Winners and Losers From the 2019 New York Auto Show - The Short List

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

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Press days at the 2019 New York International Auto Show are over. Which reveals impressed us most and which ones left us wanting for more?

Subaru and Lincoln, Toyota, Acura, Cadillac and plenty of other automotive brands made news in Manhattan this week. From subcompact crossovers to luxury sedans, three-row utility vehicles to funky-looking concepts, plenty of significant products were unveiled. Naturally, we had some favorites plus a few we didn’t love quite as much, oh, even some vehicles that split the difference.

SEE ALSO: 2019 New York Auto Show Coverage

WINNER: 2020 Toyota Highlander

First up, the brand-new 2020 Toyota Highlander. This three-row family hauler has been completely redesigned from the foundation up. Now riding on a variant of the automaker’s ubiquitous TNGA architecture, it should provide more comfort, refinement and features than ever before. Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto will be standard, ditto for Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes things like road-sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and more. A 295-horsepower V6 engine hauls around mainline models but a hybrid drivetrain will also be offered. Gasoline-powered versions of this fourth-generation SUV should go on sale in December, the hybrid variant next February.

WINNER: 2020 Subaru Outback

Unquestionably, one of the most significant reveals in New York this year was the 2020 Subaru Outback. Built atop the Japanese automaker’s latest global vehicle architecture, this versatile SUV should is expected to deliver top-notch safety ratings and come with plenty of tech, including Subaru’s EyeSight suite of advanced driver aids. A base 2.5-liter boxer-four provides a respectable 182 horsepower but for drivers that want more giddy-up, a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine is also offered. It delivers a muscular 260 ponies. In typical Subaru fashion, all-wheel drive is as standard as like doors, exterior paint or glass windows.

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WINNER: 2020 Hyundai Venue

Our final New York Auto Show winner is the diminutive Hyundai Venue. When this subcompact crossover goes on sale in the fourth quarter of the year, it should be the most affordable SUV in the automaker’s sprawling lineup. A subcompact offering, you can kind of think of it as a Korean version of the Nissan Kicks, an affordable and well-liked vehicle. The only engine offered in the Venue (at least in America) is 1.6-liter four-cylinder, likely with around 130 horsepower. It can be matched to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an available CVT. Expect plenty of standard equipment in the Venue and a slew of optional driver aids in this itsy-bitsy crossover.

UNDECIDED: Volkswagen Tarok

Our first undecided New York reveal is the Volkswagen Tarok, a small concept truck that made its U.S. debut in New York. It was first revealed at the Sau Paolo Motor Show late last year. This pickup is based on VW’s MQB unibody architecture and is less than 194 inches long. Despite its trim dimensions, the Tarok can still haul more than you’d think thanks to its innovative bed, which can be expanded into the back seat, kind of like an old Chevrolet Avalanche. This concept looks awesome but the problem is Volkswagen has no plans to offer it in the U.S., though supposedly they are gauging customer interest. If you like what you see here, you’d best let them know.

UNDECIDED: Genesis Mint Concept

The next vehicle’s editors were split on is a design study from Genesis, the latest South Korean luxury automotive brand. The Mint Concept is a tiny, all-electric urban runabout with room for just two people, though there is a parcel shelf behind the seats for stashing luggage or goods. Cleanly styled on the outside, this vehicle’s cabin is just as pretty, with loads of leather and an understated design. Driving range is a claimed 200 miles (322 km), which seems pretty low but, again, in dense metropolises where this car is intended to be used that’s probably more than enough. Genesis has no plan to offer a production version of the Mint Concept, not yet at least.

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UNDECIDED: 2020 Cadillac CT5

Next up, our last undecided selection is the Cadillac CT5, a brand-new sedan from GM’s longstanding luxury division. Based on a rear-wheel-drive architecture, motivated by a turbocharged-four or twin-turbo V6 and even available with the brand’s outstanding Super Cruise system, there’s certainly A LOT to like here. But there are also a few things that leave is shaking our heads, like the overall proportions. Does anyone else see a bit of Chevy Cruze in that roofline? Also, Cadillac is introducing a new way of distinguishing between powertrains by listing each engine’s torque output in Newton-meters and rounding up to the nearest 50. Confused? You should be.

LOSER: 2019 Mazda CX-5 Diesel

As for losers, our first one is the Mazda CX-5 diesel, an unexpected choice. Yes, we love this crossover’s upscale interior and excellent road manners, but that compression-ignition engine has had more delays than American Airlines operating out of Chicago O’Hare during a blizzard. The culprit is an extremely tardy 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D unit that delivers an estimated 168 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. Additionally, this engine comes at a time when diesel is under intense scrutiny for its less-than-spotless reputation. As the competition moves on with hybrids and EVs this CX-5 feels a bit behind the curve.

LOSER: 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition

The next LOSER on this list is the Acura TLX PMC Edition, a handcrafted sports sedan that’s a lot more sizzle than steak. Unexpectedly, it’s built in Ohio at the firm’s Performance Manufacturing Center, AKA the factory where the NSX supercar is assembled. Arguably this sports sedan’s only real standout feature is its vivid paint job. The color in question is called Valencia Red Pearl and was previously reserved exclusively for the NSX. In all, it takes five days to paint one of these TLXs and they undergo the same hand inspection process given to Acura’s exotic. Production of the PMC Edition is capped at just 360 examples. They’ll be priced at around $50,000 apiece and should go on sale this summer.

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LOSER: 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition

Wrapping things up, the Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition is our last New York Auto Show LOSER. Yes, this car is fun to drive, and yes that vintage-inspired racing livery looks exceptionally cool, but the current Z is so old at this point you can practically hear its bones creaking while just looking at photos of one. Such an important and revered nameplate deserves so much more for its 50th birthday than some two-tone paint and a few bolt-on parts. C’mon, guys, give us an all-new Z!

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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