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2022 New York Auto Show: Winners and Losers

winners-and-losers-nyias-2022-09-volkswagen-id-buzz-exterior-profile-suv-yellow-green Volkswagen ID. Buzz | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The 2022 edition of the New York International Auto Show is its first since 2019, and while it may not have returned to its previous scale, there were still plenty of new cars to check out at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Related: More 2022 New York Auto Show Coverage

Here are our winners and losers from the 2022 New York International Auto Show:

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale

alfa-romeo-tonale-2023-04-exterior-green-profile-suv 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Brian Normile, News Editor: Winner

Alfa’s Stelvio SUV has always been one of my personal favorites in the compact luxury SUV class, so “the Stelvio, but smaller” seemed likely to be a winning formula in my book. The Tonale’s interior is impressively roomy, including in the backseat, and the physical climate and audio controls are welcome. I’m choosing to be optimistic about the first-ever plug-in hybrid powertrain from Alfa Romeo, but even if it’s a dud, there’s still a gas-only turbocharged four-cylinder. It feels like Alfa should sell a ton of these given consumers’ current thirst for SUVs.

Mike Hanley, Senior Research Editor: Winner

Subcompact SUVs aren’t known for their interior roominess, which is why the Tonale’s cabin was a pleasant surprise. Like Brian said, there’s good passenger space — particularly in the backseat, which offers reasonable comfort for adults and even some headroom to spare despite the SUV’s sleek roofline. The Tonale’s interior materials and controls also seem richer than in other Alfas, though the cabin still doesn’t feel quite as upscale as what you’ll find from the traditional luxury brands Alfa Romeo competes with in the U.S.

Joe Wiesenfelder, Executive Editor: Winner

I’m also a fan of the Stelvio, and the Tonale might be a stronger overall package from what we can see. It looks terrific, and Uconnect 5 with a large touchscreen is better than what the Stelvio has to offer. This little booger might have been tucked away in the corner of the show, but it was one of the standouts among the fresh metal in our opinion. We can’t let our first in-person viewing pass without what is unlikely to be our last joke about the name, however: We know the correct pronunciation of Tonale (“toe-nah-lay,” not “toenail”), but I can’t help thinking Alfa was a little tone-deaf on this one.

2023 Hyundai Palisade

hyundai-palisade-2023-03-badge-exterior-grey-grille-headlights-suv 2023 Hyundai Palisade | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Winner

The 2023 Palisade doesn’t stink. No, literally, it doesn’t stink; based on our ownership experience, that was an actual concern of mine. Beyond that, Hyundai has taken a successful formula and improved upon it. Not a lot, granted — there’s still no wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto — but the larger 12-inch touchscreen and improved device-charging capabilities should make families happy. The face-lift is also growing on me; I think it’s now the better looking of the Palisade/Telluride family.

MH: Winner

The Hyundai Palisade was already one of our favorites — it took home Best of 2020 honors, Cars.com’s highest award — and the refreshed 2023 version still has the interior space, luxury and overall quality that impressed us when it first debuted. The front turn signals integrated with the new grille is an interesting touch to the chiseled front end, which seems to work better with the rest of the SUV’s design than the prior grille did.

JW: Winner

The guys are right about the updates being welcome, and as for the grille change, it’s … a bit much, you have to admit. The only reason I’m overlooking it is that the first generation was an awkward design of a different type, with too-prominent brightwork on either side that looked especially awkward with darker paint. It looked least peculiar against similar paint colors. We’ve traded that for a cheese grater of Lexus proportions. Do I love it? No. But it doesn’t make the whole package a loser.

2023 Kia Niro

kia-niro-ev-2023-03-exterior-front-angle-suv-white 2023 Kia Niro EV | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Winner

With its new functional Aero Blades, the Niro is now the closest I will likely ever get to owning an Audi R8, and for that alone, it’s a winner to me. The real reasons it’s a winner are its handsome new look and improved efficiency regardless of whether you choose the hybrid, PHEV or all-electric variant. The interior also feels more premium than its likely price point, takes a lot of positives from the EV6 and is more than roomy enough for a vehicle its size. The Niro may not have been one of the standouts in Kia’s lineup, but this redesign could change that.

MH: Winner

The redesigned Niro is a sharp-looking little hatchback, and, as was the case with the prior generation, its three available powertrains remain a unique offering in any class, letting shoppers choose the level of electrification that’s right for them. The previous Niro was a car that could slip your mind when thinking about Kia’s lineup, but the new one is eminently more memorable — and should be to consumers, too.

