New York Auto Show: Winners and losers in 2013

Dodge premiered a new Durango at the 2013

Dodge premiered a new Durango at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. (March 28, 2013) (Credit: EPA )

The New York International Auto Show proved to be one of the busiest of the auto-show season. Its two preview days were overflowing with new and redesigned cars that had Cars.com editors Mike Hanley, Joe Wiesenfelder, Joe Bruzek and Aaron Bragman scrambling through the Javits Center. With tired feet, we offer the hits and misses of the show.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Mike Hanley: Loser


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The new slimmer front grille is a small change that achieves dramatic results, making an already sinister sports car even more so. I know the new taillights have a retro influence, but I'm not a fan and prefer the ones on the current car. What's more, it doesn't look like Chevrolet has done anything to address the Camaro's weight problem or ridiculously bad visibility.

Aaron Bragman: Loser

I'm not a fan of this update. The Camaro has now looked as it does for seven years -- since the concept debuted in 2006 -- and the first refresh we get is this? The interior is still uncomfortable, poorly laid out and made from awful-quality plastics, and not even the arrival of a track monster, the Z/28, can distract from that. With a new Ford Mustang coming next year and a new Dodge Challenger coming in two, you'd have thought Chevy would have gone farther.

Joe Bruzek: Loser

The new Z/28 is a spectacle of high-performance dedication. Unfortunately, it took removing air conditioning, sound insulation and all speakers except one to save 300 pounds, which is still roughly 270 pounds heavier than a Mustang GT. I don't think we'll see a lighter-weight Camaro across all models until a platform change happens. I do like the new retro taillights, however, and was never fond of the previous chrome-trimmed quad taillights.

Joe Wiesenfelder: Loser

I think I can second, third and fourth many of the sentiments above. I haven't been a fan of this Camaro, and, as predicted, its weight problem can't be fixed until it's re-engineered. The interior also needed an ergonomics overhaul. Oddly enough, I like the nose and taillight changes. That isn't enough.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible

MH: Winner

The Corvette Stingray convertible has the same sharply creased lines, gaping grille and stylized taillights of the coupe, but the transformation does away with the coupe's dramatically updated roofline in favor of a familiar-looking soft-top. I wish the soft-top's shape were a little more daring, but no one will care when the top's down, which will probably be most of the time with this car.

AB: Winner

Shut up about the square taillights already, they totally fit with the car's image and work with the overall look. Pretty much the only way to improve upon the Stingray coupe was to chop the top off, and here it is. Everything that's a plus for the coupe applies to the convertible: great interior, amazing technology, gorgeous body and now wind-in-the-hair fun too.

JB: Winner

Despite losing its roof, the Stingray convertible looks more complete with the top down now that the black roof, which looks out of place on anything but dark-colored cars, is gone. Sitting inside with the top down is as natural as any dedicated convertible designed just to be a convertible, which is a feat considering the drop-top has a coupe variant.

JW: Winner

Definitely the better-looking body style with the top down. (If it was ever on display with the top raised, I didn't see it.) I'm more pleased by the interior quality, which seems much better than what I saw in the coupe -- even under the harsh auto-show lights, unshadowed by a roof. Anyone notice the six-speed stick? Sure, it's expected, but I'd expect it in many, many performance and sports cars, and sometimes it just isn't there.


2014 Dodge Durango

MH: Winner

The Durango's exterior updates are much more subtle in person; The full-width taillights are the only thing that really stand out. A large dashboard touch-screen and new controls improve an already good interior. New just a few years ago, the Durango wasn't especially in need of a refresh, which makes all the changes for 2014 a pleasant surprise.

AB: Winner

The Durango is perhaps the best SUV that nobody's buying, and the new one is just that much better. Like Jeep's approach to the new Grand Cherokee, Dodge fixed the elements that needed fixing and left the rest of it alone. Even better fuel economy than before, a top-notch multimedia system, more than adequate power, butch looks and real seven-passenger room for mid-$30,000s? Why aren't you buying these, America?

JB: Winner

The subtle exterior changes add nice flair to the already attractive Durango, especially the rear taillights that look stunning when illuminated. Plus Dodge adds its proven 8.4-inch Uconnect touch-screen multimedia system, which is one of the best in the business and a notable knock against the Durango when it didn't have it.

