2017 New York Auto Show: Winners & Losers

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

CARS.COM — As the last major U.S. auto show of the 2017 season, automakers packed plenty of new models and concepts into the New York International Auto Show. Like the city itself, the debuts are a paradox of glam and grit, from the elegant, upscale Lincoln Navigator to the raucous and outrageous Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.

Related: 2017 New York Auto Show: Best in Show

We culled the long list of vehicles to just 13; Cars.com editors Aaron Bragman, Joe Bruzek, Fred Meier and Brian Wong logged thousands of steps as they roamed the Javits Convention Center seeing all the automakers had to offer. Here are their takes on what soared and what sunk at this year's show.

2018 Acura TLX

2018 Acura TLX

Joe Bruzek: Loser
I enjoy driving the TLX and think it's an underappreciated premium sedan, but Acura didn't address my biggest gripes with the car: The interior trimmings and upholstery come up short compared with similarly priced beginner luxury sedans, which now feature a crop of inexpensive Audis, Mercedes and BMWs. A little sprucing up of the interior instead of the exterior would have gone a long way.

Fred Meier: Winner
What's not to like about fun to drive? And Acura addressed two big reasons not to buy the current model: The A-Spec Package upgrades a bland, mainstream look (the new Civic was more interesting) and the deal breaker of a multimedia system (not a little thing since it will frustrate you every day).

Aaron Bragman: Loser
I wonder if Acura is succumbing to GM-like 1980s myopia — benchmark only yourself, not your competitors. Anyone from Acura who had spent time in a new Mercedes-Benz or BMW would understand that this interior is simply not up to competitive snuff.

Brian Wong: Winner
I'm with Fred on this one, I think that the A-Spec TLX turns a corner in the styling department and finally looks the part of a sporty, premium sedan. Acura also finally found a good use for that second screen, throwing Android Auto/Apple CarPlay on top while keeping the lower screen free for other inputs.

2018 Buick Enclave

2018 Buick Enclave

JB: Winner
Buick has managed to make the Enclave bigger and nimbler (tighter turning radius) while aesthetically crafting an exterior that looks smaller than the outgoing car. It's still a little sad to see the Avenir name used as a trim package considering the stunning Avenir concept, but naming aside, it's an attractive package.  

FM: Winner
The Enclave always was the best incarnation of GM's big crossover SUVs for quiet comfort and interior materials, and the new one — at least in the Avenir version shown here — raises the bar. Also, props to Buick for keeping the new one big as a full-size choice rather than cloning the new mid-size GMC Acadia.

The redesign sheds the doughy, overstuffed look for sleek lines and promises nimbler, less boatlike handling.

AB: Winner
Proof that Buick doesn't have to rely on Opel for beautiful designs, the new Enclave just continues the trend of ever-better looking, ever-better performing Buick stuff. If Acura's not careful, Buick is going to eat its lunch — if Buick isn't already doing it.

BW: Winner
The Avenir package is nice, but it's just an addendum here. The real reason the Enclave is a winner comes from its enhanced practicality with a flexible second row, added charging options and a large cargo area.

2018 Buick Regal Sportback, TourX

2018 Buick Regal Sportback

JB: Winner
Buick debuting the new Regal as a wagon and hatchback body style instead of a typical sedan is a big move. The Regal Sportback doesn't look like a hatchback but has the function of one, and who can say no to one more wagon on the market? I was especially pleased to see a traditional gear selector inside the Regals rather than the electronic one used in the LaCrosse and Enclave; adding a leather boot and bright trim makes for a classier look than a plastic base. 

FM: Winner
Buick didn't just break the mold with this hatchback and wagon to replace the sedan, it did so with a well-designed and more premium hatchback and wagon rebadged from Opel's redone Insignia line in Europe. The wagon alone would qualify as a winner, but both look great and the nicely detailed interiors are much more in line with Buick's premium aspirations than the old Regal. And the sedan is such a stealth hatchback, it may fly under the anti-hatch radar. The pair also make a great case versus SUVs for vehicles with increased utility but still with carlike handling and efficiency.

