You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

My Picks: Top 5 Cars of the 2014 New York Auto Show

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/18/2014 Jonny Lieberman

Can there be an auto show without a standout star? If there can, the 2014 New York Auto Show comes crazy close. Almost no concepts, lots of cars that are versions of other cars (S63 AMG, Z06 Convertible, M4 Convertible) and several crucially important but decidedly non-sexy segment leaders ruled the day(s). With the latter in mind, here are what I consider to be the five most important cars of the show

5. Toyota Camry

2015 Toyota Camry XSE© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Toyota Camry XSE I know, I know. In fact, not only do I know all the Camry jokes, I've written a quarter of them. But here's what you need to grok from an industry point of view: If the Camry were a stand-alone product, if would be a top 10 brand. Once again it was the best-selling car in the U.S. -- for the twelfth consecutive year! Put another way, Subaru had its best year ever in 2013 and sold 425,000 cars in the U.S. Toyota? It moved 408,000 Camrys.

The redesign is good, combining the nose of the Corolla with the lines and rear end of the Avalon. Funny thing is, the Camry was all-new in 2012, so a refresh executed this quickly means that a whole bunch of people inside Toyota were not at all happy with the current car. Rumor is that Toyota USA was very unhappy with what their colleagues in Japan created. Plus, there's the fact that the competition has really stepped up its game. See Mazda6. Sure, if Toyota bolted a rainbow afro wig to the roof it'd still sell more cars than the other guys.

I like the fact that Toyota is trying to make a better car when it doesn't have to.

4. Hyundai Sonata

The new Sonata is a nice refresh of a nice family car. Why rank it ahead of the Camry? As my colleague Scott Burgess said, "I think it looks better than the Toyota." Sometimes it's as simple as that.

And… let's knock off this "in order of importance" stuff – it's painful to write and I'm not good at it. Before we do, the Subaru Outback, Nissan Murano, and Kia Sedona are all (probably) exactly what their respective segments need. Now that the charade's over…

3. BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe Yes, yes, most people are totally confused about why this car exists. I get that. But here's the thing that the confused people don't get: It's desirable. I found myself deep in conversation with our photographer Mike Shaffer and we both came to the same conclusion: We really like the new little Gran Coupe.

Since it debuted two years ago the 6 Series Gran Coupe -- a four-door version of the regular 6 series -- has long been my favorite BMW. The 4 Series version looks to carry on that tradition (better-looking, usable rear seat, higher style interior) with a bonus! While it doesn't look it, the 4GT is a hatchback. Yay for functionality! Form, too.

2. Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept

Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept© Provided by MotorTrend Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept The first sibling of the new Discovery family to see the light of day, in concept form at least, is pretty dang great for many reasons. Before that, you should know that just like Range Rover has expanded into a family --the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover Evoque -- the same thing's happening with Discovery. The next one you'll see (and probably the first to production) will be some sort of small Discovery (Disco Sport perhaps?) that will replace the unloved and non-selling LR2/Freelander.

With that out of the way, the big reason the Vision concept ranks so high is… the name!!! Land Rover returned to a name, a much-loved moniker instead of the frankly meaningless LR4. Yay! Cadillac, bring us Eldorado! Acura, where's our Legend? Leave the alphabet soup to the Germans and bring back names! Be brave, be bold, be like Land Rover! Ahem.

With that rant out of the way, I also like the way the new Discovery looks. Forget that stuff about Vision Concept. Instead, try to picture this SUV with real wheels, side mirrors, door handles, and air intakes. The results are going to be good. Before you start shouting, "It looks like an Explorer!" remember that Ford stole the design from Land Rover in the divorce. I was explaining this to a friend who works for Aston Martin -- and how upset Land Rover is, though publically it can say nothing -- and he said, "I have no idea what they're going through." Indeed.

1. Dodge Challenger

2015 Dodge Challenger© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Dodge Challenger Nice work, Dodge boys! We've been collectively begging for a halfway decent interior since the retro-muscle Challenger first appeared on the scene back in 2008. Seven years later and my wish is finally granted. Now, I understand that no one buys a car like this because the interior is a pleasant place to sit. They buy because of the sexy, curvy, anti-social good looks.

Who would have thought that something as simple as going from the 1970 to 1971 grille would have such a dramatic effect? Not me, but there's the proof sitting right there with a shaker scoop sticking out of the hood. The fact that you can get 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque from a large displacement, naturally aspirated V-8 pumping through a manual transmission doesn't hurt things. Maybe I just have the Camaro Z/28 stuck in my head?

And yes, I'm not particularly happy with the fact that I'm picking a throwback musclecar as the best car here at the 2014 New York show. But I walked the floor for two days and this is what I saw. Now, the actual best car at the show was a 1964 ½ Ford Mustang that our friends at Hagerty restored ( with a little manifold and carburetor help from our own Frank Markus ) that I got to drive around Manhattan for 30 minutes. It has a 260 cubic-inch 2-barrel V-8 and three on the floor. What a sweetie! The more things change… See you next year.


More from Motor Trend


image beaconimage beaconimage beacon