Auto show: It's goodbye small, hello big in New…


The auto industry has always had a knack for rolling out new models at justthe wrong time. Some fear that’s about to happen again.

When gas prices spiked past $4 a gallon in 2008, automakers realized they lacked smaller, more efficient cars like hybrids that embraced gas-saving technologies. In the past few years, automakers bet that midsize and compact sedans would reign supreme only to discover that buyers really wanted big SUVs again as gas prices fell.

This week, a bevy of these fuel-thirsty, big-ticket vehicles will roll into the New York Auto Show along with a few hot performance cars. (The show’s media days are April 12-13, and itopens to the public April 14.)


Models will include a new, full-size Lincoln Navigator, a new version of the Range Rover and a 707-horsepower version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

“The country has gone SUV crazy,” says Ian Beavis, chief strategy officer for auto industry consulting firm AMCI. “You’ve gone from t he sublime to the ridiculous.”

But the sport utilitiesappearas the industry entersacrossroads aftera year of record sales.On one hand, there are plenty of good signs for automakers: The economycontinues to grow, consumer confidence is high, unemploymentis low, the stock market has reachedrecord levels andcredit — auto loans in particular — is still easy to come by.


On the other, some concernsare emerging. The number of unsold new cars is building to worrisome levels. Edmunds.com says last month’s backloghit itshighest level since 2004.

With big dominating the market now, the plug-in, hybrid and very small cars that have heldthe spotlight at the auto showover much of the past decadeare being pushed aside.Factors like a car’s styling and expected reliability are now tops among buyers, pushing aside fuel economy, says Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive for consultants J.D. Power.

Many of the models being shown this weekin New York will fall at the highend of the price spectrum, exactly the kind of cars that buyers may shun ifthe economy takes a dive.


“Clearly the automakers feel like there is going to be a market for theseover-the-top cars,” says Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Cox Automotive.”There is more potential for downside than upside in the auto market rightnow.”

Here aresome of the models and trends to watch atthe show:

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Hot new cars gather for New York Auto Show

The ultimate muscle car

Most people associate muscle cars with the Pontiac GTOs, Plymouth Hemi Cudasand Ford Mustang Boss 302s of the 1960s and early 1970s.

But some of the biggest increases in horsepowerhave come over the past two decades, the result ofevolving engine technology.Fiat Chrysler is taking it to new heights.

The automaker shook up the industry with its 707-horsepower Hellcat V-8 for Dodge Challenger and Charger. Now comes a new, more powerfulengine that will go in a Challenger. It becomes the Dodge Challenger Demon.


Just how powerful this monster will be, we’ll need to wait to find out.The horsepower rating of this new monster engine is yet to be announced.

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It's a week of hot new cars leading up to the press It’s a week of hot new cars leading up to the press preview days of the New York Auto Show on Wednesday. This will be one of the stars, but only a hint at the looks for now, the Dodge Challenger Demon.  Fiat ChryslerFullscreenThe functional hood scoop on the Dodge Challenger SRT The functional hood scoop on the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the largest of any production car. It will debut in New York  FCA US LLC, FCA US LLCFullscreenHonda's sinister Civic Type R, seen here as a prototype, Honda’s sinister Civic Type R, seen here as a prototype, will come to New York  Honda, WieckFullscreenThe new 2018 version of the Subaru Crosstrek will make The new 2018 version of the Subaru Crosstrek will make its first U.S. appearance at the show  Special to USA TODAYFullscreenFor 2018, Buick adds a new new roofline to crete the For 2018, Buick adds a new new roofline to crete the Regal Sportback  BuickFullscreenThe wagon version of Buick's midsize car, the Regal The wagon version of Buick’s midsize car, the Regal TourX, will make its first public appearance in New York  BuickFullscreenA new version of one of Volvo's biggest sellers, the A new version of one of Volvo’s biggest sellers, the XC60 crossover, will come to New York  Special to USA TODAYFullscreenLexus is hinting at the looks of the LS 500 F Sport Lexus is hinting at the looks of the LS 500 F Sport it will show in New York  LexusFullscreenThe new Porsche 911 GT3 , shown here the Geneva Motor The new Porsche 911 GT3 , shown here the Geneva Motor Show, will get its American debut in New York  MARTIAL TREZZINI, EPAFullscreenAnother view of the Volvo XC60 when it was shown in Another view of the Volvo XC60 when it was shown in Geneva. Next stop: New York  Special to USA TODAYFullscreenThe new next generaiton of the Toyota Yaris will be The new next generaiton of the Toyota Yaris will be one of the few subcompacts presented at the show  Martial Trezzini, APFullscreenLike this topic? You may also like these photo galleries:ReplayIt's a week of hot new cars leading up to the press1 of 11The functional hood scoop on the Dodge Challenger SRT2 of 11Honda's sinister Civic Type R, seen here as a prototype,3 of 11The new 2018 version of the Subaru Crosstrek will make4 of 11For 2018, Buick adds a new new roofline to crete the5 of 11The wagon version of Buick's midsize car, the Regal6 of 11A new version of one of Volvo's biggest sellers, the7 of 11Lexus is hinting at the looks of the LS 500 F Sport8 of 11The new Porsche 911 GT3 , shown  here the Geneva Motor9 of 11Another view of the Volvo XC60 when it was shown in10 of 11The new next generaiton of the Toyota Yaris will be11 of 11AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide


SUVs get more deluxe

Land Rover continues to build on its Range Rover line of plush, go-anywhere SUVs by introducing asmaller version it calls the Velar.

Having had its global debut in Geneva, the Velar now comes to New York. The name de rives from the Latin word “velare,” which means “to veil or cover.”

Not to be outdone, Lincoln will show theNavigator — a massive luxury SUV that’s likely to see a new wave of interest after a surge of sales amongthe largest family haulers. Sales of luxury SUVs were up 5.6% in the first three months of the year, while overall vehicle sales were down 1.5%, Autodata reports.


Volvo is trying to build on the success of its full-size vehicles with the new version of the smaller XC60 SUV.

General Motors’ Buick is trying to cash in as well by introducing afancier version of its Enclave SUV, called the Avenir, which adds even more features and luxury touches.

Sedans remember those?

Automakers have been spending so much time focusing on SUVs that the once-dominant midsize sedan is no longer getting as much attention. SUVs and crossovers overtook cars as the most popular vehicles in the U.S. in 2014, IHS Markit reported.


Yet Hyundai will introduce an important one, the redo of its midsize Sonata.Mercedes-Benz will show a concept sedan from its AMG performance unit. And going into the show, Buick has revealed two variants of its Regal sedan — a fastback and a wagon.

Performance cars get hotter

As a counterpoint to the raw power of the Demon, Honda will show its new, hot pocket rocket:the Civic Type R. The Type R has been sold in Europe, but it has never made its way to American shores.

Porsche has a bunch of hot performance cars coming as well.

“Green” cars pushed to the background

In recent years, automakers fell over themselves touting their growing portfolios of alternatively powered cars. Now they can’t seem to run far enough away from them.

In New York, Honda will show the plug-in hybrid and battery electric versions of its Clarity, a five-seat sedan that is currently only available for lease as a hydrogen fuel-cell car in California.

“We still have low gas prices and expect those to continue for the next three to five years,” says Patrick Min, senior analyst for ALG. “That makes it a tough environment.”

More from the Auto Show:

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