AB: Winner
Would you like a Subaru Outback but with styling flair, luxurious appointments and a likely whisper-quiet driving experience? Buick has a new soft-roader wagon for you, and it's a stunner. Even the Sportback four-door looks amazing.

BW: Winner
The previous generation of the Regal had one killer flaw: Its backseat was unpleasant. That's been fixed in the updated versions — it feels like a mid-size car back there with tons of legroom and headroom for all passengers. I like the wagon version especially; the 3 inches of extra length give it a very large cargo area.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

JB: Winner
The sheer cool factor Dodge brought to the New York auto show with the Demon is unbeatable. It freakin' launched the car off the TransBrake at the introduction on a prepped surface for maximum traction. And then the display on the actual show floor has a rubbered, drag-strip surface the car is sitting on — well, two wheels of the Demon, anyway, because it's doing a wheelie. You also can't beat the Demon, period, with a claimed 9.65-second quarter-mile time

FM: Winner
Doing one focused thing better than any rival on the planet is the definition of a winner. Doing it with such outrageousness is even better. 

AB: Winner
Who would have ever thought that the quickest production car on the planet would be a Dodge Challenger? It beats the Bugatti Chiron to 60 mph, it accelerates with more g-force than most cars can generate in corners, and there is literally nothing else like it on the market. So cool.

BW: Winner
I do wish that the styling was a bit more outlandish to match the specs (840 horsepower?!), but that's like nitpicking at a piece of lint on the shoulder of a supermodel. While the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang still seem to grab most of the headlines, the Challenger isn't taking that lying down, and the extra attention is deserved — with the Demon and Hellcat, the Challenger is the muscle car king right now.

Genesis GV80 Concept

Genesis GV80 Fuel Cell Concept

JB: Loser
The GV80 concept looks like a generic award topper for an SUV of the Year trophy. There's little definition or similarity to other Genesis cars and, overall, it's just not very distinct. Imagine what a Genesis G80 SUV would look like. Looks good in your head, right? This isn't it.

FM: Loser
Blah should not be the design direction for what you hope to sell as an expensive SUV.

AB: Winner
Try and see past the stupid honeycomb wheels and pillars, and the concept-y head and taillights, and what you have there is a truly shapely form that evokes the Jaguar F-Pace. I do see the G90 in some of these body lines, and it gives me hope for the eventual production SUV when it finally arrives. Plus, that interior is beautiful.

BW: Loser
Sorry Aaron, but I just can't see past the stupid. The general shape could make it to the production version of the SUV, but nothing else will. I'm not going to write off what Genesis could do between now and when the real vehicle debuts, but the concept shows us pretty much nothing of what it could be. Rebellions are built on hope, not vehicles.

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

JB: Winner
The Clarity Hybrid is funky looking, that's for sure. The inside is also different than what we're used to seeing in plug-in hybrids, with a stylish take including a unique set of trim and upholstery. It's hard to tell in photos, but surfaces that would normally be bland and uncovered are slathered in unique, interesting textures and materials.  

FM: Winner
The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has very competitive capability — 42 electric miles on a charge and about 40 mpg running as a hybrid — in a quiet, comfortable five-seat sedan. The look is a little odd, but it lets the neighbors know you got an eco-car (and that's certainly worked for Toyota's Prius). The eccentric rear wheel opening, which is coupled with a vent, even evokes Honda's pioneering two-seat Insight hybrid. Some of the eco-friendly interior materials look better than they feel, however.

AB: Winner
It looks like a spaceship — like a concept car that we'd have seen on the auto-show circuit 10 years ago — and can do what a Chevy Volt can do with far more grace, space and pace. Very much a winner. Plus, wheel skirts!

