2018 LA Auto Show
Reporters of all sizes and shapes began to arrive last Monday to cover the show.
This unlikely team does newscasts for the trade publication Automotive News. (Shh! They think I'm taking a picture of the Honda next to them.)
Now it's your turn to see everything good at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The ILX received a refresh for 2019. You can see its new nose without the beak at the show or in dealers, where it's for sale already. This is the sporty A-Spec version.
The NSX also gets some slight refreshing, with gloss black replacing matte on trim like the grille and spoiler. It's probably easier to get up close with this model at the LA Auto Show than at a dealer.
Previously a badge found on the plug-in hybrid version of the A3, offered only as a Sportback, now it is a separate model on a new all-electric platform. The e-tron utilizes a 95 kWh battery and an innovative fast charging system that can accept an 80% charge in only 30 minutes.
The e-tron utilizes electric motors on the front and rear axles, making this a Quattro (all-wheel drive) model. With computer control of the motors and exact power delivery, it can handle poor traction better than mechanical systems. The suspension can tackle off-road or hunker down to increase range: air springs at each corner can raise the e-tron to go over obstacles or lower it to ease entry and increase aerodynamics at highway speeds. Height can be varied by up to three inches. It rides on 20-inch wheels and 255/50R20 tires.
The e-tron can tow up to 4000 pounds, respectable for an electric. It seats five passengers and has 28.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Fold the rear seats and it can carry 57 cubic feet.
A final perk, buyers get a credit for 1000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of free charging at public stations run by Electrify America. That is ten and a half full charges or about the same as 29 free gallons of gasoline, though the e-tron will use it more efficiently.
What happens when you cross an Audi Q7 with a Q5, an A7 and an A8? The Q8 seats five, but has a sportier profile and is more upmarket than the Q7 (thus the number). Available only with a twin-turbocharged V6 with 335 horsepower and standard all-wheel drive, the Q8 is rated at 17 MPG city and 22 highway.Luxury features include available heated, ventilated and massaging front seats, optional heated rear seats, Top View Cameras, standard remote start and climate control, and four-zone climate control. Safety features include frontal, side (optional for rear seats) and curtain airbags, stability control, antilock brakes, forward collision warning, Pre Sense City (autonomous emergency braking at low speeds), and available Night Vision, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and rear cross path alert.
e-tron GT Concept
Like most concepts these days, it is all-electric. In this case, it represents a continuation of the just-launched Audi e-tron, a sport utility, but as a four-door coupé (yeah, that's what they call it. Automakers can't count, anymore. It is slated for production in the near future, with two electric motors producing 590 horsepower and providing electric all-wheel drive. They speculate a zero-to-62 MPH (100 KPH) time of 3.5 seconds.
2019 M2 Competition
The M2 gets more power and a suffix added to its name. This one at the LA Auto Show has aftermarket carbon fiber bits drizzled on top of it and an accessory hood bulge. Read more about all the BMW changes here.
2019 M5 Competition
The M5 Competition will be sold alongside the standard M5, but with 17 more horsepower and sharper handling.
The full production version of BMW's large SUV, the X7 is here in the States for the first time in LA. Powered by similar engines to the X5, a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 or a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, it offers real three-row seating on a five-inch longer wheelbase, with a body that is nine inches longer. The X7 is over two inches taller, too, helping to add headroom for rear passengers.
All of the usual advanced safety equipment is standard: forward collision warning, autonomous emergency brakes, blind spot alert, rear cross traffic warning, backup camera, front and rear parking sensors and lane departure warning.
You can pre-order right now on BMW's website, but the X7 won't arrive until March 2019.
The new Z4 was at the show, production ready. This M40i version will be the most powerful version at launch, with a 382-horsepower turbocharged inline six-cylinder. Revealed at Pebble Beach this Summer, the4 Z4 will be cousins with the new Toyota Supra: the Z4 will be a convertible only and the Supra a coupe. The Z4 returns to a classic soft top, which helps keep weight down and makes the design more compact. It should also help trunk space. A 4-cylinder sDrive30i will also be available. Both engines, though, will only be offered with automatic transmissions. See more at 2019 BMW Model Year Changes.
Vision iNEXT Concept
First there was the i3 electric small car... then the i8 electric hybrid sports car... what's next? Okay, not this, but it serves notice: there will be more BMW iCars.
A light show for the Buick Brand. The Envision gets a refreshing at an awkward time: a possible trade war looming with China started with President Trump's announcement of many tariffs with the giant to the East. Buick sources were clear that they would continue to import the Envision from China, GM's only import to the United States from that country.
