Car shows are often about chrome-trimmed fantasies and horsepower hectoring muscle cars. But increasingly, the horsepower is coming from battery packs – along with a healthy injection of advanced safety features. To wit, here are five of the best vehicles (plus a bonus) the New York Auto Show that ended earlier this month.
2019 Volvo XC60
A mid-sized SUV with plenty of smarts, the Volvo XC60 captured the World Car of the Year Award at the show, and deservedly so. It not only boasts some of the best safety features – such edge collision mitigation, lane-keeping assist, and pedestrian collision avoidance systems – it also comes in a plug-in hybrid version that drives almost imperceptibly the same as the standard full-on combustion model (and that’s a good thing). And yes, you can use Apple Car Play with it.
2019 Jaguar I-PACE
Making its North American debut the I-Pace is all-electric, compact, five-seat SUV. In a short, race-between-the-flashing-pylons test drive, the all-wheel-drive car demonstrated smile-inducing agility and acceleration. It’s definitely a Jaguar, with a sensuous interior, dual LCD screens for handling the 4G-connected systems, and a voluptuous exterior. Jaguar says it will get 240 miles on a single charge, with the base model starting at $69,500. And the company is working with Waymo on autonomous versions of the I-Pace.
2019 Lincoln Aviator
Taking its cues from the Howard Hughes era of elegant air travel, the all-new Lincoln Aviator is an SUV with the latest technical accouterments. It starts with the smartphone app that also doubles as a key to the SUV (no fob needed). Next come Alexa skills that not only control features in the car but can call home to turn on the lights. And there are advanced safety systems like auto braking for pedestrians and reverse autobraking to prevent those embarrassing parking-lot fender benders. Lincoln is also promising a plug-in hybrid version of the Aviator.
2019 Hyundai Kona
Electric cars used to be basic boxes on wheels. Hyundai’s new Kona is anything but. It will have a 250-mile range on a single charge and come with a raft of high-tech options including a head-up display, smartphone remote controls, auto braking, lane keeping assist, and support for Car Play and Android Auto. It arrives this fall and with tax incentives is expected to be less than $30,000.
2019 Toyota RAV4
The new Toyota RAV4 is the fifth generation of the small SUV. Yes, the new vehicle includes the Entune 3.0 in-dash system (now supporting Apple Car Play but still sparring with Google, so no Android Auto), Wi-Fi, and an available 11-speaker JBL sound system. But what garners Toyota the “best of” nod is that the company makes its high-tech safety package standard equipment. It includes not only collision mitigation systems but also a new sign recognition feature that can alert drivers to pay attention to yields and speed limits.
Bonus – Best Concept: Genesis Essentia
Fantastic fantasies are always a part of the auto show and the wildest this year is the Genesis Essentia concept car. With a single-piece hood and windshield, carbon fiber body panels and scissor doors, the electric car envisions an autonomous future. Loaded with technology like fingerprint and face recognition biometrics (no more keys), the Essentia is designed to be the transportation cocoon of the future with voice recognition and enough smarts to understand its passenger’s moods. Naturally, it’s a speed demon, too: 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds.