Despite the New England International Auto Show being on the second (or maybe even third or fourth) tier of auto shows, I somehow feel obligated to go each year as it is only a half hour away. I'm not sure why though. I continue to be disappointed by it. Whether its the plethora of plain Jane models I have seen over and over again, the euro trash weenies from Boston who always show up with a boatload of cologne and unbuttoned shirts, the $7 hotdogs that are somehow passed off as "food" or the $12 parking on top of the entrance fee, it really pushes the limits of what I am willing to accept while keeping my sanity.
Nonetheless, I returned this year and there were a few items of note.
1--The new Ford Escape: Way too bland. The current and older versions of the Escape differentiated itself from its competitors in terms of its looks if not its capabilities. It used to have a more masculine, angled appearance. It looked the part of a small, capable SUV. Now? It looks just like every other mini-SUV, similar to the Nissan Rogue, Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4, Kia Sportage, Chevy whatever...and on and on and on...they all have the individual style of a bubble. Boring and a rare miss in design from Ford these days.
2--The Audi A7: Nice from the front, horrid from the rear. While the front carries the same solid good looks as the entire Audi line, the rear looks like the engineers fell asleep and merely extended the wheelbase with no thought of appearance. The rear window is bulbous and enormous...hell, it even reminded me of a AMC Pacer with the amount of glass back there...its not a good look.
3--Hyundai Veloster: Really nice. At only 130 HP its no screamer but the coming turbocharged version should help that. There are so many angles and crevices in it that it will be a detailer's nightmare but it all comes together well. Now if only they made the front scoops just beneath the headlights functional air vents to direct airflow over the brakes or to pull hot air away from the engine bay.
4--Mini Countryman: If I wasn't a big Nissan geek, this would potentially be one of my next vehicles. Not nearly as feminine as one would think the Countryman is a good looking small SUV that should be well built and handle nicely. Really hits the current sweetspot in the market in terms of style and price.
5--Buick Encore: What a joke. Really?? A mini, economy SUV from Buick? The style is a near complete retread of the Pontiac Vibe and about the same size, there is nothing distinguishing here except for its likely Buick-like over price point. Another fail from Government Motors.
6--Chevy Colorado--Nothing new here, perhaps the most ignored vehicle of the show. Which is almost a shame. I like its looks and middle of the road size but at over $31K for 4WD and crew cab, there is virtually no chance this is a player in the market.