2016 Indianapolis Auto Show

It’s the time of year that the term ‘Car Show’ changes from describing your local Cars & Coffee or classic Hot Rods show, where everyone wants to go and there is something for everyone; to new and shinny family cars sprinkled with new hotness that manufacturers don’t expect to sell very many of.

The Indianapolis Auto Show is no different. I rate it on a scale of every car show I’ve seen as, one step above the San Jose Auto Show. SJ is abysmal don’t go. Indianapolis? Is basically the same atmosphere as your local auto mall that represents all the major brands.

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Like all auto show venues the Indiana Convention Center is no different with its crazily out of date carpets and beige walls and open space sized-to-fit modular design. I, as is usually the case, entered on the wrong side of the building and had a half a mile walk to the correct hall. The circuitous route took me past the very loud preteen Christian concert in one of the adjacent halls and zigzagging all the way to the opposite corner from where I started.

$7 Ticket purchased I entered the hall between Scion and Toyota.

Scion: In my eyes Scion is the reasonably priced car peoples champion They somehow snuck the iM into the lineup without my remembering. I was probably distracted by the appearance on the scene of the S-FR which of coarse is not here in Indy. The iM is your typical compact 5 door that some how works in the S-FR funky green. I kind of like it.

Indy did on the other hand get the tC; which gets the first of several “Oh they still make that?” awards. If the tC had ever been RWD I would have found its early years more interesting than todays, but barely.

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On the other hand I’ve always liked the FR-S, in a few years used ones will become affordable to transition into the project cars they were always intended to be. I just wish Scion would reduce their self control on the colors a little.

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There is a bit of a buzz about the iA, but I found it so forgettable I didn’t even take a picture of it.

Yes Scion still makes the xB, its no longer quirky weird or overly boxy. The xB is no longer any of the things that made it unique and its starting to look like its melting. This needs to be redesigned more than any car I can currently think of.

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If I needed a good cheap car I’d get the FR-S, and if I could wait until the SF-R arrived I would get that instead.

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Mini is a “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” brand. Instead of one size fits most, Mini has gone the route of many sizes of the same thing. They have become the Coops S company. Cooper S in small, medium, large, and extended. They also come in Works and topless variety. (no we didn’t have a JCWorks at the Indy car show.) Cost savings wise this is a great plan as you have cross platform component use. It just never seems like any of this cost savings was ever passed down to the consumer. The service package for Mini is still above where other brands dare go but the up front cost of the vehicle can be off-putting unless you plan to keep the car to the end of the warranty.

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Ford used to have some innovation and creativity in their lineup. Now it seems they bring the same box of crayons every year.

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We’re Ford we have big trucks. 150 250 350 trucks all looking the same as last year. No. No Raptor or Velociraptor and no GT at the Indianapolis Auto Show. We do have the sketchy looking Animatronic Guy again though.

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If you can get past the spokesmodel dude reading from a partially memorized script about flat cranks and 8,000 RPM “jet aircraft like sound” (his words, I guess I trust he knows what he’s talking about.) The New Cobra 350 GT is here in Indy in all its glossy primer grey glory. On the plus side, styling cues on the Cobra are an improvement over the standard Mustangs bland flat aesthetic which make the 350 GT look more like a Mustang and less like a Camaro.

They still make the C-Max! Really? Why?

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We did get the Focus ST and RS which is nice for the hot hatch enthusiasts but in Indy I believe the general thought process is anything with a hatchback is a chick car. Their loss. I was glad to see the redesign included uncluttering the center console.

Lincoln MkZzzzzzzzzzz Next.

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Chevrolet brings us the welcome return of the midsize (?) pickup. The Colorado is svelte for an American pickup, and it looks great despite the rear window swoop and the plastic interior.

Unless a Camaro is an SS it still looks like a Mustang or vise versa. No we didn’t have an SS this year.

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The 2016 Stingray looks a bit plain for the money, until you step up to the Z06; then it looks a little too Transformers for my taste. The enormous carbon Gurney-flap blade is just ridiculous even if it does something.

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Volt. They still make the Volt? Why? It looks exactly the same as I remember it. Have they not even heard of Tesla.

