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AutoMobility, and the days of future passed in car culture ground zero

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Press days at the LA Auto Show (Myles Regan)


Days of Future Passed

A few years ago, the LA Auto Show organizers made the decision to add a technology component to the show’s press preview days. It went by the name Connected Car Expo, and it soon played a prominent role in the show’s press days. Last year, they renamed the press days AutoMobilityLA, shifting the focus even further toward new technology and the future. It’s a gutsy move for a major auto show.

Los Angeles Auto Show (Myles Regan)

It has one big problem: The CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas is doing it too—and doing it better. Arguably, the CES is the world’s foremost forum for showcasing new technology and consumer electronics. It was only a matter of time for the car companies to come to the CES. Whereas the largest auto show press previews attract the globe’s automotive journalists, the CES goes way beyond the boundaries of automobilia, attracting all kinds of journalists from around the world—from the mainstream to the hottest technology blogs and social media sites.

So where does this leave the Los Angeles International Auto Show? The most telling sign may be when we asked the show organizers for a list delineating the world car debuts from the North American car debuts (the latter being cars already introduced elsewhere outside of North America). For the first time in recent memory, the LA Auto Show organizers have chosen to withhold the list. So while there are press releases showcasing the biggest debuts, the line between world debuts and North American debuts is blurred.

Chevrolet debuted the new Corvette ZR-1 Roadster at the LA Show (Nakano)

It’s All About the Product

Of course, we are interested in the North American as well as world debuts. But if the LA Auto Show is experiencing a decline in world debuts, perhaps it’s time to shift the focus of the press preview back to the products. With that in mind, here’s what we’ve gleaned in the way of new products at this year’s Los Angeles International Auto. – Roy Nakano

BMWs electrified (Albert Wong)

BMW

BMW is displaying not one but five electric vehicles – the BMW i Vision Dynamics, MINI Electric Concept, BMW i3s, and the next-gen BMW i8 roadster and coupe. Video editor Bobby Holland was on hand at the press event to cover BMW’s hottest gas-powered marvel — the M3 CS. Limited to a run of 1,200 units worldwide, the M3 CS takes a cue from the M4 GTS and adds more of everything that we love from the standard M3. More power (+28 hp), more torque (+37 lb-ft.), and a host of interior and exterior upgrades (we can’t get enough carbon fiber) make this the BMW to enjoy for collectors and track lovers alike. – Glenn Oyoung

Chrysler Pacifica

While I’m not really a minivan person, I’ve always been fond of the Chrysler Pacifica and now, for 2018, Chrysler has re-engineered and redesigned this functional and very versatile vehicle. Built on an all-new platform, Pacifica offers both gasoline and hybrid powertrains. The Pacifica Hybrid is the first electrified vehicle in the minivan segment. The Revability Advantage Pacifica, the world’s first wheelchair-accessible production plug-in hybrid vehicle, is also on display here at the L.A. Auto Show. The new Chrysler Pacifica models for 2018 have been introduced at a media reception featuring “Top Chef Junior” host and recent cast member of “Dancing with the Stars” Vanessa Lachey, as well as young contestants from “Top Chef Junior” and Chrysler’s “Pacifikids,” a trio of children appearing in social media campaigns to educate car buyers on the features of Chrysler products. Sure, I’ll take vehicle recommendations from 10-year-olds that don’t drive and who think fine dining is a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s. – Reed Berry

Hyundai introduces the Kona (Albert Wong)

Hyundai

It is safe to say the small SUV market isn’t going anywhere in North America anytime soon and Hyundai knows it. Adding to their growing lineup of SUV will be a US version of the KONA. The KONA is a compact SUV which Hyundai deems as “Urban” focused. Designed around a younger generation with active lifestyles, the KONA combines a stylish design with great functionality. Interior space is said to be class leading for this segment. We expect to see a small displacement turbo four-cylinder power plant along with a laundry list of standard feature that we have come to expect from this Korean manufacturer. – Mark Dorman

The new Jeep Wrangler (Gabriela Moya)

Jeep Wrangler

There may be some cosmetic and mechanical changes, but the 2018 Wrangler is still unmistakably Jeep. Interestingly, the current, outgoing model will continue to be produced for a while as “Wrangler JK.” The all-new 2018 Wrangler is lighter and more fuel-efficient and should provide impressive performance with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine or 3.6-liter V6, paired with a standard six-speed manual or available eight-speed automatic transmission. Wrangler’s bold new exterior design has a wide stance and lowered beltline with larger windows for better outward visibility. The updated interior will feature the Uconnect infotainment system with screen sizes up to 8.4 inches. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler 2-door model is available in three different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S and Rubicon. Wrangler 4-door models are available in four different trim configurations: Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon. – Reed Berry

Lexus introduced an extended cab RX 350L (Myles Regan)

2019 Lincoln MKC

The 2019 MKC compact luxury crossover update features a mesh grille found on Continental, MKZ and Navigator, new colors, wheel choices, LED lights and chrome accents in the rear. Interior is enhanced by Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 2.0-liter-245 hp engine with 275 lb-ft of torque is standard. To avoid dangerous encounters, MKC includes collision assist with pedestrian detection and with automatic braking. Options come in the form of a twin-scroll turbocharged 2.3-liter-285 hp, and 305 pound-feet of torque engine, all-wheel-drive, safety features such as active park assist, lane-keeping alert, blind spot information with cross-traffic alert system, and Black Label trim. – Zoran Segina

Lincoln goes back to giving cars names rather than alphanumeric designations (Myles Regan)

