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    The Sedans of NYIAS2012


    Drew Dowdell

    Managing Editor

    CheersandGears.com

    April 5, 2012

    The 2012 New York Auto Show was sedan heavy this year with 6 major releases or concepts. Some of the releases were impressive, some not so much.

    Fisker Atlantic - A smaller, lighter, and less expensive entry from Fisker, the Atlantic hopes to slot in at the high end of the BMW 3-series price range. This luxury extended range electric vehicle is one of the curviest sedans shown at the show. Despite the low roof in the rear, Fisker promises the Atlantic will have similar interior room to the 3-series as well. Fisker had some problems with the launch of the Karma earlier this year, but if a similar issue can be avoided on the Atlantic, we think Fisker can pull this one off after all of the funding they've recently secured. While electric vehicles aren't to everyone's taste, we think that any domestic manufacturer trying to put sexy cars into production should be applauded.

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    2014 Chevrolet Impala – This was one of the bigger surprises for me. I'm not sure why my expectations were so low, but Chevrolet did a great job on the Impala. With this car, Chevy is moving the Impala away from the fleet queen status it has maintained for at least a decade. Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but you can be certain it will jump substantially from the ~$23k you can get into one today with. The interior is well above the current full size class in design and amenities. There is still the issue of the steering wheel and buttons, but we'll have to wait till the car gets closer to production. Of note, the Impala has generated more traffic and comments than any other release from the show.

    2013 Lincoln MKZ – As we had essentially seen this car in concept form at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, so the overall look isn't a surprise. This Fusion based Lincoln is a transitional product for Lincoln (hopefully the last such) and Lincoln continues to stress that they have 7 new or refreshed vehicles coming. While the MKZ has some interesting engine options and technology, not to mention the huge sunroof, I think this still isn't enough to bring Lincoln back to prime time. It still doesn't have the interior of the ES and doesn't have the presence of a 2008 CTS. Lincoln needs more, a lot more, if they ever want to be relevant in this class again.

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    2013 Lexus ES – A few months ago a Lexus exec was talking smack on the Buick Lacrosse saying that the next ES interior would blow away the Buick. I'm not sure if he was talking about the next next one or just what, but this 2013 ES ain't it. The ES takes on the predator mouth grill that is spreading throughout the rest of the Lexus lineup, but it doesn't quiet fit on the otherwise slab sided car. The clean lines of the rest of the car break into a mess of creases and folds at the front. Stare at the ES for more than 15 seconds and the Camry/Avalon base is still apparent. The interior is flat and gray. There is no integration between the dash and the door. The lines don't even line up. The center console is hard scratchy plastic in the places where it isn't piano black. The dashboard is just rubber with stitching. You set the parking brake in the ES with your foot. The Lacrosse has electronic parking brake available. After I checked out the ES, I wandered over to Hyundai to check out the Santa Fe and ended up sitting in an Azera. Sticker price on the Azera was $32k, but the interior design was much nicer and better executed. Yes it's a Hyundai and not a Lexus, but to quote Oldsmobile: “It's your $32,000, demand better.”

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    2013 Nissan Altima – The new Altima should make the competition sit up and take notice. The interior is attractively done with a light and airy feel. Controls are laid out in a logical fashion and visibility seems excellent. Of course, having a class leading combined fuel economy won't hurt either. The Sonata and Optima have been the media darlings of the class for about a year now, but my bets are either on the Altima or Fusion taking on that role in the near future.

    Acura RLX concept – This thing is just a mess. It looks like a big, bloated Honda Accord. All that complexity of the hybrid and it only gets 30mpg highway? The V6 Chrysler 300 can do that today. Sure the RLX has 370 horsepower, but that is irrelevant to the target market of this car. A more targeted horsepower number and a blow-your-mind fuel economy number would be more likely to get customers to overlook the dull and dated style.

    2013 Toyota Avalon – The Avalon managed to stay unleaked right up until the reveal, probably because no one could be bothered to click send. Described by Toyota as “bold and sporty”, the Avalon adopts the new corporate face that we know from the Camry. Moving to the new Camry platform, the Avalon boasts better structural rigidity and a re-calibrated suspension. Styling wise, we're not so sure about “Bold and Sporty”. It's a conservative Toyota sedan... burgundy is about as bold as you get here. The let down is how we were teased last week with a drawing from Toyota that showed a car much more rakish.

    Sedans aren't everyone's cup of tea, but if nothing else, the variety of these entries is interesting. What do you think? Are we spot on? Off our rocker? Leave your comments below. Of course, once they visit the C&G garage, you'll get to take part in the review.

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    The Impala interior is the best thing ever to happen to this car since the switch to FWD. The exterior is OK. About time GM spent the money where it matters most.

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    IMPALA, star of the show, but the Lexus ES is the sleeper of the bunch from my chair at least. It surprises me, it's as big a transformation as the Impala, imo.

    MKz leaves me cold, puts me off. And The Altima is too evolutionary for me to care. The Acura is just too beige for me to care one wit about it. Very forgettable.

    The Avalon is mildly interesting. It is an abrupt change from what's come before for the nameplate. I do not believe current customers will like it, and I'm not sure the people who will like it will drive an Avalon, ya know? The new Avalon might be good news for GM... it might steer customers to a LaCrosse 3.6L.

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