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Big Apple makes big splash

Posted by: Mark Bilek

The New York Auto Show kicked off this past weekend and featured an unexpected number of new-product reveals. Several automakers chose the last major show of the season to preview all-new midsize sedans, but the talk of the show was undoubtedly the new Viper. No longer called a Dodge, the SRT Viper is lighter, more powerful and promises to be faster than its predecessor.

Here's a run down of the most significant introductions from the 2012 NY show.

Acura RLX concept - Acura has a history of previewing new production models with concepts and the RLX concept is no different. What was introduced in New York is a thinly veiled version of the luxury-brand's new flagship. The RLX should arrive in dealerships in early 2013 as a '14 model.

The concept RLX has a 310-hp V6, which should be the base engine on the production model. A hybrid model is also slated for the production RLX. Likely called the RLX Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, it will have an electric motor that powers the rear wheels and assists in torque-vector rear-wheel steering assist. Also rumored for production is an electric-revival of the Honda Prelude's four-wheel steering system.

Acura RLX concept

Acura RLX concept

2014 Chevrolet Impala - All new from the wheels up, the 2014 Impala is larger and longer than the car it replaces. Three engines will be offered: A 303-hp 3.6-liter V6, a 195-hp 2.5-liter four and a 182-horsepower "light" hybrid eAssist four. The eAssist-powered model will likely be called Impala Eco and achieve 35 mpg on the highway.

In addition to all new exterior and interior styling, the 2014 Impala will be available with a host of new safety features including forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and blind-spot alert. The '14 Impala should hit dealerships in the first quarter of 2013.

2013 Chevrolet Impala

2013 Chevrolet Impala

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe - The oldest vehicle in the Hyundai lineup gets a complete reworking for 2013. The '13 Santa Fe will come in two models, short- and long-wheelbase. The short wheelbase model, called Santa Fe Sport, directly replaces the current model and will seat five. The long-wheelbase model is nearly nine inches longer than the sport, seats seven and supplants the outgoing Veracruz.

The Sport gets a 2.4-liter four that's good for 190 hp. Optional is a 264-hp turbo four that's expected to rate 31 mpg on the highway. Long-wheelbase models get the 290-hp 3.3-liter V6 from the Hyundai Azera. Front and all-wheel drive versions will be offered. Sport goes on sale in the summer while long-wheel-base model hits the showrooms this winter.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

Infiniti LE concept - Perhaps the only intro in the Big Apple that isn't a lock for production was Infiniti's all-electric LE concept. Infiniti hopes to build upon all that's been learned from the sister-division Nissan Leaf and create an electrically powered luxury sedan.

The LE is 10 inches longer than Leaf and uses, at least in concept form, a 134-hp electric motor. Given the right batteries and environmental conditions, range would be about 100 miles on a charge. One unique feature that sounds promising is inductive charging via a special garage-floor-mounted pad. This would free operators from having to plug-in the LE each evening. Infiniti officials didn't announce any production plans.

Infiniti LE Concept

2013 Lexus ES - Lexus took the wraps off a new version of its best-selling model, introducing an all-new ES line. For 2013, the ES grows modestly in both wheelbase and length, with most of the gain going into additional rear-seat leg room. Two models will again be offered, the ES 350 with a 3.5-liter V6 and the ES 300h hybrid with a 2.5-liter four/electric combo that should be good for about 180 hp.

The all-new interior will feature touch-sensitive controls, vinyl "NuLuxe" seats and Lexus' Enform infotainment system that includes apps that allows for audio streaming, making restaurant reservations, buying movie tickets and getting local news and weather reports. Expect the ES to go on sale this summer.

2013 Lexus ES

2013 Lexus ES

2013 Lincoln MKZ - Hot of the heels of a concept reveal in Detroit this past January, the 2013 production MKZ made its debut in the Big Apple. Sporting all-new styling inside and out, the new MKZ will again share platform and engines with the Ford Fusion. Three engines will be offered: a 240-hp turbocharged four cylinder, a 300-hp 3.7-liter V6 and a gas/electric hybrid that's said to offer 188 hp.

Front- and all-wheel drive models will be available. Unique features include a 15.2-sq. ft. glass roof panel and rear seat belts that inflate to protect occupants in a crash. No word yet on pricing, but expect the see the 2013 MKZ on dealer lots later this year.

2013 Lincoln MKZ

2013 Lincoln MKZ

2013 Lincoln MKZ

2013 Nissan Altima - For the third generation in a row, Nissan chose New York to take the cover off of its midsize Altima. The Asian automaker claims that the new model will offer better handling, improved fuel economy and a more refined feel. Like the current car, two engines are offered a 182-hp four cylinder and a 270-hp V6. Gone is the hybrid model that was only offered in California.

The '13 Altima gets an all-in-one infotainment system called NissanConnect. It blends Bluetooth, streaming audio, hands-free text messaging and Pandora Internet Radio. Google also gets a play with a "send-to-car" enabled navigation system.  New safety features include blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning and remote engine start. Nissan wouldn't confirm when the new Altima will go on sale.

2013 Nissan Altima

2013 ni

2013 STR Viper - Looking more like a souped-up version of the original than an evolution of the outgoing model, the new Viper made a LOUD intro in New York. Mopar's super sports car is all new, including the switch from its Dodge to SRT nameplate. Still a fire-breathing V10-powered hot rod, the '13 Viper sports 640-hp, a significantly stiffer chassis, is lighter and more nimble than its predecessor and gets back its swagger with side exhaust pipes.

The interior gets an update with steering-wheel-mounted controls, a touchscreen display and Chrysler's uconnect multimedia system. A luxury model will be available as will a sport-orientated track pack option. The 2013 Viper will go on sale in late 2012.

2013 SRT Viper

2013 SRT Viper

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek - The East Coast is a terrific market for Subaru, as such the purveyor of all-wheel-drive cars and crossovers traditionally uses the New York show to debut its latest models. This year was no different as the compact XV Crosstrek hit the ground running. Based on a raised-suspension version of the Impreza chassis, the XV comes with a 148-hp 2.0-liter four and either a five-speed manual or CVT automatic.

Sporting full all-wheel drive and 8.7 inches of ground-clearance, the XV is sure to carry on Subaru's go-anywhere tradition. Features include Bluetooth, HD Radio, and steering-wheel shift paddles. Expect the 2013 XV Crosstrek in dealerships this fall at the earliest.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

2013 Toyota Avalon - Seems like only yesterday that Toyota was introducing the current-generation Avalon at the Chicago Auto Show. This latest model sheds its formal and upright styling for slippery new duds that not only give the new Avalon a dashing new look but also improve fuel efficiency. The '13 Avalon isn't any longer than the current model, but cargo and interior room are said to grow substantially thanks to a longer wheebase.

Toyota officials were mum on powertrain combinations, but we'd expect to see Toyota's venerable 3.5-liter V6 under the hood and perhaps a hybrid version if gas prices stay north of $4.00 per gallon. Safety features include 10 airbags, blind-spot alert and cross-traffic alert. Expect the Avalon to go on sale in the last quarter of 2012.

2013 Toyota Avalon

2013 Toyota Avalon

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