Car shows are becoming somewhat schizophrenic affairs, with high-tech and electrified vehicles trotted out alongside massive, horsepower-hectoring SUVs. But increasingly, that horsepower is also coming from battery packs — along with a healthy injection of advanced safety features. From Jaguar's first electric SUV and a 258-mph supercar to vehicles with Alexa skills galore, here's the best of the best from the New York International Auto Show.
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Making its North American debut, the I-Pace is an 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 this car 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.
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Electric cars used to be basic boxes on wheels, but 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, smart phone remote controls, auto braking, lane-keeping assist, and support for CarPlay and Android Auto. The Kona arrives this fall, and with tax incentives, it is expected to cost less than $30,000.
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Taking its cues from the Howard Hughes era of elegant air travel, the all-new Lincoln Aviator is an SUV with the latest technical accoutrement. It starts with the smart phone app that doubles as a key to the SUV (no fob needed). Next come Alexa skills that not only control features in the car but can also call home to turn on the lights. And there are advanced safety systems like auto braking for pedestrians and reverse auto braking to prevent those embarrassing parking-lot fender benders. Lincoln is also promising a plug-in hybrid version of the Aviator.
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Dubbed an electric "hypercar," the $2 million-plus Rimac C_Two made its North American debut as perhaps the most photographed exotic at the show. A carbon shell with active aerodynamic flaps and butterfly doors, the sports car has four motors to generate roughly 1,900 horsepower, a 0-to-60-mph time of just 1.85 seconds and a top speed of 258 mph.
Of course, with all that power, you'll want to take this car on the track, so Rimac will load selected racetracks into the C_Two's onboard computer, along with a virtual driving coach to tell you when to brake and accelerate — a "very practical application," the company says. Right.
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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 CarPlay, but not 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. This package 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.
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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 passengers' moods. Naturally, it's a speed demon, too: 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds.
Acura has a reputation for pushing the limits of the human-machine interfaces in cars, which is not always a good thing. The brand-new RDX may finally get that interface right. For interactions with all its infotainment options, the 10-speed AWD crossover uses something the company calls a True Touchpad interface. Rather than having to lean forward to use a touch screen, a driver accesses the touchpad under their hand on the center armrest. Acura has also added physical dials for adjusting settings like the A/C and volume. A safety-tech package that includes auto braking, lane-keeping assist and rear cross traffic alert is standard.