New York Auto Show 2017: New cars to range from zero-emission to drag-race ready

The 2017 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) opens to media on 12 April. In this report, IHS Markit looks at the expected car introductions, from the drag-racing Dodge Challenger SRT Demon to the zero-emission Honda Clarity BEV.

IHS Markit Perspective:

  • Significance:The 2017 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) opens to the media on 12 April 2017. New car introductions lean to mid-cycle updates, including updated Acura TLX and Hyundai Sonata. The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is likely to be an auto show hit.
  • Implications:As typical for this show, it largely follows on from the trends of recent major auto shows. Breaking from the expo's tendency towards premium vehicle introductions, new cars will tend towards standard brands.
  • Outlook:Car introductions at NYIAS 2017 span a wider range of size and price class, with Buick showing how cars can improve cargo hauling utility. Updates from Hyundai and Acura illustrate the difficulties in mid-size car sales and the importance of design to sales performance.

The 2017 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) introductions appear set to be dominated by utility vehicles again, with a slant towards premium makes and a healthy dash of high-performance options. Programme specifics remain under wraps, and there may be a few surprises, but IHS Markit has this overview of expected introductions.

The only all-new car being introduced at NYIAS is the Buick Regal. Others are mid-cycle updates or product line extensions. The Regal is coming in a new generation as the fast-roof Sportback hatchback and TourX wagon. The new Regal variants bring smart cargo solutions, addressing one of the reasons buyers give for the shift to a sport utility vehicle (SUV). The new Regal formula is meant to provide the more rewarding driving characteristics of a car but with increased cargo flexibility. In addition to offering a better cargo management system, vehicles from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have demonstrated that the long, fast roof of this type of hatchback can be leveraged as a premium design element.

Aside from the Regal, mid-cycle updates for the Hyundai Sonata and Acura TLX improve styling to stem sales slides. In the case of the Hyundai Sonata, the first generation was launched to critical acclaim and sales success in no small part because of its expressive design. The first Sonata was fresh and completely unexpected from Hyundai. The second generation seemed, by comparison, to get more conservative and did not take a notable leap. It has struggled in showrooms. The updates to the Sonata look to address the styling issues; the vehicle was revealed on the South Korean market in March. The current Sonata was launched in the United States in 2014. Sales in the first quarter of 2017 are down 38% year on year.

The TLX has a similar story, in terms of disappointing sales and an effort to update styling. In a statement announcing the New York reveal, vice-president of Acura Jon Ikeda said, "The 2018 TLX will receive new styling elements that ratchet up its emotion and reflect Acura's focus on Precision Crafted Performance. Acura customers embraced the MDX when we raised its game with bold new styling, and we're pumped to show how we're elevating the TLX experience."

Subaru will have mid-cycle updates for the Outback on display, as well as the Crosstrek. Subaru is not facing a similar issue regarding design and sales, but has opted to give the new Outback more rugged cues intended to help distance the wagon from its sedan counterpart, the Legacy. Both the front and rear are revised, featuring wider and lower grille openings as well as a new bumper. Like the Crosstrek, the Outback adds adaptive headlights to a strong list of safety and advanced driver assist systems. The decision to further separate the Outback from the Legacy is a response to consumer trends toward utilities generally - in the Subaru showroom, sales of the Outback are up 14% in the first quarter of 2017, while Legacy sales have dropped 12%. Updates for the Legacy were revealed at the 2017 Chicago auto show.

Honda is planning to reveal the production versions of the Clarity battery electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) at the New York show. The Clarity fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is already available, although it is limited to California for now. Honda will confirm performance figures for the other Clarity variants, although rumours suggest the electric vehicle (EV) will have a modest range in the territory of 80 miles. Honda has already indicated that it expects the PHEV will be the highest volume of the three. This vehicle is Honda's efficiency performance car, and is among the few to offer alternative powertrains in a truly mid-size car package. Based on recent experience with the Clarity FCEV, Honda has created a vehicle with a terrific interior and packaging. While most EVs often compromise on interior materials or size, the Clarity is a fully fledged car.

Along with the Clarity, Honda's show stand is expected to include the recently revealed Civic Si and Type R variants. NYIAS 2017 offers performance in many forms, and the Honda stage is a clear example, with a 305 hp Civic Type R, 205 hp Si, and zero-emission Clarity EV. The Civic Si will be offered in coupé and sedan versions, and provides a stepping stone between the standard edition and the Type R. These Civic performance versions will benefit from the advances in the basic Civic architecture and platform, including lighter weight and more body rigidity. Compared with the standard Civic, the Si gets sport-tuned suspensions, adaptive dampers, a helical limited-slip differential, and larger brake rotors. The Si is offered in sedan and coupé body styles, with exterior tweaks to support its more aggressive intent and interior updates, including sport seats and Si logos.

In passenger-car terms, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is expected to steal the show. Dodge has been teasing out information on the vehicle for several months, except for its final horsepower and torque figures, which will not be released until the car's reveal on 11 April, although it is not expected to offer more power than the Hellcat. The SRT Demon has effectively been developed as a street-legal drag-ready race car. The elements Dodge has hinted at through a series of videos released on include its ability to run on either 100+ high-octane unleaded fuel, favoured by drag racers, or 91-octane unleaded fuel on demand; a super-cooled air induction system that can reduce intake air temperature by 45°F; unique street-legal drag radial tyres and lightweight wheels factory equipped; and an optional toolkit with the right tools for taking the car to the drag strip and back to the street.

NYIAS will also host the launch of Buick's new Avenir sub-brand. The Avenir sub-brand is expected to work for Buick in a similar manner as Denali works for GMC; Buick says that 90% of Enclave buyers selected one of the top two trim levels, which suggests there is plenty of demand for better content and materials. Buick has also noted that its ability to take customers from other brands is increasing and that those customers expect high-end experience and premium quality. For GMC, creating a Denali version of nearly every product has enabled an increased transaction price with minimal effort, delivering content that consumers appreciate.

According to GMC, Denali models accounted for 29% of sales in March 2017. The opportunity to develop these special packages is helping create a new energy and enthusiasm within Buick as well, according to Buick. The first Avenir sub-brand product has launched in China. Buick may find itself launching Avenir a bit after the party is over, however; with sales flattening in the United States and interest rates expected to increase, there is a possibility that the seemingly unending appetite for premium trim levels may slow.

Outlook and implications

Car introductions at NYIAS 2017 span a wider range of size and price class, with Mercedes-Benz showing the widest variety of new and updated vehicles and Buick showing how cars can improve cargo-hauling utility. Mid-cycle updates from Hyundai and Acura illustrate the difficulty in mid-size car sales and the importance of design to sales performance.

This year, mainstream brands are largely offering either something unique to the lineup or a special edition that will elevate the brand's image, while premium brand introductions are often core to their model ranges. Introductions will favour premium brands, from Mercedes-AMG to Acura and Buick. Adding performance or other special editions can help maintain consumer interest and sales momentum; this has long been true for cars and is visible at NYIAS through the new Honda Civic variants as well as the Demon.

About this article

The above article is from IHS Automotive Same-Day Analysis of automotive news, events and trends, and is a deliverable of the World Markets Automotive Service. The service averages thirty stories per day and also provides competitor and country intelligence. Get a free trial.


Filter Sort