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Intrepidation

New England International Auto Show

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This past week was the New England International Auto show at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Yesterday Myself, my girlfriend, Sixty8, and his daughter spent the day touring the various displays. This year was bigger and better than the last time I went (two years ago), with more cars, a custom section, and a classic section featuring among other things, a Stanley Steamer and a Duesenberg Model J.

Sixty8, not surprisingly, spent most of the time around the classics, while my girlfriend watched his daughter and waited in line with Sixty8 and his daughter so she could play Gran Turismo in some floating Subaru thing. Meanwhile I went and checked out the new stuff (of course I did look at the classics). So here's my thoughts:

Ford:

Ford's display was the most impressive of anyone at the show I think. Not only did they have the MKS, Flex, and F-150, but the just unveiled Fusion (Sport and Hybrid), Milan, MKZ, and Mustang. That was certainly an unexpected and pleasant surprise, since the last time I went there weren't any concepts or just-unveiled production cars. Those cars were on rotating pedestals (except the Fusion Hybrid, but it was locked).

The Mustang looks fantastic in person. The shape may be familiar but all of the changes add up to really make the car more interesting to look at. I like the new more stylized tail lights, new front end and the upkick. The driver's door was open to show off the interior, which looks a lot nicer than the current one. Now they just need the new engines. It drew the most people of any of the vehicles on display in the Ford section.

The Fusion Sport looks really good in person. The ground effects help a lot I think, and the face is much more dynamic. The rear is still busy but it does look better in person than photos. Combined with it's new powertrains it could very well leapfrog to near the top of the midsize segment.

The Milan looked good as well, and I liked the front end better in person than photos, although I do like the Fusion better still. The doors were open so you can actually see the interior, which looks like a nice step up from the old one.

The MKZ looked very, very good in person. I love the new front end and the rear end looks much better in person. The doors were open on this to, revealing the much more contemporary looking interior.

The MKS was open for display and poking around in, and it was the first car I examined closely. I like the looks of the car, it's nicely proportioned for a FWD based car, and looks good in black...very classy. I absolutely love the interior. The one I sat in was black on white, a combination I think we don't see enough of these days. materials were top notch, better textured and more soft touch surfaces than the Acura MDX I sat in later. Build quality was also excellent. This and the Flex I sat in at a dealership earlier in the week show just how far Ford has come in the interior department.

Ford also had a fun gimmick to get people's attention and promote the Sync system. They had a robot named Hank taht would "come online" at various scheduled times during the day. It would talk to people and ask for names, make a few puns, and of course encourage people to drive/buy Fords. We went to one of the shows at 3:30 and it drew by far the largest crowd of anything at the auto show. So good for Ford. Very creative, even if it obviously was a guy talking through the robot, the fact that it would turn at the waist and move it's upper body and face people was pretty cool. The kids loved it.

Ford also had a pretty sweet promotion going on where they paying people $50 to just go to the dealership and drive one of the cars. Naturally I signed up for it. :D

Ford's layout was one of the best, as they had a sort of central hub where the brands were located around, as opposed to being scattered like GM, Honda, Toyota and Nissan. Although I see there reasoning for grouping their respective premium brands with BMW and Mercedes, I liked not having to go to the opposite side of the showroom to see one company's various brands.

Overall Ford rating: A+

Since Honda was next to the Ford display I went to check out what they had. All that they had to show off that was "new" was the Fit. Which looked a lot better than the old one. I did finally get to sit in an Accord coupe. The interior is very nice nice, far better than the Camry and still a step above the Malibu. I like the exterior of the Accord coupe still too. Still, there wasn't much that was calling for me to check out, and it was the only display where I didn't have to wait my turn to sit in a car...so that says something. I don't think I even grabbed a brochure.

Overall rating: C

Next I went next door to the Toyota display. There they were hyping up the new Venza, one of which was on a rotating display, doing all that they could to convince people it wasn't a wagon. From the side it looks fairly good. Nothing exciting but not terrible. However as is Toyota's new tradition, the front and rear fascias are where it goes to downhill. The back is ok, but overly stylized, and the front is just terrible. From the upright grill to the bulging headlights, someone must be blind in the design center.

Their display was alright, it was overall kind of boring, but it was made more interesting by the 3 Scions they had parked on top 14 foot or so platforms.

