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GeorgeKennedy

Compacts and SUVs Highlight 2016 New York International Auto Show

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George Kennedy
Contributor, GM-Trucks.com
3/28/16


The New York International Auto Show plays a unique role in the auto show circuit. When compared to Geneva or Detroit auto shows, NYIAS is not as large and doesnt always have the big-ticket debuts. But for the American market, it is the last major auto show before the 2017 model year vehicles arrive in large numbers, and so it is the last show for automakers to finalize their lineups for the upcoming year. With that in mind, NYIAS is one of the most important shows of the year.

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One vehicle that debuted immediately prior to the show was the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic. Chevys littlest hatch has ditched the large headlights in favor of very Camaro-inspired cues. It seems the era of grafting overly large headlights and grilles onto small cars might be coming to a close. Frankly the smaller, more aggressive headlights and thinner grille suit the Sonic much more.

The updates go beyond skin-deep, as the Sonic gets some of the latest GM technology, such as the latest version of the Chevy MyLink infotainment system, featured on the available seven-inch touchscreen, and thats just the tip of the tech iceberg. Theres also available gear such as 4G LTE access with Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rear park assist, and rear view camera.

Under the hood, the standard engine continues to be a 1.8-liter inline-4 or the available 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4, which makes 138 horsepower. Output from either engine is sent to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.

The RS trim is the one you see above, with menacing black wheels and revised lower front fascia. It makes the Sonic one hot-hatch runabout!

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Speaking of runabouts, the Buick Encore was another stout, utilitarian vehicle that went under the knife for the 2017 model year. It features sharper headlights, and the move away from the large slatted grille of older Buicks. The new grille still has the Buick "slats" but are thinner and meant to be a more subtle design cue. This new looks has a more sporting appearance, and from the looks of things, less of an emphasis on the two-tone look of the 2012-2016 Encore. The result is a very clean look that clearly positions the Encore for a younger demographic.

Inside, the cabin improvements have centered on a rearrangement of the infotainment, climate, and audio controls. The large 8-inch touch screen for Buicks IntelliLink is no longer perched high up on the dash, but is rather now in the center stack, right at the drivers fingertips. As such, redundant controls can be reduced, and the system has a simplistic set of tactile controls similar to that of the new Chevrolet Camaro.

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The Encore goes on sale in the fall of this year, and will be available with one of five trim levels: Base, Sport Touring, Convenience, Leather, and Premium models. Most trims will be available with the 1.4-liter turbo-four, which will include stop-start technology.

The Encore also comes standard with Buicks exclusive QuietTuning technology, and features Bose active noise cancellation. The Encore will also be available with safety tech such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear park assist, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. It is a lot of safety tech to pack into a compact SUV, proving that the Encore boasts style and substance!

 

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Last up is the GMC Terrain Nightfall Edition-the latest GMC vehicle to receive this treatment. The Nightfall Edition is basically Murdered Out, which is to say, the excessive use of dark colors in place of the typical chrome found on GMCs models.

To learn more about this vehicle and others, we spoke to GM Product Manager Jeff Giacobbe. "With this edition," explained Giacobbe, "It plats into GMCs bold styling, Especially the Terrain. One of the most important parts of a Terrain buyers purchase decision is styling. With the 2016 and previous models there has been a fair amount of chrome on that vehicle so we decided to take it in another direction, so for 2017 we decided to take it down a notch with the chrome."

According to Giacobbe, this led directly to the decision to offer the Nightfall Edition for the terrain. "With Terrain," explained, "We've never done this black look. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback, so we're excited to get it out on the market and see how it does." According to GMC, the Nightfall Edition models are intended to appeal to more youthful buyers, as opposed to the more mature and well-heeled Denali buyers.

The Nightfall Edition will be available on the SLE-2 and SLT trims of the Terrain and available in one of four colors (Onyx Black, Summit White, Graphite Gray, and Crimson Red).

But the conversation was not limited to the latest edition of the Terrain, but also potential future special editions, including even a more off-road-oriented version of the Terrain.

"One area we've been looking at," continued Giacobbe, "Is what can we do in terms of off-road capability. We explored this with the Acadia All-Terrain Edition. Its got the appearance elements, but also the hardware to back it up with the advanced all-wheel drive system, including the twin-system."

"In the compact SUV space," he continued, "You could say Jeep right now is the front runner, they have several products. That's an area that we see that we can excel at. Its on our horizon for us to up our game. The Acadia All Terrain is a great first step, but well explore this for other vehicles." So will we see a Terrain All-Terrain (if that's what they call it)? It sure sounds like it- only time will tell!

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