I hold a lot of animosity towards the Chevy Spark. I almost lusted after the Sonic in its concept stage with its quirky dash cluster and “Why cant America build a cool, cheap compact car?” attitude. Then along came Spark with the same quirky dash, its bug like looks and its lower price point. I think GM approved the Spark just to keep the union boys making the Sonic honest in contract negotiations. If the Sonic boys walked, GM had a plan ready. 2016 finds the Spark still kicking Sonic in the balls as it gets a new and better dash cluster design influence from a car, as it should be. That said if Sonic ever wants to compete with Ford Focus RS/ST they need to call Opel and ask to borrow some OPC engineers and make the Sonic the Hot Hatch it always deserved to be.

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Impala and Malibu: The NASCARisation of the sedan. In a world where the drawing board is outweighed by the wind tunnel, and the accountant; the only difference between sedans are the lights and grill. If you un-badged any modern sedan I can’t tell them apart; and so it goes for Impala and Malibu. (Imabu? Malapala?)

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Ooh! Crossovers! The Cross over has become so ubiquitous in America I tend not to notice them unless I have too. I didn’t look at the Ford, and Mini is the only well done crossover. (Juke/R killed by CVT) Traverse and Equinox what ever happened to the Blazer?

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Suburban and Tahoe are unnecessarily oversized for when size matters.

Buick is looking a little tired. Buick isn’t as bad as Lincoln but its really starting to look like re-badged Chevrolets except the Cascada which looks like a Saturn. Ditto for Verano. Some of the Chevy’s felt cheap inside but here at Buick the interior feels like it got two layers of vinyl instead of one.

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The Buick Encore wishes it was a Juke.

The new Regal looks like a rebadged Pontiac.

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Is the LaCrosse a Malibu or an Impala?

Cadillac is a shining bastion of hope for GM. The CTS and ATS are the only current GM cars that move me; and that’s saying a lot because until last year they hadn’t moved me for about a decade.

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Kill all the Buicks and keep Cadillac. It’s time.

GMC: Between Chevy, and Cadillac there are enough variations of the pickup/crossover/suv’s segments. GM needs to stop competing with themselves once and for all. Once they kill Buick, GMC should follow; just ad trim lines to existing marks.

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Jeep: Once the pride and joy of all things American; Jeep is slowly becoming what Italians think a Jeep should look like. A Jeep should be simple, spartan, and rugged. Even before the Italians took over Jeep seemed to lose sight that they were the leader in the SUV genre before losing their direction.

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This is a Jeep.

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This is a Jeep after a high gravity load test.

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This is a crossover.

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This is a Fiat.

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JEEP!

They still make the Patriot? Wasn’t it outdated poo when it was first designed?

Dodge/Chrysler: I’ve not had the chance to drive any of the big performance cars from the lineup; yet, but when ever I see them in person I think to myself; “Lord above but they are big!”. I cant imagine city driving/parking would ruin the horsepower experience but I can imagine them as very sweaty.

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Is it a Chrysler 200 or a Malibu...or an Impala? This Chrysler I did get to drive. I found it numb as it provided no feedback whatsoever. Both the throttle and brake were way to responsive making any driver drive like an old man. Go! Stop! GOOOO! STOP! like a switch.

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The Chrysler 300 looks at a Scion tC and says “I am your Father.” The overstated haunches and oversized grill are looking dated. I don’t know the last time I saw one on the road and thought; “Oh, a new one.”

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Ram looks as dated as the 300. Like the 300 The Ram looks 10-15% larger than it actually needs to be.

Durango huh. Scratches head, walks away.

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Scat pack? That’s what you’re going to call it? Really?

I could really like the Charger if it didn’t look like every police car.

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Hellcat. Red! Nice wheels and baseball glove brown interior. What else can I say? Horsepower all day but I’d like to feel it as it’s driven hard through some esses.

Shaker because throwback is still cool; somewhere. I like throwback and retro, which is good because genre is aimed at an older enthusiast. This seems as gimmicky as go-fast stickers though.

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Volvo: I didn’t know they made this many.

No brown, no stick, no passion. When Volvo began to round the edges of their cars they began to lose some of their appeal. Nowadays if it isn’t one of their race prepped models I’m not very excited by them.

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S60 is it a Malibu or an Impala?

Oh look! A crossover!

Jag the only cars worth our time are behind ropes at the Indy Auto Show.

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Jaguar Miata Type.

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Jaguar Miata Type; Coop. Powered by plastic; apparently.

Land Rover: With the loss of the Defender the LR4 is the only Rover that hasn’t become over bloated posh, and still retains some of that boxiness that endeared the brand to a generation.