Overall display rating: B-

Next I went over to the Chrysler section, which was on the other side of the Ford section. There section was centered around the new Ram and Challenger with a few other cars thrown in. There was no Viper, which sucked, and the brands were barely separated. That's ok though, because what they lacked in display pizazz, made up for with not one but 5 Challengers to drool over. They had 2 SE's, an R/T, and a SRT8. These cars attracted lots of attention, perhaps the most of anything besides Hank the robot. I had to wait like 10 minutes to finally get to sit in the blue R/T (an awesome shade of blue btw). This is a big car. I know this but having the Mustang and Camaro nearby really puts that into perspective. Not that I'm complaining. The interior design was nothing to write home about, but the materials were actually quite good, with plenty of soft areas and well put together. I just wish it came in more colors like the Mustang, and had a better steering wheel. that's nitpicking though. I love the car. It's very roomy up front and actually hospitable in back. It's a bit annoying that you pretty much have to get in through the passenger side, but if I owned it I wouldn't need to worry about such a thing.

There were so many people around the Challengers that I was never able to get a good photo of the entirety of any of them. There were plenty of vocal opinions. Most liked it, some didn't, some just didn't get it (like the 20 something girl who didn't get the point of the retro gas cap saying "FUEL".

The Rams had people looking at them, but I didn't really bother since I spent time with one at the local dealership recently. The are very nice inside and out, and a huge step up over the previous one. IMO the only trucks that give it competition for design inside and out and interior quality are the F-150 and Silverado/Sierra.

It was very smart of Chrysler to have multiple Challengers on hand for everyone to look at, especially considering how popular they were. They also had posters which was cool. Other highlights were a special edition Charger and a Caliber SRT4 which was cool.

Overall display rating: B

Content Rating: A- (no Viper keeps it from A or A+)

Right next to Dodge was Pontiac. They had a very nice display with the Solstice Coupe in the spotlight on a rotating platform. I like it, however the G8's were my favorites. They had a GT and even better, a black G8 GXP. It was locked but oh well. The G8 is such a good looking car. It's very athletic with excellent proportions. The GXP's revised bodywork only improves it. The wheels are sexy too. I want one almost as much as the Challenger and Camaro.

The G8 GT was unlocked so got to poke around inside. Very roomy with a nicely laid out interior. Materials were good and the fit and finish was good as well. My only complaint was that the e-brake release was finicky.

Pontiac also the new Wave, which looks better in person than photos, and a G6 GXP...which had a nice shade of red. There, I said something nice about it.

Many displays had a color chart of the various paint colors the brand offers. Pontiac's was very cool. It was a wall sculpture made of of interlocking Pontiac badges in the various paint colors they offer. Very cool.

Overall rating: A

I did look briefly at Buick. The new LaCrosse was originally scheduled to be here, but with the delay of the car that didn't happen. They had an Enclave on display and another for people to look at, in addition to the LaCrosse and Lucerne.I think the Enclave is easily the best looking large CUV on the market. Inside it's nice as well. Materials are good, however I noticed a couple rather badly misaligned panels on the center stack. ALso, gray does not do it justice.

Still, the Enclave had a lot of compliments from showgoers, a few of them asking the attendants how much they were, and at least one seriously wanting to buy one.

Overall rating: B

Next to Buick was Cadillac. Their display was very nice. I was hoping to see the SRX, but while it wasn't their, the far better of the two upcoming people haulkers were: the CTS wagon. This replaces the Magnum as my favorite and sexiest wagon. It was rotating on display.

I got The XLR and CTS got lots of looks and interest. I was more interested in the CTS. I finally got a chance to site in one and wow is it nice. I see no way that the interior isn't as good as what it's competitors offer...and it looks better than any of them IHMO. Everything was assembled perfectly, and everything felt good and substantial to touch.

Cadillac's other treat was a black and very sexy (and very popular) CTS-V. All I can say is wow does it look ready to tear up the track. The material covering the shifter and wheel is very cool too. Love it.

Overall Cadillac rating: A

Saab was probably the display I liked least of GM's. It had a concept, the 9-X Air. But not the 9-3X or 9-4x. I only took a few photos of the concept. The display just didn't really entice me too look closer.

Overall Saab Rating: C-

Next to Saab was Hummer. They had the H3T, which I thought was very cool. I also sat in a normal H3. Pretty comfortable, and I thought that plastic metal finish on the center stack looked the most like metal of any car I've seen. They also had a display with various toy Hummer vehicles, like a firetruck and stuff, which was cool and unique to the show.