JW: Winner

How many SUVs are this recognizable from behind, day or night, from a half-mile away? How many of those actually look good, too? Good exterior, good interior, big touch-screen and a rotary knob gear selector rather than the Grand Cherokee's springy T-handle. Nothing seems to have been done in this update that didn't need doing.

2014 Honda Odyssey

MH: Loser

Just when you think cars have all the features you could possibly need, Honda comes out with a built-in vacuum cleaner for its Odyssey minivan, which makes all the sense in the world for this family-focused vehicle. What doesn't make sense is that it's exclusively offered on the Touring Elite model, a luxury minivan that costs nearly $45,000. Why not offer it on the lower-level EX trim?

AB: Winner

Of course it's about the HondaVac system. Honda has come up with the first actual innovation in the minivan world since Chrysler's Stow 'n Go seating, and even if it is a little gimmicky, it's a real-world useful bit of kit that owners all over will actually employ. Pro tip: Parents, buy yourself a Flowbee and the lil' snowflakes can give each other haircuts on the way to school! Such a time-saver!

JB: Loser

I applaud Honda's innovation and real-world functionality of the HondaVac. It's not a wimpy vacuum by any means. It is very lazy, however. A $30 garage vacuum will do the same thing, and when on the road a $1 car-wash vacuum cleans up impromptu hissy-fit messes.

JW: Winner

Automotive gold, that vacuum system is. Stow 'n Go is a great comparison, because I believe its role in keeping Chrysler and Dodge alive in the minivan segment can't be overstated. Have you sat in those seats? They're terrible, but the way they fold into the floor is so slick that they've charmed many a buyer -- who might not ultimately fold them often enough to justify the discomfort. The Odyssey vacuum would likewise lure buyers even if it didn't work well, but it seems to.

2014 Jeep Cherokee

MH: Winner

It's all in the name. Jeep would have saved itself a lot of unnecessary comparisons with the previous-generation Cherokee SUV if it had come up with a different name for this all-new crossover. Whether you love or hate the design -- and after seeing it in person, I kind of love it -- the Cherokee demands your attention. There's a lot of substance here, too, with a high-quality interior and a roomy backseat. Priced right, it should be a hit.

AB: Loser

It's the two faces that disturb me. There's the squinty-eyed predatory face up top descending upon the screaming, droopy-eyed face below it. See it? Admittedly, I first saw this trucklet at a preview in December, and it had chrome reflectors for those middle lights that threw everything off -- it actually does look better with them blacked out and blended into the lower bumper. I understand Jeep needs to get more aerodynamic for fuel-economy gains, but this just loses too many of the traditional Jeep styling cues in the process. Cherokee isn't the only name I keep hearing in relation to this new truck -- the other one is Pontiac Aztek.

JB: Winner

Love it. The Cherokee is freshly designed and functional, and it's significantly more attractive in person. There's dedication in the available trim levels to satisfy road goers with the Limited as well as off-road fiends. Trailhawk off-road models look especially mean, and with matte highlights, I see the Warthog multipurpose vehicle from the Halo video-game series.

JW: Winner

JB sees the what from the what? I've respected the styling since a sneak preview a few months ago, and I like it more now. Honestly, the small backseat and cargo area are major problems, but the front seats, interior quality, features and capability are all upsides. If Jeep dumps the Compass and Patriot, builds something larger and stops calling the Cherokee midsize, there will be fewer objective aspects to complain about.

2014 Kia Soul

MH: Loser

The Soul gets some significant platform updates for 2014, but you wouldn't really know it from looking at it. When cars are defined by their designs, like they are with the Nissan Cube and Scion xB, evolving the concept is a big challenge and it's no less of one here.

AB: Winner

I've always liked the Soul, even with its former Playskool-grade interior, I've found it to be comfortable, funky and unique, and the new one looks like even more fun. However, I'm worried that Kia is trying to make themselves a Juke or even a Mini competitor here. This new model has a lot of luxury content that's just going to add weight and cost. No Soul should cost anywhere near $30,000.

