With the annual Detroit and Geneva auto shows in the rear-view mirror, the car world turns to New York City this week. It is not the industry’s biggest or most important show, but it is perhaps the best-timed one. Next year’s gleaming new machines roll into Manhattan just as spring is blooming and buyers get ready for a summer spending spree.
Here are the five big reveals that car geeks will be watching closely this week.
• 2015 Ford Focus: Updating a top-seller is always a risky endeavor. A company that changes too much risks alienating its biggest fans, while not updating enough may cost some sales momentum. The Focus, meanwhile, is the bestselling car in the world, so the stakes could not be higher as Ford (F) rolls out its next iteration. What to look for: a very unusual engine. The new Focus is expected to have a six-speed stick shift—remember those?—and three cylinders that shut off entirely at stop lights.
• 2015 Dodge Charger: Most carmakers aren’t all that interested in making big, rear-wheel-drive sedans—unless they carry a luxury brand and command a lot of euros. That’s a major advantage for Chrysler Fiat as it looks to relaunch its Dodge Charger. It will have to be impressive, however, to catch the highly praised Impala that Chevrolet launched last year. What to look for: a design statement that will signal whether Dodge is angling for plush or performance.
• 2015 BMW X4: Crossovers are performing handsomely for BMW (BMW:GY). In the U.S. last year, they accounted for four out of 10 Bimmers sold. Naturally, the company is going all in, doubling capacity at its South Carolina SUV factory and making the vehicles bigger, smaller, and everywhere in between, which is where the X4 squeezes in. BMW calls it a “sports activity coupe,” even though it appears to have four doors. We call it the ultimate driving dream of everyone who bought a 1988 AMC Eagle. What to look for: next-level electronics and anything else that will draw attract a demographic other than current BMW owners.
• 2015 Kia Sedona: Kia hasn’t been able to make much of a dent in the market for giant kid-schleppers, but it is refusing simply to coast on its crossovers. The new Sedona is expected to be as big and as safe as anything in the category, and it looks a lot sexier than the old one. What to look for: With up to eight seats that slide and flip and fold, Kia is angling to win over frazzled parents.
• 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C: Europeans have been able to buy these little bug-eyed spaceships for months, but this week will be the first time in two decades that the Alfa Romeo badge has shown up in the U.S. Fiat has plenty of sports cars on offer in its Ferrari and Maserati brands, but it has big plans for Alfa—positioning it as a smaller, lighter, and more affordable option for driving junkies. What to look for: the size of the crowd gathered around it. Although it’s compared with a Porsche Boxster and the Audi TT, there’s nothing in the U.S. quite like this mid-engined two-seater. In other words, it will live or die by its wow factor.