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2014 New York Auto Show - Auto Makers Extend Worldwide Reach With High Tech, Restyled Models


By Martha Hindes
Senior Editor
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

NEW YORK, April 16, 2014 -- If any theme is emerging from the introductory hours of 2015 new vehicle introductions at the New York International Auto Show media days just underway, it comes in one word: Global. Such diverse vehicle names as Jeep, Nissan and even Mustang have an expanding worldwide audience in their sights.

Jeep introduced a new iteration of its legendary historical off roader with a new Renegade, what some might call the original purists' Jeep. Unlike other recent Jeep entries that have morphed more into car-substitute crossover appearances, the Renegade is essentially more boxy and retains the famed round headlamps, seven slot grille, trapezoidal wheel arches and flatter, more upright windshield synonymous with Jeep. Like its predecessor, it is trail ready to the max with two advanced 4 X 4 systems, Active Drive and Active Drive Low that, with a 9-speed automatic that can generate a 20:1 crawl ratio in rock mode for true rock climbing. It even brings back those red tow hooks. With a more refined interior, Jeep calls it trail ready and city friendly. The 2.4 liter Tigershark engine can reach 30-plus MPG, and generates 184 horsepower and 177 lb.ft of torque. Looking for more purists? They would like to attract younger, newer ones.

A big target market for Jeep expansion, especially the Renegade, is China where the brand and all kinds of Jeep paraphernalia already are ahead of the curve, and potentially millions of new buyers are simply waiting for their availability.

Global might not seem the discernable identity for Ford’s legendary Mustang pony car, introduced today atop the Empire State Building by company Executive Chairman and family heir Bill Ford at the same time company President and CEO Alan Mullaly was doing similar honors at Beijing, China’s auto show. The introduction coincided with Ford’s New York global debut of the 2015 Focus Sedan. The Empire State Building is the same place Ford showed off the original Mustang for its inauguration at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Today, Ford introduced a special 2015 fastback 50th Anniversary Limited Edition version of the Mustang that comes in two colors, the original Wimbledon White and Kona Blue. The Stang will be immediately identifiable to any Mustang enthusiast with altered versions of the classic side scoops, tri-lens tail lamps and other retained cues. Trims, including tail lamps will have chrome treatments, heralding back to the vehicle’s initial early ‘60s concept. Only 1964 of what are expected to be snatched up as collectors’ editions will be sold, each with Bill Ford’s signature emblazoned on the instrument panel.

Ford’s COO Mark Fields,who opened the New York show, said Mustang has always belonged to the world. He cited 9 million Mustangs sold so far with 1 million of those going to Europe. Mustang clubs are prevalent worldwide.

The newly restyled Focus aims to retain its position as a worldwide sales leader with the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine that has been anticipated globally for its punch down drivability and fuel economy gains.

Global car leader Toyota showed off its redesigned midsize Camry family car for 2015, accelerating the redesign cycle from its previous generational change in 2011. Toyota cited the changes developed to meet performance, comfort and styling improvements requested by Camry owners, by adding some pizazz but not abandoning its more conservative family-oriented core. The “nearly from scratch” rebuild includes nearly 2,000 new parts, according to Toyota, with only the roof remaining unchanged. Improvements include greater core body torsional rigidity aided by more spot welds, more sophisticated and “athletic” (aka bolder) styling cues, suspension improvements and “soft touch” interior additions, plus improved JBL audio, with Toyota’s InTune audio accessible. It also is has the first wireless charging for smart phones. Toyota has a lot to gain with its accelerated redesign. It claims the spot as global industry sales leader for the past dozen years, a position it does not want to relinquish in the face of stiff competition.

The reveal of Nissan’s restyled 2015 Murano at the New York Auto Show might not have seemed overly significant but for three little words tacked onto the end of the introduction meant to show off its superior capabilities, more supple design language (translated fluidic sculpture 2.0 with such cues as “refined intensity” outside including a “floating roof” appearance, plus “social lounge” interior) a diet for improved fuel economy and upgraded safety qualifications. Those words? Apple CarPlay. When that is included, a vehicle essentially becomes the world’s largest iPhone app. Actually, the Murano is by no means the first to have CarPlay, but to remain competitive globally with such hot competitive vehicles as Ford’s SYNC-enabled Escape, it has to stand out. Now it promises to actually sound out. Considering the right of passage for any auto maker now is its ability to snag the techiest out there, this should have significance for Nissan.

Despite the curious, unexplained absence of Volkswagen Jettas on sale at U.S. dealerships for the past few days, the compact auto was in full view at today’s media launch in New York. It was the world premiere for this longtime global sales leader, and goes on sale in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2014. Improvements cited by VW included some styling cues, most notably in the front (grille, bumper and adaptive lighting with 15 LEDs forming a signature daytime/nighttime light string below Bi-Xenon headlamps) and rear design and interior improvements. Also included are technology and safety upgrades throughout. A 1.4-liter turbocharged full hybrid is there and -- to coax potential American buyers -- a new EA 288 2.0-liter turbgocharged TDI Clean Diesel joins the pack. It includes a closable radiator shutter to improve warmup time and reduce wind drag. That in addition to three previous 4-cylinder gasoline powerplants: 2.0-natutrally aspirated and 1.8 and 2.0 turbos.