JB: Winner

The Soul's proportions and function have always been a winning combination. Its interior has not with mostly cheap materials that don't look or feel of much quality. That's changed for 2014, and it's a noticeable improvement with more soft-touch materials and black-gloss finish trim pieces.

JW: Winner

The exterior changes take away from the Soul, making it less distinctive in front and more distinctive (in a negative way) in back, but this is one of those cases where I prefer to let individuals make their own aesthetic judgments. At least it's different. The interior is much improved. There are lots of advanced features along with the quality gains. If the ride and handling improve, as they have in other recently redone Kia vehicles, this will be a winner many times over.

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

MH: Winner

Perhaps reading about the Mirage's puny specs, like its 74-horsepower three-cylinder engine, created unnaturally low expectations for Mitsubishi's new subcompact hatchback, but I walked away impressed with its roomy and relatively comfortable cabin. When you take into account its expected thriftiness at the gas station, the Mirage might surprise people.

AB: Winner

It wins simply because it makes the Smart ForTwo completely irrelevant. The Mirage's three-cylinder engine has 4 hp more than the Smart's three-cylinder; it handily trounces the ForTwo's fuel economy (by a lot) and features room for two extra people and their stuff. Is this going to save Mitsubishi in the U.S. market? Not a chance. Scrapping all of its U.S.-made midsize cars and SUVs in favor of expensive, imported-from-Japan compacts and minicars is no recipe for success, but it might delay Mitsubishi's demise a while.

JB: Winner

It pains me to call a dinky car with 74 hp a winner, but its fuel economy of 40 mpg city/highway combined and potentially low price could be a winner for value shoppers looking for a high-mileage small car. Tiny cars like the Chevrolet Spark and Smart ForTwo can't match the Mirage's mileage claim.

JW: Loser

Aaron is still new to the team, so he hasn't learned that the ForTwo has been dead to us for years. The legit competitors are the Spark and Scion iQ. The Spark was surprisingly impressive even after I drove it. The iQ? Only until I drove it. A 74-hp three-banger and continuously variable automatic transmission are a recipe for disaster. This thing looks so old inside that I'm surprised Coda hasn't electrified it.


2014 Scion tC

MH: Loser

The updated tC coupe incorporates some design cues from the brand's FR-S sports car, especially up front, but the look doesn't go all that well with the rest of the design. Not helping matters is an interior that's heavy on cheap-looking -- and feeling --materials. You can do better, Scion; I know you can.

AB: Loser

Snore. Same old car but now with a Toyota Avalon front end, dull gray interior and LED "Altezza-style" taillights that went out of style five years ago. In a world where you can get a 201-hp Veloster Turbo or Honda Civic Si coupe for just a couple grand more, where's the appeal of the boring tC?

JB: Loser

Despite interior updates, the Scion tC still isn't on the same level as the Hyundai Veloster or Honda Civic. Its inspiration from the awesome FR-S should have been left where it belongs -- on the rear-wheel-drive sports car, though you can't blame Scion for wanting to see some of that car's success on the less interesting tC.

JW: Loser

Tale of two compacts: Honda and Scion came out with new generations; the Civic remained good but took a few steps backward. One model year later, Honda fixed it. The tC took more steps backward in 2011 and Scion still hasn't fixed it. I'd respect them more if they reverted to the gen-one tC.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

MH: Loser

I like the XV Crosstrek and think the gas-only version should do well for Subaru, but the hybrid's estimated gas mileage -- only 3 mpg better in combined city/highway driving -- is a problem in an era when hybrids must produce big fuel-economy gains to warrant their extra cost. Pricing hasn't been released yet, but the upcharge will have to be pretty small for the hybrid version to be worth it for most buyers.

AB: Loser

For Subie's first hybrid, this thing is lame. The whole point of a hybrid is better fuel economy, and the XV Crosstrek Hybrid just isn't enough of a hybrid to actually deliver. It's rated at 28/34 mpg city/highway, whereas the conventional version gets 25/33 mpg. It'll probably sell like crazy to loyal Subaru owners despite the extra cost and awful Linda Blair Upchuck Green paint, but as hybrids go, this is weaksauce.

