The 5 most important cars of the 2015 New York Auto Show

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Sure, the 2015 New York Auto Show has plenty of luxury and six-figure exotic cars on display, like Bentley’s ‘EXP 10 Speed 6’ concept car featured above. But unless you’re filthy rich, most of these concept cars are just eye-candy and bare little relevance to our future purchasing choices.

Introducing the New York Auto Show for the 99%

Extravagance aside, here are the only five cars 99% of folks should care about. And while they’re not all cheap, they are a hell of a lot more relevant than a $200,000 Land Rover.

1. Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is often ranked the number one small car in North America, and one of the top-sellers in Europe and Japan. The concept that Honda unveiled at the New York Auto Show looks like a mod-job straight out of SEMA. And that’s not a bad thing. Although the Honda Civic has suffered from stale design for the first half of this decade, this latest concept includes the edgier designs seen over in Europe and the UK, with its slitted front fascia, low stance, rear spoiler and mean side-skirts. Just like Europe and the UK, Honda is supposed to offer the high-performance Type-R variant to the States with this new generation. We’re in a golden age of performance, and a Type-R Civ would be a welcome challenger to the VW Golf R and Ford Focus RS. What a time to live.

(Photo Credit: Andrew Hard/Digital Trends)

2. Scion iA

The Scion iA is on this list for the wrong reason, signifying instead why the brand is a rolling corpse. Scion started out in the early 2000s as a line of off-beat, quirky and cheap cars from Toyota. These included the boxy xB, the micro-sized xA hatch, and the restrained tC coupe. Unfortunately, Toyota didn’t know how to evolve the brand, instead morphing existing products into weird and ungainly shapes. The iA is not going to revive the brand, and it’s really just a rebadged Mazda2, which is itself an unremarkable subcompact. Even worse, the iA resembles a cheap knockoff of a Hyundai Accent. One would think only a Korean automaker would dare copying a Japanese one, but that tells you just how far Scion’s fallen.

3. Chevrolet Malibu

Like it or not, midsize sedans like the Chevy Malibu are the most common cars on our roads, and the bread-and-butter for most manufacturers. The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord dominate the segment, but their dominance has been challenged by competition from Hyundai, Ford and Nissan. The Malibu hopes to compete with its vanilla, but still handsome, design and roster of compact, fuel-efficient engines that range from 1.5 to 2.0 L. GM is investing serious dollars into making the ’16 Malibu a segment leader, and it came close back in 2008, but economic recession and a remodeled Honda Accord stifled the Malibu’s impact. The recession is over, the Accord is old, and the Malibu appears spiffy all around. This could be the start of something special, and so far the Chevy Malibu turned plenty of heads at this year’s New York Auto Show.

(Photo Credits: Marc Urbano and The Manufacturer)

4. Lincoln Continental

I already covered the Continental in-depth, but I’ll rehash the bigger point here. Lincoln is resurrecting its most recognizable sub-brand as a large, premium-grade sedan. This new Continental is supposed to be the flagship vehicle for the troubled division, which is in the midst of a long-term overhaul. The success of the Continental will be the make-or-break vehicle for pushing Lincoln onto the world stage. For all the hype of the Continental name, this sedan is not meant to be a step into a radical new direction. Instead, it’s supposed to be a solid step into a tried-and-true one led by the Germans, and this is precisely what Lincoln needs.

5. Smart fortwo

And speaking of make-or-break, Daimler is making one more go with their “Smart” city-car. Now, I have a soft spot for the concept behind the Smart, but the execution has been consistently disastrous. I’m bearish on the ’16 fortwo.  Although I know it will be a better car (and maybe even a good one), bigger cars have made such a tremendous leap in fuel economy and versatility that there is no practical reason to buy something like the Smart–aside from novelty. The Honda Fit, Mini Cooper and Ford Fiesta do urban-commuting so much better. Of course, Daimler assured the public that its investment in the new fortwo will be decisive. If that’s true, the Smart fortwo will be the most credible case for this micro-sized segment. Any car that can transform a segment is a big deal, even if the odds are stacked against it.

The 2015 New York Auto runs from April 3 to April 12.

About Author

Andrew Montiveo is a contributing writer who covers entertainment and technology. An LA native, UC alumn (for whatever that’s worth), pseudo-intellectual, and professional lounge lizard, he is also the producer of Electric Federal, an automotive channel on YouTube.

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