NEW YORK — You can always find spectacle at a major auto show.
But what about substance?
That’s a little harder to come by. And the sweet spot is the intersection of spectacle and substance.
Take the Subaru Outback.
During press previews Wednesday at the New York Auto Show, Subaru debuted the redesigned Outback in a unique fashion.
To remind us that Subaru is designed to appeal to people with an affection for the outdoors, the Outback emerged from a makeshift version of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser during a press conference themed to promote Subaru’s donations to the National Parks.
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It was flashy, but Subaru has the substance to back it up. The brand is red hot in the U.S., and the Outback is its best seller.
Here’s our list of hits and misses at the 2019 New York Auto Show.
1. Lincoln Corsair
Someone must’ve told Lincoln that retro is in. The Ford luxury lineup made a savvy play by reviving the Corsair nameplate, one of the company’s heritage brands, for this compact SUV.
Ford is also reviving the Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup, continuing a recent tradition of automakers bringing dead cars back to life.
The Corsair replaces the MKC as Lincoln ditches the alphabet soup naming convention common among luxury cars in favor of recognizable brand names that resonate in the social media age.
2. Kia HabaNiro
Sure, it’s not particularly realistic. There’s practically no way the car will come to market with its promised “butterfly” doors, and its promised completely driverless capability is probably decades off.
But Kia deserves a salute for shooting high as the automaker seeks to revolutionize its image as an entry-level brand.
3. Subaru Outback
It’s beginning to feel like Subaru can do no wrong.
The red-hot brand, which passed Hyundai in total U.S. sales in 2018, debuted the redesigned Outback and it’s a nearly guaranteed hit.
Subaru spared no expense with new safety features, including in-car cameras and facial recognition technology that alerts drivers if they’re falling asleep.
4. Hyundai Venue
This brand-new small SUV replaces the Accent subcompact car in Hyundai’s lineup, according to IHS Markit.
That’s a simple acknowledgment that subcompact cars aren’t selling, but subcompact crossovers are.
After falling behind in the SUV race, Hyundai is finally catching up with vehicles like the compact Kona and the family-size Palisade.
1. Cadillac CT5
C’mon, Cadillac. Yet another forgettable vehicle name in alphabet soup territory?
Cadillac’s lineup now includes the CT5, CT6, XT4, XT5, XTS and Escalade. Which one do you remember? The Escalade.
Cadillac’s turnaround bid remains stalled, and the CT5 probably won’t help change that paradigm much. Sure, it might be fun to drive, but Cadillacs have been fun to drive for years, yet consumers aren’t noticing.
Cadillac needs to do something to break out of the mix. Try taking a page out of Lincoln’s book and draw from your vault of heritage names to reignite excitement.
2. Genesis Mint concept car
If you didn’t know better, you might think Genesis is actively trying to sabotage itself.
Hyundai’s luxury brand introduced yet another passenger car at the New York Auto Show, following a string of other passenger cars. This time it’s something called the Mint, an electric concept “premium city car.”
Neat. Only one problem: People aren’t buying premium city cars. They’re buying premium SUVs. Consequently, Genesis sales have plummeted.
Call us when you’ve got a car that people will buy.
3. Mazda CX-5 diesel crossover
Just when you thought diesel was dead, Mazda does this.
Officially hailed as the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD, the crossover features the brand’s Skyactiv-D 2.2-liter diesel engine.
Diesel had its shot. But the Volkswagen emissions scandal basically killed it. Mazda’s attempt to swim upstream could click with a few true believers, but with the national price of diesel about 30 cents higher than unleaded gasoline, it’s doubtful many people will rush to buy this.
4. Toyota Yaris hatchback
Toyota tried really hard to make the hatchback version of the Yaris subcompact car look cool.
Thumping music played during a slickly produced video of the Yaris whipping through city streets as thousands of journalists watched at the auto show.
When the press conference ended, the Yaris drove up the aisle and parked in the middle of the crowd. But journalists barely even noticed. They were much more interested in the redesigned Highlander SUV on stage.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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