Overall rating: B+

Chevy had a large display, with very cool cars. They had the production Camaro on display (for looking only) with the door open to see the interior. It looks fantastic. It's my first time seeing one in person and I have to say I love it even more than the photos. It had plenty of onlookers, with some people asking about the models and option packages like stripes and so on.

Behind the Camaro was a row of 3 or 4 Corvettes, with the awesome ZR1 included. At this point I was starting to get tired so I didn't wait my turn to sit in one, but the ZR1 just oozes with badassness.

There was a couple of Traverses, which I think are very good looking, and the black looks better in person. The interior design is very nice, and materials seemed good, with good, but not perfect build quality.

I snagged a couple photos of the new Cobalt SS sedan (a coupe was next to it). I didn't sit in it but noticed the door panels were a lot nicer than the cheapo Cobalt LT I had. Looks pretty sharp on the outside, with a a nice shade of red. Love the wheels.

I also got to sit in a black Malibu. Interior is nice, though not quite as nice as the Accord's. The door panels are it's biggest downfall. Still it is overall nice inside, and much nicer than the Camry.

Overall Chevy rating: A

Moving further down was where the other premium brands were (starting with Cadillac).

Acura had the new TSX and TL, and while the TSX has grown on me the TL's front is still terrible. Even the attendants acknowledged this. I sat in an MDX and while the interior wasn't bad, the MKS is actually nicer. That says something when a Lincoln interior is nicer than an Acura interior. The TL's were locked so I couldn't sit with them. The R looks terrible.

Acura has a pretty cool display with a large touchscreen that guests could use to look up info about their cars. I lost interest after that, but Sixty8 can tell you a funny story about his discussion with one of the Acura Reps.

Overall display rating: A

Overall Product rating: C-

Lexus had the new RX, which was the only thing I went their for. It was rotating on display with the doors open. Way to go Toyota, you made it worse. It's front end looks like a droopy blob. I didn't look at anything else, since there's nothing new since the last time I was there besides the LS-F, which is disgusting.

I still like the LS and GS, the new nose on the GS is alright...but not an improvement over the original.

Overall rating: C-

I actually didn't really look at any of the Mercedes.

At BMW I looked at the M3 sedan, which looks awesome in person. I don't care for the regular 3 series, but in M form it looks great. I sat in a convertible. The interior materials were nice, but the design is blah. I don't like it.

Over at Infiniti I looked very carefully at the G37 coupe. i like it lot, and it's very comfy inside. It was also one of the few cars that had the battery connected so you could play with the radio and stuff. Infiniti makes a fine looking coupe. I didn't get a chance to look at the other stuff, which is a shame. They had a nice display and plenty of products though. I respect Nissan as a whole because their designs are pretty original without being ugly.

Overall Infinti rating: A

At the back of the showroom was the exotics: Aston Martin, Maserati, Ferrari, as well as Lotus. They were behind fences that I think you had to stand in line for to look them up close. I just took photos from a distance. They are all sexy though.

I actually didn't bother with Porsche.

Jaguar was at the back too. I sat in the XF, which has a nice interior with high quality materials. It's certainly conservative but it is warm and inviting. The exterior is very nice too.

Coming back on the other side of the show was Nissan. They had the new Cube, 370Z and a GTR.

The Cube is ugly...I like the old one better.

The Z on the other hand looks great. It looks leaner and more athletic than the blunt-nosed 350Z. Nice shade of blue as well. I like it's new shape and the boomerang head and tail lights work much better on it than the Maxima.

The GTR is awesome. What can I say?

Gotta respect Nissan, of all the Japanese brands they are the ones who build everyday cars and cars for enthusiasts. They don't look like appliances and they don't look like knockoffs.

Nissan as a whole gets an A+ Their display was very nice and they had 3 new cars, two of which I think are awesome.

Mazda had a nice display with the Mazda6 as their main feature. One of them you could sit in. I really like the interior layout and cool lighting. Good materials and build quality. Exterior is nice too.

They had a video of the new Mazda3 but the car was not their, which was disappointing.

Mazda gets a B

Kia had the new Soul. Some people hate it, I think it's a least better than the xB, and isn't boring or a knockoff.

I did look at the Sonata, the interior is pretty nice, about on par with the Malibu. The new nose isn't an improvement though.

VW had a nice display, featuring a huge billboard with that old Beetle, their logo and "Das Auto"

The Tiguan was there, although I didn't get a chance to look a t it up close, it's a handsome little CUV.