There is sadness here, too, as GM will not build the flagship CT6 much longer or the more established XTS. The ATS sedan is gone, too, but likely has a replacement coming, or at least it did...
The CT6 only got four years (almost) of production. This recently renamed CT6-V will just start to roll down the lineup as the swan song of Cadillac's short-lived flagship. With a 550-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 it was to be the top Cadillac of top Cadillacs. Like so many Cadillacs, it is doomed just as it reaches perfection, like the Allante, discontinued right after getting the sweet Northstar V8.
A somber atmosphere at the Chevrolet stand as they rock from the announced discontinuation of many Chevrolet car nameplates, including Cruze and Impala, two of their best.
Recently seen at the Woodward Dream Cruise, the new mid-size Blazer sits between the Equinox and Traverse. Powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a 305-horsepower V6, it is expected to provide competition for the Ford Edge and the upcoming Honda Passport. It seats 5 comfortably, and by doing away with a third row, offers up to 64.2 cubic feet of cargo space.
2019 Colorado ZR2 Bison
Chevy must have heard about the new Jeep pickup (I mean, who hasn't?) so they scrambled together this serious off-road pickup. In cooperation with American Expedition Vehicles, an aftermarket 4x4 specialist, they added five skid plates, a light bar, and a fresh air snorkel for fording rivers and the like. The Bison has a unique "Chevrolet" front grille, wheels, 31-inch tires, bumpers and fender flares. The ZR2 already comes well equipped for off-roading, with locking front and rear differentials, two inches more ground clearance, special adjustable shocks and a wider track.
The Bison will be available at Chevrolet dealers in January 2019, covered by Chevrolet's full 3/36,000 warranty and with 5-year and 60,000 powertrain coverage.
Another of the walking dead, you can see more about the refreshed for its own funeral 2019 Cruze here.
A refresh for the Malibu is not wasted: it is not on the trash heap. Repeat: the Malibu is not being discontinued. This hybrid model is rated at 49 city and 43 highway. Respect. Follow all the Malibu changes here.
A refresh, with changes noted here. The little Spark also dodged the axe, mostly because it is made in South Korea. Looks like the trade war might be settled, so it will continue on.
The Demon has returned to hell, leaving its lesser cousin, the Redeye to hold its place. With 797 horsepower and many of its evil brother's tricks up its sleeves, like line-lock and and after cooler that runs the air conditioning through the intercooler to increase air density, the Redeye is no slouch. Order it in Widebody form to get the insane 305/35R20 tires... on all four corners. The widest stock front tires on a production car.
Another special edition is the Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1392. Named for the length of a quarter-mile in feet, this is a one-trick pony: drag racing. It is designed to run low and very consistent numbers, with a 485-horsepower 6.4 V8 and an eight-speed automatic, it has the Transmission Lock from the Demon to assist in launching consistently.
Evil Santa's New Sleigh
Do you remember that year you didn't get nuthin for Christmas? Maybe it was around 1970-1971? Anyway, I bet you didn't know: Santa has an evil twin brother. In 1970 he got himself a Hemi Challenger and he would follow Santa's route, break into all the houses and steal the presents while they were still warm. Anyway evil Santa got busted for vehiclular homicide in 1973 for running over an elf, but now he's out. Guess who used his hidden stash of vintage Hot Wheels to finance a brand-new custom ride?
If nothing else, this proves that FCA needs to get off their behinds and do a roadster Challenger ASAP.
Fiat chose the LA Auto Show to launch its new 500X. A new 1.3 turbo engine has more torque and comparable power to last year's optional engine, but much better fuel efficiency. Adaptive cruise control is offered. The sheet metal, headlights, bumpers, wheels and grille are all new and the interior has new fabrics and dashboard materials. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
All-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic are standard. No manual transmission is offered.
The smallest of Honda's sport utility lineup gets a refresh for 2019. On sale August, the 2019 HR-V gets a new Sport trim, a refresh to its infotainment with a physical volume knob that everyone asked for and the HR-V now offers a power driver's seat, standard on Touring along with leather trim and LED headlights.
Honda Sensing safety package is now available on EX and higher.
Although Honda is not eliminating sedans, like Ford and GM, the reality of the market is not lost on them: they are investing heavily in Sport Utilities. The new Honda Passport borrows the name of the first Honda sport utility, one that was a badge-engineered Rodeo from then-partner Isuzu. About the same time Acura sold a rebadged Isuzu Trooper as the SLX and Isuzu sold a rebadged Honda Odyssey as the Isuzu Oasis.
This Honda Passport is all Honda. Derived from the successful Honda Pilot, the Passport is in-between the CR-V and the Pilot. A five-passenger vehicle, it's targeted at couples with few or no kids, younger people with outdoorsy aspirations and active lifestyles. The Passport shares the same wheelbase (111 inches) as the Pilot, but is six inches shorter.
The Passport will get a 280-horsepower 3.5 V6 and a nine-speed automatic from the Pilot Touring and Elite. Honda's excellent Variable Torque Management all-wheel drive will be standard on Passport Elite and optional on Sport, EX-L and Touring.
Standard safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System (autonomous emergency braking), and a swath of airbags.
The Pilot got a new grille, headlights, taillights and bumpers for 2019. Adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation (detects if you leave the road and helps safely steer you back on), and Lane Keeping Assist are all now standard. Hands free access is now added to the tailgates on the Pilot Touring and Elite. See more on 2019 Honda changes here.
In dealerships now.
The all-new Hyundai Palisade is stepping up as Hyundai's new flagship sport utility. A three row vehicle with an adult-sized third row seat, it can seat seven or eight, depending on the configuration. A not so quite direct replacement for the Santa Fe XL, the Palisade is larger, with a larger 3.8 V6. Hyundai has struggled to compete in the larger sport utility market since it launched the Veracruz. This model seems to get the formula right.
Some of the surprising luxuries available: ventilated second row seats, wireless phone charger and power reclining third row seats.
Will be in dealerships by Summer 2019.
Le Fil Rouge Concept
There always has to be one at every show: a concept car that's just done for the beauty, wow-factor and excitement, with no possibility of being produced. They call them design exercises and claim that they help point the future direction of the brand. As with many of these design fantasies, the interior is more important than the exterior. A common feature are the dual opening doors, so the public can fully appreciate the work on the cabin without getting their grubby paw prints all over the wood, metal and carbon fiber bits.
With the name of this one, there should be chicken sandwich holders, but I didn't see them. Maybe you can put your waffle fries in that swooping compartment on the backs of the front seats.
The smallest Jeep gets a new grille and a new optional engine. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is now the standard engine. A new, direct-injection turbocharged 1.3-liter 4-cylinder is optional. Manual transmissions are gone, only a 9-speed automatic is available. See here for more.
The Gladiator was the most anticipated launch of the show. With people asking for a Wrangler pickup for decades and even expensive aftermarket refits by Mopar and others, now the real thing is here... or coming... soon. With the 285-horsepower Pentastar V6 and later a 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 with 420 pound-feet of torque, the Gladiator has best-in-class 7650 pounds of towing capacity. And it can carry 1600 pounds of payload! (Be sure to subtract payload from what you can tow.)
True to the adventurous nature of its mother, the Wrangler, the Gladiator can go topless and doorless. It even boasts a folding windshield, too. All three of those features are exclusive to the Gladiator in the pickup world.
The suspension is similar to the Wrangler JL (latest version, new for 2018), with solid front and rear axles, coil springs and multiple links to help stabilize and keep the Gladiator stuck to the road or the trail. An off-road specialized Rubicon also has the same sway-bar disconnect system to allow the tires to follow over ridiculous obstacles. But, the Gladiator's suspension is reinforced to assist with the heavier towing and payloads it's future owners wanted.
The Lexus ES follows the Toyota Avalon plan, with more horsepower for V6 and hybrid. Read more here.
The Lexus RC 300 and RC 350 get a refresh. The RC F stands pat. Read more here.
To show us how classy the new Aviator is, Lincoln used members of the LA Philharmonic to introduce it. The ploy had a dual purpose: the audible warnings in the new Aviator will not be electronically produced, but will be from actual recordings of orchestral instruments. I understand if a car is following you too closely, the theme from Jaws will be played by a dozen Cellos. Just kidding: the Detroit Symphony recorded sounds utilizing a xylophone, violin and viola.
Joy Falotico takes the press through the features and specifications on the new Aviator. Based on a new rear-wheel drive platform that will be shared with a redesigned Ford Explorer, the Aviator will be a three-row sport utility offering a performance-oriented twin turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 mated to electric motors in a plug-in hybrid. 450 horsepower and 650 pound feet of torque are the projected power levels for the top powertrain. The plug-in hybrid will have the same 19 gallon fuel tank as the other models, and a spare tire. The standard engine will be a non-hybrid version of the twin turbo V6, producing 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque paired to a ten-speed automatic transmission.
The newest version of SYNC will be incorporated and it will offer seamless assistance, offering to reroute to a gas station when fuel is low, for instance. The new system will be able to use a phone to unlock and remote start the vehicle, utilizing the security of the phone.
The 2020 Aviator is coming in the Summer of 2019.
