Luc at the NY Auto Show in a 2009 Volkswagen Eos, instinctively operating the touchscreen.
Getting new perspectives on familiar topics is good. So I always look forward to my annual trip to the New York Auto Show with my friends' son Luc, who's 9 this year.
He's not necessarily your average 9-year-old; he lives in Manhattan, speaks fluent French (one parent is from France), and goes to grade school deep in the canyons of New York's Financial District. But he shares one trait with many (most?) 9-year-old boys: He loves cars.
We spent three hours at the show today, with Luc happily evaluating the cars we saw, green and otherwise. With a hybrid crossover at home and environmental lessons at school, Luc expects most cars to be at least somewhat planet-friendly--unless they're sports cars, in which case they get a pass.
Here are his assessments of some of the greener concepts and production cars scattered across the crowded show floor at New York's battered Jacob Javits Convention Center.
Lincoln Concept C: Luc liked the small size and wide-opening rear-hinged doors of this concept from the Detroit Auto Show, the first car we saw. But he thought it would be hard to figure out how to operate it, because most controls were accessed through large touchscreens and steering wheel buttons. A very practical assessment, frankly.
2009 Cadillac Escalade Platinum
2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Platinum Edition: Luc couldn't have cared less than this gargantuan sport-utility vehicle was a hybrid. He liked both the powered running boards and the five stacked front LED lights, each resembling a transparent glass globe. Marching up to the truck, he looked pretty much straight at them.
2011 Chevrolet Volt: He liked the Volt, which we came upon first as a cutaway model showing the battery pack, the electric motor, and the "range extender" gas engine. We spent five minutes looking at that. He thought the car's styling was good, and loved the interior: "It's like an iPod."
2009 MINI Cooper Convertible
2009 Mini-Cooper Convertible: Luc is a huge Mini fan, and this was the car he asked to find first. He likes the convertible, and really adores the old-style toggle switches at the bottom of the center stack (complete with metal safety divider loops to keep them from impaling passengers).
2010 Toyota Prius: Luc looked at it, acknowledged that it was a Toyota Prius, and walked right past it. Too prosaic for comment.
Lexus HS 250h
2010 Lexus HS250h: Because he rides in one, Luc is more familiar with the Lexus line than most 9-year-olds. His comment on the new dedicated hybrid HS250h sedan? "It doesn't look like a Lexus very much." He is doubtful.
2010 Lexus RX450h: This possible replacement for his parents' three-year-old RX400h hybrid got high marks from the young passenger (their lease expires soon). Luc was pleased that the fold-down rear-seat armrest has new wood trim, rather than the all-leather covering he now sits next to.
In fairness, we should point out that Luc reserved his two most enthusiastic "Whoa!" comments for very non-green cars: the Maybach Zeppelin and a flat-black Lamborghini Gallardo.
And we're just not going to tell his parents about the motorcycle he sat on, or the monster trucks. Parents can be funny that way ....
Luc at the NY Auto Show with his favorite car of all, a 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo.