Automakers display new models, technology

Underscored auto show makes an impressive display with top of the line equipment


The New England International Auto Show, held in Boston, MA every January, is an opportunity for automakers to show off their new models and technology to consumers and the media.

Often overshadowed by other large expos occurring around the same time, such as the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the New England International Auto Show does not usually offer much in terms of concept cars and car reveals. However, this year, Jeep decided to reveal their 2016 Jeep Cherokee Overland at the event. The Cherokee Overland is a new trim level for the Cherokee, offering the most luxurious feel of any trim level. The Overland comes with most of the options available on the Cherokee, as well as 18 inch polished wheels, heated Nappa leather-trimmed seats, a premium audio system with navigation, and body-color trim, that gives the Cherokee Overland a monotone look. The Overland trim package sits at the top of the range, both in features and price, offering the luxury of a Grand Cherokee in a smaller package.

On display in the Toyota booth were the newly redesigned 2016 Prius and RAV4. The new Prius is designed to have a fun driving experience, provided by a lower, more aggressive stance. Toyota proudly stated that the front emblem has been lowered to the same height as on the Scion FR-S sports car. With its sporty appearance, Toyota managed to reduce the drag coefficient of the Prius to 0.24 (previously 0.25) and increase fuel economy to a combined 52 mpg for the Prius, and 56 mpg combined for the Eco model. The 2016 Prius is noteworthy as it is the first vehicle built on the Toyota New Global Architecture. This new platform boasts lighter weight and improved crash ratings, and will serve as a modular base for other Toyota vehicles.

Toyota also showed off their redesigned 2016 RAV4, which brings some much needed improvements to the crossover. The appearance of the RAV4 remains largely unchanged, as most of the improvements take place under the hood. The throttle response seemed dramatically improved from the 2015 model, while the steering felt tighter and more responsive. New for 2016, Toyota will offer a hybrid version of the RAV4, which comes with standard all-wheel drive. The interior received an update, with a new entertainment system and better quality interior components. These features make the 2016 RAV4 feel well thought out and more comfortable than the previous model.

One new feature offered on nearly all 2016 vehicles is the Bird’s Eye View camera. This system, which appears to be nearly identical between manufacturers, utilizes an array of cameras on the vehicle to provide a 360 degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings. In most of the equipped vehicles, the Bird’s Eye View is displayed on the center console screen. The driver can cycle through the available views on this screen. Drivers may find this feature helpful in new crossovers, where visibility can be decreased due to tinted windows and lower roof lines.

Overall the real star of the shows was the 2016 Ford Focus RS. Ford did not include the new Focus RS in their very short presentation, despite it being one of the most highly anticipated sports cars of 2016. This hot hatch is powered by a 2.3L turbocharged 4-cylinder, delivering 350 HP and 350 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. Priced to compete with cars like the Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R, the 2016 Focus RS is shaping up to be a huge success for Ford.