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Sneak peek: New York International Auto Show

If it’s springtime, it’s New York for the auto industry — the New York International Auto Show, that is. The show marks the last of the major auto shows in the U.S. and kicks off the busy spring selling season for automakers and their dealers.
The new BMW Z4 M Coupe will be on display at the New York International Auto Show.Anja Niedringhaus / AP file
/ Source: Forbes Autos

If it’s springtime, it’s New York for the auto industry — the New York International Auto Show, that is. This show marks the last of the major auto shows in the U.S. and kicks off the busy spring selling season for automakers and their dealers.

Held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the show opens to the public on Saturday, April 15 and runs through Sunday, April 23. Media preview days are April 12-13.           

Luxury vehicles always take center stage in New York, and this year is no exception. However, luxury takes a variety of forms well beyond the traditional sedan, coupe or convertible. It also comes in hybrid and crossovers — vehicles that ride on car architectures but have SUV traits — this spring.

Honda’s luxury Acura division, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will be introducing two crossovers. The revamped version of the MDX — a car-based sport utility — makes its world debut in concept guise, while the RDX — a brand-new, smaller car-based crossover — rips away its concept costume from the Detroit show and arrives as a production version.

Acura RDX prototype SUV is unveiled at Detroit Auto Show in Michigan
The Acura RDX prototype SUV is introduced during the media preview of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 9, 2006. The RDX will be assembled in Marysville, Ohio and will go on sale in the summer of 2006. REUTERS/Rebecca CookRebecca Cook / X00064

“The [second-generation] MDX will speak clearly to the advanced image of Acura and promises to put MDX solidly at the front of the pack with a striking new image, new technology and performance unmatched in the segment,” said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “The designers and engineers working on this new MDX have a tremendous passion for this product that will be evident in all aspects of its design and performance.”

The RDX is a premium but smaller SUV. On sale this summer as a 2007 model, the RDX comes with a 2.3-liter turbocharged engine and the same Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system offered on Acura’s flagship RL sedan.

Audi will take the wraps off the production version of its TT sports car in New York; it will be unveiled in Berlin a week earlier at a special event. The 2007 TT will likely be quite similar to the concept version unveiled at the Tokyo show last fall.

Audi will also show the revised versions of the A4 and S4 cabriolets for the first time in the U.S., just in time for the warm weather. Both sport Audi’s new corporate design, with the most noticeable cue being the single-frame grille. The A4 Cabriolet is now available with two engine choices: the 200-hp 2.0-liter FSI turbocharged four-cylinder or the 255-hp 3.2-liter V6 FSI. Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive is available on the 2.0T model and standard with the 3.2 model. The S4 comes with the 340-hp 4.2-liter V8 and quattro all-wheel drive.

Also going topless will be the 2007 Bentley Continental GTC, the convertible version of the Continental GT. Bentley has released a simple sketch and very few details about the GTC.

Chief Executive of German luxury carmaker BMW Panke poses after the company's annual news conference in Munich
Helmut Panke, Chief Executive of German luxury carmaker BMW, poses next to a BMW Z4 Coupe sports car after the company's annual news conference in Munich, March 15, 2006. BMW expects record earnings this year due to lower currency and raw material burdens as well as one-off gains from the sale of Rolls Royce shares. BMW's target is to achieve a profit before tax of 4 billion euros ($4.8 billion) in the current financial year at group level, Panke said. The 2005 level was 3.29 billion euros. REUTERS/Alexandra WinklerAlexandra Winkler / X01172

BMW will display its two new coupes for the first time in North America, which were unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this spring. The 2006 Z4 Coupe 3.0si and the 2006 Z4 M Coupe are based on the recently redesigned Z4 roadster. The Z4 Coupe 3.0si is powered by BMW's new 3.0-liter inline-six, developing 255 hp. The Z4 M Coupe comes with the 3.2-liter inline-six that produces 330 hp.

