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Auto Show:  2011 New York Auto Show

New Yorkers Hit the New York Auto Show - New York Auto Show

April 27, 2011

It’s a known fact that New Yorkers are hard to impress, but you wouldn’t know that if you were at the New York International Auto Show on opening day. Although people weren’t as eager to talk or give out their names (they’re too busy) as at other shows we’ve attended, the Jacob Javits Center was as busy as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

We pushed our way in with the crowds to see which displays were getting the most attention.

The MINI booth was vibrating and not just because KISS had performed there during press week.

We overheard someone say, “If gas prices keep going up, I’m buying a MINI.” People, ages 19 to baby boomer were queued up to get into a souped up MINI Clubman and play with the manual gear shift (yes, there’s still a fascination with a manual transmission). We asked one of the MINI specialists, a professed ardent owner of the car, just who was attracted to the brand. She stated, “Anyone from teens to 90’s... a lot of men think it’s a chick car until they get in it and drive.” “And what’s it like owning one?” we asked. The answer, “It’s like having a dog; it’s all of the positives and none of the negatives.”

After all that cuteness, we had to get into something bigger. The Dodge booth was humming with hemi engines and flat black painted show cars. The photo op for the day was the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8.

At the Chrysler arena, a large crowd was watching the Eminem Detroit ad that was playing on the display wall and the buzz was all about the refreshed 300 sedan.

And concepts, well, as always, they rule. At the Scion booth it was all about the FR-S Concept. The low-slung sports model with 22” wheels was coated in CODE RED – described as a custom blend of candy-canes and the additive Mearlite SSQ. We overheard, “Just the fact that it’s going to be a rear wheel drive makes it super cool!”

At the Saab PhoeniX display there were audible gasps when the butterfly doors opened.

And despite the fact that the Lexus LF-Gh hybrid concept was looking good, it was the Lexus LFA that ruled. The supercar has a 0-60 of 3.6 mph and top speeds of 202 mph. Onlookers were debating about the price. One man remarked, “This car is going to sell for over $100 grand.” Good guess, but wrong. The LFA totes a hefty tag of $375, 000.

Last stop, the indoor EV Pavilion where people were waiting ten to 15 minutes for a test drive. Hands up went to the Chevy Volt. A number of people we talked to, ages 19 to 40 plus, picked the Volt over the Nissan Leaf. Customers, it seems, want the flexibility of having a gas component, especially, they said, for crossing bridges. The fear was getting stuck. Even when we assured them that EV’s had plenty of miles to go before they stopped, New Yorkers weren’t convinced. NYC is an island after all – so there are lots of bridges to conquer.

Now, as for the swag at this year’s auto show. Slim pickings. In the past, people were coming away with toy cars, key rings and car shaped candy. This year it was more along the lines of logo bags, CDs and posters. Then again, the AutoTrader booth knows how to draw a crowd. They were giving out $10 Visa gift cards, t-shirts, cloth messenger bags and the big prize - a chance to win an iPad.

HOLLY REICH writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on

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New Yorkers Hit the New York Auto Show - New York Auto Show - Autotrader