T H E C A R M A V E N
© COPYRIGHT 2020. The Car Maven
LOS ANGELES---This year’s Los Angeles Auto Show was not the most breaking news show I’ve been to but it packed more dazzle, drama and significant launches than the past couple of years (a quick poll of fellow industry folks agreed).
Most news was centered around the car industry’s move toward electrified propulsion across almost all OEM platforms, autonomous driving technologies, and many significant vehicle launches. Some of the big reveals have broken at other venues or are being saved for Consumer Electronics Show (which is becoming a car show) in Las Vegas (Jan 9-12, 2018) and the Detroit Auto Show (Jan 14-28, 2018). The LA show wrapped Dec 10.
Here are some highlights of the most significant technologies and new vehicles I saw during the two-day press preview.
Electrification diversification continues
2018 Tesla Model 3 is shown publicly for the first time at LA show. Model 3s are slowly starting to trickle out of the Freemont, CA factory with 345 units sold in November.. Over 400,000 consumers have placed deposits on this elegant, 4-door sedan with range of 220 miles and starting MSRP of $35,000 before incentives. Consumers can expect delivery in 12-18 months. Tesla also featured a “Home Structure” fitted with solar roof panels that capture traditional asphalt, tile, wood shake and metal roof designs. Installations of these panels have started on LA-area home unioing mid-sized SUV.
2019 BMW i8 Roadster and was debuted along with the new Coupe top of the “I” family of electrified BMW vehicles. The German OEM also displayed the “i Vision Dynamics” sedan concept and a range of electrified motorcycles. BMW Group announced they will have 25 electrified vehicles by 2025 – 12 will be purely electric.
2019 Jaguar I-Pace - Slated for US showrooms in Fall 2018, the I-Pace will feature a dedicated platform with aluminum body construction, 220-mile range and electric motor at each wheel deliver 400hp. Competition will be the $88,000 Tesla Model X, as well as BMW and Mercedes electrics coming in 2019.
SUV For Offerings Everyone
2018 Jeep Wrangler - Lighter by 200 lbs, the “JL” Jeep will be available more easily configurable 2- and 4-door models. 4-door offers power top. Optional open-air pass-throughs in the middle of each front door and a folding windshield keep the open air experience alive and well. “Easter egg” surprises like interior “spec plate” recall the original Willy dash along other heritage details will surprise and delight Jeep fans of all ages. Powertrains will include 4-cylinder turbo and V6 diesel options. It also previews design direction and content details for the Jeep “Scrambler” truck launching in 2019.
2018 Lexus 350L - The best selling luxury SUV in the US, the “L” model lengthens the body 4.3 inches to accommodate a 3rd-row seat to increase passenger capacity to 7. Buyers may opt for 2nd-row captains chairs. Standard Lexus amenities abound. Available on dealer lots in January 2018 with a starting MSRP of $48,665. The extended “L” body will also be available on hybrid models.
2019 Infiniti QX50 - Infiniti revealed a revolutionary variable compression engine technology that will increase fuel economy up to 35% over the outgoing models. Dubbed VC-Turbo, the QX50 will be first to feature this technology giving its new 2.0L gas engine efficiency comparable to a 4-cylinder diesel. The QX50 will debut new exterior and interior designs, as well as, the latest driver-assist technologies.
2019 Lincoln Nautilus - Ford’s luxury brand will rename its best selling mid-sized MKX to Nautilus on 2019 models as part of a new brand strategy to abandon letter nomenclature which has proven to be confusing for consumers in favor more memorable model names. Nautilus will feature traditional Lincoln’s signature front grille, more interior head and legroom and seating for 5.
2019 Kia Sorento - Kia debuted the 2019 Sorento by showing its off-road travel capabilities with an impressive 5 minute video showing a production version with slight modifications climbing the “Hell’s Revenge” slickrock trail near Moab, Utah. The actual vehicle was on display for public inspection showed minimal damage. The 2019 Sorento will utilize the existing platform and include new front and rear styling and interior enhancements. A diesel engine option is in the works.
2019 Subaru Ascent - Available summer 2018 and priced in the low $30,000s, Subaru introduced its new midsized crossover SUV. It which will feature a powerful 260-hp, 5,000 towing capacity, 7- or 8-passenger seating and luxurious interior design with materials a few notches above the typical Subaru. AWD is standard. The Ascent provides Subaru with a larger, outdoorsy option to meet the expanding needs of growing families and active brand loyalist.
2019 Volvo XC40 - With base $33,200 MSRP, the entry-level XC40 features many of the same luxury technologies as the larger XC60 and XC90 like driver assist technologies. A variety of gasoline and hybrid powertrains will be available as well as the new $600 per month subscription service which includes insurance, maintenance, customer care, roadside assistance and a 30.000 mileage limit over 2-years. Styling also echos larger Volvo SUVs.
2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross - Slotted between the Outlander Sport and the 7-passenger Outlander SUV, Eclipse Cross is targeted at savvy, urban dwellers. It offers distinctive “Dynamic Shield” front end styling, a well-appointed interior design upgrade, 166-hp turbocharged engine and MSRP starting around $22,000. Competitors include Subaru Crosstrek and Jeep Compass. Eclipse Cross hits dealer showrooms in early 2018.
2018 Hyundai Kona - Named after a district on Hawaii, Kona fills an empty slot below Tuscon and wears “urban smart armor” exterior styling and a contemporary, spacious interior with seating for 5.. Available technologies include: forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, driver attention warning, lane keep assist, 1.6L turbo or 2.0L engines and AWD. Available in March 2108.
2018 Nissan Kicks - Amid several Star Wars themed “fighter” vehicles promoting the latest installment of the saga debuting Dec 15, Nissan unveiled the new 5-passenger Kicks SUV to replace the quirky Juke. In showrooms June 2018, Kicks will feature the brand’s “floating roof” theme, “boomerang” headlights and “V-Motion” exterior styling cues. Standard content includes: Automatic emergency braking, CVT automatic, tall-seating position and tons of cargo space. Available upgrades include remote engine start, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings. AWD is not available. Prices start under $19,000.
2018 Ford EcoSport - Available in early 2018 in US, EcoSport has been Ford’s entry-level SUV in global markets since 2003. “Big inside, small inside” is the design philosophy for this well-contented vehicle with available driver-assist technologies, advanced infotainment, EcoBoost powertrain and about $21,000 starting MSRP.
Luxury Wagons Offer Sensible and Styling Alternative to SUV
2018 Buick Regal TourX - Jointly created with Opel, the well-equipped TourX will be available in mid 2018. With a starting MSRP of $43,795 competes in market with the Volvo XC60 and Audi A4 Allroad. Offering 73.5 cubic feet of cargo space with rear seatback folded. AWD is standard. Three trim levels will be available.
2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake - An evolution of a “shooting brake hunting vehicle” in England, the XF Sportbrake is a 4-door, five seater offering the performance of sports sedan and carrying capabilities of a luxury SUV. Standards include by a 380-hp V6, AWD, a bevy of safety, infotainment and driver assist technologies and traditional Jaguar brand interior refinements. Prices begin around $71,000.
Sedans and Luxury Hatchbacks Offer Traditionalist A Twist
2019 Audi A8 - Audi unveiled the 4th generation flagship sedan in LA. The 2019 A8 premiers the evolution of the brand’s distinctive design language and the new MMI infotainment system that drops rotary push/play control for a 10.1” touchscreen. A new 3.0L V6 /48 volt electric mild hybrid powerplant, a more rigid (by 58%) aluminum with carbon fiber structure and extensive safety features will be part of the content list. Quattro all-wheel-drive is standard.
2018 Acura RLX - Acura displayed the 2018 RLX in LA after the official public debut at Monterey Car Week in August. Acura hopes the new sedan flagship will increase sales above the 1,478 units sold in 2016. The luxury 5-passenger luxury sedan MSRP is $54,900 and sport hybrid lists at $61,900. RLX is the only US Acura model still built in Japan.
2018 Buick Regal Sportback - Taking a long-standing cue from European trends, all 2018 Regals will only be available as a 5-door luxury hatchback model similar to the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Gran Coupe. Regal offers with over 60.5 cubic feet behind rear seat, a plethora of equipment options, FWD and AWD configurations and two trim levels. MSRPs begin around $26,000.
2018 Kia Stinger - My personal favorite from a design and brand positioning perspective is the at this year’s show is the amazing Stinger. It was created to change everything you think about Kia. Debuting at last year’s 2016 LA show, the Stinger is now arriving in showrooms and giving consumers considering a luxury European or Japanese performance car a very competitive alternative. Featuring aggressively svelte exterior lines, the sedan styling hides a spacious, highly functional hatchback design. A 265-hp, 3.3L twin-turbo V6 accelerates 0-60 in 4.7 seconds with top speed of 167 mph.. A 255-hp, 2.0L 4-cylinder and AWD ($2,200 option) are also available. Well contented in all trims, Stinger features all the expected driver-assisted, infotainment and performance equipment. MSRPs are in the $33,000-$53,000 range. A V8 option is rumored down the road.
In closing, the marketplace will ultimately decide how successful Kia is at changing minds about the brand as sales figures are compiled in the future. This years press conference reminded me how far this brand has come since launching the basic, compact Kia Sephia sedan (a name that always reminded me of an aspiring 1950s movie actress) and the compact Sportage SUV in 1993. Over the past 25 years, Kia has progressively grown and continuously evolved its products, signature design, manufacturing capabilities, product quality and marketing moxie at an astounding pace. The next few chapters of Kia’s story will be fun to watch and drive!
-Hank Gastineau, Director of Product Insights
The Car Maven