It All Comes Together at the LA Auto Show

The LA Auto Show organizers gave us plenty to worry about beforehand. The car company press conference line-up had not even been announced until a couple of weeks before the event. Oh sure, they were touting 60 debuts, but we all knew that included debuts previously done in Europe or Asia (therefore known as North American debuts), cars previously debuted in obscure locations (therefore known as auto show debuts), and debuts of new cars which are really the old cars with new facelifts.

Did the Consumer Electronics Show finally zap the LA show of its relevance? We saw what was happening with the Detroit Show, with announcements of “no shows” from some of the major manufacturers. Would the LA show follow suit?

Jeep introduces its Gladiator pickup truck at the LA Auto Show. Rubicon version shown above.

Despite all the nervousness and trepidation, it all seems to have come together in the end. We are happy to say the LA show still packs a punch. Knockout blows may be few and far between, but there’s enough here to make it all worth your while. Here are some models you’ll want to keep an eye on when you visit the Los Angeles Convention Center from November 30th through December 9th to attend the LA Auto Show.

Byton

The Byton M-Byte SUV concept at the LA Auto Show

Among the major attractions at the LA Auto Show is the Chinese automaker Byton’s first big splash onto USA shores, with its electric M-Byte SUV and K-Byte sedan at the Technology Center. The most noticeable feature of both vehicles are the massive multi-function display screens, which stretch across the entire dashboard. Byton promises to have the M-Byte SUV available for test rides. Be sure to take them up on the offer. – Roy Nakano

KIA Soul

The third-generation Kia Soul in GT turbo, X-line and EV flavors (Nakano)

For reasons that keep us scratching our heads, Honda abandoned the Element, Nissan deep-sixed the Cube, and Toyota nixed the xB—allowing Kia to monopolize the kooky car market with its popular Soul. The LA Auto Show debuts Kia’s latest generation Soul. Included in the reveal will be a new GT-line, an outdoorsy X-line, and an EV model said to have twice the range of its previous model. It should give the Chevrolet Bolt EV some competition in the range department. – Roy Nakano

Lincoln Aviator

LA is the venue for unveiling the production version of the new Lincoln Aviator. It’s already been seen in concept form, so don’t expect anything visually dramatic. There may be more in the way of audio drama, however. Lincoln announced the new Aviator features sounds by members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra replacing the usual robotic chimes that accompany cars. Following Tesla, the Aviator dispenses the need for a smart key, and puts it all into an app on your smart phone. And as you approach the car, the new Aviator senses your presence and “kneels down” to greet you (lowers its hydraulic suspension and unlocks the doors). We’ll see how this plays out. – Roy Nakano

2019 Mazda3

The all-new, fourth-generation Mazda3 may be the best-looking compact on the road. Its sleek skin is definitely modern. So is its innovative compression-ignition engine, called Skyactiv-X. It runs on regular gas, but its bowl-shaped pistons give it a compression ratio high enough to ignite without using its spark plugs. – Chuck Dapoz

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi e-Evo concept at the LA Auto Show

When Mitsubishi promised a successor to the Lancer Evolution it hinted at a futuristic crossover powered exclusively by an electric engine mated to an all-wheel drive system. This concept may be forward-looking, but not nearly as exciting as a four-door sedan clad in light aluminum, sporting a pronounced angular features, big grille with dark honeycomb inserts, triangular headlight assembly, and generous air-flow intakes. And a turbocharged 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder, 291 HP MIVEC engine to power all four wheels. Sounds more like a true Lancer progeny. As part of the Renault family, Mitsubishi may contemplate getting back to competition. Hopefully, not with an electric SUV. – Zoran Segina

Nissan

A released photo of a refreshed 2019 Nissan Maxima shows that the V-motion grille is now more angular with fog lights placed in taller portals than before. Revised headlights feature LED accents. The lower portion of the rear fascia will be redesigned with redone taillights, and to accommodate quad exhaust tips. The Maxima will offer Nissan Safety Shield 360 technology, likely to include automatic high-beam assist, blind spot, forward-collision, and lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking, front and rear. The powertrain remains the same: the 3.5-liter 300 HP V6 feeding front wheels through a CVT. – Zoran Segina

Rivian

The Rivian R1S SUV concept

Quite possibly the main attraction at the LA Auto Show is at the Rivian booth in the West Hall of the LA Convention Center. There you will see a pair of electric vehicles, the R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV. Both have a claimed electric propulsion range of 400 miles, zero-to-60 mph times in the 3-seconds category, towing capacities of 11,000 pounds, and the ability to climb a 45-degree incline. Rivian is vying to be the next Tesla. Time will tell if it succeeds, but its product showing at the LA Auto Show left the automotive press mightily impressed. – Roy Nakano

Toyota

The newest generation Toyota Corolla will be offered in hybrid form (Nakano)

The all-new Corolla was recently unveiled in Monterey. LA is the place for its auto show debut. Among the reveals are a hybrid version of the Corolla. Also showing at the LA Auto Show is the “new” Prius, based on the current fourth-generation model (okay, it’s more of a mid-term facelift). TRD (Toyota Racing Development) has been a performance line associated with Toyota’s trucks. That’s about to change, as the carmaker introduces TRD versions of the Camry and Avalon at the LA show.  – Roy Nakano

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Cargo concept

The VW bus is back, and it’s electric. The I.D. Buzz Cargo concept vehicle was first shown nearly two years ago, in Detroit, at the North American International Auto Show. The version at the LA Convention Center is decked out as a support vehicle for VW’s super-fast I.D. R Pikes Peak electric race car. The Buzz Cargo is built on VW’s Modular Electric Drive platform, abbreviated as MEB (German for Modularer Elektrobaukasten), which will underlie a wide range of vehicles.  VW promises ranges of 200 to 340 miles, depending on battery and motor configurations and says it could be launched as early as 2022 in Europe. – Chuck Dapoz

Read “The Car Companies You’ve Never Heard of at the LA Auto Show