JW: Winner

In an era where it seems automakers are doing as little as possible to their “updated” vehicles, Kia seems to have made all the right moves. The powertrains themselves seem unchanged, yet along with the exterior and interior overhauls, there are improvements in efficiency and/or range for each version. Even the Aero Blades, which might be too challenging for some, can be the same color as the rest of the Niro so it’s not as conspicuous. There’s a lot of good thinking here.

2023 Kia Telluride

kia-telluride-x-pro-2023-02-blue-exterior-front-angle-suv 2023 Kia Telluride | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Loser

To me, the Telluride always had the exterior appearance of a premium or even luxury SUV without the (suggested) price. This face-lift makes the 2023 Telluride look much more like a Kia, which isn’t necessarily a positive. The updated dashboard looks impressive from a technological standpoint, but I’m not a fan of the “integrated instrument panel and touchscreen” look and find the binnacle-less flat instrument panel distracting when driving. I’m not impressed by the new “rugged” X-Pro trim, either, even with its slightly improved capabilities.

MH: Loser

Nothing against the Telluride as far as it being a capable three-row SUV, which it is, but I’ve never understood the appeal of the SUV’s exterior styling, which has always seemed rather innocuous to me. The 2023 version’s front end has been updated with new lights that border the grille, but it’s similar enough that my original thoughts on the design still hold.

JW: Winner

The rectangular yellow running lights that encircle the current Telluride’s headlamps always drove me crazy; they made the front of the Telluride look like the back of a Ford Explorer Sport. Now they’re gone, and maybe that’s enough for me to hold my nose and call this one a winner even though I’m ambivalent about the other changes — and I’m growing weary of faux off-road vehicles with little engineering skin in the game.

2023 Jeep Wagoneer L, Grand Wagoneer L

grand-wagoneer-l-2023-02-exterior-grille-headlights-suv-white 2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Winner

The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are strong entrants in the full-size SUV market, and these new long-wheelbase models add useful amounts of cargo space behind the third row. The new twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine has more power and improved efficiency compared to the current V-8 choices, too. What’s not to like?

MH: Winner

In many ways, the long-wheelbase versions of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are the same as the regular-wheelbase versions already on sale, but the extra 12 inches in overall length significantly improves the family friendliness of these hulking SUVs by giving them the cargo space large families need. I also agree that the new twin-turbo inline-six that lives under the hood is enticing — especially the 510-horsepower version that goes in the Grand Wagoneer L.

JW: Winner

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been in this position before, but I’d like to say here that the non-L versions are losers in my book. It’s not because they’re extremely expensive (they are), but because the value in SUVs like this comes partly from their ability to carry a lot of people and a lot of stuff at the same time, and these versions do that much better than the regular Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. (Their value also comes from their towing ability, but too often, non-towing buyers use these vehicles in lieu of minivans or large crossovers. I’d say the same of the Chevrolet Tahoe and short versions of other competitors.)

2023 Nissan Leaf

nissan-leaf-2023-02-exterior-white 2023 Nissan Leaf | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Loser

The Leaf is still the cheapest electric vehicle on sale today even before any tax credits, but it’s clearly on its way out of Nissan’s lineup in favor of more advanced EVs like the Ariya. The changes are extremely minimal except for the elimination of the longest-range version of the Leaf. On a practical note, the new basket-weave-looking wheels seem destined to collect debris or get damaged the second they even look at a curb.

MH: Loser

There’s very little that’s different with Nissan’s pioneering electric car, and while the illuminated logo on the front end looks good and I like the blue-accented seats, the 2023 Leaf is largely the same at a time when new, more compelling EVs are hitting the market.

JW: Loser

The fact that Nissan isn’t investing much in the Leaf is sort of understandable at this point. But if that’s the case, why revise the exterior, of all things? That may lead people to believe more is going on than it actually is. Like Brian said, it’s the least expensive EV on sale, but as fellow editor Joe Bruzek determined after a full evaluation, it’s still too expensive.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek

nissan-pathfinder-rock-creek-2023-01-brown-exterior 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Winner

Nissan had me with the Pathfinder Rock Creek’s tubular roof rack, which just screams Xterra. Do I think the all-terrain tires, 5/8th-inch lift and off-road-tuned suspension will make a significant difference in the Pathfinder’s capabilities? No. Does it look pretty cool? Yes. Which matters more these days? The latter.

MH: Loser

Nissan really wants you to know you’re looking at the Rock Creek version of the Pathfinder, what with all the badges plastered on its interior and exterior. The off-road tires give it a beefy look, but the extra ground clearance isn’t enough to make this three-row SUV capable of taking on rocks or creeks.

