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Throughout The Car Industry

2011 New York Auto Show Buzz

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On: Sat, Apr 23, 2011 at 11:15AM | By: Tim Healey

2011 New York Auto Show Buzz

Your humble author spent most of the past week at the 2011 New York International Auto Show, and here's a look back at the proceedings.

The biggest buzz surrounded the Scion FR-S Concept. This front-engine, rear-drive sports coupe will likely reach production, although specs are sparse. Toyota did reveal that there will be a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed "boxer" engine and six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The FR-S drew raves both for its looks and for the fact that Toyota is taking a chance on a sporty car (even if it might be branded a Scion).

Chrysler also scored points with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and the Chrysler 300C SRT8. While SRT8 models of both vehicles were foregone conclusions, the execution in terms of both performance specs and styling was generally well-received.

Hyundai's Accent drew mixed emotions regarding its styling, but most journalists in attendance aren't counting the car out, based on the company's previous success with the Sonata and Elantra. The similar Kia Rio sedan and Rio5 hatchback drew some nice comments regarding styling but otherwise flew under the radar.

Surprisingly, so did the Lexus LF-Gh concept. This sedan is the likely replacement for the company's GS line, but specs haven't yet been released. At this point, it's a styling exercise, which may explain the relative lack of buzz.

One vehicle not lacking in buzz was the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. With a more-muscular appearance and a new emphasis on sporty driving dynamics, it's clear that VW has shifted directions slightly on how it's presenting this vehicle.

Plenty of mainstream vehicles debuted in New York, including the restyled 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, the worked-over 2013 Ford Taurus, the next Subaru Impreza, a refreshed Nissan Versa compact, and an updated Mazda 3.

The New York show seemed unusually busy, leading droopy-eyed journalists to conclude that the automotive industry is finally starting to recover from the doldrums of the past two years. That seems to be an accurate assessment, despite $4.50 per gallon gas and supply problems brought on by the disasters in Japan.

Fuel economy was the other theme of the show, as the number 40 was brought out several times to reference cars capable of 40 mpg on the highway. Ford claims its newest Taurus is capable of 31 mpg on the highway with the right engine, and Chrysler made sure to stress the fuel-saving features of the company's performance-oriented SRT8 models.

Auto shows are often a reflection of what's happening in the broader market, and New York was no different. But unlike auto shows in recent past that seemed like a good thing.

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