I love the CC. It's very nice inside with easily the highest quality interior of any of the midsize four-door cars. I love the way it looks, since it reminds me of a lower, chopped version of the Intrepid with a VW front and rear end. It's not a copy or anything but the shape is reminiscent of a car that appeals to me.

The Routan had it's own display complete with those annoying commercial ads. The interior is nicer than what Chrysler offers and the new fascias do look good, but that didn't stop me from giving the rep a hard time about the "German engineered" Dodge Caravan.

VW gets an A for effort and their displays are nice.

I actually didn't get to look at the Genesis, shame on me, but good job Hyundai for building it. They didn't have the coupe.

I skipped Subaru and Mitsubishi.

As mentioned before, there was a section of the auto show that had both classics and custom stuff. the custom stuff was ok, but the classics were really cool. Sixty8 can tell you all about them I'm sure. That section gets an A+, what with such treasures as the Stanley Steamer and the Duesenberg Model J being part of the show.

Alright, I think that's a wrap. Hope you don't mind the reading, just wanted to share. I'll post photos soon.

Edited for typos, and I forgot VW and Mazda.

Edited by Dodgefan
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Cool, thanks for the write-up. I used to go to the NE Auto Show back before I went to college (so last time I went was in 2004), and I remember they usually didn't have anything of interest. They must have real stuff now because the LA show was moved up I guess?

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Cool, thanks for the write-up. I used to go to the NE Auto Show back before I went to college (so last time I went was in 2004), and I remember they usually didn't have anything of interest. They must have real stuff now because the LA show was moved up I guess?

No problem!

It could be because of LA moving up, it could also possibly be NAIAS becoming smaller and, or so it smaller it seems. Either way the NE Auto Show has definitely moved up since I went there in `06.

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Thanks for the pics! That CTS Wagon really is distinctive: it looks like no other SW. Also, it's kinda funny to see a Transit Connect in a US auto show...

A question: no CTS coupe at the show?

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Thanks for the pics! That CTS Wagon really is distinctive: it looks like no other SW. Also, it's kinda funny to see a Transit Connect in a US auto show...

A question: no CTS coupe at the show?

No, sadly, I was looking forward to seeing it. No SRX either, which didn't bother me. I would say this auto show is still considerable less important than NY or LA, but it does seem to be growing, as there were a lot more important, just unveiled cars before. So that's awesome.

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Good times. Although Sofia is in her "act out and defy any attempt at structure" stage

Jessica helped big time by diffusing and distracting.... it was a good day, fun times.

My top 5 fav. NEW cars were: (in about this order)

- Pontiac G8-GXP

- Cadillac CTS-V

- Chevrolet Camaro

- Dodge Challenger

- Mercedes Benz CL

Of course compared to the Duesenberg J, they all pretty much

fell way short.... but that's like saying "you're a pretty damn

good ball player, but Michael Jordan could still whoop your butt"

The Stanley Steamer was to die for a well... not to mention the

other gorgeous pre-war cars like a brass era Ford Model-T,

Chrysler Q coupe that made me drool uncontrollably, not one

but TWO pre-war Buicks, one being PRE-PRE-war, as well as a

1911 Chevrolet, Pierce Arrow, Springfield (American made)

Rolls Royce and a few 1950s & 1960s customs.

I'l post some pis. of my own when i have a chance.

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No, sadly, I was looking forward to seeing it. No SRX either, which didn't bother me. I would say this auto show is still considerable less important than NY or LA, but it does seem to be growing, as there were a lot more important, just unveiled cars before. So that's awesome.

Too bad... I'm sure the coupe looks great.

Good that the show is growing even during tough times.

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g8- best looking sedan available today? anyone disagree?

Jag XF and VW CC might be right up there. Mercedes S class also, but as far as AFFORDABLE....you gotta say G8.

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g8- best looking sedan available today? anyone disagree?

Jag XF and VW CC might be right up there. Mercedes S class also, but as far as AFFORDABLE....you gotta say G8.

Pretty accurate assessment Reg.

One thing that irked me about the show was that most cars had the batteries disconnected. I can understand I suppose, but the CC I sat in had the (power) seat all the way to the front...So I had to sit in it sideways to look inside.

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The G8 is "teh Seks" in plain GT form if you ask me.... the GXP makes it orgazmic.

So clean... yet sporty and upscale... Zeta has sooo much untapped potential. :(

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