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4 Reasons Why Drivers Are Still The #1 Priority For Automakers

Take that autonomous cars.

This past week was a big one for the world of cars. The New York Auto Show was the obvious mile marker for the mainstream auto industry. All of the reveals and automaker interviews don’t only serve to get us drooling for the next batch of cars, they also help us to get a better glimpse of where the auto industry is headed in the near future. Between SUVs, convertibles, performance models, and improvements on entry-level cars, things seem to be looking good for drivers.

Unsurprisingly, SUVs stole a decent portion of the spotlight at New York. With late 2015 and early 2016 offering low gas prices, SUVs have gotten just the jolt they need to outsell the car. The most surprising answer to the call for mobile living rooms was the Lincoln Navigator Concept. Okay, so realistically there’s no way Lincoln will build the thing with gullwing doors unless they’re competing with the Model X, but it shows that Lincoln is taking SUVs seriously. Other appearances included the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, and the Maserati Levante SUV, which helped to show the world that the segment isn't going nowhere despite tighter emissions regulations.

Performance cars of all kinds, but especially the convertible variety, had a field day as well. Mazda revealed the Miata RF (Retractable Fastback) as an attractive hardtop that can lap a racetrack and enjoy sunny skies at the same time. Even Chevrolet surprised the Big Apple with a 640 horsepower topless Hellcat fighter, the Camaro ZL1 convertible. AMG took the wraps off of two versions of the first ever C-Class cabrio. One was the C63 AMG and the other was the C43 AMG, which were two of many in an army of other AMG cars that made it to New York. These cars highlighted Mercedes’ plan to thickly line their pockets on the chrome three-letter badges, even though it seems like they won’t need much help.

The reveal of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 provided Chevy’s answer to the truly epic Mustang Shelby GT350. Meanwhile, a facelift and slight power boost featured on the refreshed Nissan GT-R only proved that the Nissan engineers did things right the first time because they didn’t need to spend too much time on a refresh even ten years into production. A GT3-branded Acura NSX also offered a potential glimpse into what the NSX Type-R would look like. This helped to show that Acura acknowledges the fact that not all purists were too happy with the hybrid drivetrain and $100k plus price tag on the new NSX. While these three cars are not likely to compete with each other, they highlight big steps forward for each manufacturer.

On the lower end of the price spectrum, cars like the refreshed Kia Cadenza and the Hyundai Genesis concept are drawing attention to the rise of Korea’s auto industry by proving that their cars can compete with Germany and Japan and are no longer for those on extreme budgets. Hyundai has done a better job at shedding the cheap car image with unique badges for the Genesis, but this was necessary in order to make a car that could keep up with the BMW 3 Series. A refreshed Acura MDX is Honda's latest attempt to try and steal away some of Lexus' huge sales numbers. Meanwhile, the Civic Si hatchback teased by Honda was a delightful way to learn that cheap Hondas will still be fun.

All of these things mean good news for gearheads. It seems as if cars will be keeping their high-power power plants in an era of downsizing and reaching for better MPG ratings. Increasing the number of luxury options is becoming more of a priority for all automakers from Aston Martin to Kia, and this means we can expect more awesome auto show reveals and a migration of well-designed cars from the top of the automotive totem pole all the way to the bottom. Despite the rise of autonomous cars, the New York Auto Show and recent revelations by automakers show that the person sitting in the driver’s seat is still a huge priority for automakers.

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