Lincoln Nautilus

The Nautilus replaces the MKX, the most popular U.S. selling Lincoln model positioned between the Navigator and the MKC. The Nautilus’ leather and wood interior with panoramic roof, Revel Audio, wireless charging, riding on 21-inch tires, reinforce Lincoln Motor Company President Kumar Galothra’s vision of elegance and personal approach for the brand such as concierge service and personal driver. Base two-liter four cylinder turbocharged engine develops 245 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. Upscale 2.7 liter twin-turbo V6 brings the numbers to 335 and 380. The vocal introduction by Sarah Niemietz, accompanied by pianist Don French, provided a classy opening and a welcome respite from the ear-splitting aural assaults so ubiquitous at the LA Auto Show. – Zoran Segina

Mazda

Mazda unveils a new-ish Mazda6 on Wednesday, with slight exterior modifications including a revised grille, and some internal tweaks. The air vents are relocated for a smoother look, and the top models are pushed a little up-scale with accent trim of Japanese Sen wood. The real change in the updated vehicle comes in tech. The carryover 2.5-liter engine will now have cylinder deactivation for greater efficiency. The biggest difference—the availability of the turbo inline four-cylinder from the CX-9. That should be good for 250-plus horsepower. The car also sports some new safety features including a 360-degree camera and some adaptations to the active safety features. – Brian Kennedy

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS (Gabriela Moya)

2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS

When introduced in 2003, the CLS was immediately heralded as one of the most handsome, curvaceous and elegant cars on the road. The iconic design is retained for the all-new 2019 model, though, we hate to admit, overall sexiness has been subdued. Its underpinnings are the E-Class, including four- and six-cylinder engines. For the first time, the CLS has room for three in the back, though the middle seat seems kid-sized. Like the E-Class, the CLS has two 12.3-inch screens on the dash. Look for full specs and pricing mid-year, ahead of a fall launch. – Chuck Dapoz

Mitsubishi introduces the Eclipse Cross (Myles Regan)

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Mitsubishi has definitely been a bit of question mark in the automotive industry when it comes to their survival. They have chose to focus their resources on the growing compact SUV market and have throw their name in the ring with the new Eclipse Cross. Bearing the name “Eclipse” brings back compact sports car memories for many as an icon of the “Fast and Furious” generation. Make no mistake though, this no sports car. The styling does give one the sense of sportiness and the segment of compact SUV’s is mostly filled with fun focused designs aimed at a younger generation. The Eclipse Cross definitely delivers here, but how will it match up to what the big boys have already brought to the table? – Mark Dorman

Now you can get your Kicks from your neighborhood Nissan dealer (Albert Wong)

Nissan

Nissan introduced a new crossover vehicle, the Kicks, which is the sixth SUV or CUV in its model lineup. The vehicle replaces the Juke, the oldest vehicle of its type in the Nissan lineup. The company kept a tight lid on information, though, with the only sure thing being that the vehicle continues the Nissan design trend of the jutting forward jawline (the “floating V”) and Coke-bottle rear fender style (and floating C-pillar). The Kicks becomes Nissan’s smallest crossover. The company continues to push its Star Wars connection, as they did last year. Still no return of the Cube, sadly. – Brian Kennedy

Subaru Ascent

LA Auto Show – Subaru unveiled the all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent. The company’s first full-size S.U.V. This U.S. exclusive model was “designed for the American family”, Takeshi Tachimori, chairman, president and CEO of Subaru of America. Filling the void in their U.S. lineup this full-size S.U.V., with optional third row seating will be made in the United States at the Indiana assembly plant. Although a stark contrast from the first vehicle introduced to the U.S. market, the diminutive 360, the Ascent retains many of the popular features that makes the mark a fan favorite. Equipped with standard Symmetrical All-wheel drive, Subaru BOXER® engine delivering 260 hp and 277 lb.-ft. of torque, 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, Subaru STARLINK™ Multimedia and STARLINK Safety and Security services. The Ascent is projected to reach showroom floors by summer of 2018; right on time for summer vacation road trips. – Kenneth Chiu

The new Volvo XC40 at the LA Auto Show (Gabriela Moya)

Volvo XC40

The smallest Volvo is built on Volvo’s CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) to be shared with Geely and used on upcoming S40 and V40 models. The XC40 comes with panoramic sunroof integrated LED mood lighting, and plethora of safety features. Bluetooth connectivity and 9-inch touchscreen will be standard. The base Momentum model going to India next year will get turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine (also for likely pairing with an electric motor for a plug-in hybrid). We may not see the base engine offered stateside. As with other Volvos R-Design (sporty) and Inscription (luxurious) versions will likely be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder variety. – Zoran Segina

Green Car of the Year

The Honda Clarity beat our Honda’s own Accord, as well as the Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan LEAF and Toyota Camry to become 2018 Green Car of the Year. While each finalist introduced highly-efficient or alternative fuel options, only the Clarity offered an electric, a plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell powered model on the same sedan platform. A majority vote of environmental and efficiency organizations leaders, auto enthusiasts and Green Car Journal editors jury determines the winner by evaluating efficiency, performance characteristics, ‘newness’, affordability and overall environmental achievement. Winners in the Luxury, SUV and Connected categories will be announced at the January 2018 Washington, D.C., auto show. A scheduled keynote address by a global warming denier and current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may provide an interesting counterpoint. – Zoran Segina

Infiniti introduced its new QX50 on Tuesday (Bobby Holland)

We can report on at least seven more world debuts slated for the LA Auto Show. Audi, BMW, General Motors, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota have been tight-lipped about it, but they are all scheduled to introduce new models during Automobility LA. Stay tuned for more information as the hours approach.

On Tuesday, Subaru introduced a flagship SUV, the Ascent. Dog not included (Kenneth Chiu)

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To read Editor Doug Stokes’ Op-Ed on the subject, go to AUTONOMOBILITY – The LA Auto Show Re-imagined as a hipster tech haven
For more information about the show, go to www.laautoshow.com.

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