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Honda; yes spellcheck I’d rather talk about Rhonda Rousey as well, but no. Honda:

Fit; there are modle years of Fit I would own. This isn’t one of them.

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Accord or the “Big Civic” as I call it. With a slowmatic transmission. It’s a very nice blue, and I like the wheels, but if you’re going to drop a V6 in a car these days and call it Touring; shouldn’t it also have a stick?

Oh look! Crossovers!

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Civic. Actually kind of nice. I like how there are actually some nice lines on the side of the car and the cut of the C window doesn’t make it look like a Malibu. I’d like to drive one and hear if road noise has improved over past model years.

Fiat: Like the Mini earlier, Fiat is a; “If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.” brand. I’m sure the 500 is an excellent city car, but with the percentage of large SUV’s and Pickups in the Midwest, and the rate at which the fine people of Indianapolis regularly blow through red lights; I wouldn’t want to experience the 500 vs Tahoe matchup.

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Except the Abarth. I quite like the Abarth. I would own one.

Porsche: This is the most benign Porsche display I’ve ever seen. Any manufacture who allows a customer to paint a car any color should never show up with only white or silver cars. Panamera (white), a convertible 911 with the top up (white), Cayenne (white or black), Macan (white) with white wheels; ooh how daring. No Targa, no GT3, no 918. Where is the fucking passion? It’s a GD funeral in here.

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Oh look! A crossover with white wheels!

Kia: Crossover Country. Own a Kia? I wouldn’t want to be ya.

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Optima, or Cadenza, or is it a Malibu; oh wait. It’s an Impala.

Forte SX T-GDI turbogasdirectinjection. Hmm not bad. Some wheels and a small wing and we have a decent looking start. It has more soul than the Soul.

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VW: Everyone still hates VW right? I still love you VW. (I’m biased. My wife owns a 2015 Golf R.)

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Scott Speed GRC replica. VW if you sold a high horsepower AWD Beetle that looked like this you would really get my attention. Dat wing doe!

Beetle. Nice improvements over the MkI but I want the Foust edition RWB.

A wagon. For all the love station wagons get on Jalopnik it still surprises me I only see a handful each year.

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Passat Malibu Impala.

The GTI is so great at doing Car I don’t know why they don’t sell more of them. No Golf R at the Indy Auto Show.

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Mazda: Again here I’m biased and will try to curb my roadster enthusiasm.

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The Mazda 3 wagon looks a little like it wants to be a Z4 shooting-brake. If it looked more like a shooting-break I would want one.

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Mazda 3 shows us how you make a sedan that doesn’t look like a Malibu Impala. See how the roof line is biased towards the rear just enough that it changes the silhouette? I can identify this car from the side. Congratulations Mazda.

The CX-3 isn’t quirky enough to be a Juke either and the CX-9 is too big for a Mazda.

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Because Racecar.

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Mazda 6 almost a Malibu Impala

Miata. You are never too old.

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Subaru: STI; I’ve wanted more model years of this car than any other. (The MX-5 has had 4 body styles while the STI has had many more.) The new STI is looking less rally inspired than it did in the old days but the remnants of the box flares prevent it from being an electric blue Malibu.

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BRZ; for the guy who wants an FR-S but doesn’t dream about installing a Rocket Bunny kit.

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Legacy Malibu Impala.

Oh look! Crossovers!

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The Subaru crossover has been Smurfed. I’m very appreciative of everyone that keeps this color around, but Mazda needs to put it back on the MX-5.

The Subaru Outback has a Nice interior. I’m not sure I’d ever choose an Outback over an Impreza wagon (especially a rally prepped one with white wheels and orange mudflaps.) but the new Outback is very well appointed and looks like a great alternative in the crossover genre.

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Hyundai/Genesis: Hyundai’s have ebbed and flowed over the years. They dallied in motorsports, but never really stuck in my consciousness. Nothing here looks new or original.

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Is it an Azera, or a Sonata, or a Malibu or an Impala?

Elantra looks like a Kia.

Oh look crossovers.

Nissan; Another brand with a storied history that has lost its way. If they hadn’t just killed their LMP project, it would have been nice to see the Indy factory representing here. The Z (and the Juke R) aside the brand has become a CVT blah fest. What ever happened to that IDx?

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Altima Malibu Impala.