BW: Loser
Guys, are you reading what you're writing? Only competitive capability? Styling that evokes the Insight? If you're going to be second to market with something, it has to be better in some way to leapfrog what's come before it. The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid isn't enough of a needle mover for me to overlook its awkward styling. And there's also no volume or tuning knobs on the radio, one of our pet peeves as a staff (I'll recirculate the memo).

2018 Hyundai Sonata

2018 Hyundai Sonata

JB: Loser
The refreshed Sonata is more distinct than before and its safety and infotainment content is a marked improvement, but the redesign only moves the needle a little. I would have liked to see the Sonata's interior take a step in the direction of what Mazda and Volkswagen are doing in their mid-sizers.

FM: Loser
The refresh looks a bit more upscale inside and out but still lags the best current mid-sizers. It will take a full redesign to try to recapture the magic of the stylish and distinctive previous Sonata.

AB: Winner
I knew this would happen — Hyundai went from wild and fun to boring and staid with the last Sonata, and sales fell off a cliff. This attempt to get the magic back is admirable, and it gives me hope for the next full redesign.

BW: Loser
There's incremental improvements as Bruzek alluded to, but they're not enough in my mind to overlook the fact that the new grille on 2.0-liter turbo models looks like it could be used to grate cheese when you're not driving it. It also bothers me that you can't get the more advanced safety features (even as options) on the lower trim levels when that equipment is becoming standard across the class.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

JB: Winner
This auto show is hemorrhaging Hellcat derivatives, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a Grand Cherokee with the Hellcat's 707-hp, supercharged V-8. Pure ridiculousness. I might be burnt out on Hellcats for a while. Or at least until I can drive this one.

FM: Loser
Enough already. Another Hellcat and in an SUV, no less. I know this is heresy, but the 475-hp Grand Cherokee SRT already is a ball, I suspect it's better balanced overall, and at nearly $68,000, it's about as much as I'd want to spend for a Grand Cherokee.

AB: Winner
Loser? My God, man, how can you call the only application of a Hellcat motor in an all-wheel-drive chassis a loser? Despite its weight penalty over the Challenger and Charger Hellcats, I bet it's easier to launch repeatedly and more consistently than either of them!

BW: Loser
Aaron and Joe, I hear what you're saying and I'm more than willing to concede that I'll be writing checkmarks on my wall calendar until I get a chance to drive one. My gripe is the styling; it looks too much like an SRT version and is even less aggressive than the Durango SRT we saw in Chicago. Give me a look that communicates the insanity under the hood.

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar

JB: Winner
Who wouldn't want a more affordable Land Rover Range Rover Sport? The Velar looks the part and has a promising assortment of on-and-off-road tech. Those retracting flush door handles seem like a questionable idea, however, knowing how Land Rover has struggled in reliability reports. 

FM: Winner
Evoque-like style, Range Rover Sport size and presence, and a price that falls between the two. That's a good start, even before you season it with new gee-whiz technology. 

AB: Loser
Looks great on the outside, looks great on the inside — and then you realize that the center console is almost entirely a touch panel, the same tech that Ford abandoned and Cadillac needs to. Awful to use, totally smudged with fingerprints, no luxury-vehicle tactile feedback. No thanks.

BW: Winner
Man, the Velar is pretty and fills a gap that existed in the Range Rover lineup, with the Evoque being too small for families. The touchscreen setup raises concerns, but it does give the center console a minimalist look that's very appealing.

2018 Lincoln Navigator

2018 Lincoln Navigator

JB: Winner
The wow factor of the Navigator Black Label is one of my biggest surprises of the show. The blue Yacht Club interior with chrome highlights may want to evoke the luxury of an expensive boat, but I think it's an amazing recollection of the pure class seen in early 1960s Lincoln Continentals. 

FM: Winner
Like Joe, I did not see this coming. And I was most surprised by the degree to which Ford kept true to the creative details and upscale design of last year's Navigator concept. The new Navigator brings Continental elegance and interior luxury to what is literally a land yacht, and what in the past has been more of a ferry.

