Hyundai would like to put a serious dent in the Toyota Camry success story with its own mid-size sedan – the redesigned Sonata…

NEW YORK, New York.

There was more sizzle in my New York steak dinner than on the show floor at the Big Apple’s international auto show.

It seems the Big Four shot their lightning bolts at the preceding Detroit and Los Angeles auto extravaganzas and left it to the import manufacturers to dazzle here.

Nissan did not disappoint with the unveiling of a classy looking crossover in the shape of the all-wheel drive 2015 Nissan Murano. The mid-size model first showed up in 2002 and this new model marks the birth of the third-generation. The Nissan-named V-Motion nose and boomerang-shaped taillights ensure it makes an impression on the observer, coming and going, and distinguishes itself from its rivals.

Inside, up to five passengers can expect more of a luxury ride than they might have enjoyed in the outgoing version – heated and cooled front seats will impress those upfront. The trend in this segment to include huge sunroofs continues here.

Under the hood, Nissan stays with the trusty 3.5-litre six-cylinder powerplant matched to a continuously variable transmission. Expect to see the Murano in the showrooms at the tail end of the year.

Before moving on, the Nissan Sport Sedan Concept should be mentioned as it offers a clue to what the new Maxima might resemble. And boy, is it a looker despite the horrible orange colour of the show car! It too features a panoramic roof stretching almost from the windshield to the rear window. A production model version is expected later in the year, which suggests the L.A. show might benefit from that timetable.

Any new Toyota Camry is an instant hit, especially in North America where it’s been the best selling car for 12 years. Despite that, the Japanese manufacturer launched an all-new 2015 model, just three years after introducing a redesign.

It incorporates design touches now appearing in sibling models, including a deeper grille that more resembles an upmarket Lexus. Interior materials are upgraded and a large central display matches the design trend of its competitors. Two trims are added; a sporty XSE with some luxury touches and a Hybrid SE. Toyota sticks with its 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, and 3.5-litre, six-cylinder engines plus its Hybrid Synergy Drive.

Hyundai would like to put a serious dent in the Toyota Camry success story with its own mid-size sedan – the redesigned Sonata. It’s likely the introduction of a sharp looking Sonata in 2011 helped prompt Toyota into taking a serious look at upping the ante in the Camry. Other competitors have also risen to the challenge. Now the seventh-generation, newly styled, sharper looking 2015 Sonata raises the bar again with improved ride and handling plus advanced driver assistance and safety equipment.

Unlike the Camry, the Sonata stays with purely four-cylinder engines. Standard is a 2.4-litre power plant and a turbocharged 2.0L four is an option.

The one domestic manufacturer that did show up with something more exciting than the rest was Jeep, which introduced the compact Renegade. It is the iconic brand’s first foray into the small SUV segment.

Its funky looks and fuel efficiency should make it an urban dweller hit but it also boasts best-in-class off-road capability, which may just bring in buyers from the growing outdoor adventure seekers.

Two engine choices: a 2.4-litre Tigershark engine with MultiAir2 paired to the segment’s first nine-speed automatic transmission, or a 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo engine with six-speed manual transmission.

Prices for all of the above closer to launch when pencils have been sharpened and each figure out how they can undercut competitors!

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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