JW: Loser

As I said, I made the Telluride a winner because of the running lights, not the new off-road-looking version, the X-Pro. This is in the same vein, and though Brian might be correct, empirically, I might have hit my quota of pretender off-road variants. The only winner here is Mike for his rocks-or-creeks comment.

2023 Subaru Outback

subaru-outback-xt-2023-01-exterior-front-angle-suv-white 2023 Subaru Outback | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Loser

The improvements to the multimedia system are certainly welcome, but having used it in various vehicles already — and as an iPhone user, for whom Apple CarPlay had already been improved before this latest update — the changes take the display from “very aggravating” to “aggravating.” It’s just not a very good touchscreen display in a world of increasingly good ones.

MH: Loser

The biggest design difference between the current and refreshed 2023 Outback is its updated front end that incorporates a slash of gray cladding on the front fenders — the same kind of plastic you used to see on base versions of cars but now denotes off-road ruggedness, of all things. The Outback is a well-rounded SUV alternative, but the updates were overshadowed by other models on the show floor.

JW: Loser

To be honest, I had to dig pretty deep to find what was worth discussing about this updated model, so I have to agree it’s a loser from an auto-show perspective — especially when the Wilderness version is so bold looking and has been around awhile. (That’s not to criticize the Outback overall and risk being beaten with a sandal.)

2023 VinFast VF 8

vinfast-vf-8-2023-02-exterior-front-angle-orange-suv VinFast VF 8 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Loser

Is it pessimistic to call this a loser? A dual-motor, all-wheel-drive EV with a pre-tax-credit price just over $40,000 (plus a monthly battery lease) and nearly 300 miles of range? We need more of those. But my faith in new automakers successfully breaking into the market — and surviving — has been shaken too many times already. Ignoring the parts-bin feel of the VF 8, the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is extremely problematic and a single-display setup, a la Tesla, for the instrument panel and infotainment irks me. I hope VinFast succeeds, and maybe a car that isn’t a clean-sheet design is a better first step, but I’m not ready to be hurt again.

MH: Winner

VinFast has big plans for the U.S., with a goal of selling the VF 8 here in the fall and building an assembly plant in North Carolina, but it’s worth remembering that the company is just the latest in a line of automakers that have tried to break into this market. I’m taking a believe-it-when-I-see-it approach regarding its grand plans, but the VF 8 on the show floor was reasonably polished. Some of the switches and controls looked a bit dated, and it did have that hand-built feel you get from time to time with new cars at auto shows, but the Tesla-esque touchscreen’s user interface is impressive and cabin materials were mostly good. It’ll be interesting to see where the automaker goes from here.

JW: Winner

This was a tough one. I know where both of my colleagues are coming from, but I’m also seeing unprecedented interest in EVs, fueled in part by the high gas prices. The record highs and how long they’ve already lasted both mean more shoppers will consider an EV when it’s their next time to buy. We’re going to need a lot of EVs to satisfy this demand, and unless you view this as a zero-sum game (some definitely do), the more choices we have, the better. Like the vehicle itself, there are aspects of the company’s battery-leasing plan that I question, but I think it’s an interesting idea that needs to be tried out in the market.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

volkswagen-id-buzz-06-exterior-profile-suv-yellow-green Volkswagen ID. Buzz | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

BN: Winner

I almost called this a loser because VW won’t be giving North America the cargo van version at all, and because we still haven’t seen the long-wheelbase North American version or any specs for it. But it’s just so damn fun. Looking at it just makes me feel happy, and I’ll never discount such a strong emotional response. I can’t wait for the ID. Buzz to get here.

MH: Winner

This was a tough one. Even though the ID. Buzz is a fun-looking, unique, all-electric van, I question whether it’ll make sense for many families accustomed to the configurability and utility of conventional minivans. It’s taller than a Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV, too, which will limit its garage-ability. It also has the same frustrating touch-sensitive controls as VW’s ID.4 SUV. The automaker does have some time to get the van’s equipment right for the U.S., as the long-wheelbase version coming here isn’t slated to arrive until 2024.

JW: Winner

Mike makes good points about the shortcomings, but Brian does, too, about the emotion. Decades of anticipation alone will sell this thing, and if that’s not enough, the fact that we have so few large EVs certainly should barring a major flub on VW’s part. It’s had plenty of time and has regularly teased about bringing back the T1 Microbus with auto-show concept vehicles starting not long after we launched Cars.com in 1998. I’ve always said I’d retire before we’d see this model return to U.S. dealers; with it scheduled to hit our shores in 2024, that was one prediction I got right.

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