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“Just hanging around New York waiting for my big debut,” tweeted Toyota USA (Toyota)
“Just hanging around New York waiting for my big debut,” tweeted Toyota USA (Toyota)

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What's in store at the New York Auto Show Add to ...

This week’s New York International Auto Show media preview features world debuts for all-new products like the Cadillac CTS, Subaru’s first gas-electric hybrid and a more sleekly styled Toyota Highlander, with the auto makers putting out varying degrees of intriguing information or teaser photos before the wraps were officially removed Wednesday or Thursday.

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Cadillac will show a larger and more angular CTS, growing to provide room for the new ATS as the brand’s sport sedan to rival the 3-Series. The mid-size CTS will feature vertical LEDs almost down to the trailing edge of its lower front lip, emphasizing the car’s increased slab-sided muscularity. GM hadn’t released any official photos of the car as of press time, but many had leaked out from at least one private photo account on Flickr, and have been widely distributed online and by the USA Today website.

What is official about the 2014 CTS now are its various powertrain choices, highlighted by an impressive turbocharged 3.6-litre V-6, putting out a gargantuan 420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. That’s a massive 118 hp per litre, making more power per litre than BMW’s highly regarded 300-hp, 3.0 turbocharged inline-six, and even more horsepower overall than the BMW 550i’s 400-hp, 4.4-litre V-8.

This new engine will become GM’s most powerful V-6 ever, powering the luxury-oriented mid-sizer from rest to 96 km/h in 4.6 seconds. The USA Today site reported this would be the engine in the new CTS-V model. It will be mated to an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters when the new CTS debuts this fall, and will also become available around the same time on the full-size XTS built in Oshawa, Ont.

Though this top-end engine sounds impressive, the majority of CTS buyers will likely opt for one of the other two engines, a non-turbocharged version of that same 3.6-litre V-6, or a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder, as used in the ATS.

Toyota will show two all-new products at the show: an all-new Highlander crossover, and a new Scion tC sports coupe.

Toyota’s teaser image of the Highlander shows little more than one headlight, but its swept-back nature as well as some expressive hood and front fascia contouring suggests that the company is no longer content to put out a functional design that offends no one. As such, it appears to be following a similar tack to its redesign of its popular RAV4, relegating the plain two-box shape to the dustbin, and likely adding a third row to differentiate it from the similarly Camry-based Venza.

No such visual hints on the upcoming Scion, however, which is set to debut Thursday morning.

Subaru confirmed that it will unveil a hybrid version of its Crosstrek XV in New York, the first hybrid the Japanese company has produced, with plans to bring it to North America at some point.

Then comes the cryptic line in Subaru’s New York show teaser release: “In addition, Subaru unveils a concept version of its performance model.” Since Subaru already showed a concept version of what the BRZ STi may look like at the Los Angeles auto show in 2011, chances are this will be a convertible version of the normally aspirated BRZ, since Toyota showed a droptop concept of its Scion FR-S at the Geneva show a few weeks ago.

BMW i3 pre-orders mounting

The carbon-fibre-bodied BMW i3 will be on sale by the end of 2013, perhaps early 2014 in Canada, and the chairman of BMW’s management board says the firm is encouraged by the hundreds of deposits it has already received for it, with the first pre-production version coming out of the new plant in Leipzig, Germany.

Dr. Norbert Reithofer told firm’s annual earnings press conference in Munich recently that the i3 would offer an all-electric range of approximately 150 km, with the introduction of the firm’s first mass-marketed electric vehicle a key aim for 2013.

“Many people here in Germany have a fairly skeptical view of the subject based on our local and regional circumstances,” he said, referring to the unlimited high speeds allowed on many of its highways that suck up EV range very quickly. “However, anyone driving in other countries in Europe or in a state like California will notice that many major cities now have parking areas with charging stations for electric cars. … And true mega-cities have no choice but to promote alternative methods of mobility in the medium term.”

The production i3 is set to debut at the Frankfurt auto show in September. An optional gas-powered range extender will use a two-cylinder motorcycle engine to provide an extra 130 km or so of range, for about 280 km of realistic range in total.

However, it is possible to push this figure higher using one of two EcoPro modes, to 220 km using only electricity, and 350 km in total with the range extender, Maximilian Kellner, BMW’s head of product management for the i division, told Automotive News Europe recently.

In EcoPro mode, the i3 dulls throttle response and climate control output, adding about 20 km to its electric range. In EcoPro+ mode, the system shuts down all systems that use electricity save for safety systems such as ABS and electronic stability control, adding about 40 km, Kellner told the industry trade book.

Jeep unveils off-road concepts

Jeep unveiled six knobby-tired off-road specials recently for this year’s annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, which gathers hardcore off-road enthusiasts for a week and finishes on March 31.

Traditionally, such “concepts” are based on Jeep production vehicles, though none of these heavily modified and accessorized creations make it to showroom floors. However, they do all feature Jeep or Mopar parts and accessories that are either available now, or are prototype pieces being considered as offerings.

For this year, the concepts included:

  • Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk: using the heavily revised GC with the V-6 diesel, 35-inch off-road tires, the hood from the go-fast GC SRT, enlarged wheel openings and custom fender flares.
  • Jeep Wrangler Stitch: a lightened Wrangler with the power-to-weight ratio of the Grand Cherokee SRT, this is the ultimate definition of bare bones: stereo, speakers, rear seats and climate control systems have all been removed. It has a lightweight see-through fabric on some parts to replace metal body panels.
  • Jeep Wrangler Mopar Recon: Stuff a 470-hp 6.4-litre V-8 Mopar crate engine under the hood of a four-door convertible Wrangler, add a 4.5-inch lift kit on huge 39-inch knobby tires, then add protruding “Stinger” bumpers, and you end up with this Recon concept.
  • Jeep Wrangler Sand Trooper II from Mopar: Using a poached 5.7-litre V-8 Hemi and monster-truck-like 40-inch tires, this concept uses the ever-popular Warn winch, front and rear half door and window kits, and a Mopar satin black grille.
  • Jeep Wrangler Flattop: This concept is meant to portray a more upscale appearance than the utilitarian Jeep off-roaders, but still with plenty of capability. The B-pillar was removed and a custom one-piece, “window-less hardtop” installed.
  • Jeep Wrangler Slim: Sensing a theme? Hardcore off-roaders love their Wranglers. Weight was also targeted in this two-door convertible, but to a more realistic level than in the Stitch.
 
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