4-seat version of its North American Truck/Utility of the Year winner. Nissan will also be playing the refresh game with a new version of its GT-R supercar.

There will still be some old fashioned all-new models revealed, the most notable is the 2017 Subaru Impreza, a new Hyundai Genesis sport sedan concept, and high performance version of the Chevrolet Camaro in the form of the track-ready ZL1. All this and a few surprises are in store, so check back on our continuing coverage.