Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Northeast International Auto Show Review

Alexander Carabitses

The 2016 Northeast International Auto Show, held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence every February, took place about a month ago.  Providence is a consumer show, and a small one at that.  Due to a lack of floorspace, some automakers are relegated to hallways, while others cannot bring their complete lineup to the show. However, for the average consumer, the person who's child likes cars, or for the local car guy who doesn't feel like driving up to Boston or down to New York, the Providence auto show still serves as a great venue to satisfy these peoples' interests.  For me, it is another opportunity to get some first (or second) impressions on a variety of mainstream car models.

*Note: Some of the pictures you see below are from previous auto shows, including New York(2015) and Boston (2015 and 2016)

  • 2016 Mazda CX-3:  In my mind, this vehicle is the best subcompact crossover out there.  The quality is as good, if not better than some German cars, while the design is refreshing.  Of course, because this is a Japanese car, you can bet that its reliability is bullet proof.  Oh, and from what I've heard, these things drive great too. 

  • 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: I have nothing, but praise, for this little roadster.  Once again, Mazda has combined bold design and performance, with German material quality and Japanese reliability, to form a wonderful package.

  • 2016 Volvo XC90: This vehicle is a big improvement over its predecessor.  The exterior design has grown on me, quite a bit, while the interior is also a nice place to be.                                      

  • 2016 Audi Q7: The interior on this crossover is identical to that of the new Audi A4.  If you read my Boston car show post rom a few weeks back, then you'll remember that I wasn't a big fan of the new A4's interior, and my opinions have not changed since then. 

  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma: While the exterior design is somewhat refreshing over the previous generation Tacoma, the interior is revolting, as it features a bland design that is covered in miles of black plastic.

  • 2016 Toyota Avalon: This is nothing more than a mild refresh of Toyota's flagship sedan.  I sat in the car and didn't even notice anything different.  

  • 2016 Toyota Rav4:  For 2016, the Rav4 has revived a minor refresh, featuring a tweaked front fascia, refreshed interior, and an optional hybrid powertrain.  I found the exterior to be decent, but the interior had a layout that was a bit too strange, in my opinion. 

  • 2016 Honda Accord:  Since it is only a refresh, there isn't anything to take note of on the inside.  However, the exterior has a new front end, which mimics the Acura grille, or beak, as I've heard others call it.  It is distracting on this car and it looks ugly.

  • 2016 Honda Pilot:  The redesigned Pilot looks a hell of a lot better than its predecessor, inside and out. 

  • 2016 Nissan Altima: A decent mid-cycle refresh to one of the best selling cars in America. If I'm honest, beyond the tweaked front end design, there isn't a lot to write home about. 

  • 2016 Nissan Sentra:  If you are the type of person who wants safe and reliable transportation to get from point A to point B, then the refreshed 2016 Nissan Sentra is the car for you. 

  • 2016 Nissan Titan XD:  I really can't come up with a word that describes this new Titan best.  I guess I can say it looks like Iron Man, and that would be pretty accurate so I'll stick to it.  I guess I can also say that it looks unoriginal, and like a tweaked Ford Super Duty.  None the less, the interior was not bad, and this should give Nissan some ground to stand on in the full-size pickup truck segment. 

  • 2016 Ram 1500 Rebel:  A nice looking off-road trim level for the Ram 1500.  It is also pretty damn deceptive, as it makes you think it is as capable as the Ford F-150 Raptor, even though it isn't. 

  • 2016 Ram Promaster City: Honestly, I don't know why I'm even including this cargo van in the post.  At any rate, the Promaster City is simply a midsize cargo van, similar to the likes of the Ford Transit Connect.  The Ram is based off the European Fiat Doblo, and while it appears to be a good van, Ford still offers a better product in this segment.

  • 2016 Ford Explorer:  For 2016, the Explorer received a nice facelift, which brought the front end design back to its routes.  While I didn't like it at first, I must say, it has grown on me.  The interior, while not drastically different from before features buttons and knobs, which has to be a good move.

  • 2016 Buick Cascada:  While this is a nice car, I cannot understand why Buck decided to launch a vehicle in the US market, which features the interior found on previous generation Buick models.  All the Buicks that feature this interior (the Verano and the Encore) are being redesigned soon, so this vehicle is essentially 4 or 5 years old, yet it has just gone on sale.

  • 2016 Chevrolet Malibu: If one wants to purchase or lease a new Malibu, they should opt for the fully loaded model (similar to the one seen on that new Malibu commercial).  The materials and colors on the interior are striking, at least as far as mainstream cars are concerned.  However, I also sat in an entry level Malibu in Boston, and found the interior to be subpar and boring.  Also, the wheels on the base model were too small.  However, this is still a worthy consideration for midsize sedan buyers.

  • 2016 Chevrolet Volt: I first saw this car in Providence about a year ago, and found that the more mainstream exterior design worked well and looked better in person.  One year later, I feel the same way, and I think that the interior looks pretty good as well. 

  • 2016 Chevrolet Camaro:  I only have one complaint about this car: poor visibility.  Once you're sitting inside, you feel like you are in a cave, due to the darkness.  The small windows, adjacent to the doors do not offer good visibility, while the rear window offers a decent amount of visibility.  Other than that, the overall interior and exterior designs are great, and I've heard that this new car is a blast to drive, so Chevy has a winner.  

  • 2016 Volkswagen Passat:  Despite the fact that this is a refresh, you wouldn't be able to tell at first glance, especially since the car on display was painted black. None the less, there are a few inoffensive design tweaks on the outside, while the interior is virtuously unchanged.  Overall, this is a solid, yet unimaginative car. 

  • 2016 Lexus RX:  The redesigned version of Lexus's best selling model certainly has an oddball interior design.  It almost makes you forget about how bad the over aggressive exterior design looks on a low trim level model, like the one I sat in. 
That wraps up my first impressions of new vehicles I saw at the 2016 Northeast International Auto Show.  If I'm honest, this show wasn't the best Providence auto show I've ever been to, but it certainly isn't the worst either.  Organized by Motor Trend, it is one of the most quiet auto shows, with many upper market brands not participating fully, or at all.  Subaru, a mainstream brand, elected to skip the show, even though they were originally listed on the floor plan.  Long story short, the Northeast International Auto Show is about as low-key as you can get, but I kind of like that and think that it helps give the show its charm; I hope nothing changes and this show stays low-key.

The Dupont Registry was on hand in Providence and I'm going to leave you with some photos of their display.  Thanks for reading and have a good week.

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