AB: Winner
When you walk up to the truck rotating on the stand, peek inside and ask, "Is this the concept?" you know you've done it right. So many beautiful details, a few nods to classic 1960s Lincolns, unique colors — it feels like it's an expensive luxury car, unlike its Cadillac Escalade rival.

BW: Winner
Ditto, ditto, ditto. It's big, stylish, practical, has fantastic interior materials and is on the cutting edge of in-car technology. I'm curious if buying one will cost more than joining an actual yacht club, but I'd probably still take the Navigator anyway.

Mercedes-AMG GT Concept

Mercedes-AMG GT Concept

JB: Winner
The AMG GT concept is the first sedan exclusively designed by Mercedes-Benz's AMG performance division. You know, the folks who made the AMG GT coupe and performance versions of Mercedes' pedestrian vehicles such as a 600-hp wagon and 500-hp compact SUV. They're pretty much the kings of overpowered family cars, and this sedan has a V-8 and electric powertrain good for 805 hp.  

FM: Winner
The AMG GT is a simply gorgeous high-performance hybrid. Mercedes says a version will be built, and if it stays true to this concept car, a Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid will seem lumpy, dumpy and slow.

AB: Winner
Unnnnnnnngggggggggg. God, it's gorgeous.

BW: Winner
I wonder what it's like at the AMG offices because much of Mercedes' lineup feels so staid, but the stuff that comes out of there is consistently bonkers, and the AMG GT is no exception. I wouldn't put it past them to make an 800-hp hybrid performance sedan, and that's why this is a winner for me.

Toyota FT-4X Concept

Toyota FT-4X Concept

JB: Winner
This is what the Toyota C-HR should have been, but, of course, it was a Scion first and now an adopted child by Toyota. The FT-4X is looking forward in interesting ways, like using a smartphone as the dashboard, a wet storage area and the multiple ways the tailgate opens for maximum cargo versatility. All are ideas that fit more closely into a modern small urban explorer vehicle.

FM: Winner
This concept is no mere auto show flight of fancy — in production form, it could be a perfect fit for someone with daily city driving needs and weekend adventure aspirations. It's C-HR-sized but with all-wheel drive and a ton of useful features. And while some of those are just silly gadgets, more of them are creative solutions to meet specific needs and to make smart use of space in a small SUV. 

AB: Loser
Let's forget for a moment that it's ugly and realize that it's a supposed off-roader built on the tepid C-HR platform — that underpowered front-wheel-drive C-HR platform. A spiritual successor to the FJ Cruiser it is not, just when other brands are thinking about making their own (e.g., a new Ford Bronco is coming).

BW: Winner
I get that the C-HR comparisons are giving all of us pause, but I think that's overblown if this will eventually land with a mechanical four-wheel-drive system and no continuously variable automatic transmission. The best things that Toyota makes right now are its off-road vehicles, and if this can offer enough capability, it will only add to that portfolio. Also, using your own smartphone as the display/navigation system is one way to get around not having Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

2018 Volvo XC60

2018 Volvo XC60

JB: Winner
The XC60 is truly a mini-XC90, which by the way was our favorite new car in 2016. I only found a few spots on the XC60 that looked lower-quality than its big brother, but otherwise, it's a very familiar experience and has those luxury qualities in a more manageable size.

FM: Winner
You can have the luxury, features and powertrain options that have made the XC90 a winner but in a more compact and stylish package. That should make this one a winner for all the folks who don't need or want the bulk of the big one.

AB: Winner
This thing is exactly what it needs to be to guarantee success: four-fifths of an XC90. Same great interior, same great tech, same powertrain in a more compact package.

BW: Winner
The previous model had a cramped backseat, but that's been rectified in the new XC60. It's stylish, more practical and it will be offered with that crazy T8 plug-in drivetrain. Four-hundred combined horsepower in a smallish SUV? That's something I can get behind.

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