We've been reporting from the show floor, but get your crossover recap here.
The 2019 New York Auto Show is a predictably heavy crossover affair. Love them or hate them, it’s impossible to deny that public demand is showing little sign of letting up. As a result, we’re getting some really good vehicles from the industry heavyweights and some outside the box thinking from the brands that need to be creative to push themselves forward.
Plug-in electric vehicles may still be a tiny corner of the market, but now the technology can support larger vehicles, automakers are swinging for the fences with both production and concept vehicles, and new players are going all out to wow everyone. At the time of writing, and barring no big surprises, these are the most interesting crossovers to hit the floor at the 2019 New York Auto Show.
The Jaguar I-Pace swept it’s through the New York Auto Show to pick up awards for the triple whammy of best design, best green car award, and best overall vehicle. Jaguar Director of Design Ian Callum accepted the award saying, "In my 40 years in this business, this is my Oscar moment.”
If you looked at the Hyundai Kona and thought it was a little big for you and the name wasn’t odd enough, then the Hyundai Venue is now here. It becomes Hyundai’s smallest crossover by being 5 inches shorter than the already small Kona. It’s also going to be Hyundai’s cheapest crossover, although the company hasn’t announced the exact price yet.
The 4th generation of Toyota Highlander is here and, although it’s all new, it follows the evolutionary roadmap of previous generations. The extra length has gone straight to the cargo area but still leaves the Highlander as one of the smaller mid-sized crossovers available and suggests that Toyota knows its customers find the size a good balance of comfort, drivability, and practicality. The big news is that Toyota is dropping the underpowered 4-cylinder engine and the 2020 Highlander will be offered with either a 3.5-liter V6 engine or a new hybrid powertrain.
The Habiniro concept electric crossover was conceived and designed by the Kia Design Center America in California. It also comes accompanied by a press release filled with enough confusing acronyms and important sounding, yet vague, declarations to make even the most hardened auto journalists raise an eyebrow. Kia’s Habiniro concept looks to slot into "a whole new category of mobility” as "the Everything Car” (ECEV) by being a "fully-electric, all-wheel drive, four-seat wonder car” that, amusingly, also "can’t be so easily defined.”
In the metal, the Habaniro is the same length as the existing Niro but taller and a lot wider. The most interesting thing to us is Kia’s Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving (R.E.A.D.) system that uses artificial intelligence and what they call "biosignal recognition” to check out the driver’s emotional state and can "alter conditions related to the human senses within the cabin”. Whether that means the interior lighting goes red and the sound system starts playing Norwegian death metal during a road rage incident or not, we still don't know.
Ford’s unveiling of the new Escape means Lincoln showing off its new luxury crossover that replaces the MKC. Despite being on the Escape’s platform, there’s little to give that away in the bodywork, but it is blatantly apparent its looks are based around being a smaller version of the Aviator. Inside, the interior is also based on the same layout as larger Lincolns and that’s a good thing. There are unique touches though, like the inverted center stack that juts out unsupported from the dashboard and the full-width air vent.
The Corsair’s base engine is the Escape’s top option 240 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. Like the Escape, the Corsair is a front-wheel drive but the all-wheel-drive option is able to shift 100% of power to the rear or disengage from the rear completely for improved efficiency. There's also some smart new tech available.
The third generation of GLS has arrived and brings a softer and more elegant look. However, the GLS is larger and carries an even bigger stick now in the form of more power, luxury, and technology. The GLS will come in two flavors, the 450 4MATIC and the 580 4MATIC. The 450 is to be powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 362 horsepower while the other engine is a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 making 483 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque.
According to Mercedes, its EQ Boost technology using the 48-volt onboard electrical system and integrated starter generator that recoups energy will also be able to add extra torque and horsepower for short burst of time. Both versions will come with revised air suspension and active damping while having the option for E-Active Body Control to further refine spring and damping forces and keep the chassis level during acceleration and cornering.
Rivian has shown up at the New York Auto Show with "The world’s first electric adventure vehicles” and is getting a lot of headlines and generating a Tesla style wave of enthusiasm. The company has also been taking $1,000 deposits on cars not in production yet and before announcing a final price. The difference here is that Rivian has been building itself up patiently and quietly over the past 10 years to get to this point and are dedicated to the singular goal of making electric vehicles.
The R1S SUV and the R1T make no bones about being high-end vehicles loaded with tech and a huge 180 kWh battery pack that is expected to deliver around 400 miles of range. Pricing is now reported to start at $69,000 for the truck and $72,500 for the SUV before incentives, and both are expected to go into production in 2020.
Whether you consider it a crossover or just a lifted station wagon, Subaru’s Outback has a defined formula. Permanent symmetrical all-wheel drive for capability, a roomy interior and cargo space for versatility, and a toned down look so it’ll appeal to buyers with a more conservative taste. The new generation is a refinement of the formula that includes a dramatic increase in the chassis and suspension’s torsional rigidity that also brings the benefit of safety in front and side impacts. The suspension is also promised to be a lighter and more capable and features new hollow sway bars.
This generation also sees multiple XT trim levels that all come with a 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer engine and the 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine has been retired from the lineup. All 2020 Outback trims get EyeSight Driver Assist Technology as standard and features adaptive cruise control and lane-centering but pricing hasn’t been announced yet.
We’ve already seen it online, but the new Audi Q3 made its US debut in New York to pick up where the previous generation left off. It comes in at $2,000 more than its predecessor, and all trim levels get the same slightly more powerful 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder making 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
If you’re one of the people that’s been waiting for a diesel-powered CX-5, you’ll be pleased to know Mazda unveiled it at the 2019 New York Auto Show. However, it’s only initially coming in the higher-end CX-5 Signature AWD trim package. It’s part of what Mazda is calling its "path to premium,” but we’re wondering about that strategy using diesel. It sounds like a tough sell at a premium level to us, but Mazda seems to be looking more at the Japanese market here.
The Skyactiv-D 2.2 engine uses a sequential twin turbocharger, meaning a smaller turbo engages at lower RPM for throttle response while a larger turbo spools up at a higher RPM so power is delivered smooth and consistently. It’s reported that fuel economy is 27 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway and 28 mpg combined, which is… not impressive. The torque is 290 lb-ft delivered at a low 2,000 rpm so for people that tow their toys around, that could be the justification they need to take a test drive.
The Escape made its US debut as well. It appears Ford has gone for a softer and curvier looking design to separate it from it's bolder counterparts like the upcoming Bronco. Inside, things are more relaxed as well while sharing elements from the full-sized Explorer and rear passengers get an extra two inches of leg room. The seat is also now on rails so it can slide forward to give more cargo space. Options inside is where things also get interesting with 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with a pop-up head-up display that projects behind the steering wheel.
Base models get a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine with a surprising 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. The larger engine is a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder with 250 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Both the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models have liquid cooled batteries to help keep temperatures consistent.
Volkswagen may have discontinued its Touareg SUV for the US market, but its spirit lives on with the Atlas. More specifically, the Atlast Basecamp Concept. This SUV was designed specifically for the outdoor types who love mountain biking and hiking. It has a go-anywhere attitude. New additions include a set of fiteen52 Traverse XM Concept wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, a custom body kit courtesy of Air Design, and an H&R lift kit with coilover springs that increases ride height by around 1.5 inches.
VW also tacked on a roof rack system with bike holders and off-road LED light bars front and rear. Finished in Platinum Gray and Black Uni with a matte finish and orange accents, the Atlas Basecamp could very well become a production vehicle. After all, the 3.6-liter VR6 engine with 276 hp is exactly the same one you can buy on the top-of-the-line Atlas SEL Premium trim.