More New York International Auto Show stuff. For Part 1, go here.
Infiniti QX50: It’s one heck of an update. Infiniti added 3.2 inches to the wheelbase of the QX50, meaning that they had to blend everything in while coming up with a new front bumper and lower front fascia and Infiniti-style double-arch front grille, and new rear bumper and lower fascia. The stretch, including 4.5-inches more front to rear, increases interior room by 8.3 cubic feet and rear legroom by 4.3 inches. Not just bigger, Infiniti makes it better with increased standard equipment. As before, the QX50 will come with the Infiniti’s slick 3.7-liter V-6, and a seven-speed automatic transmission will be standard. The QX50 will come with rear or all-wheel drive. Thank China, which likes its vehicles with longer wheelbases, for the added room, by the way. The lengthened QX50 has been on sale there for six months already. We get it this fall.
2017 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Alltrack: You asked for it…didn’t you? So said VW, so an all-wheel drive version of the new VW Sportwagen you get. Arriving in 2016 as a 2017 model, the—can’t we find a shorter name for it?—Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Alltrack will have the latest version of VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. It will also gain nearly an inch in ground clearance, wheel arch moldings and flared side sills for added body protection, and redesigned bumpers. The Alltrack (there we go) will give the Sportwagen driver all-terrain capability, at least according to VW, and as least as much as a Subaru Outback. Will it steal sales from the VW Tiguan? Probably not, but Subaru, watch your six.
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander: If anyone needs a home run, it’s Mitsubishi. So it’s no wonder they’ve come swinging for the fences. Mitsubishi says its new design theme—yes, yet another—called “Dynamic Shield” was inspired by the classic Mitsubishi Montero’s front bumper. There’s added body and suspension structural rigidity, along with a redesign for the suspension and electric power steering, plus a host of detail changes. Is the front end overstyled? We want to see it outdoors and drive it. It arrives in dealerships in July.
2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Toyota customers were longing for a hybrid compact crossover, and there not being one on the market, Toyota was filling the void with the RAV4 Hybrid. Using the same hybrid technology in use in other Toyota hybrids, Toyota gave the RAV4 not only the fuel economy of a hybrid but also winter traction with a computer-controlled rear electric motor that works independently of the front. The RAV4 Hybrid is part of a RAV4 line that will be updated for 2016 with a new front and rear appearance, including LED high and low beams. The 2016 also gets a large seven-inch multi-information touch-screen display and has surround-view cameras as an option, with the ability to give drivers “a live rotating…360 degree view of what is around the vehicle.” The 2016 Toyota RAV4 models comes to Toyota dealers in the fall.
Scion iA: The Scion iA is one of two models introduced at the show, both aimed at a different part of the youth market. The “mono-spec”—one way, one price—iA lists for $16,000 and is aimed at the budget conscious, and is Scion’s first sedan. It’s powered by a 1.5-liter four producing 106 horsepower and offers a choice between a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. The Scion iA promises to be so bare bones that a tilt/telescoping steering wheel is a notable asset. On the other hand it comes with a 7-inch display multi-media system with voice recognition, keyless entry and pushbutton start, and a low-speed accident-prevention system. Scion calls its styling “dramatic,” and says that description an understatement. Indeed, that’s one angry kabuki face.
Scion iM: Add money and a hatch to the iA and you get the iM. The five-door iM borrows it’s front end design, says Scion, from the Scion FR-S sports car—a much friendlier visage—and comes with a lot more stuff. On the outside, standard equipment includes power folding mirrors (a good idea for crowded parking lots) and LED running lights and taillights. Inside, the iM’s equipment list touts dual-zone auto air conditioning, seven-inch Pioneer display audio, rear-view camera, and a 4.2” color multi-information display. The iM gets the same 1.5-liter engine as the iA but with either the six-speed manual or a seven-step continuously variable transmission. The double-wishbone rear suspension promises a smoother ride than usual for a small car. Both the Scion iA and Scion iM are scheduled to arrive this fall.
Nissan Maxima: The Nissan Maxima was long due for an update, and we’ve been sufficiently teased. And now that it’s arrived, it’s everything we’ve been promised. The styling starts with Nissan’s V-Motion front end, continues with bulging front and rear fender flares and features a “floating roof” that with a piano black section on the C-pillar so the roof looks like it lacks support. Nissan’s much-lauded VQ-series V-6 is much revised, enough to call it new, with 60-percent new parts. A new, performance-oriented Xtronic transmission goes with the new engine. With a wider ratio range, the 2016 Nissan Maxima is stronger off the line, and new programming gives rapid shifts at high throttle openings. The Maxima is available with a veritable vegetable soup of safety features; the Platinum trim level has Driver Attention Alert (DAA) system, which helps alert the driver when drowsy or inattentive driving is detected. The 2016 Nissan Maxima goes on sale in early summer.