2012 Utah International Auto Expo Wrap Up!

The 2012 Utah International Auto Expo is not a big-time event like Detroit, rather a more down-home affair along the lines of what your meat-and-potatoes American experiences every year about this time.  I remember going to the Kansas City show back in high school and this is about the same – row upon row of everyday vehicles that you can get some seat time in while in a brightly light room.  A showroom on steroids if you will.

Along these lines, the UIAE reflects the auto industry pretty well.  The first thing that I noticed was the Jeep indoor test track.  Sign up, show your driver license and you get to take a Jeep up and over a massive incline, over an obstacle course and back to the start.  A cool event to be sure, but in years past, that space was taken by cars.  The auto industry has shrunk and what used to be relegated to the north parking lot of the South Towne Expo Center is now in the north end of the hall.

But the reason we’re here is the hatchback.  And there’s quite a few of them in many different classes – from basic econoboxes to the most exotic of exotics.  This recap should be in no way be construed as a be-all, end-all overview of what’s available, more just what caught my eye.  In that vein, I’m going to organize this post not by manufacturer and list off a bunch of boring stats, but rather into some more… esoteric categories.  Special thanks goes out to Scott from needthatcar.com for setting some rather nasty picks on unsuspecting people, allowing me clear space for the (camera) shot.

Click on the photos for hi-res goodness.  Let’s begin…

Mainstream

It used to be, back during the Golden Age of Hatchbacks, that you could find any number of mainstream, compact-to-midsize vehicles available in five-door hatchback form (usually sold side-by-side with a four-door counterpart, albeit in lesser numbers).  Cars such as the Toyota Camry, Mazda 626, Chevrolet Corsica, Nissan Stanza and Chrysler LeBaron to name a few were available as a hatch.  Now, not all of these cars were necessarily good, and may have died off due to a number of reasons, but the fact is that their replacements have significantly fewer variations, making for a more profitable, but certainly less interesting line-up of automobiles.  Here are a few of the remaining mainstream hatchbacks available today…

Mazda2

Mazda3

Toyota Yaris

Chevrolet Sonic

Hyundai Accent

Subaru Impreza

Ford Fiesta

As you may have noticed, these examples trend toward the smaller – and in some cases, much smaller – end of the automotive spectrum.  As noted above, there used to be a plethora of larger hatches more suited toward family life.  Now, there are but a few.

Its electric (boogie oogie)

To continue with the small and efficient theme, it appears that the official car body type of the electric/hybrid movement is the hatchback.  The reasons for this are unclear to me, but I would suspect it has something to do with the fact that it is easier to hoist replacement batteries purchased at Walmart into a hatchback.  Yes, I know you don’t buy hybrid battery packs at Walmart – you have to get them at your Toyota dealership with a 500% mark-up…

Lexus CT200H

Nissan Leaf

Ford Focus Electric

Chevrolet Volt

Actual efficiency

Keeping with the ‘green’ theme, I think most everyone knows where I stand on the whole hybrid thing.  Personally, I think it is ridiculous to haul around a bunch of batteries and attendant computer systems when internal combustion engines can be made to be very efficient, especially on the open road.  Consider:

Honda CR-Z

This three-door Honda CR-Z Hybrid gets 39 mpg on the highway.  The five-door Subaru Impreza in the background returns 36.  The Impreza has room for five, the CR-Z, two.  The Impreza has all-wheel drive.  The CR-Zdoes not.   Granted, the Honda gets significantly better city mileage, bringing the overall rating for the two cars to 37 for the Honda and 30 for the Subaru.  For my money, the Subaru is a more well-rounded and useful machine.

Then there are the issues of battery recycling that honestly should scare people about this hybrid and all-electric craze that is happening right now.  I’m not saying that the internal combustion engine is the way to go.  We’re clearly going to run out of fuel at some point, and the more efficiently we can use that fuel, the better off everyone is going to be.  The problem for me is that hybrids are being presented as the solution to all of our problems in that regard.  That’s simply not true – it’s greenwashing.  I just hope that we are not so distracted by hybrids that we fail completely to develop other, better alternatives, such as the clean diesel…

Audi A3 TDI

Style (or lack thereof)

Styling, especially on a car, is a very subjective thing.  But we can all agree that this is an abomination.  Amiright?

Honda Accord Crosstour

Not so sure on this one.  It’s tough to style such a small vehicle.  The large (in proportion to the car) wheels make it look like a toy, as do the comically-short rear overhang.  But at the same time, those same dimensions give the car a purposeful stance: “I’m here to carry two people and do it as efficiently as possible.”  There’s something to that, I think.

Scion iQ

And on the other side of the coin…  Giggity

Audi A7

The Audi A7 has the nicest hatch struts I’ve ever seen.  I guess it should be expected on a car of this premium class and price, but caught my eye nonetheless.

Details, details, details.

Overall, the car has clean lines and fantastic details.  Despite my obvious bias, I have no idea why someone would buy an A6 over this.

A simply beautiful car and my favorite hatchback besides…

The ultimate hatchback

The Ferrari FF.  Photos speak for themselves.

Expect a full feature story on this beauty soon.  It photographs well, but this is a car that needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

A thing I learned at the Auto Expo

Nearly all hatches are now opened using those little rubbery pads that you press your fingers up against, rather than some sort of mechanical lever.  So, after a few hours of people opening and closing hatches, playing with lights and the like, the battery dies.  And the hatch will not open.  Seriously, whatever happened to mechanical parts?

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7 responses to “2012 Utah International Auto Expo Wrap Up!”

  1. Lou says :

    Definitely something to think about with a hybrid. Huge fan of the Audi

  2. needthatcar says :

    I spent some time talking to the Honda representative about the Crosstour. It is ugly, or maybe not ugly, but just goofy. She did a nice job of explaing why anyone would ever buy that car. It has some cool features in the cargo area. For example, the whole floor comes out in sections that can be reversed…carpet on one side, durable plastic on the other. That way if you have a dirty load or a pet or a slovenly friend back there, it won’t screw up your carpet. Also, beneath the floor, it has a decent sized secret compartment – to put your secret stuff in.

    The rear seats fold down with the flick of a lever, the MPG is about as good as any “crossover” type vehicle, and it has decent ground clearance. Additionally, it has a fairly ergonomic hip point for easy entry and exit.

    In the end, I realized that the Crosstour is a more interesting car than I thought and that the Honda representative was extremely attractive.

    • Hatchtopia says :

      So to recap, a hot booth professional blinded you to the ugliness of the Crosstour and won you over?

      Don’t get me wrong, I love me a goofy looking car – my driving history is littered with them. I’m sure it is an eminently practical, safe and reliable vehicle. But there’s just something off about the Crosstour, and in my opinion, both Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus (Scion excepted) have lost the plot in recent years when it comes to styling.

  3. needthatcar says :

    She was seriously hot.

  4. yoda says :

    Gotta say that between the two I’d go for a TSX wagon over the Crosstour.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Design Study: 2012 Lexus CT200h « Hatchtopia - January 30, 2012

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