Los Angeles is the City of Angels … but it’s also a city of cars, freeways, two-hour commutes and photochemical smog. It’s fitting that the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opened Friday for a 10-day run, is a showcase for gorgeous cars with mind-boggling technology to make driving safer and easier, that are also greener and more fuel-efficient than ever.
The show boasts “More than 50 Vehicle Debuts that Will Blow Your Doors Off,” plus a lot more. The L.A. Auto Show Design Challenge features 25 auto designs and nine concept cars based on “Biomimicry & Mobility 2025 – Nature’s Answer to Human Challenges” to address congestion, sustainability, air pollution and safety. A Connected Car Expo showcased new mobility solutions, app development and other auto technology for three days before the main auto show opened.
But the main business of the show is to show off cars, especially the ones coming to showrooms in the next year or so. Major themes in L.A. are luxury, crossovers and continued focus on fuel efficiency for economy and the environment.
That said, let’s talk about Colorado – specifically, Chevy’s new Colorado mid-sized pickup, which GM hopes will lure buyers from Toyota and Nissan and maybe out of SUVs. Available next fall, the Colorado is smaller and more fuel-efficient than Detroit’s full-size trucks with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, offering 193-hp, 184 lb-ft of torque and towing capacity of 6,700+ lbs. Chevrolet brags that the Colorado will beat Toyota’s Tacoma on efficiency.
Compact crossovers are wildly popular in the U.S. so it’s not surprising that there is huge buzz in L.A. over new entries particularly of the luxury variety. Porsche unveiled its Macan (Indonesian for “tiger”). It comes in two versions: the 3.0-liter V6 “S” delivering 340-hp, and the Turbo with a 3.6-liter V6, 400-hp engine.
Lincoln introduced its new MKC crossover with a turbocharged 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine. Mercedes-Benz is showing off the CLA45 AMG concept with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that offers 355-hp and promises zero-60 mph in under five seconds. It could be in production by the end of 2014. Jaguar’s C-X17 concept offers an all-new aluminum unibody construction and efficient engines to boost fuel-efficiency without affecting performance or speed, but there’s no promise on when it will come to market.
The next generation Ford Edge concept is a slightly larger SUV, stuffed with advanced technology like automated parking that can pull out of a tight parking-lot space even before the driver gets in. The even-larger VW CrossBlue Coupe concept, expected to go into production next year, has a 415-hp V6 plug-in hybrid power plant that VW says gets the equivalent of 70 mpg.
Other gas-sippers on display include BMW’s i3 and i8 EVs, MINI’s turbocharged engines – including a three-cylinder – in a slightly larger but familiar body, and a pair of exciting fuel cell vehicles: the Honda FCEV concept, slated for production in 2015, and the Hyundai Tucson hydrogen fuel-cell car that will be sold in the U.S. beginning next year. The FCEV is expected to have a range of 300+ miles and promises refueling in about three minutes. The Tucson is rated at 134-hp with a range of 400+ miles. Right now there’s only one hydrogen fueling station in Colorado, but it’s government-owned, so it may be awhile before we see a hydrogen-solution here. However, Honda is part of a consortium working to ramp up America’s hydrogen-fueling infrastructure.
There’s much more to see in L.A., including the new BMW 4 Series convertible, Jaguar F-Type Coupe, Mercedes S65 AMG luxury sedan, a next-gen Subaru 268-hp turbo WRX, a 600-hp 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo, the VW e-Golf and Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid. Fiat is showing a “1957” retro 500. And for big spenders Aston Martin’s Vanquish Volante Neiman Marcus Edition – seen in the famous Christmas catalog – can be drooled over and bought for $344,500. Only 10 are available and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them tooling down L.A.’s freeways, piloted by Hollywood’s famous or even by somebody right here in Colorado.