During CNET's press preview of the 2012 New York International Auto Show, I did not see some of the cars I hoped for, but saw plenty I liked. This show proved to be the most practical of the season, eschewing weird concept cars for real rubber meets the road stuff. The cars presented here are the ones you will see on the road and consider buying.
I was particularly pleased to see some much-needed new tech features from Acura, Infiniti, and Subaru, which should keep those companies relevant in this increasingly competitive space. Also on the stands were another affordable and economical BMW, along with a very strong showing of what will come of the Chrysler reorganization under Fiat. And let us not forget the flying car. Everyone wants to know about the flying car.
Here are some of the hot new cars from the show.
The Viper is back, shedding its Dodge branding for the newly formed SRT division under Chrysler. Where the old Viper relied on raw power, this new version takes advantage of technology to improve its performance handling and everyday driveability. And what SRT has produced looks like something that can go head-to-head with the supercars of the world. Traction and launch control systems now keeps the 600 pound-feet of torque from shredding the tires at each start. And the surprise feature is a driver-configurable LCD instrument cluster.
With the Nissan Leaf on the roads, it was only a matter of time before Infiniti came out with a fully electric luxury car. The LE concept goes a long way toward showing what that car will be. Infiniti says the LE is 85 percent complete, so will probably appear next fall at the Los Angeles auto show as a new production car. This new electric sedan not only has an innovative powertrain, but also showcases new cabin connected cabin technology based on the Intel Atom processor, a .
Acura had been lagging somewhat behind the competition with its tech game, but the RLX concept signals a surge forward. This big sedan uses the new all-wheel-drive hybrid system developed by Honda engineers, a variation of which was seen in the NSX concept supercar. The drive system is comprised of a direct-injection V-6 complemented by an electric motor at the front wheels, and dual electric motors on the rear wheels, producing 370 horsepower but turning in an estimated 30 mpg. Acura promises new cabin tech with the RLX, using Harman's Aha connected services. The concept looks near ready for production, so will probably be shown at either the next Los Angeles or Detroit auto shows.
BMW showed off its smallest SUV, heralding its introduction to the U.S. The little X1 uses the same technology that makes the 3-series such an excellent car, plus all-wheel-drive. It can be had with a four-cylinder engine, delivering excellent fuel economy and decent power, or a six-cylinder for some real speed. The cabin tech may all be from current BMW stock, but that puts it near the top of current production cars. The X1's compact size and practicality, and starting price of $31k, should make it an instant hit.
Hyundai continues its model makeover with an all-new Santa Fe. Make that two Santa Fes, as the model has diverged into the five-passenger Sport and the standard longer wheelbase seven-passenger version. Both boast direct-injection engines to maximize power and fuel economy. The Sport even has an adjustable power steering system, where the driver can choose different levels of boost. At the top end, the Santa Fe will get an 8-inch LCD showing navigation, plus connected features through Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system.
To get the big view of what is on the show floor in New York, click through our mega gallery. We have almost 50 photos from the show, with the new model releases, concepts, and some eye candy in the form of exotics and vintage cars.
Click our New York auto show coverage page to see more stories from the show. The 2012 New York International Auto Show officially opens this weekend, and runs until April 15.