Hyundai, Subaru, Toyota Keep SUVs in the Spotlight


Auto makers unveiled several sport-utility vehicles at the New York show, such as the Venue crossover.

 The sport-utility vehicle is taking center stage at the New York International Auto Show, with car companies showing off new models of all shapes, sizes and price points.
 In recent years, auto makers have focused many of their auto-show debuts on SUV offerings, reflecting a shift among American buyers away from sedans to larger, more expensive vehicles.
 In New York last week, Hyundai Motor Co. revealed a new Venue crossover, a tiny sport-utility model aimed at younger buyers, and Subaru Corp. showed off its next-generation Outback SUV. Mercedes- Benz introduced a version of its large GLS sport utility, and Toyota Motor Corp. rolled out its latest Highlander, a nameplate that made its debut in New York two decades ago.
 Here are some highlights from this year's show, which runs through April 28:
  *** Subaru generated buzz with a homage to its partnership with the National Park Foundation, playing to the brand's outdoorsy image. The parks-themed display includes a ranger outlook station, stone fire pit and live evergreen trees, complete with a pine scent pumped into the room.
 The Japanese auto maker used the set to reveal the Outback, its top-selling U.S. nameplate and a staple in outdoor recreation hotbeds such as Colorado and Vermont.
  *** Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln brand showed a new small sport utility, the Corsair, which succeeds the outgoing MKC nameplate. Lincoln is bucking the luxury trend by assigning real names to its vehicles, such as Aviator and Nautilus, instead of using the alphanumeric monikers favored by rivals.
 Lincoln has struggled to break into the luxury market's top ranks, but lately it has been winning critical praise with new styling and attention to detail. For instance, Lincoln has replaced the usual pinging noise when a door is opened with notes recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
 The Corsair will be Lincoln's first vehicle produced in China, avoiding the import tariff on cars shipped into the country from the U.S. Lincoln has been growing quickly in China by shipping cars into the country from the U.S., but last year it suffered when Beijing temporarily increased the import duty on U.S.-built vehicles to 40% from 25%.
  *** Cadillac, which showed a compact sedan, the CT5, offered a contrast with today's SUV craze. The model will succeed the outgoing CTS sedan, though it is slightly smaller.
 Cadillac executives say some luxury buyers still want the nimble driving experience afforded by a lower-to-the-ground sedan. They add Cadillac will unveil another smaller car later this year. “Sedans are not dead,” Cadillac design chief Andrew Smith said. “Boring sedans are dead.”
  *** Volkswagen AG showed a small pickup-truck prototype, called the Tarok, which it plans to sell in South America. VW has long looked to crack the U.S.'s lucrative pickup truck market, which is largely dominated by the Detroit car makers. VW's U.S. chief, Scott Keogh, said he sees potential for a smaller pickup in the U.S. but the company isn't ready to commit to a plan for bringing one to North America.

BY MIKE COLIAS

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