Versa Fit

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Maxima Maxima Maxima are you not entertained? I can remember when the Maxima was small and sporty sedan 20 years ago. At least it doesn’t look like a Malibu Impala. It would be nice to see this go away to be replaced by something completely new. An S16 maybe?

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The 370z Nismo has more fan boys than you can shake a stick at. Nice. Want, but it still needs to be the size of an MX-5. Hey Nissan add some lightness why don’t you?

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Titan is a big ass truck that’s better looking than the Dodge.

Crossovers!

Toyota; We make trucks.

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Blue trucks, brown trucks, grey ones, white ones, and orange ones too.

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TRD Pro 4 Runner. Yes please. Just a tubular roof-rack, brush guard, and winch away from being a great Zombie Apocalypse attack vehicle.

RAV 4; yeah I get it; people like crossovers.

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Avalon Malibu Impala.

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Camry doesn’t look like a Malibu Impala, but it doesn’t look like a Camry either.

The Toyota Corolla is a dressy tC. Two days ago I saw a tweet that reminded me this car was still being made. Meh.

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Do we really need three versions of the Prius? No.

Maserati: I’m surprised they let us touch them.

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Ghibli is Italian for “get better name next time”; apparently.

Lexus: I think it was pretty clever for Toyota group to allow a floor plan that separated Lexus and Toyota with another brand, but that brand being Maserati makes the Premium Toyotas look a little dated except for their gigantic grills.

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F Sport CT200h is a nice looking hatch/wagon but the grill doesn’t work for me. 0-60 in 9.8 seconds for $33,000? Buy a Sport package GTI or step up to a Golf R.

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GS350 Malibu Impala.

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RC350 nice red, nice dash cluster. LFA nose only looks good on the LFA. Sorry. Also the door handles feel cheep.

Over priced crossovers and SUVs not worth the bandwidth and no LFA in sight.

IS 300 AWD looks like a dressed up over priced Mazda 3; and that grill Ugh.

Acura: This is a car company that like Lexus and Infiniti...Hey wait. Is Infiniti even here? Anyway, Acura used to be dressed up Hondas, akin to Cadillac and Chevy, but now it seems Acura is trying to be a separate design entity. This isn’t a bad thing, I just don’t see anything overly unique here. No. The NSX didn’t make it to Indianapolis.

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The Acura TLX AWD is a borderline Malibu Impala. If they could bring some of that Real-Time Acura GT3 swagger over I’d take notice.

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RLX is a Malibu Impala.

Ooh! A crossover!

ILX is a Mazda 6 right?

BMW: Yes please.

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I take that back. The X4 is a borderline Aztek.

328 Malibu Impala.

428 drop top? Yes.

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I applaud BMW bringing the i8. They might actually sell 2 of them in Indianapolis, but why no love for the i3?

The Supercar corral was brought to us by Gator Motorsports the local Lotus dealer and current home of Indy Cars & Coffee. Gator brought with them the new Zenos E10S track-day KTM fighter. With a 250hp Ford Ecoboost they claim 0-60 in less than 4 seconds.

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After spending 3 1/2 hours at The Indianapolis Auto Show I’m not quite depressed, but if a new car show is expected to get the potential customer excited enough to go spend more money than most of them make in an entire year; its failed. Their were some nice cars there but over all the atmosphere was lame. The show itself is maybe 1/3 that of the Chicago Auto Show. Maybe smaller. In that missing space CAS gives you dreams of cars of the future, museum pieces of decades past, and interactive spaces with the actual cars. In that missing space CAS gives you passion of all things automotive and makes you want to run to the dealer and get that new hotness. I don’t know if its a case of car manufacturers/dealers not wanting to bring what doesn’t sell here or just bringing what they want to sell, but its this kind of vanilla attitude that’s harming car sales and leaves everyone driving Accords and Camry’s. Its amazing to me that so many cars looked like the Malibu/Impala that those cars don’t sell better themselves, but maybe everyone else does it better.

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Tesla was noticeably absent from the Indianapolis Auto Show. It’s also interesting how all the major manufacturers are wrangling to get into the EV and autonomous segment without acknowledging Tesla’s existence. It must be nice for them to be able to compare themselves one another, but not the big T.

At $7 the Indianapolis Auto Show is a bargain as long as you know where to park. Don't park across the street, because its $30 for three hours. The IAS is not worth $37. Next year, unless there is a car worth seeing, I’ll likely be skipping the Indianapolis Auto Show. See you in Chicago in February.

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Bonus photos of the Zenos E10s:

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