SUVs take center stage at New York Auto Show – USA TODAY
NEW YORK — Crossovers of all sizes and prices will be unveiled this week at the New York Auto Show as automakers scramble to fulfill a seemingly endless demand.
Whether it’s Maserati with the Levante — the first SUV ever built by the Italian brand — promising the finest leather and Italian silk for about $73,000, or a special blacked-out version of the GMC Terrain called Nightfall, there should be an SUV or crossover for everybody.
Buick is planning to reveal an updated version of the Encore, its most popular model, while Acura will reveal its redesigned MDX seven-passenger crossover, its most popular vehicle. And Japan’s No. 1 automaker won’t be left out of the SUV party. Toyota will reveal an update of its popular Highlander SUV with a new engine, transmission and a more aggressive grille.
Lincoln and Jeep also plan to reveal new crossovers or SUVs this week.
The plethora of crossovers and SUVs is driven by low gas prices as well as the good looks, functionality and improved fuel economy of vehicles automakers have been developing.
In New York, automakers always go to impress journalists. The New York In
ternational Auto Show is among the biggest automotive events in the world.
The public days of the New York show draw more than 1 million attendees every year, giving organizers the ability to claim that it is the biggest auto show in the U.S.
While the show’s official news conferences don’t start until Wednesday, automakers — including General Motors, Honda, Maserati, Nissan, Lincoln, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota, Volkswagen — all will host private events throughout the week where they will unveil vehicles, hold driving demonstrations or just host journalists and automotive analysts at networking functions.
The North American International Auto Show in Detroit, in contrast, typically draws about 800,000 attendees during public days. The Detroit auto show typically draws more reporters and a larger number of important product reveals, but New York is not far behind.
The New York show is known as the best place for luxury automakers to showcase because the Big Apple is the biggest market for luxury cars in the U.S. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover hope to make a big splash. Mercedes, for instance, will come in with a high-performance version of one of its SUVs, the Mercedes-AMG GLC43.
But the No. 1 story will be the proliferation of new, updated or special-edition crossovers and SUVs as gas prices still hover around $2 per gallon nationally.
SUVs that will be revealed this week in New York include: Acura MDX, Buick Encore, GMC Terrain, a Jeep SUV, a performance version of the Mercedes-Benz GLC and the Toyota Highlander.
“It’s definitely a reaction to consumer demand,” said Dave Sullivan, an automotive analyst for Auto Pacific.
Sullivan said a number of automakers are updating models that are three to four years old to keep them looking fresh and new.
“If you look at the product life cycle for many of these crossovers, many of them were originally introduced in 2012 or 2013,” Sullivan said. “It’s just time for some of these crossovers to be updated.”
Some of the new vehicles that will be shown, such as the GMC Terrain Nightfall, show how automakers are trying to capitalize on the crossover craze. The vehicle will go on sale this fall and joins the Canyon Nightfall Edition and the all-new Sierra All Terrain X as the latest GMC vehicle to offer a personalized appearance with the Terrain’s premium features.
“This is the practical side of the automotive business, where automakers launch the cars and trucks people want,” Sullivan said.
In 2015, compact crossovers and SUVs accounted for 14% of new car sales, edging out midsize sedans, which accounted for 13.6% of the market. In 2016, analysts say they expect the popularity of small and midsize crossovers to grow while the midsize sedans and small cars continue to shrink.
The Buick Encore crossover reveal will take place Tuesday in the trendy Chelsea district in Manhattan. Lincoln also is hosting a media event in Chelsea but hasn’t said what it plans to reveal.
Maserati already showed its $72,000 Levante in Geneva last month, but this will be the first time the big SUV will show in North America.
But the show won’t be exclusively about crossovers.
Nissan released a teaser image last week of its next-generation GT-R super car while Chevrolet is getting ready to unveil the next-generation Camaro ZL1.
Meanwhile Subaru, the automaker best known for its crossovers, will reveal its next-generation Impreza midsize car.