The world premiere of the new Mazda3 was even more impressive because of the beauty of this production small car.
But then, the Mazda3 will offer one of the most innovative new engines of the 21st century: SKYACTIV-X. A gasoline engine, it partially uses compression to ignite the fuel like a diesel engine. This design is
Wait! There's more! The 2019 Mazda3 will offer all-wheel drive for the first time. This is not a stretch, mechanically, as the CX-3 offers all-wheel drive and shares a platform with the previous Mazda3.
And! A diesel engine will be offered in the Mazda3 worldwide, if not eventually in the United States.
Other than that, the familiar 2.0 and 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engines with 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions will be offered.
With all of this news about Mazda's least expensive offering, and their presentation focused laser-like on design. And without surprise. The design of the Mazda3 Hatchback, inside and out is gorgeous. It makes many cars costing two, five or even ten times as much look shabby, ungainly in contrast. This simple design was painstakingly perfected. The details are sparse, but the ones that were chosen are impeccable: the curving fold between the bottom third of the front fascia, the arc of the roof as it moves towards the rear bumper, the flat perfectly circular wheelwells, and the curved scooped-out shapes for the door handles.
The sedan is a beautiful car, also, but the Hatchback takes your breath away, not as a hatchback, but as a work of art.
The newest A-Class comes to the United States, front-wheel drive and 188-horsepower 2.0-liter engine intact, but with a sedan body, really classy sheet metal and a rich, roomy interior. The A-Class has more passenger space than a CLA, not surprising since it has a longer wheelbase and overall length.
2019 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet
A refresh includes new AMG models with an inline 6-cylinder (Mercedes first in over 20 years) with turbocharging and a 48-volt hybrid system. The engine produces 429 horsepower without the extra 184 pound-feet of torque from the electric motor.
The Sprinter is redesigned for 2019 and offers a gasoline 4-cylinder engine in addition to the diesel V6.
2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro
AMG refreshes their flagship, the GT and adds the closest to a race track only version in the still barely street-legal GT R Pro. Aerodynamics are tweaked more for downforce than efficiency, various components are lightened, carbon ceramic brakes are standard, but the 577-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 is the same.
All of the AMG Gt models get a new arcing center console, steering wheel with touch controls (those will be GREAT at 190 MPH!), larger digital screens, including one that replaces the gauge cluster and freshened LED headlights.
The Mercedes GLE mid-sized sport utility is redesigned for 2020. One of the available features is a fully active suspension. Called "E-Active Body Control," it is powered by a 48-volt electrical system and can control the shock absorbers in real time to absorb bumps or even lean into turns.
2019 John Cooper Works Hardtop Knight's Edition
MINI specializes in special editions. This Knight's Edition is among four new ones for 2019. We felt disappointment when learning that Queen Elizabeth does not personally knight each one.
The 2019 Maxima has a refreshed, more aggressive appearance, including the larger, deeper grille. New tail lights, rear fascia and new quad tailpipes complete the picture. A new richer interior includes diamond-quilted seat inserts.
New safety features include standard Rear Door Alert, a system that reminds driver's if they left something or someone in the back seat. Traffic sign recognition and Intelligent Lane Intervention are available.
The Murano undergoes a parallel refresh with the Maxima. Both are examples of Nissan's new "V-motion" design, particularly the new front grilles. The Murano also gains redesigned headlights and tail lights, new LED fog lights, new wheel designs and three new available paint colors. New safety equipment includes side impact airbags for the outboard rear passengers and a knee airbag for the front passenger.
2019 911 GT2 Clubsport
When Porsche does a special edition, it's usually a lot more than stripes and wheels. In this case, you can't have one.... that is unless you own a racing team, or can afford a half million for a car you can't register with the DMV or drive on the street. The GT2 Clubsport is the racing version of the GT2 RS, complete with 700 horsepower (same as the street version), built-in safety cage (not available) and six-point racing harness (maybe).
2020 911 Carrera
It's not too often you get a new Porsche 911. Okay, well, the last one was 2017, so maybe you do see them pretty often. This 8th generation of the 911looks just like the 7th, except from behind, where the iconic cooling slats and especially the third brake light (CHMSL) have been redesigned.
When a new 911 comes out, they start with the base versions. The 2020 911, 911 S and 911 4S were at the show. Of worry to purists: only PDK models were introduced; no manual transmission version was shown, but the press release did say a manual transmission would be offered at a later date. Could clutches in the 911 eventually go the same way as in Ferraris and Lamborghinis? Most of the highest performance 911 models already don't offer manual transmissions: 911 Turbo, Turbo S and GT2 only come with the PDK in the present generation 911.
