In LA it’s hard to get around without a car, so you would expect an auto show with cars that people will want to drive. This year’s Los Angeles Auto Show (open through Sunday) has them. They span the range from basic sedans and coupes, to convertibles, crossovers and performance cars, including concepts that may not ever get produced.
Common to most vehicles on the show floor, however, is amazing automotive technology. Even lower-end cars come with built-in tech; rearview cameras are standard on all Hondas, for example, and electronic stability control, which was introduced on luxury models in the mid-‘90s, is now required on all vehicles. Technology ups costs, but it’s made cars safer, more convenient and comfortable, while also expanding in-vehicle information and entertainment offerings.
Convertibles are big in LA, including the Range Rover Evoque, the Mercedes-Benz SL, Fiat 124 Spider and MINI Cooper. When the Evoque crossover was introduced a couple of years ago it was a hit – whether it finds buyers as a soft-top is anybody’s guess. The Benz SL is a streamlined mid-cycle redesign but is still a head-turner. The Fiat 124 Spider is newsworthy for its classic roadster styling and the fact that it’s being built by Mazda, whose Miata set the current standard for less-expensive convertibles, spawning the nickname “Fiata.” The Spider will have the Fiat Abarth’s 160-hp engine. MINI’s new droptop keeps the iconic design and the top can sport the Union Jack for a little extra jack.
Crossovers are top sellers and many are displayed here. The turbocharged Mazda CX-9 with 250 hp and seven seats is on most “best of show” lists. Jaguar’s first SUV is the elegant F-Pace meant to take on Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Lexus. BMW’s updated X1 and Infiniti’s QX30 – making their North American debuts – will compete in the small luxury space, as will Cadillac’s XT5, which is lighter, more efficient, roomier and with more tech than the SRX it replaces.
For the budget-minded crossover market, the new Ford Escape’s SYNC Connect will start, lock and unlock and check the diagnostics via mobile app. The updated 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage is a budget-minded, tech-heavy entry as is the redesigned Kia Sportage. Scion’s C-HR concept (coming in 2016) has cutting-edge design to target young urbanites; it’s engineered with a lower center of gravity to improve handling and comfort.
Despite the attention on crossovers, there are some standout sedans and coupes. The Buick LaCrosse front-wheel drive takes some design cues from the Avenir concept that debuted earlier this year. Subaru’s Impreza concept is sleek and sharp and should be a hit when it goes into production next year. Lincoln’s MKZ has a new grille design and a 400-hp 3.0-liter V-6. Honda’s 2016 Civic coupe is capitalizing on last month’s warm reception for the all-new Civic sedan.
For the eco-conscious customer Honda offers its Clarity FCV hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, coming next year, Toyota showed off a redesigned Prius and Audi offered the E-tron Quattro electric crossover concept designed to compete with Tesla’s Model S.
If performance is your passion, there were some standouts: BMW’s M4 MTS limited edition (only 300 coming to America) with a 493-horsepower water-injected engine; Alfa-Romeo’s Giulia Quadrifoglio with a 505-hp turbo six that does zero to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds; Audi’s S8 Plus and RS 7 Performance, both with 605 hp, or the A8 4.0T with 450 hp; the Ford GT Supercar; a pair of Porsche 911 Targas; and the Lamborghini Huracan LP 580-2 with a 5.2-liter V-10 that costs out north of $200k.
Finally, a little whimsy in the shape of Volkswagen’s Beetle Dune, a bit reminiscent of the dune buggies of yore. May be more suited to the beaches of SoCal than the Rockies, though.
With more than 50 world, North American and concept debuts there’s something for everyone at the LA Auto Show. Many will be on display at the Denver Auto Show March 16-20.