JB: Loser

Like Mike and Aaron mention, the mileage improvement is weak for a hybrid. Maybe an off-road-oriented XV Crosstrek model with a lifted suspension wasn't the best way to introduce a hybrid.

JW: Loser

Everything that's wrong with the hybrid movement is summed up here: not enough efficiency gained. Aaron's right that Subaru junkies will probably buy it, though if it doesn't drive as well as or better than the average hybrid, it could be dead in the water. Aaron's also wrong: Its character Regan MacNeil who puked green in Technicolor. Poor Linda Blair. She never recovered from that role.


Subaru WRX Concept

MH: Winner

The next version of the WRX likely won't be this aggressive-looking -- the WRX STI, perhaps -- but even if some of the bolder cues like the huge fender flares and massive rear diffuser are toned down the car's great stance and proportions should remain.

AB: Winner

Subaru almost always does gorgeous concept cars, and the WRX Concept is no exception. The problem is when Subie goes to turn the concept car into reality, and designers lose out to more conservative executives (see the Advanced Tourer Wagon concept from 2011 for confirmation). If the actual next-generation WRX looks as good as this low, wide sedan concept does, I will be stunned.

JB: Winner

Almost as an apology for the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, Subaru redeemed itself with the hot WRX Concept. The best way to view the WRX Concept is from the rear three-quarter view where the bulging rear fenders and sleek profile impress. Hopefully some of the design makes it to production because Subaru's track record isn't that great for translating a concept car into a production model.

JW: Winner

Great to stare at from many angles, especially when far-out concepts are in short supply, as they have been for a few years. JB's right about the rear three-quarter view. That's some jet-fighter stuff going on there. I hope they use a glowing badge in the grille of a real car someday.

2014 Toyota Highlander

MH: Winner

The new Highlander's big-mouth grille is more than a little off-putting in photos, but in-person the crossover wears it well and it's not nearly as overpowering. Add up all of the other significant exterior changes with the all-new interior and there's a lot that's new on the 2014 Highlander. It all works quite well.

AB: Winner

Some of the styling may be derivative, such as the profile that looks like Volkswagen's 2013 CrossBlue concept and the rear end that looks like a new Nissan Pathfinder, but I applaud Toyota for using some more aggressive styling cues for the front end. It's actually distinctive -- and when is the last time you heard that about a Toyota? The interior is a massive step up from the current Highlander, and from many recent Toyotas in general. Good to see content being put back in after years of cheapening out.

JB: Winner

Toyota took a chance with the 2014 Highlander's aggressive, unique exterior styling. And they nailed it. Previously a drab SUV that was practical but not particularly interesting is now even more attractive and higher quality while also improving usability. The interior of the upscale Limited trim level on display is almost as classy as the 2013 Toyota Avalon, and there's considerably more usability from the rear seating and cargo area.

JW: Winner

In our comparison test of large crossovers with three rows of seats, what held the 2011 Highlander back was its interior quality and its snug third row. Toyota addressed both. Definitely a winner.

2015 Volkswagen Golf, GTI

MH: Winner

Some might complain that all the Golfs and GTIs of recent memory look the same -- they do to a certain degree -- but as hatchbacks go, the design is athletic, so why toss it out? I'll take the Golf's and GTI's classic lines over a busily styled hatchback any day.

AB: Winner

The Golf formula is pretty unique in the U.S. market: a relatively inexpensive hatchback with European handling, luxury-car interior quality and decent resale value. But the GTI is truly a benchmark, and this new one looks even better. Golfs never change too much between one generation and the next; but when you're this good, you never really have to.

JB: Loser

Seeing as I had to look for the "All-New Golf" license plates on the show floor to distinguish them from the old car, the Golf is easily forgettable under the auto-show lights. It is an impressive car, however, with a high-quality interior just as the Golf and GTI have been in previous generations.

JW: Loser

I'm on Team Bruzek for this one. They might even look more boring than the outgoing generation. From the rear three-quarter and profile views, the blue Golf looked slab-sided, though the red GTI came across better. Yes, it's nice inside, roomy and likely a great-driving car, but for a redesign, I want more of a redesign, even if it appeals less to me, personally, than to others (see Soul, above).

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