It’s been a busy year for carmakers around the world, as they’ve introduced hundreds of new cars, trucks, crossovers and concept vehicles during an auto-show season that began in Paris last autumn.
The annual road show is now wrapping up in the Big Apple, where nearly a million people are expected to visit the New York International Auto Show.
There are some spectacular and jaw-dropping new products on display at this year’s show, which runs April 19 to 28, and they offer a clear indication of just how rapidly the automobile is changing. Electric cars are in abundance. And there’s plenty of new technology, including the world’s first keyless cars, which require only a smartphone to operate.
There are, of course, some duds that showgoers needn’t bother to make the effort to find.
Here’s our look at some of the most impressive new cars, concepts and technologies, as well as some of the models that needn’t have bothered showing up.
Mercedes-Benz: The German luxury-car maker is one of the winners of this year’s show, rolling out eight new models, including a refreshed GLC Coupe, a new CLA 35 entry-level coupe and a full redesign of the GLS full-size SUV. It also revealed a special-edition version of its first all-electric model, the EQC Edition 1886, which will anchor a promised 10 new all-electric models by the middle of the coming decade. The flood of new models shows that Mercedes is investing heavily to make sure its lineup stays fresh at the low and high end. — Mack Hogan
Lincoln Corsair: Like crosstown rival Cadillac, Ford’s luxury brand has been struggling to rebuild its once-formidable reputation, with an emphasis on new SUVs, such as the big Aviator that debuted in New York last year. Corsair replaces the compact Lincoln MKC — while adopting a more distinctive name, striking design and lots of useful technologies. Corsair makes its debut with two turbocharged engines but will have a plug-in hybrid option available within a year. And an all-electric Corsair is also in the works, Lincoln officials confirm. — Paul A. Eisenstein
Subaru Outback: To tell the truth, we’re as much in love with the Subaru stand as the Outback itself. Meant to resemble Yosemite National Park, it offers one of the most tranquil places you can find anywhere in New York, never mind at the Javits Center. As for the Outback, the original model, launched a quarter-century ago, was little more than a Legacy Wagon on steroids, though it helped set today’s crossover boom in motion. The new model is more sophisticated, stylish and capable and should help the Japanese automaker continue what has been a full decade of record annual growth. — Paul A. Eisenstein
Ford Mustang EcoBoost High-Performance Package: The rest of its sedans and coupes may be on the chopping block, but Ford wants to make the most of Mustang’s iconic status. It does that partly by creating special editions such as the Bullittand the Shelby GT500 on the high end. But Ford is also trying to appeal to budget-conscious enthusiasts. The EcoBoost High-Performance Package does just that, upping output to 330 horsepower for the four-cylinder pony car while offering improved handling and braking. It’s a smart way to reach customers who aren’t interested in “base-level” muscle cars but can’t quite afford a V-8 Mustang GT. — Mack Hogan
Hyundai Venue: Hyundai was one of the few brands to gain ground during the Great Recession, but sales hit an unexpected speed bump a couple years back due to a lack of competitive crossovers. It’s rapidly addressing that with models such as the big Palisade, the compact Kona and now its smallest-ever crossover, the Venue. The new model was clearly influenced by Kona, in terms of interior and exterior styling. But with a price expected to start well under $20,000, Venue could have a big appeal to buyers who’d like to get out of the used-car market. — Paul A. Eisenstein
Genesis Mint Concept: A controversial choice, perhaps, but the Mint is one of the most intriguing concept vehicles to roll out at the 2019 New York auto show. The Genesis brand is in its early stages, with just three sedans to offer through a limited dealer network. Many had expected to see the brand reveal its first SUV at the show. Instead, it rolled out a pint-sized two-seater that suggests it is also targeting the small but growing city car market. The sleek show car uses an electric drive system that would mount batteries and motors under the floorboards to free up lots of space for passengers and cargo. A fantasy in chrome? Genesis officials tell CNBC they are seriously considering ways to put Mint into production. — Paul A. Eisenstein
Cadillac CT5: General Motors‘ luxury brand Cadillac makes some of the best performance sedans in the world and has a truly industry-leading technology in its semi-autonomous Super Cruise. Unfortunately, the company’s products are often let down by weak interiors. And despite investing massively in these platforms, Cadillac can’t seem to woo buyers to its sedans. The CT5 is another example of how it just misses the mark. After a thorough redesign, the interior still falls victim to the same cheap matte plastics and awkward control placement. It’s great to see the return of the volume knobs, but the asymmetric placement looks off-putting. — Mack Hogan
Acura TLX PMC Edition: The headline for the PMC Edition is that it is assembled by hand in the same place where Acura builds its awesome NSX supercar, but nobody was complaining that the TLX was built in the wrong place or assembled using too many robots. Instead, critics were let down by a ho-hum interior and forgettable dynamics. While the PMC Edition does offers plenty of tech and high-line trim, it doesn’t fundamentally change the problems the TLX has. We love the Valencia Red Pearl paint borrowed from the NSX, but it’s still hard to see the TLX as a $50,000 car. Acura will only build 360 examples, to be followed by a PMC Edition of the MDX family crossover. — Mack Hogan
Mazda CX-5 Diesel. Mazda has been talking about bringing a diesel version of the CX-5 to the U.S. for years. Now that the excitement has worn off, Mazda is finally pulling the sheet off the CX-5 Diesel in New York, five years after it originally was supposed to arrive. Worse, the oil-burner is only available on the top-trim Signature model and starts at $42,045. Given that the CX-5 Signature with the potent turbocharged gasoline engine starts at $37,935, it’s definitely not the budget option. Diesel engines are also louder, less refined and — in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal — no longer a cool option. We love the gas-powered CX-5, but we’re not sure who this one is for. — Mack Hogan
Hyundai and Lincoln: The two automakers used the show to introduce the world’s first keyless cars. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata and Lincoln Corsair will still come with the wireless fobs found on virtually every automobile today, but both of these new models can be operated by smartphone apps instead. They’ll recognize your phone when you approach and unlock the doors and then allow you to fire up the engine by tapping their “Start” buttons. You can share these digital “keys” with a handful of friends or family, and they even offer valet modes. You can also use the apps to remotely start the vehicles. — Paul A. Eisenstein
Disclosure: Paul Eisenstein is a freelancer for CNBC. His travel and accommodations to the New York International Auto Show were paid for by Ford.