Chrysler displays the long-wheelbase version of the highly successful Chrysler 300 for the first time ever. The extended version is six inches longer than the regular one, providing an additional 10.2 cubic feet of interior space. Engine options include the 3.5-liter V6 and the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. On sale in fall 2006, the longer 300 is expected to be sold to livery and limousine services as well as retail customers. Special features that can be installed include lighted rear writing tables, two 12-volt power ports for computers/cell phones, footrests, lighted vanity mirrors and directional reading lights for rear passengers, and available custom paint colors or pinstripes.

Toyota’s Lexus luxury division will unveil the hybrid version of its luxury flagship, the LS 600h, as it promised in Detroit when it displayed the redesigned LS 400 flagship sedan.

Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand also fulfills a promise it made earlier this year when it unveils the redesigned 2007 G35 sedan.

Mercedes-Benz will show the world the redesigned E-Class. Designated as 2007 models, the E-Class includes the base E350, the upper-level E550 and the performance-oriented E63 AMG. Mercedes also introduces the 2007 SL Roadster to the U.S. for the first time; the two-seater made its world debut at the Geneva show earlier this spring.

As was the case in Geneva, a new engine will be showcased in new Mercedes models, including the 2007 CLS63 AMG coupe and cabriolet and the ML63 AMG. The engine is a 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V8 that produces up to 507 hp and 465 pound-feet of torque. It is the first engine developed entirely by AMG, Mercedes’ performance division. The automaker will round out its New York offerings with the new GL-Class and a pair of new diesels — the R320 CDI and the ML320 CDI.

Volvo’s S80 flagship sedan will make its North American debut in New York. The automaker will also unveil the redesigned XC90. The second-generation XC90, which goes into production in Europe this spring, has exterior and interior upgrades. The Volvo XC90 can be equipped with a Blind Spot Information System, which detects people and objects around the vehicle, and a parking assist camera.

In addition to luxurious and performance-oriented vehicles, other sporty cars will grab the spotlight in New York.

General Motors’ Pontiac division will display a new show car, the G6 GXP, which will likely go into production soon. The GXP is outfitted with a 270-hp 3.6-liter engine, sporty exterior body modifications and racy accents inside.

Ford will reportedly mark the return of the Shelby Hertz GT350H, a higher-performance version of the Mustang GT that will be available for rent beginning this summer through select Hertz dealers nationwide. The 2007 GT350H will feature the same black-and-gold-striped paintjob as the 1966 original, with an additional 20 hp for a total of 320.

Honda along with Toyota’s Scion reveal sportier versions of existing models: Honda’s prototype version of its boxy Element and Scion’s special version of its tC.

GM’s Saturn division and Chrysler Group’s Jeep division will use the New York show to continue their rollout of new models to expand their lines.

Saturn, after years of product starvation, will serve up four new vehicles. The Saturn Sky Red Line is a performance version of the roadster that is just now going on sale. The Sky shares its underpinnings with the Pontiac Solstice. The 2007 Saturn Aura midsize sedan, which shares its underpinnings with the Chevrolet Malibu, shows a new styling direction and a huge boost in the quality of its interior. The Outlook is a new sport utility with three rows of seats. And finally, a concept — the name of which has not yet been released — reportedly hints at the next-generation Vue compact sport utility and further advances Saturn’s new styling direction.

Similarly, Jeep will march out new production models to expand its line. It will unveil the production version of the 2007 Jeep Patriot, shown previously as a concept, and the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, a four-door version of the rugged vehicle.

Suzuki will also expand its model line when it shows the redesigned, seven-passenger XL-7 sport utility and the smaller SX-4 utility, previously unveiled in Geneva.

Nissan shows a close-to-production concept of its high-volume Altima sedan. The new Altima goes on sale in the fall as a 2007 model. It rides on Nissan’s new “D” platform with more body stiffness and a redesigned suspension. Engine choices will be a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder or a 3.5-liter V6. A continuously variable transmission is offered.

Several automakers will display concept cars previously unveiled at other auto shows. A highlight will surely be Saab’s Aero X, unveiled in Geneva earlier this spring. It features a canopy top that lifts like that of a jet fighter. (The Aero X and other vehicles mentioned in this preview can be found in our NYIAS Sneak Peek slideshow.)