The nation's best attended auto show opens to the public Friday at the Javits Center, where visitors will find 1,000 vehicles on display, including an array of new hybrids, diesels and more sophisticated conventional gasoline-powered cars.
Most reflect a future that carmakers believe holds higher fuel prices. "We do expect gas prices to go up," Frank Klegon, Chrysler's executive vice president for product development, said in an interview. "So we're spending considerable energy on fuel efficiency."
His 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, on display at Javits and due at dealerships in about a year, will come with an 11 percent more fuel-efficient six-cylinder engine.
Visitors to the New York International Auto Show will find a new hybrid-powered GMC Sierra pickup and redesigned Toyota Prius and Honda Insight hybrids, along with the just unveiled Mercedes-Benz ML450 due at dealerships in the fall and the now-on-sale Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids. Hyundai is displaying an experimental SUV, the Nuvis, with a hybrid powertrain that is to be optional on the next generation Sonata midsize sedan, in turn to be unveiled in Los Angeles in the fall.
Electric cars remain a hard sell, what with their relatively short driving ranges, but Mitsubishi is showing a small electric sedan, the i MiEV, that it said it plans to market globally, starting in July in Japan. GM's Volt, an electric with an onboard gasoline generator to extend its range, is on display and due to go into production late next year.
Conventionally powered production vehicles include a redesigned Buick LaCrosse sedan; the revived and modernized Chevrolet Camaro pony car just going on sale; a new and smaller crossover SUV, the GMC Terrain going on sale this summer; redone Mazda CX9 crossover; three redesigned Land Rovers (the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and LR4); Nissan 370Z Roadster; the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf; redesigned Mercedes-Benz E-Class; the 435-hp. Porsche 911 GT3; and a Honda Element SUV with a pet lover's option package that includes a dog bed, fan, built-in water bowl and a ramp to help pets climb aboard. It will be available in the fall, price not announced.
An array of experimental or "concept" cars includes a tiny Toyota Scion, the iQ, that is apt to remind many of the Smart displayed less than 50 feet away at Javits; aimed at young urbanites, the iridescent green 10-foot-long iQ has a 93-hp. four-cylinder engine, accommodates three people and luggage and has an elaborate entertainment system that includes a pop-up screen in the dashboard for playing movies when the vehicle is parked.
And tucked away on the lower level of Javits is one of the most unusual experimental pickup trucks ever displayed at Javits: the Counter Balance by Barkan Designs. The truck is a compact, its engine is behind the seat and it has a cargo bed that can be extended to 7.5 feet, plus closed storage room under the hood.
About a million people usually attend the show.
WHERE Jacob Javits Convention Center, 11th Avenue between 34th & 39th streets.
WHEN Friday through April 19, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
(Sundays: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.)
HOW MUCH Adults: $14; children, 2-12 years: $4 (2 and under free.)
WHY About 1,000 production and experimental autos on display.