A 10.9-inch touchscreen is a new addition that dominates the interior and offers control of the chassis functions as well as sound system and standard navigation.
Of course, even though the higher performance variants will come later, the newest 911 offers a performance increase. The 911 Carrera S offers an increase of 23 horsepower, for a total of 443. The 3.0-liter engine, already turbocharged for the prior generation, uses larger turbochargers to effect the gain.
The Macan gets a refresh for the 2019 model year. So far only the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is out, with slightly lower horsepower of 248. The interior gets a new corporate 10.9-inch display and adaptive cruise control now includes a stop-and-go traffic jam function.
On the outside, the largest change is to the taillights, which get an embossed three-D effect.
More powerful variants with turbocharged V6 engines will be coming later.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, AKA Ram, refreshed its cargo vans, marking the final end of the faithful cross-hair grille inherited from Dodge and dating back to the 1970's.
Ram ProMaster 3500
Ram ProMaster City
2019 Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid
Subaru offered a Crosstrek Hybrid from 2014 to 2016. Now its back as a plug-in. With an electric-only range of just 17 miles, the most important part of the car is that space on the bumper where California, New York and Maryland residents (and a few other places) can place their HOV access stickers. After the 17 miles are up, the combustion engine should give excellent mileage: the old XV Crosstrek Hybrid was rated at 30 city/34 highway MPG. Subaru claims an overall range of 480 miles with both battery and gasoline.
The world's most popular hybrid is now available with all-wheel drive. The 2019 Prius AWDe offers power at all four wheels, but without an inefficient mechanical connection: no driveshaft, rear differential or transfer case. As in the Rav4 Hybrid, the Prius gets power to the rear axle by adding a second electric motor back there. And it pays off, the Prius AWDe is also the world's most efficient all-wheel drive vehicle, rated at 52 MPG in the city. Probably a little less with all that crap on the roof.
The even better news? After years of differentiating the Prius more and more by making look like the get-away car for an alien abduction, the refreshed 2019 Prius is much cleaner, with new headlights, grille, taillights and bumpers.
TJ Cruiser Hybrid Concept
It's not new, but for those who miss the FJ Cruiser, Toyota's cute, tough little off-road sport utility, here's the TJ Cruiser Concept. Dream, but don't save your pennies for it.
ID Buzz Electric Cargo Van Concept
Now that the ID Buzz Passenger van concept is heading towards production, it isn't too far-fetched to think a cargo version could be next. Congested cities with pollution problems (do I hear you, LA?) can count on an almost 400-mile range to deliver around town. It's 201-horsepower motor and rear-wheel drive could be fortified with an additional motor for the front wheels, making this an all-wheel drive van. To remind folks of Volkswagen's heritage in vans, a 1960's delivery was also present at the unveiling.
Cargo e-Bike Concept
How about the last few miles of delivery in a congested downtown area? What if you don't mind if the toppings on your pizza slide off because it was stuck in sideways? Then this concept of an electric delivery bicycle is for you! It's also a hybrid, a human/electric hybrid with pedal power.
Underneath the rest of the show, lurking is "The Garage," possibly the coolest and most interesting part. Here are customs, classics, custom classics and vendors of every variety from Yamaha (musical instruments, not bikes), to insurance companies.
West Coast Customs had this gorgeous Porsche 356.
West Coast Customs "Spaceship" on Model S platform.
West Coast Customs "The Rocket."
"Do you have a 1967 Austin Healey 3000 in red with the black top?" "Yes. Yes we do."
Other Great/Weird Stuff
Hyundai Racing Challenge
Compete for prizes by virtually racing in Forza Motorsports. You could win an Xbox!
Karlmann King SUV
Is your G65 with 24-inch wheels looking passé? Does your neighbor have a 2-foot lifted Escalade just like yours? Did your ex-wife get custody of the Hummer H1 dipped in 24K gold? Well, worry no more! Karlmann can set you up with your new best ride!
European custom manufacturing? CHECK.
6.8-liter V10? CHECK.
Bullet proof? CHECK.
87 MPH top speed? CHECK.
An interior that would make The Donald jealous? CHECK.
Is that an Arab launching a drone? DOUBLE CHECK!!
2019 Ford Shelby GT350 Electric
How great is this!?! Rip around doing 12.5 second quarter miles and saving the environment. How has Ford kept this out of the news? Just Kidding. This dude is probably about to get towed, though.
Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover and many others have test drives available, but it's not just for adults!
Well, I've stayed well past closing to get all these great pictures and write down notes and measurements from the new cars, and now security is hunting me like a rabid wolf, but at least the cars are all tucked in for the night!