During the doldrums of winter, it's easy to fall into a cold-weather funk. But thanks to the car industry, one avenue to recovery lies with the international auto show.
Auto shows, spread across the nation, kick off in Boston in late January, move throughout major metropolitan areas nationally (Chicago and Providence just wrapped up), and cap off in New York around the first week of April.
With this year's selection, gear heads and casual car fans alike are able to get up-close & personal with some of the flashiest models - both domestic and foreign - they may NEVER see on the road
Chevy, with its usual prime spot at the main convention room entrance, continues to get heavy foot traffic thanks to the big guns: The Corvette and Camaro.
This year Corvette displayed was the Stingray Coupe edition, sporting a leather interior and a sporty rear design separating it from its motherless model. Its base price was $50,000.
The Camaro, meanwhile, sports an all-new redesign (planned for some time) retaining the same basic shape first made famous in local company HASBRO's famous 'TRANSFORMERS' films since 2007.
Of the two models present, the hard top featured black with black leather interior. The convertible (now in its third year in production) featured popular yellow-and-black color scheme. Prices for this venerable model ranged from $23-26 thousand dollars.
The 2014 Ford Fusion sedan featured all three options, netting a range of 37-108 miles-per-gallon (depending on what engine it runs on).
On a marketing note, Ford clearly wants to distance itself from the green-&-tiny stigma associated with it's Asian-import hybrid rivals (read: Prius) as the Fusion literature highlights how it "bridges the gap between power and efficiency".
On the SUV crossover side, the Ford Flex continues to be a dominant model for the family set. Boasting room for up to 7, it gets an EPA-estimated highway miles-per-gallon of up to 25, and continues to rank as an IIHS "Top Safety Pick" for five years running (not bad for what looks like a post-modern 'surfer dude' ride.
Speaking of Asian imports, Japanese and South Korean auto manufacturers continue to dominate the U.S. auto market - none more prevalent than Toyota.
Continuing the message of "If it's not broke, don't fix it", Toyota continues to rely on their long-standing top-sellers, the entry-model Corolla, the Camry (America's "Best Selling Car" according to the literature), and the luxury sedan the Avalon (with the latter two models sporting hybrid-options for higher price point.
The XB came decked in a two-tone color scheme of powder-blue and silver and sported a a two 2.4-liter, 150 horsepower engine - with an introductory sticker price of only $11,500 dollars (balancing off style and affordability for the millennial set).
The iQ, Scion's answer to the smart car, turned some heads (if for no other reason disbelief that a machine SO SMALL would be considered street legal).
But the crown jewel of the Scion showcase was the 2014 FR-S coupe. Featuring a front-mounted flat boxer engine and a 6-speed transmission, this rear-wheel drive was arguably the biggest crowd-pleaser for the speed-enthusiasts. It's base price an estimated $25,000 (less than HALF the price of the comparable Chevy Corvette!)
Finally, Kia continues to impress with the focal point of their display nine other than the popular Soul crossover model.
Another best-selling model trying to re-invent itself, the 2014 edition has available features ranging from a 2.0L Gas Direct Injection engine and a panoramic sunroof. This year, a very special edition features bright white with red accents. And of course those adorable dancing hamsters continue to push Kia into pop-cultural relevance.
One company that seemed to expand in 2014 was Fiat. The Italian auto company, which gave a hard media push several years ago (featuring the likes on J-Lo and Charlie Sheen), continues to find success in a niche market- one that craves fuel efficiency but not at the expense of style.
The company, known for the 500 Arbath and Arbath Cabrio as it's standard-bearers (estimated base price of $16,000 and up) has a new entry for 2014: the 4-door 500L..
Sporting a bright yellow (almost akin to the rounded VW Bus of yesteryear) it is the answer for those who can't take the company seriously due to its 'unisize' seen in the rest of their models.
Speaking of Volkswagen, one grave omission form this year's Auto Show was that of the famous German car company. This was especially surprising since the NEW Beetle re-design launched in 2012 has become very popular model on streets nation-wide.
Of course it wouldn't be the Northeastern auto show without a number of luxury vehicle offerings on display.
Perched on the more intimate third-floor ballroom, the luxury level had some of the usual suspects (BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mini Cooper) and some rare makes not usually seen in the tri-state area.
Those companies included Maserati and Bentley, both sporting cars in the $130-200 THOUSAND DOLLARS (one shocked spectator noted "I could get a house for that price").
Acura continues to impress with the 2014 editions of the RLX luxury sedan and the MDX luxury SUV (both models made famous as the official cars of Marvel's spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in the movie 'Thor'). Base sticker prices are $48,500 and $42,5000, respectively.
Not present was the Acura NSX concept (made famous as Tony Stark's ride at the end of 'The Avengers') - which is still a few years off from production.
But where Iron Man's ride wasn't, the titular hero was: in addition to a convention center full of the latest wheels set for the international roads, kids got a guest appearance by the Armored Avenger - capping off another tantalizing look at the Auto world's annual offerings.