The 2015 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) will feature plenty of supercars, luxury land cruisers, and musclebound rides for audiences to enjoy in passing. Then there will be the people’s cars that actually sell in volume.
As Toyota managed with the debut of the 2015 Camry at last year’s NYIAS, automakers featuring practical cars often draw the most attention ahead of these spectacles. Visitors will be curious about the latest Koenigsegg and Bentley, but a redesigned midsize sedan is the vehicle most likely to end up in their garage.
This year, several of the industry’s top-selling cars are getting facelifts for their New York debuts. Here are the 5 most anticipated on the agenda.
1. Lexus RX
Is the Lexus RX broke? There are 107,490 U.S. buyers who thought it wasn’t in 2014, but Lexus nonetheless is out to fix it with a new version for the 2016 model year. One of three Lexus buyers opt for the RX, which last year trailed only the BMW 3 and 4 Series in luxury sales.
Lexus is probably on the right track by improving the RX design and performance, but parent Toyota faced the same conundrum with its Camry redesign. Make it better, but keep the update safe enough so you don’t alienate the estimable consumer base already on board. For that reason alone, all eyes will be on the RX for its New York debut.
2. Kia Optima
Flash back five years to the 2010 New York Auto Show. At the time, the Kia Optima was a nonentity selling fewer than 30,000 cars in a calendar year. Then the redesigned Optima landed in New York. Just two years later, sales increased fivefold to a point where 150,000 now would be considered a bad year.
Kia is returning to the scene of its fantastic brand success in 2015 with a new version of the Optima.The company’s renderings hint of an even more stylized midsize contender at this year’s show, though we can expect those giant wheels to shrink down to family car size. Optima has been Kia’s top seller for three years straight, so we’ll see how the new model impacts that momentum.
3. Mercedes GLE SUV
Mercedes is dropping the M-Class in favor of an GL E-Class that will range from the GLE ‘Coupe’ (pictured) to the GLE SUV set to debut in New York. This midsize SUV will arrive at Benz dealerships in the U.S. this fall and will include a much-anticipated plug-in hybrid version.
Judging by the B-Class and various plug-in models, Mercedes is going big in the electric vehicle segment. We have seen preliminary versions of plug-in utility vehicles from Audi, BMW, Volvo, Tesla, and Mitsubishi. (Porsche already has the Cayenne S E-Hybrid on the road.) Mercedes will show off what it has in store for SUV lovers and EV enthusiasts in New York.
4. Chevy Malibu
If you’re a fan of General Motors, you have got to be interested in what Chevy has cooking with the 2016 Malibu. For years the also-ran in the midsize segment (trailing Fusion by 120,000 sales and Camry by 240,000 sales), Malibu needs a new identity to claw back market share from the formidable competition.
GM says it has four decades’ worth of data going into the new Malibu, so there should be improvements in the driving experience and already solid reliability. Most consumers will hope style upgrades are also part of the package.
5. Hyundai Tucson
Though it already debuted in Geneva, the Hyundai Tucson’s North American debut is drawing a great deal of interest. Sporting the new-look Hyundai grille and a complete redesign, there were five engines confirmed for European drivers. We will see how the menu looks for the U.S. market.
Tucson gained 13% in 2014 sales, year over year, and Hyundai will look to continue the improvement with a host of safety features that keep the SUV relevant in a very competitive segment. As the frame for its fuel cell vehicle, Tucson is important to the brand in several ways. It will make it to U.S. dealership by the summer.
Autos Cheat Sheet will be reporting live from the 2015 New York International Auto Show beginning April 1.